Today was the first Sunday of the month, a day generally designated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) as "Fast Sunday." This is not, as my sister used to believe when we were young, "the day everyone goes home from church really fast, so they can eat." It is a day when we are asked to fast (go without food and drink) for two meals, while increasing our prayers and turning our focus to the Lord. Often, we dedicate our fasting toward a certain, specific problem we may be facing, or a loved one who is ill and in need of extra prayer. And usually, our Fast Sundays include a testimony meeting during our worship services. In these meetings, instead of the usual prepared messages, members of the congregation are invited to come forward and share their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His gospel. In sharing our experiences and our insights with one another, we are often able to help each other through trials we might not even know we shared. This was definitely the case for me today.
Today, as I prepared to begin my fast, I prayed for strength and guidance regarding our upcoming move to New Mexico. Although there are many positive aspects to this relocation (we'll be closer to my family, for instance), I freely admit that I don't want to move. I love Maryland. I love my home here, my friends, my neighbors, the schools my children attend... I love it here. This is home. And so, as difficulties have cropped up over the past few weeks (as they always do with a move), I've found myself grumbling more and more: "See? Moving stinks. Can't someone please tell the Air Force we should just stay here??"
This morning, I humbled myself and asked the Lord once more to help me accept this relocation. I asked for strength and guidance as I prepare to face this final week in Maryland, that I might be able to finish all of the unfinished projects quickly to get our house ready to rent, so we'll be able to leave early next week. And I prayed that all would be well with us, even though the unknown adventures waiting for us in Albuquerque scare me to death.
Then, I sat in the testimony meeting, marvelling at the way the Lord sent so many of His children to comfort me in my time of need. First, my sweet 10-year-old daughter stood and stared straight into my eyes as she declared that she knows that Jesus is the Christ and that he loves us, and he has given us a prophet on the earth today, to lead us back to Him. Then, one by one, friends and neighbors stood to testify of the Lord's grace and power as He shepherded them through trials they didn't realize they had been strong enough to face. Over and over again, I heard stories about when my friends had faced great obstacles, and how they had, through faith and trust, found the courage to step into the unknown. Each expressed gratitude that they had been willing to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, taking a step into the dark and trusting that the Lord wouldn't lead them astray.
As I listened, I remembered many times in my own life that the Lord's path for me differed from the one I wanted to take. And each time, when I followed the scary, unknown path He set for me, I found rewards greater than I could have imagined waiting for me at the end.
* When I was in junior high school, my dad got a job across the state, and I had to say goodbye to my tiny handful of friends. I was certain that I would be unwelcome in my new school, that I'd be the weird new girl who no one would want to be friends with. Instead, I found a large group of friends waiting for me, many of whom I'm still in contact with today.
* When I graduated from high school, I dreamed of going to college at an Ivy League school, far away from home (where I could have a full, fresh start for this next chapter of my life). Instead, I wound up at the University of Wyoming, only 45 miles from home... and I met the love of my life.
* After college, we planned to go to graduate school... but instead, my husband joined the Air Force, and we wound up stationed at Beale AFB, California. And so we were living near one of the top facilities for treating brain tumors when mine was discovered.
I could go on for days, listing all of the times when life took me down a road that seemed to be exactly the opposite of what I had planned, and in every case, without exception, I was grateful for the detour in the end. I'm certain that I'll find countless blessings waiting for me in Albuquerque. Something amazing that I didn't dare hope for. I just need to have the courage to leap into the darkness, trusting the Lord to be my wings.