Letting “I wish” go

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you planned it out in your mind (or in your journal when you were 13). We make plans, we set goals, we visualize expectations wrapped up in pretty packages and we move forward in life hoping it all plays out that way. But it often doesn’t, and not necessarily by lack of planning or industry. Sometimes life just happens– and it’s bigger than our dreams or plans.

Recently, I’ve been keenly aware that God’s plans for me might be different than my own agenda. He sees opportunity in things that I try to avoid; he sometimes closes the door on things I want and things I think I need. I’m tempted to believe that things are “all messed up” when, really, they are exactly as they should be.

I think part of the problem is measuring our life in things, places, status, location– anything that can be “seen.” But, truly, we would do better to measure how we’re doing in life by the condition of our hearts. What kind of person have we become? Whom do we love? Whom do we serve?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:

“The perks of discipleship are such that if we see a stretch limousine pulling up, we know it is not calling for us. God’s plan is not the plan of pleasure; it is the “plan of happiness.” … Yes, we are free to choose the mortal perks with their short shelf life. …those who bestow the transitory things of the world are, themselves, transients. They cannot confer that which is lasting because they do not possess it! Some, so sensing and seeing so little, want to have it all now!

So, it’s in that context that I’m trying now to look more carefully at my disappointments, the wishes that haven’t come true, and the strange detours that life sometimes takes.  It’s important to understand that the Master plan is the blueprint in this plan of happiness.  Sure, we can try to build something different, but I don’t think we’ll find the shelter we need in the end.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the importance of saying no to our children.  It makes sense that an all-wise Heavenly Father would often deprive us, his children, of some things we want for many of the same reasons we tell our children no:  to develop patience, to learn to work, to value the things that matter most, to help us gain the characteristics we need to be successful.

Elder Maxwell also said:

Genuine faith makes increasing allowance for these individual tutorials. In view of these tutorials, God cannot, brothers and sisters, respond affirmatively to all of our petitions with an unbroken chain of “yeses.” This would assume that all of our petitions are for that “which is right” and are spiritually “expedient.” (3 Ne. 18:20; D&C 18:18; D&C 88:64–65.) No petitioner is so wise! Paul even acknowledged that we sometimes “know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Rom. 8:26; see also D&C 46:30.)

The 13-year-old inside of us (who clearly stated everything she wants) is a demanding, selfish, loud brat who is way overconfident in her ability to decide what’s best for her.  The trick is surrendering our adolescent demands to an omniscient, loving Father who has our best interest in mind.  It’s hard to let go of a wish, but who doesn’t want to invite happiness, no matter what kind of package it’s wrapped in?


15 thoughts on “Letting “I wish” go

  1. thanks for the quotes! I might quote you quoting them in my sacrament talk on Sunday! What a great post… I hate to admit it, but I know you are exactly right. Whenever I am bummed out and feeling sorry for myself, it is NOT because life is so horrible, it IS because I am not accepting the Lord’s will. Life is so good, we need to see the blessings, they are there, and it’s so cool to think all that we are going through is for a purpose, our experiences are customized just for us by a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to return to him. 🙂

  2. No limo? Sigh. Can I still wear the party dress?

    I think learning to accept no for an answer in my case has a lot to do with gratitude. Sometimes having gratitude in my heart takes a good deal of searching around, but there is always something around to be grateful for.

  3. The hardest is when the little package of happiness the Lord is giving us is wrapped in hard things. And we’ve got to get through the hard things in order to grow enough to get the happy thing. But while we’re unwrapping (mostly the layers around our heart) we’ve got to buck up and do the best we can with what we have and appreciate the loss of the extra layer of ‘protection’ we have over our heart. Because while we feel raw and sensitive, we are more able to allow the Lord closer to our heart. There was a time when I was expecting one thing out of a situation and got the complete opposite. And now looking back I’m grateful for the growth it gave me, even though it was the last thing I thought was going to happen.

  4. Stephanie, I love your stuff. And I have a general question–how do you find all your great quotes? Do you find a quote and work it into a post, or do you search for it? What’s your secret?


  5. I have battled my inner 13 year-old too. Once I could stop fretting over what I wanted to have happen and accepted what my reality was, I found so much more peace. It also helps to realize that even though we feel like we are doing what is right, what we are supposed to be doing doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy. I am hip-deep in hard stuff right now and keep reminding myself that somehow the Lord intends for all this to be for my good.

  6. Surrender is saving my sanity right now. We ended up in a town that wasn’t even on my radar but I’m so sure it’s where Heavenly Father wants us that I’m just kind of rolling with it. It’s an interesting approach for me, but it’s working so far.

  7. I think that with every choice we make, we close the door to something else. This isn’t to say the closing is a bad thing, it just depends on how you look at it. Like how you articulated it in this post.

  8. The 13 year old Brooke may have been a brat, but she was suppose to be in her time. There are no disappointments in life I think. Every time some choice or incident outside ourselves leads us to an unexpected route our initial feeling is disappointment, but it is only a development of self.

    Most animals learn predominately by instinct, but, for those of you who have toddlers you’ll understand that we live and learn by imitation. We truly are creatures of habit. The mind learns behavioral habits and even spiritual habits. Perspective really does change everything. If we choose to see alternative routes as new developments, then we will not see deprivation sent from the Good Lord, but evolution. Every year, every day, every hour when dependent on God is a chance to develop. We are always toddlers in life learning to imitate our Father. We are constantly humbled through this daily dependence. And I thank God for it. God has spoken through the children in my life only to show me how little we change. Childlike faith…

    Furthermore, I think the brilliant mind of Maxwell is mistaken. We are on no path of happiness when serving the Lord. The Lord does not promise happiness, but on the contrary pain and suffering. It is a joy to serve the Father, yes, but happiness is saved for the afterlife I think.

    • While I agree that disappointments can simply be a matter of perspective and that we have to recognize the development in them, I respectfully disagree with the claim that happiness is only the object of a future life. Elder Maxwell clarified that we’re mistaken if we expect limosines to pull up on our path of discipleship, and he thus distinguishes between happiness and pleasure. The Savior showed us that discipleship comes with a price, but also pointed out that there is opposition in all things. Our sorrows enhance our joy. And the gifts of doctrine, the Holy Ghost, service, and family relationships, for example, are all tools for current happiness that also contribute to happiness in an eternal sense. There are many people who face challenges, but choose happiness and are surrounded with many blessings. It’s evidence to me that our loving Father’s object and design is our happiness in its truest, deepest sense . . . even now.

      “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy.” 2 Nephi 2:25

      “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15: 11

      • Upon further clarification, I would agree that God provides current happiness. However, I personally try to not focus on the concept of happiness in my life as it will only serve to cause disappointment to swell. All I mean by that is I don’t personally believe that happiness is the overall goal in life. The Lord’s will is, and happiness and His will do not always coincide.

  9. Thanks for posting your thoughts on this. It seems timely for me. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’ve given up so much of what I’d like to be doing to be active in my calling.
    Sometimes it is nice to be reminded that God has a greater plan and our happiness is his ultimate goal and the things we want aren’t always what is *best* for us right now.

  10. Ah this really hits me right now. I wish I wish I pray I pray but sometimes I have to realize my wishes and my prayers are not ultimately God’s will. It makes me think of myself as my 7 year old. She wants something so desperately and I have to say no again and again. First gently, then more firmly at times before she gets it.

    It is nice to be reminded that God’s plan is eternal and my plans are often not.

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