Why, God?!

Do you ever feel like there are things in life that just don’t make sense?

Because I do.

Recently I found myself asking, “Why, Heavenly Father?  Why is this happening?”

Not accusing, just confused.  I sincerely just didn’t understand why things were happening the way they were happening in my life.  I had a perfect plan for my future and now I was having to let go of things I really didn’t want to let go of.  And not only did I want an explanation, but I wanted Him to tell me exactly which direction He desired me to take to move forward.

So for a solid period of time I pleaded to God for answers and understanding, and all He gave me was peace——not knowledge, not clarity, not answers, not direction… just peace.

And it was then that I learned something.  A sentence came into my head as clear as day:

“You know, Lauren, this life isn’t so much about finding answers as much as it is about finding Me.

It was as if a little light dawned on me.

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God was trying to teach me that it’s not so much about coming to know everything as it is about coming to know Him.

It’s not so much about understanding all the details, but about understanding His details–namely, that He is real, that He loves us, and that He has created a plan for us to be happy.

You see, if we can go through difficult circumstances that we don’t understand and through those come to understand more about our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement, then maybe that’s enough reason.  If we are tirelessly searching for an explanation, we may miss out on what God is actually trying to teach us!

After all, didn’t He say that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”? (John 17:3)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  God does give us answers.  He does lead us.  But He also wants us to learn to make our own decisions.  If He gave us the answers to everything, then it wouldn’t really be a test, and we wouldn’t really learn.

I still don’t really understand why certain things are happening in my life.  I still sometimes feel sad about it.  But frankly, there are simply some things in life that none of us may ever understand.  Yet, through these experiences we can come to understand Him.

And you know, that’s an understanding that I sure would never want to miss out on.

So next time you’re tempted to exclaim, “Why?!”, just remember that the answer you’re looking for might come differently than you’d think!;)

Transitions

This past weekend marked the official one month that I have returned home from Rochester, New York to Salt Lake City, Utah, marking the end of my full-time service as a set apart missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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A month ago today, I never would have believed the change I’ve seen in my life since the moment I walked off that plane.  Coming back to regular life has been full of excitement, trial, relief, heartache, happiness, struggle, and everything in between.  It has been such a wonderful yet bittersweet journey!

love being able to see my family again.  I love being able to communicate often with so many friends that I care about in my life.  I love that I’m able to go to college and work toward having a bright future.  I love being able to drive around in my car and blast the music to my heart’s content. 😉

But every so often it feels like something is missing.

I miss the little things.  I still find myself feeling my right shoulder for my name tag.  When I write messages online or on my phone, I still go to turn to my companion for their input and then realize that no one has to proof read what I say.  I still have an urge to stand out behind the car to back someone up out of a parking spot. (Haha!  Sometimes out of habit I still do and then I realize what I’m doing and awkwardly get in the car and pretend like nothing happened!)

But I also miss the big things.  I miss having the increased sense of purpose that comes from knowing exactly what God wants me to do each day.  I miss teaching people about Jesus Christ everyday, and helping people know that God is their loving Heavenly Father who wants them to be happy.  I miss not having to worry about anything else except for the gospel.  I miss going out and hitting the streets of Rochester, talking with everyone I see and sharing with them my testimony of the eternal truths that I would never want to live my life without.

However!  I was inspired by Sister Beckham, a leader in the church, who said,

“Remember, we will return to [Heavenly Father] by moving forward, not backward, and in the process we will become changed. Our transitions make possible that change.  Every transition, every change, gives us a chance to choose again to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the principles of his gospel.”

And so, while a part of my heart still lies in Western New York, I’m thankful that God has given me this time to transition home.  Coming home has given me a chance to choose again to have faith in my Savior.  I have spent the last almost 19 months of my life helping others to make decisions out of faith in Him, and I’ve realized that now is the time to really put that to the test in my own life.

Besides!  We’ve all been given a promise in Alma 37:44, 45:

“Give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss.  …For the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.”

THAT, my friends, is what I trust in!  Whether you are a missionary or not, the words of Christ will always point toward eternal bliss.  They will always carry us through life’s transitions and lead us to the greater things of eternity.  They will always help us find a sense of purpose, peace, and direction in our life.  Why? Because our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, will always love us and they will never leave us alone.

So go out!  Like my stake president said, “You are never released from being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Name-tag or no name-tag, go help someone find the Lord today! 😀

Lesson Learned And The Wheel Keeps Turning ♫

Sometimes I feel like life is like a huge Ferris wheel.
This Ferris wheel is always turning; we are in a continual cycle of ups and downs. The interesting thing about this ride is that the pace is never the same– sometimes we seem to slow down at the top and we have times in our life that are wonderful and seem to last forever, but then we are inevitably faced with downs, hard times or trials, which may be short or may take longer than we’d like for the wheel to start slowly moving up again.
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Have you ever felt this before? And if you have, have you ever stepped back and wondered….what is the point?  I mean really, who wants to ride around on an endless Ferris wheel?  If we are in this continual cycle going nowhere, then why even get on?
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Two things.  
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The first: JOY!  Joy in the journey!  I don’t know about you,  but some of the most magnificent scenes I have ever beheld have been the grandeur of looking down on God’s remarkable creations–whether that’s
  • at the top of a Ferris wheel
  • the breathtaking view at the summit of a mountain peak
  • out the window of an airplane
  • from the top of the Eiffel Tower (or any other skyscraper!)
  • etc.
Pretty darn beautiful.  So the next time you are at the lowest of low, just remember that you will once again be at the magnificent top somewhere in the future!  And in the meanwhile–enjoy the ride.  Every single spot you are at on this wheel brings you a different perspective on what is around you, and it can be just as beautiful.
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The second: Here’s where the the difference comes in.  Unlike a Ferris wheel, our ups and downs DO have a point, and they DO get us somewhere.  They shape our hearts, they build our character, they give us experience, they bring us joy, and they fit us for the celestial life to come.  We need to experience the lows in life, otherwise we would never fully appreciate and understand the highs.  We need to face challenges, otherwise we would never truly be shaped into the divine beings that we were designed to become.
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I am personally so grateful for both of these experiences–through the darker times, I have come to learn so much about my Savior and so much about myself.  I can honestly say that I am building an unshakable foundation in Jesus Christ and His Gospel that cannot be rooted up by anything. I still struggle, I am still weak, but truly through Christ I am divinely capable and SO ARE YOU and so is EVERYONE ELSE!  If we have faith, even as a grain of mustard seed, then we can overcome all things, because God can work through us. And does He not have all power? “Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:31)
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So, enjoy EVERY MOMENT life has to offer you.  Embrace the ups and downs.  Keep having faith and trust in God’s promises! They are REAL and I know He will fulfill His promises to each and every one of us. Look forward with light in your eyes and love in your hearts and know He will bless you with the joy and strength to rise to whatever challenges you are facing!
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And remember, “Count it all joy.” (James 1:2)
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(p.s. ^^ “If there were no ups and downs in life, we would be dead.” 😉 )