Having to struggle for answers, for direction, or for inspiration has always been an annoyance to me. I have always been a fan of direct and complete information. When my children post on FaceBook and just say, “Crud,” I won’t even respond. I’m not about to start that whole prying for information thing. I figure if they have something to say they should say it. They shouldn’t make people pry it out of them.
I suppose it is not fair to lump the Lord in the same category as my children, but, at times, I think I secretly do. When I am looking for direction or revelation I don’t tend to get it all at once, but pieces of the puzzle come one at a time, and over a period of time, until I have a clearer understanding. This is, of course, tedious, because this method requires me to be paying attention to the information I am learning and to be aware of how it may fit in with what I was seeking answers to in the past. I have a short memory, so this can be a difficult exercise for me. Can you hear the hint of whining in my voice?
Lessons From the Past
When the Church published a couple of articles on the early practice of plural marriage, they were very up front about the fact that the neither the method for implementing nor the method for dismantling the practice were given up front. The Church had to struggle over the course of decades with how to practice plural marriage properly. Even Joseph Smith had to be threatened with drawn sword by an angel before he finally got moving on this principle. He didn’t have any clear instructions on how to proceed, and he really didn’t want to get started.
Establishing the practice of plural marriage took decades to work out the kinks and settle on protocols. They had to answer all the individual situations that arose as each person who was asked to live this principle had their own unique challenges to implementing the request to practice plural marriage.
I noticed that Church culture developed the same way. When the Church was first started there was no “Church” culture. All the people in the Church were converts from various religions. There was no consensus on what it meant to be Mormon or a Latter-day Saint. The culture within the Church we take for granted today took multiple generations to develop. It is, in fact, still developing as the members of the Church themselves change. What used to be common practice in the Utah Church is now being challenged by the more world-wide membership who live in different cultures and have different challenges. Church culture is a constantly shifting target. A recent example of this was the introduction of General Conference talks in the speaker’s native tongue.
High Council Lesson
I was called into the High Council of my stake, and was asked to be in charge of our Young Single Adult (YSA) program. I looked at the materials I had been given, but there were no names, no programs, nothing. I brought this up with the Stake President, and I was told that a couple of years earlier the Church had dissolved the YSA ward and had mandated that all YSA members attend the university wards in our area.
At first I thought, “Great. There is nothing I need to do then. That was certainly easy.” Then I went to Church and realized I was looking at a lot of YSA members who were attending my home ward and not the university ward. I realized that we had no programs to help them socialize and find spouses, which is a big part of that program. I brought this up with the Stake President, and found that the stake had been shackled by being asked not to do anything for the YSA so as to not compete with the university wards for the attention of the Young Single Adults.
It then got brought up in High Council meeting. It was slated for a 15 minute discussion and took the entire meeting. All we did was succeed in raising more questions than we had answers for. Then we had a Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting. The Stake President asked all the Bishops to come into his office and discuss what was happening with their YSA members. What an eye opener. The problems, and the questions roamed the gamut of experiences.
After the meeting I had a short casual conversation with the Stake President. He asked me what my feelings were about what was said in the meeting. As I tried to put my feelings into words, I suddenly realized that one comment made by one of the nine Bishops was standing out in my mind as the crux of the matter. I felt that this was where we needed to start. We did not address any of the other hundred questions or concerns, but we both felt that we now knew where we were to start in the process to help our YSA members have a better experience in their Church attendance and what we wanted to do with the high percentage of inactive Young Single Adults.
I have finally begun to see what the Lord is doing with this whole inspiration and revelation thing. He gives us a step to take. That is all, just one little step. It is then up to us to look around and make some decisions as to where we are and how best to proceed. As we act on what we have been given then other issues and points become apparent, and the next step is revealed. This is a slow and laborious endeavor.
What I have learned about this process is that I am just beginning to understand how the Lord works with us, his children. If the Stake President had just been given the answer as to how to fix the problem then none of us on the High Council, especially me, would have had to do any work for the answer. We would have just gone merrily on our way with no personal growth. The Lord wants us to learn how to solve these problems on our own. He is perfectly willing to reveal the direction we are to take, and what needs to be corrected when we get off course, but it is in our own best interests to have to struggle for the answers. We need to get better at pondering, looking at and assessing resources and situations. This teaches us wisdom and discretion. It teaches us to be self reliant and shows us what our real capacities are.
I am interested to know if I am the only one who has experienced this or if you have had something similar happen to you. I would love to hear your experience in the comments.