I admit, I've had bad writers block the past couple of months, which is odd, because you'd think with big changes like moving and switching jobs that I'd have a lot to report, but it's been such a whirlwind that I haven't really had time to put everything into words.
I have been doing a lot of studying on personal revelation the past couple of months, which has prompted me to reflect on times in my life when I've received personal revelation. I wanted to share some things I've learned about personal revelation through my own experiences.
Personal revelation sometimes confirms what we already knew.
This has happened on a few occasions, but one time in particular that has always stood out to me was when I was applying for colleges and trying to figure out where I wanted to go. Honestly, I knew all throughout high school that I wanted to go to BYU, and I worked hard to qualify to get in. I still applied to other schools (I was a incredibly nervous about not getting into BYU since it has become so competitive. I had heard of people with higher GPA's and ACT scores not getting accepted). After I got accepted, it seemed silly to me to pray about it to make sure I should go, but I did anyways. My answer wasn't a big huge revelation of "Hey! Yes! You need to go to BYU!" but it was just more just peace and assurance that BYU was where I was supposed to go. After I got that reassurance I still didn't know why I was supposed to pray about it, but I later realized that it would set a pattern for me. I needed to practice praying and relying on the Lord to guide me, because there would certainly be times when I wouldn't know what to do and I needed to practice asking for and receiving guidance.
Personal revelation sometimes comes at random or unexpected times.
There are two times I distinctly remember receiving revelation when I wasn't praying about a particular problem or situation, but was simply trying my best to daily seek the spirit by prayer and scripture study. I think because of those small and simple daily tasks, my heart was able to receive unexpected revelation.
The first time was my second semester of freshman year at BYU. This was when I started dating returned missionaries and the thought of marriage became more serious in my mind. As a freshman going on dates with RM's, the thought did cross my mind that if the person I marry graduates before I do, would I be able to finish my degree, or would I have to work to support a family while my potential husband finishes school? It was a little concern in the back of my mind. I don't remember exactly where I was, but I remember getting a very strong impression that I needed to finish my degree.
The second time also goes along with my schooling. It happened during my first semester of sophomore year, so just a few months after I felt that I needed to finish my degree. I admit, after receiving that first bit of revelation, I figured that if I met and married someone who was on track to graduate before me that I would just transfer schools to finish my degree. I remember it was in October or November, and I was walking through the Talmage building on the way to one of my classes, and I felt very strongly that not only did I need to finish my degree, but that I needed to stay at BYU. It seemed very random and not something I was earnestly praying for, but I tucked that little bit of revelation away.
Looking back, I can see that getting a degree was essential to me being able to bring in extra money right now and also working until Grant was able to finish up school (not to mention the NICU bills for Andrew would have been crazy without good insurance through my work). I know that our situation is just that: ours. I know that everyone receives their own personal revelation for their lives. I'm not saying everyone needs to get a degree or everyone needs to graduate from BYU, but for my life, that is what Heavenly Father had planned for me.
Personal revelation sometimes comes piece by piece.
You'd think with something as important as deciding who to marry that you'd have an experience where it was unmistakable that you were supposed to marry that person. I knew tons of people that had unmistakable experiences where they knew in one particular moment the answer to who they were supposed to marry. I remember as Grant and I were dating, I just kept saying "Heavenly Father, this is who I would like to marry. Please let me know if this is the right thing." I went to the temple often, fasted often, and still, no chorus of singing angles saying "You should marry Grant Vanderhorst!" Finally, I got a little frustrated and fed up, so my prayers changed to "Look, I really really like this guy a lot and I plan on marrying him, so if that's not the right thing you need to let me know...sooner rather than later would be preferable." I also realized that I was looking beyond the mark a little bit. I was so busy waiting for this undeniable sign, that I had missed little bits of revelation that Grant was who I was supposed to marry and was (and still is) a good choice for me. I started keeping track of those small experiences in a journal, and looking back I can see that all those experiences together was my undeniable answer. But my revelation to marry Grant came piece by piece.
