This autumn season has been a whirlwind for our family. My husband and I have completely turned our lives upside down the past couple of months. We sold our house, he quit his job, and we moved back to Idaho with no real prospects for a new job and no real plan. And we have done all of this with a new baby and the holidays quickly approaching. Oye.
From the outside looking in these changes not only seem crazy, but also sudden, and probably poorly timed. When others evaluate our actions they see only what’s at the surface. Most people won’t see the Lord’s hand guiding you, carefully shifting things and working in you to produce these changes for months before–but that’s how He works. And that’s how He’s been working in our lives for the last year.
We closed on our first home about one year ago. My husband had a great job with good benefits and we were grateful for the opportunity to own a home and to be bringing a baby into that home. I was 8 months pregnant and we were excited to be starting this new chapter of our lives. I never would have dreamed we would be uprooting ourselves so soon.
Fast forward to April. Things were going great for us, except that my husband’s sixteen hour days started to become more and more uncomfortable for us as we realized just how little time he got to spend with our new baby girl. There was no guarantee that she would be awake for the few short hours he was home and not sleeping himself. There was also a gnawing thought in the back of my mind about the fact that he had to work almost every Sunday because of the way his schedule worked.
I brushed it off.
“His job provides benefits that we desperately need because he has Type 1 Diabetes.” I justified.
When that didn’t work, I tried to convince myself with thoughts like, “His job provides financial security so that I can stay home with our baby. We both agree that is important.” And, “It’s not like he *wants* to break the Sabbath. He has to because of his job.”
Then higher thoughts would come, “Are we really willing to trade in keeping a commandment and the blessings attached to the obedience of that commandment for a job that pays us well? Can’t we get by with a little less?”
Yes. But that’s not what I wanted to hear! We were comfortable. We didn’t have to worry about money every month. We were happy. We were fine! We had initially felt like this job was a blessing and an answer to prayers about having insurance. Why did I feel this way now? Did the Lord really expect us to risk not having good insurance? I wasn’t sure.
Then, in April General Conference, and our Spring Stake Conference (and almost every Sunday since then), the topic of keeping the sabbath day holy was addressed, and has been readdressed again and again. We have learned this principal since we were in Primary, but it meant something new to me as I heard it over and over again this summer. The words spoken struck me to my very core and I sobbed many times as I sat in the pew alone. Just me and my precious baby. “My husband should be here,” I thought. No, I knew.
So I went home and talked to my husband, and we made a plan to transition out of this job. We prayed and we fasted. We questioned, we worried. We were comforted and reassured. We were tried over and over. We were tested. How committed were we to really keeping the sabbath day holy? It would cost us a lot. It would push us and stretch our faith. It was a giant leap, but we knew we had to take it.
All summer we heard talks about the importance of keeping this sacred day holy. And all summer we were reassured from above that changing in order to keep a commandment will never lead us astray. We read lines of our patriarchal blessings that assured us that as we kept the sabbath day holy, we would have all we needed. We sold our house for more than we were hoping for. Blessings. And more blessings.
There was a time in my life when these feelings calling me to a higher standard would have scared me. There was a time when they would have caused me to want to jump ship and run for it. There was a time when I would have thought that because we weren’t keeping the sabbath day holy every week, it made me unworthy of God’s love, less-than those who were, or somehow diminish my worth or my ability to be loved by God.
There was a time when the lack of a plan moving forward would stress me out to the point of being paralyzed. Or cause me great anxiety. There was a time when I would have been too scared, and too stubborn to take this leap of faith.
Thankfully, through this whole process, a few key truths have helped me tremendously to feel loved by my Father in Heaven. That love has given me the strength I have needed to keep going down this path to changing our life, even when it seems uncertain. Even when it is stressful and overwhelming, I have felt at peace, because I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with our commitment to follow Him–to give up the world, and the comforts and luxuries our job provided to keep His commandments.
1) God definitely loves us all as we are, and takes joy in His creations.
We don’t have to achieve a certain spiritual height in order to be loved by God. Our mere existence is enough to qualify for that love.
I know wholeheartedly this is true. However, a God that asks nothing of us, is making nothing of us. And I don’t believe he is making nothing of us, because I know that he created us to BECOME like Him, and that means we have to change, and be stretched, and be pushed outside our comfort zones.
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us now, exactly how we are. It simply means He knows we can become more if we choose to trust in Him and His plan for us. It means we can experience greater joy and blessings by trusting in Him instead of insisting on our own plan. I don’t believe He is trying to force us into anywhere that we don’t belong or fit, instead I believe that He is striving to lovingly shape us to fit into the roles that He has designed for us.
2) Most of the time doing what’s right is hard.
Naturally we all want to take the easiest path. The path that requires us to only keep the commandments we think are important, to only sacrifice what is easy for us to sacrifice. But that is not how the gospel works! I don’t believe that God asks us to keep His commandments and to sacrifice in order prove our love for Him, or to prove our worthiness of His love. He loves us already, without condition. He is asking us to do these things because He knows better than we do how these things will help us and what they will teach us.
He is, after all, an all-knowing, and omnipotent God. I used to have a false belief that I had to earn God’s love, and earn the atonement, and be “this person” in order to enjoy blessings. THAT IS NOT TRUE. However, God does require a humble and teachable heart in order to make us more than we are now (but not to love us–that is unconditional).
Being humble and shapable is hard. But we are taught that the one path through the gate is narrow and the paths that will lead us astray are many and they broad. It may be harder to stay on the narrow path, but it is the right way.
3) Our very natures and hearts can be changed by the Atonement of Christ.
I never thought I would be the person I am today. I still fall dreadfully short everyday, but I have the will and DESIRE to try time and time again because I have discovered the love that my Savior has for me, and I have developed an intense love for Him. BECAUSE OF CHRIST we can take this step, uproot our lives, and press forward with a perfect brightness of hope and with faith that everything will work together for our good.
Turning your life over to God, making yourself uncomfortable, and making big changes is hard! But it is possible; with God ALL things are possible. I know this because I have experienced His redeeming power and His enabling power and I testify with all of my heart and soul that they are available to you. Things I thought were impossible have happened in my life because of my faith in Christ.
Christ is not a friend for the nearly perfect or only a certain type of person. He is here, He lives! He is with us as we fail and as we succeed. He is here for the successful, and the struggling–especially the struggling. And He lovingly gives of His peace and of His power to all who seek it.
Christ wants us to have joy and happiness in this life. I know that the greatest joy and happiness come as we strive each day to align our will more with His. To separate ourselves form the world, and to rely on Him more than we rely on money, or anything else of this world. Have courage! Take that leap of faith! He truly will bless us with what we need as we strive to live by His commandments. I know this is one of the most repeated scriptures, but it has brought great comfort to me in my times of doubt the last couple months:
“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
1 Nephi 3:7
I feel Him preparing a way for us to keep this commandment. I have all the faith in the world that everything will work out. It will be better than I could have ever planned for or hoped for because He will have orchestrated it perfectly. I know He loves me, I know He loves you, and I know that He is aware of the most intimate details in our lives.
I testify of all of these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.