Said God, “I have Something Better for You.”

I once heard the profound thought that God answers our prayers in one of three ways:

  1. Yes.
  2. Not right now.
  3. I have something better for you.

When we pray and beg and plead for the deepest longings of our hearts, we just want a solid “yes” from above. It’s hard to recognize #3–I have something better for you—as an actual answer in the moment because it doesn’t feel like an answer at all; it feels like a disappointment.

We can usually only recognize this type of answer in retrospect.

One of the most monumental blessings I have ever received began as a monumental disappointment.

To share this disappointment-turned-miracle, I must take you back to the not-so-glamorous classroom setting of my high school nutrition class.  

I sat a few seats behind a very attractive, Greek god-esque, quiet and mysterious and heart-throbbingly intelligent boy by the name of Brad. During our joint high school experience, we had a total of one class together, one real instance of eye contact, and one conversation.

It was about potassium. I’ll remember it always.

So while daily interactions did not transpire, I did stare at the back of Brad’s head for an entire trimester. I guess that thick head of dark hair was enough to convince me that someday I would very much like to marry him.

This is the closest thing I could find to the high school version of the back of Brad’s head. See what I mean about the Greek god thing? 

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High school graduation took us on separate paths, and they didn’t cross again until six years later.

I was wrapping up my student teaching experience, figuratively sprinting toward the finish line actually, because I was beyond ready to be a real teacher. It just so happened that the school where I did my internship was hiring, and I felt I was the perfect candidate.

I knew that school inside and out. I’d walked those halls for months, tutored those kids, interacted with the administration. I was well-versed in the district curriculum, I understood the school policies, I knew the faculty. How could they not give me the job?

*SPOILER ALERT:  I didn’t get the job.

I was confused and crushed and even a bit hysterical. I locked myself in my room and questioned God and asked why and cried tears of the Amazon rainfall intensity. Not only was I denied my dream job (I know, I’m quite dramatic sometimes), but I felt suddenly insecure about my performance as a teacher, or at the very least, my effectiveness as an interviewee.

After about 72 hours straight of feeling sorry for myself, I decided I needed to take some action. I needed to get my life on some alternate course and do something.

Handsome pants Brad was on my mind because I had run into his friends a week earlier at a grocery store of all places, and they mentioned in our quick chat that Brad was their roommate.

I also had this Cafe Rio gift card. It was given to me as a graduation gift, but it came with a challenge scribbled on the accompanying note:  “Find a nice boy to help you use this.”

So I did the only real BOLD thing I’ve ever done and I asked Brad out. The message I sent went as follows:

“Brad, I ran into your roommates the other day. It got me thinking about how I haven’t seen lots of cool people since high school…including you. And let me just preface this by saying that I NEVER do stuff like this. Like, ever.

“I recently received a gift card to Cafe Rio for graduation. It came with a challenge:  Find a nice boy to help me use it. So I pick you.

“Because this is totally out of the blue, I’ve provided some simple options for you to choose from.

“Option 1: ignore this message. I’ll totally understand.

“Option 2: Reject my offer and I’ll move on with my life.

“Option 3: Meet me at Cafe Rio so we can order $30 worth of food and discuss all that post high school life has offered us.

“Talk to you soon . . . Maybe . . . . . “

 

I’ll be forever grateful he picked option 3!

We sat at that table in a nearly deserted Cafe Rio for five hours. He told me his life story, and I told him mine. He described that one time he ate 13 mangoes all at once and I confessed my insecurity over my alarmingly long toes. We talked about the Gospel and what we wanted in life and our families and everything from Tom Petty to joshua trees. While I can’t necessarily claim I loved him on that first date, I knew I was going to fall in love with him.

And I did. Like lightning-speed fast.

In hindsight, I am overwhelmingly grateful I didn’t get that first teaching job for which I applied. I’m not sure what would have happened if I did.

Would I have been too content to even desire to be in a relationship at that time? Would I have hit rock bottom in an alternate way, enough so to finally act on my feelings for Brad? I simply don’t know. But this I do know:  

That initial disappointment became the catalyst to my own personal happiness, to the literal fulfillment of my ultimate dream.