So it was after we got married. We both had a couple years of school ahead of us, and we seemed so far away from the goals we had in mind. We were trying to plan out when to start our family, what Grant should major in, where we would find a job out of school, and wondering if it would all work out. We wanted the full picture. But, we finally realized that we just had to take it one semester at a time. At the beginning of each semester we would discuss our finances, where we would be working and how many hours, discussing classes/majors, and if that was the right time to start our family. Each semester things became a bit more clear. We didn't receive the answers all at once, but we received enough to get through that semester. Looking back, I can see now how Heavenly Father led us through those first couple years of marriage and finishing out our college careers. The revelation we received didn't come all at once, but it did come (just in small pieces).
Personal revelation sometimes comes all at once.
When Grant and I first decided to move out to D.C., it wasn't because we felt like it was "where we were supposed to be." Grant also had an offer in Houston, TX, and as we prayed about these job offers we got the feeling that it was truly our choice, and that either decision would be a good decision for our family. Both Grant and I always wanted to experience the East Coast, and he was excited to work for a company like Deloitte, so we decided to move to D.C.
After being here for a couple years, Grant started to get the itch to move on from Deloitte. He had gained some great experience and loved his coworkers, but he knew that he didn't want to be doing what he was doing in the long haul, so back in March he started looking for new jobs. When he first started looking, we were wanting to move back west to be closer to family and where the cost of living is cheaper. As Grant was applying for jobs, he found one at Amazon Web Services in Herndon (about 30 minutes away from where we were living), and decided to apply for the job. He thought that Amazon would be a cool company to work for, but knew that since it wasn't back west that we probably wouldn't take it. As he went through the interview process with Amazon and a few other companies, the more he learned about the job and the culture at Amazon, the more he felt a draw to them, and I was on the same page. He had his final interview with Amazon, and then the next day was flying out to Salt Lake to interview with a couple companies there. When Grant was out of town, it hit me like a ton of bricks that Amazon would be a really good opportunity for him and a good change for our family, and Grant felt the same way. After interviewing with the companies in SLC, we both knew that Amazon was the right move for our family.
Personal revelation sometimes is hard to accept and requires patience.
I find it a little ironic that when we moved out here to D.C. (the time when we felt like it was really our decision), that move seemed easier for me to handle, but the move to Herndon for Grant's job with Amazon (the time when we felt strongly that this was the right thing for us to do), the move has been harder for me. We really like the area we are in because it is less congested and more family oriented, and Grant has really enjoyed his new job. I think this move has been a little harder for me, simply because it takes a while to get familiar with an area and things to do with kids, as well as build new friendships in our new ward. Even though I know this move was the right move for our family, and we felt like we should be in the ward we moved into, that doesn't mean it will always be easy. The right path for us requires patience, trust in the Lord, and especially trust in his timing.
In a marriage, unanimity in revelation is key to guiding a family.
When I was at BYU I took a class entitled "Teachings of the Living Prophets," and there were a few statements from apostles that said in a nutshell that the Quorum of the Twelve only works on unanimity, but that unanimity isn't always achieved right away. All these men are well educated and opinionated about many different things, and they discuss things in detail and at length before all feel at peace and unanimous about decisions. Even though there may be disagreement at first, they always discuss things calmly and with respect to each other.
I've learned that unanimity in revelation applies to marriage as well. There have been times in mine and Grant's marriage where we haven't always agreed right away about decisions, but we've both learned that we both need to receive revelation about the decision and be on the same page, because if we're not, it's not the right decision. There have been times where Grant felt good about moving into a certain apartment and I didn't, and when we moved to Herndon there was an apartment that I loved and felt good about, but Grant didn't feel good about it. Every night when we say prayers together, we pray that we will be guided in our decisions, and we recognize that part of being guided means that we need to eventually be on the same page. There is great peace in unanimity. When we were getting ready to move to Herndon, we were both getting stressed. We were getting ready to go on a 2 week vacation, trying to pack up our apartment, trying to find a new apartment, etc. There were times when I wondered if we were making the right decision because I wasn't feeling that same peace that I had originally felt. I was reading my scriptures one night and came across D&C 6:28 where it says "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." That helped me remember that Grant and I were both had a confirmation that this was the right move for our family, and this was "the word" for our family.
I'm so grateful for personal revelation. Whenever I get anxious about the uncertainty of life and get frustrated that I can't plan out everything, I always go back to this scripture in 2 Nephi 4:34. "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever...Yea I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness."
I know that when life gets uncertain, we can rely on our Heavenly Father to guide us through personal revelation.