In my previous post, I discussed how important it is for us to overcome fear and act if we are to progress, and how God’s plan has made it so that our mistakes, by themselves, will not prevent us from progressing or returning to God. A very practical questions arises as we try to do this: How can we weave our mistakes, the consequences of others’ mistakes, and other difficulties into growth, and thereby prevent ourselves from just racking up a long list mistakes and problems?
One scripture that I find very helpful in thinking about this is 2 Nephi 32:8-9, which tells us to pray always and that when we turn to God, our performance will be for the welfare of our souls. In particular, I find two important messages in these two verses. The first is the importance of developing a personal relationship with Heavenly Father. Doing so goes far beyond obedience to God’s laws or performing the duties God has asked of us. Although these actions are important and clearly affect our relationship with God, we are invited to do more than this—to pray to Him always, which I interpret as bringing Him into our lives as we would a friend or a family member—partnering with God. By doing so, we open ourselves to His view and wisdom. We enjoy personalized encouragement or sympathy from God. We still direct our own lives, but we and God become personally invested in each other in a new and special way. Not only will the relationship be very meaningful to us, but when we take up God’s invitation to act in order to progress, we will do so in a way that far exceeds what could be expected based on our own resources. Thus, we can live in a way that accelerates our growth and brings more benefits to others.
However, even when we partner with God, the efforts we muster won’t always lead to the best possible results. Our imperfections will still result in mistakes. And these outcomes may lead to lost opportunities or other circumstances that are not as good as they could or ought to have been. This is where the second message comes into play. God doesn’t promise us that the best or even the right results will come from our actions, even when we partner with Him. But, He does promise us that when we partner with Him, He will help us so that the efforts we do muster can always be turned to our good, our growth, and our successfully returning to Him.
I find this second message to be one of the most refreshing and comforting in the Gospel. I don’t have to pretend that somehow, with good intentions and a commitment to God, everything that I do or everything that happens to me is for the best or how it should be. Indeed, it is easy for me, imperfect as I am, to see that this is not the case. Looking at my life, I can see many mistakes, missed opportunities, or other shortcomings that have had negative consequences that really could have been avoided (and things would have gone better had they been avoided). But, instead of a future that is restricted by lost opportunities or other disadvantages, partnering with God means that my future is always full of hope and promise. As long as I don’t let fears prevent me from walking a path, and as long as I partner with God on the path that I walk, I will find joy on the actual path that I take, and that path will ultimately lead to the kind of growth and progress that God ‘s plan is meant to foster.