Learning to Trust in the Lord
Matt Tittle came into my office one day a couple of weeks ago. He does that on occasion just to pass the time of day. This time he sat down and said, “I want to ask you a question and a favor.”
I said, “Okay, what?”
“We want you to be a forum speaker,” he said.
My surprised response was, “Why?”
He laughed and gave me some reasons. My next question was, “When?”
“Soon” he said, “February second, as a matter of fact.”
I had seen the schedule for devotionals and forums and knew there were some openings at the end of the semester so I looked to see who couldn’t come. I was aghast to see that it was Sherrie Dew. You know who Sherrie Dew is, don’t you? Author of President Hinckley’s biography, former counselor to the General Relief Society President, and current CEO of Deseret Book. And you get me in substitution. I apologize. Hopefully she can come to speak later. I would really hate for you to miss hearing from her.
I told Matt I would have to think about this. I didn’t sleep much that night and while I did sleep I was giving this speech. Something I have learned is that when opportunities such as this come, there is a reason. The more I thought about it, I decided this is quite an honor, and I hope I can do it justice. When I asked Matt what he wanted me to talk about he said to inspire the students. I do have some things I would like to tell you.
I’ve lived a long time. Several years ago one of my grandsons asked me “Gramma, are you ‘ode’?” I told him yes, but I didn’t think I was at that time. In Medical Law, which is one of the classes I teach, we learn the legal definition for ‘elderly.’ And I’m there, I’m there. Also, when I find I can answer the History questions on “Jeopardy” because I can remember when they happened, that confirms I am ‘ode’. That being said, I can also tell you that I have learned a few things and maybe someone can benefit from some of the things I’ve learned.
Brother Finlinson spoke a few weeks ago and told us of some extraordinary people in his life. I want to endorse everything he said. We all have extraordinary people in our lives—husbands, wives, parents, children, grandparents, other extended family, church leaders, and friends. Not in the least for you as students of LDSBC are the faculty and staff who are here for you. You will never find finer people of high quality anywhere. I have wondered for 15 years how I could be so blessed as to get to come to work everyday with this group of people. Take advantage of this special opportunity you have and learn everything you can from them, not only in the classroom but anywhere else you have occasion to interact with them.
I’d like to tell you about an extraordinary person in my life because of what she taught me. My husband’s job took us to California in the 1970’s. He worked in San Francisco and we lived about 50 miles north in Rohnert Park. We were in the San Rafael Stake. I was given the opportunity to serve as Blazer Leader on the Stake Primary Board.
The President at that time was a lady named Colleen Carter. She was an extraordinary person, educated, poised, one of those people who can and does everything easily and well. After about a year and a half she was released and I was somewhat distraught. I wondered, how could anyone ever come close to replacing her. The sister who was called was Jackie Estes. At our very first board meeting she told us about her experience of being called. She knew how Sister Carter was regarded in the stake and she had some doubts about her own abilities. She spent some time in prayer and reflection – doing what I call ‘stewing over’ a matter. She had the scripture Proverbs 3:5-6 come very strongly to her. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”
With that assurance she accepted the call. She said to us that she could never fill Colleen Carter’s shoes, she would have to walk in her own shoes and just do her best. I was on that board a total of five years. I became very close to Jackie Estes and learned that in her way she was more extraordinary than Sister Carter was.
Two things were learned here: “Trust in the Lord,” and the Lord always qualifies those he calls. He calls us for what we will be able to do. Sister Carter and her talents were what were needed during her tenure, and Jackie Estes was needed for her time.
Look closely at the people in your life—look for the excellence and clearly identify the characteristics. Realize you are extraordinary in someone’s life and work to enhance your characteristics of excellence.
As you go through life, not everything is going to be wonderful. You are going to encounter some “Goliaths”—periods of time and events that will be difficult to endure. Sometimes things will be so difficult and out of your control that all you can do is hang on by your fingernails and “Trust.” Who helped David fight his Goliath? Who will help you with yours?
One of these Goliath events occurred for us while we were living in Colorado. We had been transferred back after 13 years in California. A situation arose involving two of our children which threw our family into total turmoil for several months. The details are not so important as the outcome. The very day this situation began in May of that year was the day I read the ad in the Church News for the faculty position here at the college. It had been a week when my husband asked me if I had done anything about that ad. I hadn’t so I called that day and talked to Dr. Carolyn Brown. She asked me to send a resume. That set in motion the events which brought us to Salt Lake. At the same time we were dealing with the situation with our children—a situation I doubted we were going to survive—the Lord was providing a way out for us. By September we were moved, bag and baggage. Three months is a relatively short time for so much to have happened. We weren’t “out of the woods.” It took several more years of anguish, hard work and much prayer but our family did survive and as we look back we definitely can see that we were being sustained.
We had been in California for about ten years when AT&T moved their equipment engineering offices out of San Francisco to Pleasanton, 30 miles south of San Francisco. This made the commute for my husband 80 miles, one way. Four other men carpooled with him and the only thing that saved them was that they were going the opposite direction of the major commute traffic. We qualified for a company-paid move so we went south to find a house. Prices were too high in Pleasanton so we found one we could afford in a neighboring town. It even had an in-ground swimming pool, which excited our children. We made an offer, contingent on the sale of our home in Rohnert Park. We had several interested people come and look, but no offers came. So for three years those men commuted 160 miles a day. Two hours down, eight hours at work and two hours back.
