I hate to move. I hate change. When change is coming or we have to move, which we do often, I have developed the habit of praying and asking God to show me why I had to make the move. What would I get from it? Once, the Holy Ghost told me I had ancestors in the place I was moving to. I protested and He said, “Go look.” (Wow! An ordinary sort of conversation with Him!) I did, and there they were. I had a great time for the few years we were there, tracking them down and getting to stand where they had stood. More often, I was told God needed me to do something for someone there—often a Primary child He wanted me to teach.
One day, however, I was frustrated. I absolutely did not want to leave the ward I was in, a soothing ward I had badly needed when we arrived. I struggled with the entire idea and began going to the temple once a week with my friend, who was a temple worker. After my session, I’d spend quiet time alone, praying about the move.
Despite all this, I was not getting an answer. One day, at home, I prayed in a rather upset tone, “You aren’t answering me. What am I going to get from this move?” The words entered into my mind, so clearly it was as if I could hear the Holy Ghost’s own voice. “It’s not always about you.”
I was stunned. Although the tone had been loving, I felt as though I’d been firmly scolded. The Holy Ghost had never talked to me that way before. I couldn’t decide whether to be offended or humbled. After a while, I decided humbled was the better path. As I thought about that response in the days following, I realized I had become rather self-centered in my requests for information. Although I always tried to word it the way I thought God wanted me to by asking if there was someone there I could help, I had not been asking unselfishly. I had really been asking, “What’s in it for me?” I knew the callings He sometimes prepared me for were things I loved to do and that I was looking for reassurance my personal life would be better in the new place.
But sometimes life isn’t about me. Sometimes, the move is for someone else in the family. Sometimes, someone else will benefit from something that happens to me. It may be something good for me or it may not. I may lose out on something I wanted to do because someone else needed it more than I did. Possibly my being somewhere or doing something would make life harder for another person so I needed to leave. Maybe I was needed to do something I didn’t want to do, but that someone else needed me to do for them.
Over time, I have reminded myself often that everything in life isn’t about me. God sees the big picture in a way I cannot. He has to juggle the needs of every person who will ever live and the needs of the gospel and that means sometimes what we want can’t be the priority.
I’ve come to apply this to the gospel as a whole, as well. I admit, sometimes there are things in the gospel I would like to be different. There are some commandments I would love to see not be in place. I would be happy if somehow all you had to do to get to the Celestial Kingdom was to read.
I don’t always understand why God sees things the way He does, or why He makes the choices He does. I have come to realize I don’t have to understand all the time. I’d like to—I am not a person who likes to guess. But sometimes, maybe it’s even good for me not to know. Maybe I need to learn how to accept something without knowing why I have to. Just maybe…that’s what is best for me in the eternal scheme of things.
I trust God. Trust hasn’t come easily for me, but over the many years since I joined the Church as a teenager, I have learned to trust God. Often the times I was most sure He was wrong turned out to have the most powerful lessons in why He was right. I have come to a place in my life where, if I am really uneasy with a doctrine or even a practice, I pray. Instead of coming to the prayer with a request that He back up my preferences, or feeling that longing in my heart, I have learned to come with a really open heart. I have learned to say, “I don’t understand. Help me, as I study, to find out what the answer is. Help me to get it.” Sometimes I get a personal understanding of the doctrine or situation I don’t understand, and sometimes I don’t—but I always get reassurance that it is as God planned it.
I can live with that—and I’d be too scared to live any other way. I don’t want to rule the world anymore. I want God in control.
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.