He’s got this, do you?

Sometimes I want to ask the Savior, “Can’t I just take a peek at my customized curriculum?  Can’t I just turn to Chapter three or page 491?

Yet, I know I don’t need to.

Because I have faith in Him.

And I trust Him.

I also know He’s got this.  For you, me, heck everyone.

And that when I am figuratively driving the car, I need to let Him; even if I still ask frequently, “Are we there yet?”

It doesn’t mean, though, that our human self doesn’t doubt or fear from time-to-time.

While our spiritual self is the more positive and in fact hopeful one.

In a recent blog post God’s customized curriculum for you: Embrace and love it regardless, I wrote about how God has a customized curriculum for each one of us.  I later received a comment about that post:

C.S. Lewis 2
(Christianity Today, 2017)

“This reminds me of a favorite CS Lewis Quote: ‘Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.'”

C.S. Lewis & Palace

I love and believe this.  What great imagery.  We’re building a cottage, yet He knows we deserve a palace instead.  I can totally see this, can’t you?

God does know our potential.  He knows what we need.  And He wants to bless us beyond anything that we could ever imagine.  But we’ve got to talk to Him.  And read His instruction.  I mean, He’s clearly provided a way or means for us to navigate this life.  But are we utilizing those resources?

What to Do

It’s been said, if you want to talk to God, pray, then listen.  And if you want God to talk to you, read His scriptures, His words, then listen.

“Dependence on God can fade quickly when prayers are answered. And when the trouble lessens, so do the prayers,” said church leader Henry B. Eyring (2001, para. 7).  Eyring tells us that we can’t just pray when times are tough.  We need to pour out our hearts to Him always.  And not just fast food prayers,  but sincere and genuine ones’.  And however long that prayer takes.  “When God has commanded us to pray, He has used words like “pray unceasingly” and “pray always” and “mighty prayer,” says Eyring.  He also believes we need to accept whatever comes.  However God answers us.  Even and especially if it is not what we prayed for.

president-eyring-meetinghouse-dedication.jpg
(LDS.org, 2016)

Like the breast cancer diagnosis I received.

Or when I have been cheated on.

Or the brain tumor I had taken out last summer.

All these things, and others, have made me into who I am today.  They are part of my customized curriculum.

And I am grateful for them even if they sometimes caused pain and anguish.

Yours might include the death of a loved one.

Loss of employment.

Divorce.

An addiction such as pornography.

A disease.

Financial loss.

But our trials can help create that palace C.S. Lewis alludes to.

So, too, can reading God’s words.  Take, for instance, Proverbs 3:5-6:

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (LDS.org, 2016)

Trust
(Griffiths, n.d.)

What great counsel.  Since we are spiritual beings, we need to talk to God, read His scriptures, and listen to know how best to get through this life.  Yet, human beings, rather, “lean … unto thine own understanding.”  Unfortunately, the latter can be a recipe for disaster.

It’s been said that every problem in life can be answered through the scriptures.  I believe this.  It has been true for me especially when I have been feasting opposed to having a baby toe in them.

RMN
(Holman, 2013)

“Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles,” said another church leader, Russell M. Nelson (2013, para. 16).  I don’t know about you, but blessings and miracles sound pretty good to me over any earthly or worldly thing.  Yet, we have to earn them.  They take work, action, plus faith.

OBEDIENCE 2
(Farmington UT West Stake, 2016)

All this He wants to give us.  We’ve just got to take time to not only get to know Him, but become like Him.  Dr. Kristin M. Oaks (2011) agrees, “Our responsibility is to become the best disciples of Christ we can become” (para. 11).   Similarly, President Thomas S.

KM_Oakes
(Oaks, 2011)

Monson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, counsels:

I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives. (2016, para. 6).

Monson
(Mormon Spiritual Gifts, n.d.)

So, I’m in.  Sign-me up.  No matter how difficult.

And as I do, let Him create that palace in place of my cottage.

After all, He’s got this.

How ’bout you?

References

Christianity Today.  (2017).  Christian history.  Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/musiciansartistsandwriters/cs-lewis.html

Deseret News Books.  (n.d.).  Posts [Pinterest page].  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/deseretnews/books/?lp=true

Eyring, H. B.  (2013, October).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/prayer?lang=eng

Farmington UT West Stake.  (2016, February 16).  Retrieved from http://farmingtonutweststakeprovidentliving.blogspot.com/2016/02/tip-of-day-exact-obedience-brings.html

Griffiths, W. (n.d.).  Posts [Pinterest page].  Retrieved from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7740630587668361/

Holman, M.  (2013, September 9).  Church News.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/church/news/what-will-you-choose-elder-nelson-asks-young-adults?lang=eng

Jones, M. & Williams, L. (2016, February 12).  22 quotes from LDS leaders about dating and marraige.  Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/top/3589/0/22-quotes-from-LDS-leaders-about-dating-and-marriage.html

LDS.org.  (2016).  Henry B. Eyring.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/what-are-prophets/bio/henry-b-eyring?lang=eng

LDS.org. (2016).  President Monson: Service brings joy.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/service-brings-joy?lang=eng

