So I was talking to a widowed friend today and we were discussing me selling my house. I thought back to last summer and all of the weeping and wailing and some gnashing of teeth that occurred as I fretted about selling it.
I have always really like having a plan. All of my life I have planned things, and all of my life I have worked those plans until I was sure that they would succeed. My life experiences have taught me that if I want something to happen, all I have to do is to work hard enough, and it will happen. Pretty much everything that I have ever tried, I have willed it to succeed. I am learning that there are some good things about that trait and some bad. I am very motivated and hard working. As a result, I also have a lot of confidence, and a large repertoire of things that I know how to do well. The bad part about this trait is that I can drive spontaneous people a little crazy. These were things I already knew about myself; however, this past year has taught me some other things as well.
My husband dying really messed up my plan, at least the one Scott and I had formulated. I was left with no other choice than to scrap ‘Plan A.’ Everyone who looses a spouse goes through this. They call it, “Finding a new reality,” or “Finding a new normal.” (this sounds much more fun than it actually in reality is.)
I think I mourned the lost of the old plan as much as I mourned Scott because they were so integrally connected. In my case and because I was a planner, my husband and I had talked extensively about a contingency plan should something happen to either one of us. I knew what to do. Even though I was still lamenting the loss of the old plan, I quickly moved into “work plan B” mode. I knew I needed to sell the house, move to Omaha so my kids could be around my husband’s brothers, and go back to school. I called the relators the day after my husband died.
Everyone told me, don’t make any major decisions for at least a year, but these were not new decisions. They had been carefully discussed and thought over and revised over the years, and they had been made with him. They were all that I had left of my former life. So I set to work at willing my plan to succeed. I refinished floors, redid counter tops, washed woodwork and doors. I touched up paint, recaulked bathrooms, and kept my house pristine and spotless. I even put all of the shampoo in the cupboard so it would look more like a model home than a lived in house. That was just what I did on the inside; I’m not even going to discuss the 13 acres that I had to keep mowed and weeded and mulched. I literally drove myself crazy trying to have my house ready to show at any moment. When it did not sell, I lowered the price and lowered it again. I put fliers at businesses where I thought there would be potential customers. I did everything I knew to do to sell a house, and yet 9 month later it had not sold. My plan was not working and I could not will it to work no matter what!
This is what I learned, not for the first time, but really learned..
God wanted me to STOP willing my plans to work.
He wanted me to trust in His plan for my life, and turn my will over to Him.
When I couldn’t make it work, I had no where else to turn. When I finally accepted that, He was finally able to show me His plan. Now He doesn’t show me the whole thing like I would like, but He clears a little bit of the FOG so that I can move forward a step. Then when I exert that faith He clears a little more. Day by day, step by step everything gets a little clearer. For the past 3 1/2 months that is how I have been living my life… learning to be content with MY DAILY BREAD.
The past 3 1/2 months of trusting God’s will has been so much easier than fighting against it. I can look back today and see all of the reasons that my house did not sell. My life has taken a much different path than plan B, but it is a better plan for me. It is not a plan that I would have imagined, but it is a more fulfilling plan, a happier plan and a more peaceful plan. I am more settled. I’m more consistent. I’m in a place where I can help and influence a lot of people, and that is really, really good for the healing of my soul.
When my house did not sell, I prayed. I said,
“Heavenly Father, I just cannot spend the next year cleaning my house and taking care of my yard. I will go crazy! I need a purpose, please give me something meaningful to do.”
I had no idea at that time what that plan would be, but it gradually and surprisingly unfolded before me. I began posting on facebook and in a closed widows group the things that I was learning. I found friends both here and in my widows group to help and to also support me in return. Some of them encouraged me to blog and so this started- something I never thought I would do. I found people who needed me to visit and watch over them, I found people who were newly widowed who needed support. I found that my experiences were not just for me, but that by sharing them I could lift and help others. I found that helping others was very fulfilling and filled me with joy. I was actually feeling happy most of the time! I was feeling peaceful. Helping others helped me to feel the spirit, brought me closer to God and helped me find answers to questions that I was seeking. I felt that I was getting more in return than I was giving.
So we are currently doing a little remodeling and the house goes back on the market in January. Surprisingly, I’m not stressed. (I will let you know in January if that is still the case!) I have decided that the house will sell when it is time for us to go and not a minute sooner! I have decided that I need to leave it in the Lord’s hands. Honestly, I’m not even sure now what the plan is when it sells, or if it even will sell before next school year. I have several options I am prepared for, but I also understand that a new option could present itself that I had not previously considered, and that option might be what the Lord wants me to do. I know that what I want now is what the Lord wants. That is the only path that will make me happy. It may not be the easiest path or the funnest path, but if it is the right path, then it will help me to BECOME who I need to be to return to Him and my sweetheart someday. That’s what I want most of all.
“We recognized a principle that applies to every devoted disciple: strong faith in the Savior is submissively accepting of His will and timing in our lives—even if the outcome is not what we hoped for or wanted. Certainly, (we) would desire, yearn, and plead for healing with all of (our) might, mind, and strength. But more importantly, (we) would be “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19). Indeed, (we) would be willing to “offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26) and humbly pray, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).”
CES FIRESIDE BY ELDER BEDNAR “THAT WE ‘MIGHT NOT SHRINK'”
This is from that same talk about a young man struggling with cancer. They have learned the same lesson that I have learned and I wanted to echo his words…
“Up until this point, I had a hard time reconciling the need for my faith in Christ with the inevitability of His will. I saw them as two separate things, and sometimes I felt that one contradicted the other. ‘Why should I have faith if His will ultimately is what will prevail,’ I asked? After this experience, I knew that having faith—at least in my circumstance—was not necessarily knowing that He wouldheal me, but that He could heal me. I had to believe that He could, and then whether it happened was up to Him.”
“As I allowed those two ideas to coexist in my life, focused faith in Jesus Christ and complete submission to His will, I found greater comfort and peace. It has been so remarkable to see the Lord’s hand in our lives. Things have fallen into place, miracles have happened, and we continually are humbled to see God’s plan for us unfold.”
Peace comes from trusting God and in His ability to guide and control our lives. This is not a passive trust that requires no action on our part. On the contrary, the action required is intense. He requires us to live our lives in a manner that we can listen to and follow His direction and promptings so we know His plan and we can actively work that plan. It is difficult to work a plan that you do not know how it will end, but we can trust Him and His love for us. We can know that He always gives good gifts. We can know that He loves us more than we love ourselves and that He knows what is better for us that we do.
“Many of the lessons we are to learn in mortality can only be received through the things we experience and sometimes suffer. And God expects and trusts us to face temporary mortal adversity with His help so we can learn what we need to learn and ultimately become what we are to become in eternity.” -Elder Bednar
Questions to Ponder:
1. Do you have an experience from the past, where God’s path for your life was different that your plan? What have you learned from that experience?
2. Are there circumstances that you are trying to “will” to work, but are not coming together? How does learning and submitting to God’s will and timing for your life bring you peace?
3. How does acting in faith to do good and listen to promptings help you trust God and submit to Him?