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?
“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?