LDS.org. (2016).  The Proverbs.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/prov/3.5-6?lang=eng

Mormon Spiritual Gifts (n.d.). Develop your spiritual gifts. Retrieved from http://www.mormonspiritualgifts.com/?cat=22

Oaks, Kristen, M. (2011, September 11).  To the singles of the church.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/ces-devotionals/2011-09-to-the-singles-of-the-church?lang=eng

Forgiving & loving your leader: From enemies to friends

 

images-2
(Passionate Giving, 2012)

“You sure you want to work for her?” a senior administrator asked me point-blank.  “She is an absolute jerk.  She’s come into my office, this office right here, screaming and demanding things.”  Similarly, another senior leader told me, “I’m fond of you and she’s not someone I would recommend you working under.  I’m worried for and I’m warning you.”

But I went anyway.

And they were somewhat right.

But the thing is, we sometimes have to find out for ourselves.

Later, once in that work environment, people would ask me in passing, by phone and email, “What’s it like working for so-and-so?”

Or, “How can you stand her?”

And even, “You okay?”

That leader fired people when they messed up.  Course, when you know someone’s looking for your mistakes or focusing on them, and sometimes sets you up for failure, you tend to mess up more.

You also got fired if she didn’t like you.  And she went to great extents to ruin your reputation, credibility and career.  Once fired, and not under her micromanagement umbrella anymore, she still worked to sabotage any of your future success.

Funny thing was, she made mistakes all the time.  Yet, it was okay.  It was a classic, “Do as I say, not as I do” culture.

And when a “high pollutant” person (to her) came into our department, she did the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dance.  You know, where she became someone we did not recognize.  Trust me, the special treatment was envied yet, stomach-upsetting.

Shouldn’t, though, we all be treated with the same respect regardless of our position, last name, salary, popularity, history, status, or connections?

images
(Brushfield, 2014)

Eventually, no one in our department felt their job tenure was safe or wanted to be at work.  And everyone I knew was looking for another job while they became a “yes” man and played “the game.”

And creativity and productivity?

Forget that. It was non-existent.

But let’s get to how I survived.

FOP_Logo_White_Med
(Somewhere Creative, n.d.)

I worked to focus on what was working.  What she was doing right because everyone does things right.  And her potential because everyone has potential.  And told her.  Over and over and over again.  Even while she reminded me and others of what we did wrong and held grudges.  Yet, “anger and blame are unproductive emotions that tie up energy in destroying rather than creating” (Kanter, 2013).

I also worked to love her (i.e., professionally and Christlike so).

And forgave her.  Which is something that was not reciprocated.

“Leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future” said Kantor (2013) in her Forbes piece, “Great Leaders Need to Know When to Forgive” (para. 1).  She explained “Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business” (para. 2). Even Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi believed, “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” (Santa Barbara.com, n.d.).

Gandi
(Santa Barbara.com, n.d.)

To date, although it once appeared we were enemies, we are now friends.

I believe people are placed in our lives to teach us, and perhaps, them too. I do not believe it is by coincidence, but divine placement.

The real questions, though, are what will you do with the folks’ and circumstances placed before you?  Will you murmur or will you make and do good with them?

So the next time someone warns you not to work for someone, do think and pray about it.

Yet, keep in mind that it could be just what you need.  After all, explained church leader Monte Brough (2016), when quoting the Apostle Paul, “… tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope … ” (para. 11).

References

Brough, M. J. (2016, April).  Lessons from the Old Testament: Adversity, the great teacher.  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/08/lessons-from-the-old-testament-adversity-the-great-teacher?lang=eng

Brushfield, A. (2014, August 11).  Are you respected in the workplace?  Retrieved from https://www.thindifference.com/2014/08/respected-workplace/

Kanter, R. M. (2013, February 26).  Great leaders know when to forgive.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/02/great-leaders-know-when-to

Passionate giving.  (2012, April 30).  How to confront bad leadership.  Retrieved from https://veritusgroup.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/how-to-confront-bad-leadership/

Santa Barbara.com. (n.d.).  Forgiveness.  Retrieved from http://hindi.santabanta.com/sms-cat.aspx?catid=621&page=2

Somewhere creative.  (n.d.).  Retrieved from http://cargocollective.com/somewherecreative/focus-on-potential

 

 

 

 

 

God’s customized curriculum for you: Embrace and love it regardless

neal-a-maxwell
(Mormon Channel, 2017)

According to church leader Neal A. Maxwell (1974), God has created a customized curriculum for each one of us.  He does this:

…in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like (para. 2).  The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve. (para. 3)

This includes happy, joyful, celebratory people, times and situations.

Yet, it may also include sorrow, tragedy, sadness, heartbreak, illness, sickness, and death.

The key is, embracing and loving your customized curriculum.

Regardless of what it is.

Mine, for instance, to name a few of the heavy-hitters, has included breast cancer, divorces, radiation-induced heart disease, and a benign brain tumor.

I’m still here though.

And walking, talking, breathing, learning, celebrating, excited, happy, etc.

Why?

