I’ve spent a good deal time thinking that God had my life mapped out for me, and that if I was faithful He would tell me where to go and what to do. There is a certain amount of truth to that, but it can be a paralyzing and disappointing way to live. It can leave one arrested at every life choice, wondering which of our many options is THE RIGHT one. It can leave us feeling unsatisfied with the common, humdrum way that life progresses, and devastated when blessings we have worked for seem to get delayed or canceled. It can make us judgmental of those whose choices don’t match our own. It can also leave us feeling hopeless despair when we realize we made a wrong choice and are not where we ought to be.
At some point I had an epiphany. I realized that God’s plan for me has less to do with where I go and what I accomplish, and more to do with who I become. I’m not trying to “level up.” I’m not chasing some imaginary finish line. My worthiness does not depend on reaching a certain percentage of perfection, which gets derailed every time I trip up. I retain a remission of my sins by consistent progress… by becoming better today than I was yesterday, and THAT happens when I couple my life with the Lord, even though I haven’t reached perfection.
In the final judgement, it won’t matter so very much if you managed to become the prophet, but it will matter if you learned to give of yourself and to serve. Your salvation won’t depend on whether or not you served a mission and helped some magical number of people get baptized, but it will depend on whether or not you testified of Christ and fulfilled your responsibilities. You will not lose blessings because you didn’t manage to find your ”soulmate” and/or have children. But you will lose blessings if you failed to learn how to clothe the naked, comfort & mourn with those in need, and protect & provide for the innocent.
When you think about God’s plan for you as a plan for becoming something special instead of accomplishing something special, life makes a lot more sense. Moments that seemed to be a total waste suddenly have value. Think about it! If we believe the purpose of life is to achieve something, like a celestial family for example, then despair and defeat naturally follows common experiences like the failure to find a spouse, or abandonment, or infertility, or divorce. But if the purpose of life is to become a celestial member of a family, some of the pain of these events evaporates. Because God can lead us to the best within ourselves, especially in the worst circumstances.
The devil tells us that failure is bad. He tells us that our mistakes are proof that we don’t belong with God. That is a lie. The truth is that if we cannot see our failures we cannot progress, and when we cannot progress, we are the very definition of damned. A favorite hymn of mine, “God Speed the Right,” proclaims, “Like the great and good in story, if we fail, we fail with glory.” Failure is an essential part of the road to eternal glory. When we look at our lives with an eye for personal improvement, instead of personal achievement, we see our progress, and we see our worthiness.
And best of all, we realize that no blessings are hopelessly lost. No wrong turn can take us or our loved ones too far off-course. No illness, no loss, no impairment, no failure can really keep us from eternal progress unless we let it.