I want my life to be centered around Christ and the gospel. That's what I try to do. Some people I have met in the recent past have criticized me for this, saying that I'm not really faithful because I only live well in order to reap the rewards of a good life. "You're only doing it for the blessings," some say.
Well, in some ways, yes. I know that if I give my best effort to live as the Lord has asked and commanded me to that He will bless me. After all, God cannot break His promises if I keep mine, as he said in the Doctrine and Covenants 82:10, "I the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." But I also do it because I want to live that way. I want to show the Lord that I love Him, and that I desire to be the best I can be for Him. The blessings are just a benefit.
Not only that, but those blessings don't always come when I want them to come. All of those things that I listed above? So far, none of them have happened, nor will they be happening in the near future (that was reconfirmed tonight). I'll be honest when I say that it is sometimes maddening. I get so frustrated at times, wondering what I'm doing wrong or if there's just something wrong with me as a person.
This has been on my mind a lot lately, sitting in the back of my head in a box that I'm afraid to open for fear of seeming ungrateful or impatient. Finally I've opened the box and examined the way I've been feeling and how I've been thinking. What I saw hurt! I felt let down and alone and forgotten, wondering what I'd done to fall so short of my dreams. Like going on a mission -- not right now. And dating -- that still never happens. I continually pray to the Lord to help me prepare to be a good missionary so I'm ready when I can go. I ask Him to help me be open to dating, but it never happens. All that ever happens are frightening or stupid experiences which leave me scratching my head wondering what I did to mess up this time.
I finally went to the Lord in prayer and I asked Him, How can I do the right things and be who you want me to be if you won't let me? If you won't make it possible? I'm doing the best that I can, but nothing is working out. You tell me to be patient. You tell me to wait. Am I doing something wrong? I'm trying to be good and be patient, like You've asked. Am I even going in the right direction? I felt like Nephi, when he cried out to God and said "Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord...my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquites" (2 Nephi 4:17). What have I been doing wrong?
With this on my mind, I was absolutely stunned at the answers I began to receive. Sunday's meeting had the same underlying theme, that of waiting on the Lord's timetable. It was repeated over and over again in different ways and by different people, that while the desires of our hearts may be correct, the time may not be right. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the apostles, said that it is just as important to do the right thing at the right time as it is to do the right thing at all. It is imperative to do the right thing at the right time. The choice may not be wrong, and the desire may be righteous, but the timing of the choices and desires may be off. Elder Oaks emphasized the importance of having faith in the Lord no matter what we are faced with, saying that "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us to face life's experiences," and that "faith will give us peace and knowledge of God's constancy in our lives. We will not need to plan even the important events in our lives at times, for He will guide us and direct us until those events fall into place, according to our faith."
It's like the scripture in the Bible, the one that says to "trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6). Yes, I don't understand why things aren't happening, and why I receive the "be patient" answer. I want to serve now! I want to do what I've been told is good and right and true now! But what I want and what the Lord knows is best aren't matching up. Heavenly Father's timing is not my timing. His timetable is different than mine. He knows that I'm frustrated sometimes, and He knows that my frustration stems from a desire to do as He has asked. However, as Elder Oaks reminded, the timing is just as important as the righteousness of a desire. For me, the time has not been right. The Lord still has things for me to do at the place I am right now, and knows that there are things I still need to change and learn before I can take new steps in my life.
For now, I focus on the things I can control: my pursuit of an education, my relationships with my family and friends, and my commitment to the gospel and the Savior. What I must do is be the best person I can be, being faithful and diligent in what I have been set to do, and in the desires that at this present time can be realized. It is my job to rely on His guidance, and to trust the revelation and direction that He gives me. I have to trust Him, and commit my way "unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalms 37:5). Because if I do as He asks to the best of my ability, He will take care of me. He will make sure that my desires are realized, if I trust Him and align my will to His.