Sometimes life can feel like a series of disappointments that happen upon our life haphazardly with no purpose, but let us remember these words from Steve Jobs: “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”

That means that we have to TRUST. Heavenly Father sees the whole picture, and He can orchestrate something beautiful that will lead to unimaginable happiness.

He really did have something better for me and that something—that someone—was Brad.

View More: http://loriromneyphotography.pass.us/bradandjessica

I am so unapologetically in love with this man. Our marriage isn’t perfect, but I believe we’re perfect for each other. He is patient and understanding and kind and every other noble adjective I can summon. He strives each day to make me happy.

And happy I am. I’m thankful for an all-knowing Father in Heaven who didn’t give me exactly what I thought I wanted. I’m eternally grateful for my #3, that He had something better for me in mind.

 

The Case of the Lost Wallet (Alternate Title: God Always Keeps His Promises)

 

I looked everywhere for it—under the couch cushions, in the refrigerator, the mailbox, the car, the hamper, the garbage cans—but my wallet was most certainly MIA.

And so too were my debit card, driver’s license, Temple recommend, and Chugz punch card.

I prayed mightily that I’d find my wallet because I dreaded waiting in line forever at the DMV for a new license, plus I was only one punch away from a free Chugz drink.

When I prayed about it, I had this overwhelming feeling that it would turn up, but after a few days of searching and backtracking with no success, I started to doubt.

At the time we lived near the county fair grounds and people usually parked on our street when parking at the grounds was full. I figured my wallet must have fallen out of my bag on my way in or out of the house, and that perhaps some fair-going passerby noticed it in the driveway.

So despite the feeling of hope I’d received when I prayed, I accepted that it was stolen and took necessary action to notify my bank and so on.

A few more days went by, and then weeks, until three weeks later I received a letter from the police department.

Great news:  Someone turned in my lost wallet!

I couldn’t believe it!

Waiting on this blessing that I originally felt God had promised me, and even giving up on it, taught me something grand about God and His goodness, and it is this:

God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

That’s hard to remember when you pray and plead for a certain blessing—a certain miracle—and heaven seems passive.

That’s hard to remember when your fragile emotions dim your eternal perspective.

That’s hard to remember when doubts cloud the answer you once received.

That’s hard to remember when God seems awfully generous toward everyone but you.

That’s hard to remember when you’re just so sick of waiting and waiting and waiting for a blessing you once felt God had promised you.

But this I have learned:

Delayed blessings are the best kind.

These are the kinds of blessings preceded by our personal growth, our refinement, the lessons we need in order to someday reach our potential. These are the kinds of blessings that will become the most cherished to us, the kind we will thank Father in Heaven for every day of our mortal lives and most definitely every day of our eternity.

If I had found my wallet right away, it wouldn’t have felt like such a miracle. I wouldn’t have appreciated the blessing nearly as much. The fact that I had to wait for it made it even more profound, and it made me vastly more grateful. I wouldn’t be here now writing about it and proclaiming that I KNOW God hears us and cares about our happiness even more than we do.

It would have merely been an experience appreciated in the moment but now long forgotten.

But because I did have to wait for it and because God did come through for me, I can declare yet again that God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

That knowledge encourages me to keep hoping and praying for the same miracle I’ve been praying for for years now. Trust me—it’s much more important to my life and my happiness than a missing wallet, and I’ve waited much longer than three weeks for it.

So to anyone out there waiting on a miracle, wait with faith.

If you’re single and you long to find your person, keep trying.

If you are heartbroken because of infertility, don’t lose hope.

If you’ve spent three decades praying for your spouse to come back to church, don’t stop.

If you’re pleading for your financial crisis to end, keep pleading.

If you’re wondering what you’re supposed to learn from your illness, keep trusting.

If you want to believe this Gospel is true, but the confirmation hasn’t come yet, keep embracing it with all your heart.

Remember what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland proclaimed, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.”