Because, while living in Japan, some years back, a brave soul opened his mouth and introduced me to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

the-bom
(FHE: The Book of Mormon, 2017)

In fact, I was baptized into this church while living there only to learn I had breast cancer two days later.  More was found three days later.

But how awesome that a loving Heavenly Father, knowing that cancer was in my customized curriculum, provided a gospel to help me through it and what other trials were to come.

ckd-dr-winer
(Family Photo)

Back then, though, I didn’t know I had a customized curriculum let alone fully understood what the gospel meant.

And I don’t fully now either.  But I’m on my way.

And I’m excited about it.

That if I do my part.  He will do His.

And not necessarily in the way I desire.

But in the way He knows best for me.

Prayer

I also learned more about prayer.  That it is, when I talk to Him.  When I sincerely pour out my heart to Him and not just offer mere repetitious prayers.

And that when I want to know what He intends for me, I take time to listen after my prayers.

Oh, He answers alright, but it may not be what I asked for or how I intended.

Maxwell explains:

We may at times, if we are not careful, try to pray away pain or what seems like an impending tragedy, but which is, in reality, an opportunity. We must do as Jesus did in that respect—also preface our prayers by saying, “If it be possible,” let the trial pass from us—by saying, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt,” and bowing in a sense of serenity to our Father in heaven’s wisdom, because at times God will not be able to let us pass by a trial or a challenge. If we were allowed to bypass certain trials, everything that had gone on up to that moment in our lives would be wiped out. It is because he loves us that at times he will not intercede as we may wish him to. (para. 6).

Adds Wilcox (2010), “Let us continue to pray for the removal of our thorns, but if our prayer seems unheeded, may we hear the whisper of the Lord, ‘Peace, child, I am at work’” (p. 13).

Additionally, I learned that answers to prayer come in His timetable, not mine.

After all, He knows what I need better than I.

For example, my asking to be healthy, but getting a cancer diagnosis.  Looking back, although I was a train wreck when I first heard my diagnosis; today, so much good, blessings and miracles have come out of it.

“Given time, the Lord can extract the most good out of the most unfortunate of circumstances.  Our love of God is more than matched by his love for us.  That is why he will not allow negatives to remain negative.  He will find a way to change the dynamics of our trials and turn them to blessings” (Wilcox, 2010, p. 8).

For instance, when I had my brain tumor removed last June, it was one of the most spiritual experiences for my husband and I.  It actually was one of the best experiences in my life.  Through earlier trials, He schooled me to embrace and love my brain tumor to further refine, teach and humble me.

brian-mri
(Family Photo of Brain MRI images before and after craniotomy)

Maxwell explains:

we must pray, therefore, not that things be taken from us, but that God’s will be accomplished through us. What, therefore, may seem now to be mere unconnected pieces of tile will someday, when we look back, take form and pattern, and we will realize that God was making a mosaic (para. 13).

Wilcox (2010) agrees: “It is in the crucible of adversity that the gold of godliness is refined, molded, and shaped to perfection” (p. 9).

Scriptures

God has also provided instruction for us.

Through scripture.

scriptures
(History of LDS Scriptures, 2016)

Wilcox (2011) even refers to them as letters from God.

So He didn’t just bring me (and you) here to navigate this life without instruction.

The frustrating thing for Him, I am sure, is that often we don’t pray to Him unless there is a crisis.  The same with reading His books of instruction.

Instead, we rely on the arm of flesh –our own and others thinking– and not the arm of God.

Yet, believes Wilcox (2010), “Learning is one of the best ways to cope with adversity” (p. 128).

I know when I have been most happy and at peace, is when I pray and read the scriptures daily.

When I have hope and faith.

And not doubt and fear.

How grateful I am for a Heavenly Father that provides a customized curriculum for each one of us that refines, molds and shapes us to become more like Him so that He can use us as one of His tools to help build up His kingdom of God.

Praying for Trials

Some time ago I lived in a small town in rural Southern, Utah.  There, people actually prayed for trials.

They knew that they were a means to become like God.

I’m not quite sure I am there yet with praying for trials, but when they come, today I embrace them and ask Him, “What do you want me to learn from this?” and “What do you want me to do with it?”

After all, it is not about me, but Him.

I’ll just go where He wants me to go.

And do what He wants me to do.

Even if I don’t understand.

Regardless.

References

FHE: The Book of Mormon.  (2017).  Retrieved from http://www.ldsliving.com/FHE-The-Book-of-Mormon/s/75294

History of LDS scriptures. (2016).  Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/history?lang=eng

Maxwell, N. A. (1990).  But for a small moment.  Retrieved from https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell_small-moment/

Mormon Channel.  (2017).  Retrieved from https://www.mormonchannel.org/listen/series/enduring-it-well-audio/his-small-moment-nancy-maxwell-anderson-and-cory-maxwell-episode-55

Wilcox, S. M. (2010).  What the scriptures teach us about adversity.  Salt Lake City, UT:  Deseret Book Company.

Wilcox, S. M. (2011).  The Michael Wilcox collection. [CD ROM].  Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company.