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.

sun

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!;)

Facing Anxiety With Hope

You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins.
~Preach My Gospel, A Guide to Missionary Service

Okay, does anyone feel like that’s a pretty big deal?  Because I feel like that’s a pretty big deal!  To be honest, I often feel a constant sense of anxiety as a missionary because there is so much on our heads and so much we need to be doing for the people we are called to serve.  It can be hard to deal with, and when it gets too overwhelming I pray that the Lord will take those feelings of anxiety and replace them with calm and confidence in Him.  I have indeed felt His help as I live each day; but so far those feelings have not been taken away!

So, I started looking at anxiety from a different angle.

As I’ve read through the Book of Mormon, I noticed many of the prophets speaking of the anxiety that they feel for their people:

…mine anxiety is great for you… (2 Nephi 6:3)

…am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls… (Jacob 2:3)

…this he did because of the great anxiety of his people… (Mosiah 28:12)

…I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words… (Alma 13:27)

And I started noticing a theme.  Anxiety is not always a bad thing!  It actually seems to be something that naturally follows a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  However.  The key is that this anxiety doesn’t lead to a sense of hopelessness or depression but instead to humility and trust.  As followers of the Savior, we have a love for all those around us and we are concerned for their welfare.  We worry about how to help them.  We want them to feel happiness.  In my case as a missionary especially, I want them to have the restored gospel and have their eyes and hearts opened to its truthfulness. Those are all things that can cause a sense of “anxiety” in us, especially because we can’t control others’ actions.  Even if what we are feeling anxious about isn’t necessarily other people but about future events, careers, finances, etc… there is a lot out there that might contribute to our worried feelings!  But, instead of getting overwhelmed with these concerns, if we turn them over to the Lord and trust Him, He will speak peace to us.  If we let “righteous anxiety” lead us to humble ourselves before God, realizing we can’t do it on our own, and then ask Him for His help, I know that He will ease our minds and lead us to what we can do to best help His children or succeed in our own lives.

So even though missionary life (and life in general) can be stressful and overwhelming, take heart in that there will always be peace.  Because no matter what, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is peace.

Turn to Him, and He will give you relief ❤

And have a beautiful day!

Trusting in God’s Promises

Lately I have been thinking about doubt.  Let’s be honest, we all experience it sometimes.  Whether it is doubt in our own abilities, doubt in other people, doubt in answers to questions, even doubt in God.

However, I’ve also been thinking a lot about promises!  And not just any promises, but God’s promises.  One definition states that a promise is a commitment to someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.  It is something we should be able to trust in, and something that should usually bring us a sense of hope and assurance.  

Now, not everyone keeps their promises.  But the Lord and Master, our Savior Jesus Christ, DOES.

I have recently learned a lot about how trustworthy He really is.  This past summer, all the missionaries in the New York Rochester Mission read the entire Book of Mormon together in just under 9 weeks.  We marked every reference to Christ–His attributes, His words, His names, His doctrines.  It was the best challenge EVER!  I made some connections as I found myself in its pages:

People in the Book of Mormon, just like today, were faced with extreme difficulties and trials.  They struggled with their faith, they experienced profound disappointments, they saw families torn by discord, and there were times when they were in spiritual or physical bondage.  There were many of them who faced doubts.  There were many times when things just didn’t make sense.  Yet despite all of these struggles, there were those who remained faithful to the Lord and trusted that His promises would be fulfilled.  Despite how at times everything seemed against their favor and they were perhaps wondering how God could possibly be answering their prayers, they held fast to their trust in Him and never doubted that He would fulfill His word.  Often His promises were not fulfilled until much later than they had supposed, and yet for those who kept His commandments and remained close to Him, they always were fulfilled.

Think for a moment.  What are the promises that God has made to you?  Do you know them?  Do you truly understand the promises that He extends to all those who are faithful to His name?

He promises that He will be with us and never forsake us.  He promises us that in our hour of trial, He will not leave us comfortless.  He promises us that whatever we leave behind for His sake, He will give us a hundredfold in return.  He promises us that despite whatever challenges we pass through, we will find a fullness of joy as we endure righteously. He promises us that we will have all that His Father has.  Ultimately, He promises us everlasting salvation and eternal life.

And these are just the beginning.  What greater promises could you have than from the Creator of all things?  His word NEVER fails!  

So if you’re confused, discouraged, doubtful, or starting to question whether God really hears your prayers, don’t worry. Be patient. Because “God is powerful to the fulfilling of all His words. … He will fulfill his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.” (Alma 37:16-17)

We Go In Two’s

Here’s a collage of some beautiful people:

IMG_2274(1)round     IMG_3446(1)round

IMG_3733(1)round     IMG_1614round

Okay, actually they are just awkward self-ies, but they will get the point across.

These are my lovely companions, Sister Dimick, Sister Roberts, Sister Tulande Vasquez, and Sister Rosemore! They are some of the finest women I have ever met in my life!  They are the perfect examples of charity, faith, patience, strength, happiness, and Christlike service.

So how lucky am I that for the last 8 months of my life, I have spent every waking moment with at least one of these sisters? SO LUCKY!  Yes it may seem crazy, but when you decide to go on a mission, you are also signing up to be around someone 24/7.  As companions, we pray together, study together, exercise together, eat together, teach together, travel together…the whole shebang.  Why?  Because that is the pattern set up by the Lord.

“And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:6)

Why am I telling you this?

Well, because I want to instill in each and every one of your hearts this eternal truth:

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE IN THIS LIFE.

No, you may not be with someone 24 hours, 7 days a week like I am.  You may not have someone physically there by your side at all times.  (And you may even be thinking, thank heavens for that!)

But, you DO have a Father in Heaven who is only a prayer away, and is there to listen to you and love you unconditionally.  You have a Savior who has promised that He–the perfect companion of all time–will never leave your side.

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
(Joshua 1:5)

Jesus Christ is there.  He has walked the loneliest path that anyone on earth will EVER walk, and He did it so that we would never have to be alone.  In the words of Elder Holland, “One of the great consolations… is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so.”

As a missionary, I am grateful that I have a companion that is called to serve by my side and support me in every phase of my work, just as I am called to serve with and support her.  Furthermore, as a child of God, I am infinitely more grateful that I have a Redeemer who has walked the path before me and has promised to always be my guide and my support.

Trust the words of the Prophet, who said “We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask.                                                      As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you.” (President Thomas S. Monson, We Never Walk Alone)

So the next time you feel lonely, sad, or discouraged, look up, breathe in, and let the Lord whisper to your heart, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” ♥  (Matthew 28:20, Doctrine and Covenants 100:12)  ♥