Have you ever prayed out loud pleading, sobbing, hoping, asking?
I did that recently. I had to. I was so confused, emotionally and physically exhausted, and feeling that I wasn’t doing my part well enough.
March 18-19 2016, my mom and I attended an event in Raleigh put on by Deseret Book called Time Out for Women (TOFW).
My feelings about this event are best summarized by my Facebook post on the 19th: Last night and today have been one of the greatest experiences I have had for a long time. My mom is with me. We are seeing old friends, feeling the Spirit, laughing, learning, and crying. The music and speakers are all phenomenal, and I look forward to the rest of today!
This event changed my perspective, and possibly my life.
I took many notes during the event, as all the speakers and performers had such lovely and insightful things to say. Here are some of the points that meant the most to me:
- John Bytheway, spoke of gardens. The garden was a metaphor for one’s testimony of Christ and His gospel. He said that all you have to do to lose your garden is nothing. Am I currently working to increase my testimony, or am I letting the weeds grow? Among many other important metaphors and points, he quoted this by Neal A. Maxwell: “In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” I do try to give my will to God. It was His will that I start my business, for example. I just wish I knew why…
- Jenny Oaks Baker, the most beautiful violinist I have ever heard, said that we should have faith in the Lord, not in that certain things will happen in our lives. Am I dreaming too much, and not thinking enough about my faith?
- Wendy Ulrich talked of failing verses learning. She said failure doesn’t define us or finish us. We learn instead of fail. She asked us to think to ourselves, “What risk do I need to take even though I am afraid to fail?” What if I quit my business? I would be a failure, right? If not, what on earth am I learning?
- Mary Ellen Edmunds talked about an African saying – “I am well if you are well.” She said that love is the best medicine and that we should give another dose if one doesn’t work. She quoted Thoreau: “Love is the only investment that never fails.” She testified that kindness and love bring power over mind, heart and behavior. Am I giving enough love? If love is the only investment that never fails, I need to do more investing.
- A sweet local from Cary said, “God gave us everything. All He asks is sacrifice from us.” Am I sacrificing enough for Him?
- Eric Huntsman said that he learned about Jesus on his mother’s knee. This image struck me to the core, and I felt incredibly inadequate. Will my kids learn from my knee? I felt that my priorities should be teaching the gospel to my children. I starred a couple scriptures that he quoted:
- Alma 5:26 – And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? Can I ?
- 1 John 3:2 – Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. All that matters is that I am like Him.
- Calee Reed was the extremely talented singer on the second day. She spoke about how we should always remember we are daughters of God and that He loves us. She said that knowing that helps her feel better about herself and the mundane things she has to do as a mother. I struggle with the mundane. That is why I try so hard to make something of myself and do, do, do.
- Sandra Turley quoted the song “We Must Sing” by Rob Gardner. My favorite verse was: “God made our voices, but we must make them sing. God gave us voices so we must sing.” She said we need to grow our testimony of Christ before our talents, and then use our talents to share our testimony. She said we must give our kids faith or we have given little. We must sing to defend God. I have talents, and I used to use them all the time for sharing my testimony and defending God. Now, I don’t have time to do my blogging…
- During her talk, when she was talking about praising God, I had a random thought, and that was that God doesn’t care about our weight or what we look like on the outside. Do we as women focus on that too much? My business focuses a lot on outside looks (well, inner health too).
- Emily Belle Freeman gave a touching talk about true friendships and hospitality. During her talk, I had a few thoughts:
- We shouldn’t do something for what it will do for us, because we already have all we need with God and family. Wow, I really do, don’t I?
- Sometimes something is right, but not right now. What should wait?
- The mundane isn’t really mundane. Wow, I really haven’t had time to do the mundane lately. I wish I had more time to keep my home clean or cook nice meals…
These were my favorite points from TOFW, though the entire event nourished my soul, and helped me bond with my mom. As we drove home from Raleigh, I ended up in tears as I spoke to her. I told her of my concerns about not having enough time for my family and for the things that matter most. I told her many of the things that stuck out to me from TOFW, and that I felt like I wasn’t doing those things well enough.
My greatest concern was my business with It Works. I reminded her and myself of the strong, overwhelming spiritual prompting I had gotten to start my business less than six months before. I was just so confused. I couldn’t quit! Not when He had told me to do this. It has only been a short time!
Once we arrived back to her home, I said hello to my dad, and hugged my mom goodbye to drive my car home. During that ride home was when I gave my desperate and fervent vocal prayer to my Heavenly Father. I tried to be as in tune with the Spirit as possible as I communed with Him.
When I came home, I wrote down my thoughts:
- The financial dreams my family wrote together don’t really matter.
- We have ALL we need already.
- I don’t have to do my book right now (a desire I have had for some time.)
- I have no time for love, and that is what I need most.
- My final thought was that my family needs to be together all the time – that was a worthwhile dream.
