- Read the Book of Mormon. A few months ago, in the week leading up to stake conference, I was feeling discouraged. My weaknesses and failures were weighing on me, and I doubted my ability to do the things God asked. I couldn’t see the next step to take in my life. I went to stake conference with a prayer in my heart to know what one thing I could do to move forward. The answer was simple, sweet, and clear: read the Book of Mormon. I was immediately filled with joy and gratitude. This was something I could do! I felt the Lord’s love and assurance that as I was diligent in reading His word, He would lead me along. Reading every day doesn’t fix all my problems, but it gives me the spiritual strength I need to face them.
- Go to institute. When I was first transitioning to this new stage a year ago, I felt like I couldn’t get a grip on my life. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I couldn’t seem to get my schedule under control, it seemed like nothing I was doing mattered to anyone, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Progress in general felt excruciatingly slow. The answer to that prayer was also simple: go to institute. In my first class, we talked about how “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6), and it was as if life snapped back into perspective. The great moments in life are culminations of many, many small ones, and I knew that by doing the small things, like reading my scriptures, praying, and going to institute, I would build a life worth living.
- Practice self-compassion. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m often hard on myself for not having life figured out. Over the past year I’ve become more conscious of the way I talk to myself and tried to counter my self-critical thoughts with cutting myself some slack and telling myself that no matter what I do or don’t do, I am worthy of love and belonging. God loves me not for my accomplishments but because I am His, and I can love myself because I am a child of God with infinite worth, even though I don’t have everything figured out.
- Remember that the wilderness days are part of the journey, and God is at the helm. Young adulthood is a transitory stage when it comes to relationships, career, physical location, and other aspects of life, and the future seems uncertain and the ground unsteady. Recently as I began the Book of Mormon again, I realized that Nephi was probably a lot more like me than I first thought. I think sometimes we put him on a pedestal as the faithful one who was always self-assured and always had perfect trust in God and always knew exactly what he was doing, but I don’t think that’s the case. There were times when he was uncertain, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6), and though he saw extraordinary miracles, there were many days in the wilderness that were downright awful or where nothing happened worth writing about. But every day in the wilderness was another step toward the promised land, and I can have confidence on my wilderness days that the Lord is leading me, like Nephi, to “a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45).
As I go through each day, sometimes feeling like I’m walking in the dark, I’m reminded of the last verse of my favorite hymn, “Lead, Kindly Light”:
So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
As I look back over my life, I can see how God has led me through the years. With that knowledge, I can turn my face forward, put my hand in His, and say, “Lead thou me on.” I don’t need to see my way in the dark, because He knows the way. He is the Way, and with Him, even in the midst of my quarter-life crisis, I can have peace.