Note: If you want to get to the counsel, scroll down to the quote by President Oaks and read the rest.
I’m typically the funny one in our relationship, and it has nothing to do with telling jokes. At face value, I’m a smart and polished woman. In reality, I stub my toes on a daily basis and occasionally use the wrong word or say the right word incorrectly. My childhood strengths were math and science, and it’s probably because both of my parents are engineers. In college, I started dating a guy whose childhood strengths were foreign languages and hauling pipe. In many ways, were to opposites (I grew up in an science-loving African American family in the South East, and he grew up in a well-read Caucasian family in the Mountain West). But in our case, opposites attract! We dated for about 2 years before tying the knot. Here’s why:
Naturally, we had many cultural differences to learn about each other. As our relationship became more serious, I grew concerned that our differences would be a major obstacle in our desire to build a life and family together. To settle those fears, I thought of the reasons we should get married and prayed about it.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” (D&C 9:7–9.)
I felt it was right, and apparently Chris did, too.
But what about those other moments in our lives when we strive to be faithful Saints “counseling with the Lord” and fail to receive a clear answer via bosoms burning or stupors of thought? How many times have we thought things through—prayed about it for days, weeks, or months—and felt the exact same as day one, just a bit more confused and running out of patience?
A few months ago, Chris and I moved from my beloved Boston, Massachusetts to Lehi, Utah. He started his new job while I considered started my own business. We took an overseas trip where I was able to further research my business proposition. After much planning and thought, it became clear to both of us that this wasn’t my next step. So, I started the job hunt in a market I wasn’t excited about. I searched and prayed but received no answers.
As time went by, I began to think that I was unworthy for personal revelation and ultimately alone. The windows of heaven felt shut at a time when I needed help.
I was frustrated. I kept reading scriptures and going to church to try to make sense of it all.
On an extremely dusty and windy day, I went to Ikea accessorized with my favorite scarf. After 10 minutes in the store, I realized that my scarf was gone. I hurried through the Ikea maze and ran out the building doors. To my dismay, the dusty, windy day was even dustier and winder than before. Disappointed, I thought,
“There is no way I can walk through this dust storm looking for a piece of fabric that could be in another city by now.”
I went back inside, telling myself that by the time I’m done shopping, the winds would have died down so I can try to look. I finished shopping, and almost two hours later (I mean, applause to you who can shop at Ikea in less than an hour), the winds were still blowing but the dust cleared up so I could see the other end of the parking lot. I drove around the parking lot for 20 minutes, feeling helpless. Then, I finally said a prayer out of desperation, asking Heavenly Father to help me find my scarf if it was still in the parking lot. After all, this was my favorite scarf. But, I really didn’t expect help on such a small request when I wasn’t getting help on a more important one. After my prayer, I sat in the car feeling like I wasted my time. I gave up and was starting to pull out of the parking lot when I saw my scarf caught by a thorn bush. I know this is one of those lame but true stories of finding things after saying a prayer, but this experience came at the time when I needed to be reminded that I’ve never been alone. God heard every prayer—big and small. He gave me the tools to make righteous decisions and trusted me to use my agency to make them.
“We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. This is part of the experience we must have in mortality.”
– President Dallin H. Oaks
So, how do we making righteous decisions without a burning bosom or stupor of thought?
Trust in God and trust in His plan. Trust the promises He has made in the scriptures and through His Prophets. Trust the priesthood blessings you have received. Trust your patriarchal blessing. Trust the counsel from your bishop.
Live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Learn the doctrines and commandments, and live them.
Counsel with the Lord, your friends, and family. Don’t feel like you always have to make decision on your own. Counsel with those that you trust and who want the best for you. You can always counsel with the Lord by reading scriptures. He may counsel back through the experiences found within. Study your patriarchal blessing. He may have provided some counsel there as well.
After all that we can do, I know from experience that God is there. Sometimes, He wants us to use our agency and learn. How we use our agency is part of the test of this life! If we take a wrong step, it’s okay. Acknowledge him, and He shall direct your path back to the course He has prepared for you. As we strive to make righteous decisions in faith that He is there, we will come recognize that He has never left us alone.
Smile & Have Faith,