All I ever wanted out of life was that it be predictable, unchanging, and calm. Unlike many people, I like boring. Naturally, then, I have lived in twenty homes in seven states, and have encountered unpredictable life changes at every turn.
When I became a Mormon at age seventeen, I became aware that my goals for life were probably not the same as God’s goals for me. A life of nothing but reading and writing, without too many people in it, without change, and without challenges, was not likely to happen to me because there was a purpose to life…and apparently it wasn’t to see how many books you could get read in a lifetime. Not that reading was off the list—Mormons love education and literacy—but there was supposed to be more to it than that.
I learned that we are here, in part, to learn and to grow. Mormons believe we lived with God for a while after our spirits were created and that during that time, we started the learning and growing process. We began developing our personalities, a truth that became clear to me when I became a mother to children born with unique personalities. I found out that premortal life was for deciding what sort of person we wanted to be and then starting to become that person. However, that was only the beginning. Here on earth, living in very different circumstances, we would be given a life situation perfectly suited to becoming all we could be. The catch, of course, is that we have to be willing to face those opportunities and use them as growth experiences, rather than just whining about them.
I tended to prefer to whine.
As I have gotten older, though, I’ve learned two important truths:
- Whining just makes the challenges harder.
- God loves me too much to give up on me. If I don’t learn the essential lessons the first time, He simply provides me with a second time…and a third…and a fourth.
Eventually, I figured out it was probably easier to get it right the first time. Sometimes, I don’t, of course, but I’m working on it. As a result, I’ve had to learn to move to a new place and to treat it as an adventure. At first, I faked it, but my cheerfulness, real or imaginary, prepared two of my three children to become military wives always on the move. Eventually, I realized that I hate to move to a new place, but then I am equally reluctant to leave it. Now, I just look forward to finding out what God has in mind for me in that new location. I have taken on church jobs I didn’t want that ended up changing my life for the better and that I loved. I have faced trials I didn’t want and never loved, but that helped me discover depths in myself I didn’t know were there.
I am far from being the person I want to be, but I am already far more than I ever thought I could be. It’s an empowering realization and it has helped me to understand that I am empowered not by job titles, my place on an organization chart, money, or fame, but by learning who God knows I am and becoming that person.
And it gets even better: we get to continue learning and growing after this life as well. Can you imagine how boring eternal life would be if you sat around on a cloud doing nothing? I am excited to know there is a whole eternity for me to learn all the things I want to learn. While I have certain things that must be accomplished before I leave this life, there will always be new things to learn in the next. I love to learn!
Life is about changing and growing—God’s way, not my way. When it comes down to it, I realize I’d rather do it God’s way. After all, His vision of life reaches all the way into eternity, while mine is limited. He knows far more about me than I know about myself. My personal view of who I am is pretty limited. God’s plans for me have always been greater than mine could ever have been.
So, today I am off to get ready for the next changes God has in mind for me. I think I’ll invite Him to come along for the journey. These adventures are always so much more fun when He’s along.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.