Our oldest son was called to a mission in Kobe, Japan, served honorably, came home and went back to school at Ricks. Our second son was there as well. Then an opportunity to transfer to Denver came and we didn’t even get the ‘For Sale’ sign up on the house before it sold. Things do happen when they’re supposed to happen. The Lord’s time line isn’t always the same as ours. Had we been able to move south earlier, we would probably not have had the opportunity to go back to Colorado.
It is prudent that we plan what we want to have happen in our lives but we also need to be flexible and willing to do what he wants us to do. Back in Colorado we found a house in Lakewood, west of Denver, near the mountains. We loved that house. There was a second full kitchen in the basement and I became thoroughly spoiled while we lived there. There was also an area for a dining table that would seat twelve, great for family dinners, and a family room besides. We were back near family and planned to stay there for the rest of our lives. And yet, I’d catch myself thinking “when we leave here….” We had some really good things happen while we were there. Our second and third sons were sent on their missions from there, one to Tennessee and one to Texas. One of the best Christmases we’ve ever had was there in that house.
My husband’s job had him involved with the AT&T divestiture when the government made that company break-up. When that was completed, the engineering job went back to California but he was not offered to chance to go with it. He was given time to find a new position in the company and he tried but it just didn’t happen. In the Fall of that year the company was offering early retirement packages. We considered it but with the boys still in the mission field we didn’t feel we could do it. He decided to try the sales training and sailed through a program that had about an 80% fail rate. He had loved his engineering job but he absolutely hated sales. There were unrealistic quotas to meet.
One day his supervisor called him in and told him that he had 90 days to bring his performance up or he would have to go. After 24 years of a successful career he wasn’t pleased to hear this. He told her he was eligible for retirement and to put his papers through. It was a Monday morning, He had gone to work as usual and at 10:00 he called me and told me he was retiring. Completely blew me away. But the boys were home from their missions by then and if he retired before the end of that month he could retain full medical benefits. Had he not been retired I wouldn’t have even considered applying for this job. Things happen when they are supposed to and for good reasons, even the Goliaths. There are really few, if any, coincidences.
Another thing I want to tell you is to learn to listen. Keep your mind and heart open so you can hear the quiet messages that come from heaven. I’d have never made it through last year had I not learned to listen.
Here at the College we were going through a reaccreditation process for the MA programs during Fall of 03 and Winter of 04. In addition to that, my teaching load, the administrative responsibilities for the Medical Careers Department and student advising, my bishop called me to be the ward Relief Society President. Sitting in his office, I had a bevy of thoughts raced through my mind: why this year? Then I had the thought that the Lord knows what’s going on at school. If I want him to help me there, I can’t say no. So I didn’t. I found that listening kept me on task. If I woke up with something on my mind, I had better take care of it that day.
In December, 2003 we had a baby granddaughter born with a heart valve defect. It had been picked up on ultrasound but they didn’t know if she would need surgery at birth or not. She was due Christmas Day but they brought her on December 11 so they could better control the situation. Incidentally, that was Grampa’s birthday. She was in the newborn ICU for three weeks while they decided to wait on surgery, hopefully until she was two or three years old. By summer however, she was obviously in trouble so they scheduled her surgery. The week before her surgery date, my sister’s husband had a sudden, severe heart attack and did not survive. He and my husband had met and become friends in the Air Force. We had to make a sudden trip to Colorado Springs.
The funeral was on a Tuesday, we drove home on Wednesday, the baby’s surgery was on Thursday. She was on a heart pump for a valve repair which failed within 24 hours. They had to take her back to surgery, back on the heart pump for her right ventricle to be closed off completely. She has just three chambers in her heart. Of course her condition was tenuous for days. Her kidneys failed which required she be put on dialysis. She was in the hospital a total of three months, on a ventilator for six weeks of that time. She was switched from hemodialysis to peritoneal dialysis. Three different times during the three months she became so bad that we didn’t know if she would live through the day. One infamous day was August 11, 2004. First thing that morning, I received the report from the accreditation survey outlining what had to be done to correct the deficiencies we had.
That was one of the days we didn’t know if the baby would live. And to add to it all, our youngest son and his wife were at another hospital having their first child. If Tyler Morgan hadn’t let me sit in his office and hyperventilate for awhile I’d never have made it through. My prayers that day were, “Please, if you have to take her, please, not today.”
She got to go home three days before Halloween. She’s on dialysis 15 hours each day, but she is doing fairly well. We don’t know what is ahead for her, possibly transplants. We just have to wait and see and “Trust.”
The final straw for 2004 was the hurricane that hit Pensacola, Florida. My brother and his wife live there on Escambia Bay. They lost their home and everything in it. I don’t know why all of these profound events had to hit all in one year. I don’t know what we were supposed to learn except to continue to “Trust.”
Well, as I began all this I told you there were some things I wanted to tell you. So in summary:
- Look for extraordinary people in your lives – become extraordinary yourself.
- You will have some Goliaths to face but you can do it because you will have the Lord’s help.
- Plan your lives but be flexible so you can be directed.
- Learn to listen.
- Learn to trust – remember Proverbs 3:5.
- Look for the evidence of the Lord everyday.
I would like to conclude with a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley from one of his conference addresses:
“May the Spirit of our Lord accompany us and remain with us. We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days will bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor or our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.”
May He bless you everyone with all that is good and your heart’s desire. I say these things in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.