I have always hated change.
Any kind of change. To give you a glimpse at just how much it irks me, for most of my childhood, I would cry myself to sleep on every birthday when I realized growing up was inescapable. I often struggled to try new things. And I even got anxious about any shift in my routine.
Honestly, the slightest shake-up in my life was always traumatic for my sensitive soul. So you can imagine what the ever-changing realm of adulthood has been like for me.
Young adulthood forces me to be willing to make life-changing decisions, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it: I’m constantly unsure if I should be smiling with excitement or crying from being overwhelmed (it’s often the latter).
But as I’ve navigated the world for the past 27 years, I’ve realized something about change—it’s inevitable and it’s necessary. And if I’m not willing to venture into the uncharted lands of life transitions or to even try something new, I will prevent myself from becoming who I’m meant to be.
And I know now that’s not what Heavenly Father wants for me.
I’ve realized that at the heart of my hatred of change is fear. Fear of not doing what Heavenly Father expects of me. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of not being in control. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of failure. And ultimately, fear of not being enough.
I’ve often felt guilty about my struggle with change. Of course, I do always feel excitement and gratitude toward new opportunities! But anxiety also steps in to tell me something like, “You know how hard and different this is going to be, right? You are already content with your life! Are you crazy?!”
Take, for example, my recent life transition—marriage.
Getting married in the temple is important to Heavenly Father’s plan. And I always thought that once the opportunity was on the horizon, I would feel nothing but contentment and peace.
For me, that wasn’t the case.
I never thought that something so good could be so utterly terrifying. I felt guilty about feeling anxious over the beautiful relationship between me and my future spouse. Of course I wanted to marry this wonderful man, so why in the world was I so hesitant and scared? I was beyond frustrated at how hard making the decision was for me.
I prayed, read scriptures, fasted, and attended the temple over and over again to find guidance. Eventually, I made the decision to move forward with marriage and asked Heavenly Father if it was right. And I felt a peaceful and unquestionable certainty many times that it was. But eventually, my brain’s defense mechanism against change, along with the adversary, would once again try to convince me otherwise.
It was exhausting, to say the least.
But as difficult as this back-and-forth process was, and as much as I pleaded for my fear of change to go away, I learned some valuable lessons.
When you’re on the brink of something good in your life, when you’ve gotten your answer and you’re ready to take a leap of faith, Satan will try to step in and prevent it.
He does this to me often.
He plants doubts that make me question the answers I’ve received. He makes me consider how safe I’ll remain if don’t move forward. And he tries to convince me that the good decisions that will reshape my life and help me grow are not worth it, that they’re too much for me, and that I will fail. Ultimately, he tries to keep me stuck.
In these dark moments when I’ve felt overwhelmed and intense terror about the future, the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have always helped me cling to the light and carry on: “With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. … Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”1
In a priesthood blessing I received to help me overcome my fear of marriage, I was told that Heavenly Father wants me to be confident in myself and my decisions, and also in the answers He has given me (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23). I was told to not doubt that those answers were from the Spirit and to be willing to move forward with faith instead of being held back by fear.
Those words helped me finally realize that if we want God to guide us, we have to be willing to trust Him.
President Russell M. Nelson recently taught about willingness. He said:
“The very name of Israel refers to a person who is willing to let God prevail in his or her life. That concept stirs my soul!
“The word willing is crucial to this interpretation of Israel. … We can choose to let God prevail in our lives, or not. We can choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives, or not.”2
And willingness is hard. Willingness takes courage, faith, and so much humility. Willingness is moving forward and not just waiting. Willingness is doing, not just listening. It’s an action that helps us become like the Savior, who was more than willing to lay down His life for all of us.
When we are confident in Heavenly Father’s answers and in who we are as His children, we realize that we are enough, that His promises are legitimate, and that we can do all that He wants us to do—even face some of our greatest fears or discomforts. A willing heart can help us accept His will over our own, and that is when we can realize that we can trust Him and that we are capable of so much with His help. Willingness to act and willingness to believe in and rely on Him leads to blessings and miracles that are much greater than we ever thought possible for ourselves (see Doctrine and Covenants 64:34).
I’ve always had faith in the Savior’s transformative and healing power. But I never in my life thought that I would have to rely on Him to help me have courage to do something good. My feelings of inadequacy about marriage seemed much too unimportant for Him to heal. However, now I know that His healing power truly applies to all things. He is aware of our needs and feelings, and He can deliver us from all our weaknesses or fears. He can change our hearts. I have felt Him increase my willingness to move toward the good life changes He wants me to experience.
And, after all, when He promises, “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6), what do we have to fear?
As much as I’ve always avoided change, I’ve realized that when Heavenly Father asks us to do something, even if it terrifies us, He will always enable us to be successful. By myself, I might be capable of some things. But with Him on my side, I can truly do all things (see Alma 26:12).
After long wrestles with Him and so many moments where I chose faith even while feeling the strong pull to remain in my comfort zone, I’ve finally been sealed in the temple to my dear husband—my best friend. I know without the Savior’s help and without trust in God, I couldn’t have gotten to this point. And I know They will continue to guide me one step at a time throughout this new journey with my sweet husband.
If you’re on the brink of something good—no matter how much the adversary tries to convince you that what you’re working toward is not worth it, is too scary, or is too uncomfortable—let me just chime in and tell you that it is worth it. Following the Lord’s will and trusting His sight over your limited perspective is worth everything.
The process of change will never be comfortable. New steps will always require a learning curve and sometimes even a change of heart. But all life transitions, whether wanted or not, are an opportunity for spiritual refinement.
I’ve felt myself change for the better as I have trusted the Lord over my own fears and insecurities. I’ve learned that change may be inevitable, but being willing to embrace growth is a choice. And as hard as that choice may be sometimes, I will always strive to be willing to make it. I know that when we follow His will over ours, even when it’s terrifying, Heavenly Father will always come through for us. Every time.