31 March 2013

Crossing Oceans and Seeing the Promised Land

So from the moment I had this experience I knew it was one I needed to share, mostly for my own sake because I don't ever want to forget how merciful the Lord was in this moment of my life. However I don't know how to tell it without first giving it some context.

Over the last few months I've had several job interviews, all of which have gone very well. And all of which are eventually followed up by an email or voicemail telling me that someone else has been hired but I'm at the top of their list if for some reason that person doesn't work out. Of course I've felt disappointed, but surprisingly enough, never distraught or worried about my seemingly perpetual unsettled, unemployed state. I have come to recognize this as a huge tender mercy in its own right, because I tend to fret about money and plans and the lack of both. So, Big Fat Blessing (BFB) #1.

At the end of February, I interviewed for a job that I was IN LOVE with. If I could create my dream job, it would probably look like that one. And the interview was fantastic! I loved them, they loved me! We had a grand time and talked for almost an hour. Seriously, it was probably the best interview I've ever had. Period. And they ended the interview in such a way that definitely led me to believe that I would be hired. And I was SO EXCITED! I thought that surely this must've been the job that Heavenly Father had been saving me for.

Well, it wasn't. I didn't get it. And for the first time in about 6 months, I felt a wave of discouragement and maybe even a brief moment of despair as I contemplated what on earth I am doing with my life, or not doing, rather. I prayed, and pleaded, that Heavenly Father would help me find something else... that SOMEHOW and SOME WAY my life would be able to progress.

Then I opened my scriptures and started reading where I left off the night before. Ether 6 in the Book of Mormon. It has always been one of my favorite chapters because the symbolism and imagery is so powerful, and I have often felt akin to the Jaredites being tossed upon the waves and buried in the deep, and yet somehow always heading for the promised land. Well, one verse jumped out at me that I'd never paid much attention to before:

"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water." -Ether 6:11

344 days! That's a L O N G time to be stuck in a barge. Suddenly I realized that I probably have been home from my mission, and symbolically stuck in my barge, for about that long. I decided to count it out. It turns out that my 344th day home will be 13 April. I decided that if the Jaredites could do it, so can I. Receiving personal revelation=BFB #2. So what did I do?

I prayed. Again. And I may or may not have given the Lord a deadline... (Not a technique I normally advocate haha) I asked Him to throw me a bone by April 13... a job, a calling, a volunteer opportunity, getting into grad school, moving somewhere, a man, a new friend, SOMETHING. By April 13. It was 6 weeks away, so I felt that was plenty of time for the Lord to help me find something new. I was being perfectly reasonable. (As long as you don't consider one setting the date of when she might snap as unreasonable...haha). And I fell asleep completely at peace about life.

I woke up the next morning with the Travis Tritt song "It's a Great Day to Be Alive" playing in my head. And for some reason I was convinced that it really WAS (BFB#3). I felt a strong desire to read my scriptures first thing. So I did (BFB #4). While reading, my phone beeped that I had a new email. Turns out it was from the director of Women's Voices Now telling me how stoked she was to get my application for their internship because I'm more than perfect for the position. WOW!!! That has never happened to me, and certainly not anytime recently (BFB #5). She asked some questions about my availability and I responded immediately. Then I left my phone on the other side of the room and went back to finish reading, so happy and incredibly grateful for this bone I was being thrown. And I didn't even have to wait til April 13 to get it!

My phone went off again and I assumed it was the same woman I'd responded to, so I decided to leave it. After I finished reading my scriptures I got dressed and ready for the day, totally forgetting about that second email. So about 45 minutes later I finally go and look at my phone. And to my great surprise, it was from the University of Birmingham offering me a place to study there next year (BFB #6)! I crumpled to the floor and wept like a baby. I was (and still very much am) SO HAPPY! SO RELIEVED! SO GRATEFUL! SO HUMBLED! SO OVERWHELMED by God's Goodness, Mercy, and Grace--even towards a daughter who tries to give Him deadlines. How did He respond to that deadline? He blessed me twice over with both an internship and grad school the very next morning! 

As simple and personal as this experience was, it was further testimony to me that God lives, that He is MY Father, and that He knows me and my needs and abilities perfectly. He hears and answers our prayers, but according to His perfect timing, not ours. I hope we all can have a multitude of similar experiences where we allow ourselves to feel our Heavenly Father's love for us and recognize His answers to our prayers! Those Big Fat Blessings are all around us!

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