I saw number 5 as a somewhat comforting reason to remain with my business. And life went on for nearly a month. I continued working my business, but the joy wasn’t there. The motivation and inspiration wasn’t there. The success I had seen before wasn’t happening.
Then, the morning of April 12, I went to my church Institute class about the Savior.
The Spirit touched me to the very center when we read this scripture (Alma was quoting the prophet Zenos, and what he said about prayer):
And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity ; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions , for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son. Alma 33:11
What part struck me? The very small line: “For in thee is my joy.”
I was overcome with my lack of joy at that time. My business wasn’t bringing me joy. I was overworked physically and mentally. I had so much going on in my life that I couldn’t breathe. Where is my joy? Is should be in Christ, and I have not had time to focus on Him!
In the next lesson that same day, we talked about Christ’s second coming.
We read a powerful quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us. … “What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming— what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgiveness would we extend? What testimonies would we bear? “If we would do those things then, why not now? Why not seek peace while peace can be obtained? If our lamps of preparation are drawn down, let us start immediately to replenish them.”
This quote hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that I would do things so much differently if I knew that the Savior were to return tomorrow. Nothing was more clear to me at that moment than that I needed to quit my business. I knew that though it wasn’t a bad endeavor, it was stopping me from preparing myself, my family, and those around me spiritually for Christ. I had realized earlier that day that in Christ should be my joy. He is everything. What was I giving to Him?
So, I went home that day feeling that I really needed to get rid of something. I knew the first thing was definitely my business. I was a little scared, but I prayed for reassurance, and I got it. Within a few hours, I sent a sincere and heartfelt email to my upline and friend, Amber.
I told her how I had been struggling with my business for quite some time. Financially, it wasn’t providing for me, even though I was working hard. In the past months, if I ever felt discouraged and ready to quit, I could feel God bless me with a new customer or a new promotion or a new idea. But, that had not been happening. My distributors weren’t working, and potential customers weren’t signing. I had taken a blow just a couple weeks before realizing that even if I promote, I have to requalify for my rank each month. Where is the stability and consistency in that?
I gave her many reasons for thinking of quitting, like my joy and desire wavering. I told her that “this business has not done for me what is most important for my family and for my spirituality,” and “the time I have devoted has taken me away from things I love, including blogging.”
I said, “I know that to be really successful, I need this business to become my top priority, but if I have felt anything lately, it is that my family and my devotion to Christ must be my top priority. I don’t have to be wealthy and my husband doesn’t have to stay at home.”
I told her that I didn’t regret doing It Works, but I hadn’t felt peace with it for some time. I told her that “writing this email with my thoughts is bringing me a lot of peace.”
My initial thought was that I wouldn’t quit until the end of the week. I would give it some time to see if anything happened that would help me be successful. But, then, when my husband got home that evening, we had a tearful heart to heart. I told him about the email, and about my thoughts. I felt the Spirit as I told him that my priorities needed to shift and that our family and God is all that matters.
He told me he was proud of me and that he could tell I was making decisions with the Spirit. He reassured me that he is happy to work, and that we don’t have to be rich. Our dreams were good, but our family is what matters most.
So, that night, I emailed Amber again and told her that I would indeed be quitting. It felt so good.
She did not write me back right away, and after several days, I was worried that she was really angry with me. It turns out my email had gone to her spam folder, and I was so relieved and grateful that she was really supportive and understanding.
It has been a couple weeks since I decided to quit my business, and I have not felt regret. I reflected on the prayer I had on the way home from TOFW, and I realized my interpretation of the thought that my family needs to be together all the time was wrong. What Heavenly Father was telling me was that my family needed to be together eternally – that is all that matters.
That interpretation has inspired me. I am still catching up on many “to dos” since the musical has been over (something else that took much of my time, but was such a blessing), but soon that list will get smaller and smaller until I can focus my time and attention on loving my family, doing the mundane things that aren’t so mundane, giving service, and sharing the gospel through my blog.
I have asked myself a few times why did Heavenly Father want me to start my business in the first place if I was only going to quit in six months?
I wish I had a true answer for that. Jad thinks that maybe the skills I learned in networking will help me reach more people with my blog. I did learn a new skill and overcome a fear of videotaping myself speaking. Perhaps that will become useful someday. Or, maybe it is as Wendy Ulrich said : maybe it isn’t failing; it is learning.
Well, I have learned a lot. And the love I was missing is coming back to me. I thank God for His infinite wisdom, and for His hand in my life. I know He knows what is best for me, and that He desires my joy!
I must make a clarification that I am in no way saying that home businesses are not a good thing, or that dreams of financial freedom aren’t merited, or that an absence of joy in something is always a justified reason to move on. I simply mean that for me, and for my family, there is another plan at this time. The only thing I can continue to do is to follow where the Spirit leads me, and be willing to give my entire will to God (the only thing of mine I can truly give), no matter what.
If He is the guide on my journey and I always choose to follow Him, my destination will always be Heaven, either on earth or in the eternities.