When I was a young woman, I spent a lot of time thinking about my future. Mission, marriage, education, work — all of these are questions for everyone, and I have a hard time answering them. I am ready to fulfill any mission of the Lord for me, if I only knew what it was.
My patriarchal blessing taught me about the purpose of my life. What if I make a wrong turn to where? Can I still see and fulfill the mission the Lord has planned for me?
Since then, I have discovered three principles that have helped me deal with uncertainty with greater confidence, enthusiasm, and faith.
1. In a Short Time
The first rule has to do with the importance of the present.
Beginning in 1831, many of the Saints then lived for about seven years in Kirtland, Ohio. They left their homes, businesses, and farms in New York and Pennsylvania to venture into an unfamiliar place. And the Lord told them that this place was only temporary:
“And I will grant unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, will provide for them, and command them to depart from it;
“And the time and the day are not given unto them, therefore they must act upon this land for some years, and it shall be well with them” (D&C 51: 16–17).
I love to picture in my mind those ancient Saints who listened to the Lord's instruction and immediately obeyed. They plowed the fields without knowing where they were going to harvest, planted trees where they might not be able to eat the fruit, and built a beautiful temple that they would eventually have to leave behind. It reflected in my mind that they were busy with life, progressing, not staring at nothingness forever, wondering where they were going next and when. They acted “for a number of years,” confident that what they were doing would not be in vain.
When they left Ohio in 1838, the Saints helped lay a solid foundation for the future development of the Church. Think about what happened during that important and significant time:
The Prophet Joseph Smith organized the School of the Prophets, completed his inspired translation of the Bible, and received many important revelations.
The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Seventy are organized.
The Kirtland Temple was built and dedicated. There Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw Jesus Christ and received priesthood keys from Moses, Elijah.
The first missionaries were sent to England.
My teenage years were a very important “short time” the Lord gave me. During our young adulthood, the strength of our body and mind is at its peak. We can benefit greatly from them by choosing to trust in the Lord and act “for a number of years.” Thus these years will be a time of extraordinary prosperity, development, learning, and service.
2. A Mission Every Day
The second useful principle comes from simple understanding. My mission in life did not await me in the vague and distant future. Every day and that continues.
President Brigham Young (1801–77) explained: “No man or woman in this Church is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live. ”1 In other words, my mission in life has begun. I didn't even have to search to find it.
I found a way to recognize this by understanding the three elements that are already part of my life:
In other words, we fulfill our mission whenever these three elements meet and we decide to act. Think about how it worked in Joseph's life in the Old Testament (see Genesis 37–47).
Joseph had many gifts. He grew up in a family with a knowledge of God, and he inherited the Abrahamic covenant. He has the spiritual gift of interpreting dreams.
He also had many challenges. I think some of Joseph's challenges included a father who showed favoritism, jealous brothers, and his own lack of diplomacy in dealing with them. In his youth he was sold into slavery in another land, accused of lewdness, and imprisoned.
But Joseph was also willing to act, using both his gifts and his challenges to respond to the specific needs of the world in which he lived. On several occasions, including in prison, he decided to use his spiritual gift to interpret people's dreams. This decision, on the other hand, gave him the opportunity to work for Pharaoh, and to store food for the Egyptians. Because he was faithful and zealous for this office, Joseph fulfilled his life-saving mission, and he saved many, including his own family, from starvation.
Joseph's gifts and challenges came together to put him in a unique position and to respond when famine came to the land. Because Joseph was Joseph and was in his position at the time and because he chose to act honestly and obediently, he fulfilled a unique mission to serve the Lord, the people of Egypt, and his own family.
But these three elements meet not only in the lives of the people we read about in the pages of scripture. They come together every day in the life of each one of us.
There is a young woman who is good at writing and has little personal experience with grief. When her teenage sister was having a hard time at school, she found that she was losing hope. Following the promptings of the Spirit, he wrote a series of beautiful and short letters to his brother, expressing his love and trust in him, one every day for two weeks. In that small decision to meet her brother's needs, this young woman fulfilled her mission.
As this decision to listen to the Spirit and to act continues day by day, week by week, and year by year, it creates a greater example that we will eventually know is the mission the Lord wants us to fulfill.
3. Stop and Recognize
Since I am over 20 years old, I also understand that the events in my life have been fulfilled in the very way described in my patriarchal blessing many years ago. Certainly not because I already know what I am doing and what my future holds. I make sure not to.
My life has some unexpected difficulties and misfortunes so I think I may not be moving forward as I should. But eventually I did not have to worry. The Lord always knows where I am and where He wants me to go. I always try my best to keep His commandments, to serve Him, and to listen to the Spirit. Although I often did not understand it then, I now understand that His hand has always guided my life.
My teenage years were full of important decisions and some inherent uncertainty and problems. But more confidence comes when we learn to rely on the Lord's ability to carry out His purposes for our lives — day by day. Then we will be better able to “stand still, and know [that He] is God” (Psalm 46:10). And in doing so, we will feel at peace.
The Saints in Kirtland in those days acted “for a number of years,” confident that what they were doing would not be meaningless. If you also trust in the Lord and act “for a number of years,” you will benefit greatly in every phase of your life.
Because of his gifts, challenges, and faithfulness, Joseph of Egypt was able to fulfill the unique mission of serving the Lord and others. These three elements also meet daily in the lives of each of us.