That blessing I’m currently praying for feels out of reach right now, but I don’t plan to stop asking. Just because it hasn’t happened yet does not mean heaven has not intervened. The Lord has provided many tender mercies, reminders, and little bonus blessings along the way. I’ve been blessed with hope, patience, a renewed sense of faith and perseverance, more trust in Him, more compassion for others, and I know that one day when the miracle for which I plead comes I will fall to my knees, overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. The waiting will be worth it.

And until then, Christ will empathize with me. He won’t downplay the longings of my heart simply because He knows that one day my righteous desires will come to pass. 

So don’t give up! If you’ll just give God a chance, He’ll fulfill your every righteous dream.

 

Okay, Heavenly Father, What Lack I Yet?

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On my bad days—the days when I feel completely frustrated with my shortcomings, my moments of impatience, my utter failures—I remind myself of a defining moment in my life when I learned something spectacular about God.

It happened as a result of a General Conference  address I heard a couple years ago by Elder Lawrence. I’m sure you know the one:  “What Lack I Yet?”

In his talk, Elder Lawrence suggests following the rich young ruler’s lead and essentially asking the Lord, How can I become better? What do I need to change?

I’ve practiced this, sometimes formally during a kneeling prayer or the ordinance of the sacrament, and other times quietly in my mind while completing my daily tasks. I always receive an answer, things like:

-Find more meaningful ways to serve those around you.

-Make the Sabbath Day more sacred.

-Don’t be so critical of the people you love.

-Make an effort to be more punctual.

-Save more; spend less.

-Stop comparing yourself to others.

-Pray with your husband every night…even if you’re both exhausted.

-Remember to enjoy the moment.

One night, just months after the birth of my baby boy, I had gotten up for what felt like the 100th time to feed him. I looked down at his perfect face and suddenly felt smothered by all the things that made me so…imperfect.

I knew I needed to make some changes. I knew I needed to be better. I knew I needed help, but I just didn’t know where to start.

So in the stillness of the night, while the rest of the world slept, I prayed, “Okay, Heavenly Father…..what lack I yet?”

I worried that the response I’d get was, “Everything”, but Heavenly Father taught me then that He is gentle with our fragile feelings.

It was as if in my mind I could hear Him say,

There is a time and a place to be corrected, but right now—this—this is not one of them. I hope you will ask again in a future day, but for now, just enjoy the infant in your arms and remember that I love you.”

Now I know I had an endless list of things to work on—weaknesses to address, habits to overcome—but in that moment, I came to know a God who was willing to push all that aside so that I could simply feel His unconditional love. This was a message with a pulse, and it changed me forever.

Because on that night, the psalm, “Be still and know that I am God” sang to my heart. He knew how overwhelmed I had felt since motherhood commenced. He knew the constant stress and worry. He knew the paralyzing feelings of inadequacy. He knew the guilt and the fear. He knew the depression and the anxiety. He knew the brain fog and the headaches and the sleepless nights.

He stood fully aware of my waning spiritual habits due to utter exhaustion. He knew I’d been neglecting my church calling, and even worse, that I’d been neglecting my husband. He knew I was too quick to get frustrated and too slow to reach out to Him for help.

He knew all of that. He also knew that my heavy heart just couldn’t handle one more thing. He knew that in that moment I did not need to be rebuked or chastened. I just needed to be loved.

I have no doubt that Heavenly Father will forever be invested in our progress, but He also wants us to know how deeply He can love us, especially when we can’t love ourselves. Vulnerability is a scary thing to surrender, but when it comes to God, vulnerability is a first-class ticket to His grace. I love these words spoken by Elder Gong: “He knows all the things we don’t want anyone else to know about us—and loves us still.”

I have continued to ask my Father in Heaven how I can improve, how I can be better. When I feel spiritually and emotionally stable enough, He answers; He gives me something to work on. But on those days when the tears won’t stop flowing and the pressure mounts, I remember the compassionate God who gave me His peace and instead of asking, “What lack I yet?” I choose to behold His glory and allow myself to be “encircled about…in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15).