By Jonathan Schroeder
I don’t know who’s idea it was to let the 4th of July fall in the middle of the week, but I’d like to lodge a complaint. Nothing makes me feel less patriotic than having to get up early for work the morning after I watched fireworks, chatted with friends, and watched Netflix till one in the morning! Now those are my own poor life choices, I know; but I’m sure at least some of you can relate. If not, please indulge me for a minute and pretend that you do.
Considering I only had about four and half hours of sleep, I was doing pretty good. I was able to drag myself out of bed after just one snooze. I ironed my shirt without burning my hand (too badly). I even looked up the address of the temp agency I was interviewing with that afternoon. By all accounts, everything was running smoothly. Except for one thing: my shoes. I couldn’t find them anywhere. I checked in all the usual places —under the bed, by the door; I even checked the bathroom.
After about 10 minutes of fruitless searching, I started getting nervous. With time ticking away, I knelt down and offered a silent prayer, asking Heavenly Father to help me find my shoes. After a few minutes, I arose and resumed my search. Another five minutes of searching went by, but I still couldn’t find them.
Now I started to get frustrated. Then suddenly I had a thought; go ask your dad. Initially, I brushed it away. First off, I didn’t want to wake my dad at six in the morning to ask him if he’d seen my shoes anywhere. Second, I didn’t actually expect him to have any idea where they were. Surely, I could find them myself. After all, they were my shoes.
Eventually I let go of my pride and decided to at least try the prompting. I snuck into my dad’s room and gave him a gentle tap on the shoulder. “Check under your brother’s bed” came the answer to my inquiry. Sure enough, that’s where they were (though I’m still not sure why).
In today’s world, it’s easy to think that everything boils down self-reliance and independence. From the media to the professional world, the emphasis is always on standing up and standing out, being bigger and better, and charting your own path. However, what I was reminded from this experience is that it’s ok to ask for help; in fact, often the Lord requires us to do so.
The funny (and somewhat paradoxical) thing about the plan of salvation is that we all have to do things on our own, but none of us can do everything by ourselves. We all must face our own trials and have our own personal learning experiences in this life. However, unless we learn to rely on our Savior during these trials, we will find that we have a lot of time lost and not very many solutions found (or in my case, shoes).
Now if I’m being totally honest, the “strong independent man” in me gets a little frustrated at this paradox a lot of the time. I may not know everything, but I feel like I generally get the gist of what the Lord wants me to do. Why should I have to bother the Lord with the small stuff —the lost shoes, the first dates, the job interviews. If the Lord is so important, why should I cumber his time with something I should be able to take care of myself?
The answer is in Mosiah 3:19.
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
I love the imagery of this scripture. The Lord is our literal Father in Heaven. Those of us who have had the blessing of an earthly father figure in our lives know that the essence of true fatherhood is time and love. Those two aspects are just as important during the big moments of our lives (graduation, marriage, etc.) as they are in the minute and seemingly insignificant ones (the soccer practices, the late-night chats, etc.).
Like our earthly Father, the Lord loves, cares about, and is present in the details of our lives. However, unlike our earthly Father, He usually does so through other people. The stranger who smiled at you when you were having a rough day. The friend who sent you a text after that breakup. The dad who told you where to your shoes at six o’clock in the morning.
These small acts of kindness are indeed signs of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. For most, some of these signs will come unconditionally, without effort or request. A large number may come and go in our lives without us ever noticing. But there are also times when he wants us to ask Him—directly (through prayer, fasting) and indirectly (appealing to one of his “servants/instruments” –the people around us). And no matter how intimidating or cumbersome that may seem to some people, the Lord has promised us that it will always be worth it.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seekethfindeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:7-11