“Being Still While Moving Forward,” Ensign, July 2020
Frequently we hear about blessings from the end of the story, when many prayers, and possibly years of faith-inspired action, lead to a grand culmination.
We don’t as often hear about the middle of the trek, the trying times of waiting and being still and having faith that the Lord will fulfill His promises. Yet beautiful stories can happen while in the waiting.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Sometimes we need to make a bow and arrow before revelation comes as to where we should search for food [see 1 Nephi 16:23]. Sometimes we need to make tools before revelations come as to how to build a ship [see 1 Nephi 17:9]. Sometimes, at the direction of the Lord’s prophet, we need to bake a small cake from the little oil and flour we have to receive an unfailing cruse of oil and barrel of flour [see 1 Kings 17:10–16]. And sometimes we need to ‘be still and know that [God is] God’ and trust in His timing [Doctrine and Covenants 101:16].”1
More than half of my life has been spent attempting to “be still” while faithfully doing all in my power so that the greatest desire of my heart may be fulfilled: to be sealed in the temple to a righteous man. I was the girl who even in grade school read articles in the Ensign about marriage and dreamed of the day I’d have an eternal companion. I was also the girl who, when I graduated high school, didn’t care if I completed my bachelor’s degree if it meant that I was married, had kids, and spent my time raising them. Now, 20 years down the road, I’ve never been married, I have no kids, I have an MBA, and I oversee my clinical discipline in a large health care organization.
In short, nothing has happened according to my dreams. But I’ve had a wonderful life. And while I still want to marry, that’s no longer my only definition of happiness.
I have been afforded so many opportunities that I never knew to dream of. Being single, the antithesis of what I always wanted, brought rewarding experiences into my life that I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve been able to travel the world. I was able to serve a full-time proselyting mission and six medical missions, which have been a highlight of my life.
Perhaps most importantly, I have been able to develop incredible relationships with my nieces and nephews, including taking them on dates regularly. After one such occasion, my seven-year-old nephew said a prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for me. It warmed my heart and has stayed with me throughout the years. These nieces and nephews have become one of the most meaningful parts of my life. They bring me so much joy. And I don’t think my relationship with them would look the same if I had gotten married in the time frame I desired. In other words, there have been many blessings I’ve been given because of a life I didn’t plan.
I have friends and family who have left the Church for a variety of reasons, but many of them left because righteous desires haven’t been fulfilled. I understand the frustration associated with not seeing the precise blessings you pray and yearn for. I know the pain associated with yearning.
For example, I know what it’s like to not be treated as an adult by those who are younger than me because my life doesn’t look like theirs. I know what it’s like to be asked questions that exhibit a lack of value for my experiences. And while I do not know the challenges others face while they wait on the Lord, our Heavenly Father and Savior do.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles assured us: “[God] does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.”2
Yearning is a righteous act. Yearning for heaven is what guides us to choose the right and eventually be able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again. Without yearning, very few of us would be sufficiently motivated to make it to the celestial kingdom.
Elder Renlund said: “If a desired blessing from God has not been received—yet—you do not need to go crazy, wondering what more you need to do. Instead, heed Joseph Smith’s counsel to ‘cheerfully do all things that lie in [your] power; and then … stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the … arm [of God] … revealed’ [Doctrine and Covenants 123:17].”3
What I have learned from my own experience is that I’m not happier when I pull away from the very God who can grant me peace and hope. It is true that I don’t know when this specific blessing will be fulfilled. I do not know Heavenly Father’s timing. I do not fully know what He has in store for me. But I do know that I can “stand still, with the utmost assurance,” and trust in His guiding hand.
Elder Holland taught: “I have absolute, certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in. We keep working. We keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, ‘I told you it’d be okay; I told you it’d be all right.’”4
The best way I know of to stand still, calm and sure, is to feed my testimony and keep moving forward in my self-development and self-improvement. So, as I wait for Heavenly Father to manifest the greatest blessing I could ever desire, I travel the world, serve others, study Arabic, and work to learn new skills, such as cake decorating. I try to attend the temple weekly and read my scriptures daily. I stay busy, while inviting the Spirit into my life in any way possible.
Elder Holland also said, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”5 I do not know when my prayers will be answered. But I do know that Heavenly Father fulfills all His promises. And I do know that I’m happiest when I’m doing all in my power to obey His personal direction given to me through scriptures, prayer, and personal revelation.
I know, from personal experience, that God loves me. He has come to me in my very darkest of hours. He has been there in my heartache. He has been there when I have felt alone. He has buoyed me up when I felt I could no longer carry on. And I know He can and will do the same for you.