Recently, I made another trip to the hospital. It seemed as though I had lost all the ground that I had made up in the last seven years, and was emotionally back where I started. However, with a seeming magic wand, my doctor made a “course correction” on my medications, and Voila! I was far forwarder than I had believed. The problem was not one of character, but one of brain chemistry. As I had aged, it seems that I need less medication and too much was making me ill.
I had been working hard toward my goals. I have the following thought stuck on my desk:
“President Hugh B. Brown said: Whenever in life great spiritual values await man’s appropriation, only faith can appropriate them. Man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the cetral problem is character-building-which is not a product of logic, but of faith in ideal and sacrificial devotion to them.’ (Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 105). We exercise faith by doing. Joseph Smith said that faith [is] the principle of action and power’ (Lectures on Faith , 72).
“We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.”
(Entire passage: Elder Richard G. Scott
The Transforming Power of Faith and Character
General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session, 2010)
As I was wading through my time of trouble and affliction, I was trying to press forward with this principle. I was envisioning in my mind the trilogy of books that I was working to complete. When I couldn’t write at my desk because of dizziness, I was writing while lying on my back in bed with my netbook on my stomach. I worked every day but Sunday on my project and set intermediary goals for myself.
However, my health got worse and worse. I did everything I could think of to improve it. I received priesthood blessings. I tried to swim laps in a local pool, but was far too exhausted. Finally, I succumbed to discouragement, and entered the hospital. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble, if I had exercised a bit more faith and gone in previously. But I thought it was all up to me to change and that I was somehow at fault for not trying hard enough.
I missed something important contained in the above reference: “man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the central problem is character-building.” I thought my books were the central problem-the goal I was trying to reach. But the Lord was teaching me a more valuable lesson: faith is more important than [self] sacrifice. I needed to “let go” of my own program for success, and figure out what the Lord’s program was. He wanted me healthy in body and mind. I was running myself into the ground. I was trying to run faster than I had strength. I had lost sight of what I was becoming-not an author, but a Daughter of God.
It is a good thing to have goals, but we must subjugate them to our eternal priorities. In the “day by day, play by play,” it is easy to focus on the trees rather than the forest. The purpose of our life’s journey is stated clearly in John 17: 3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
What did I learn about my Savior when I finally stopped the war I was waging on my body and sought help? I learned, once again, that He is there and that he knows my body and my mind and my heart. Through what could only be miraculous intervention, the right doctor was on call at the hospital. He was one I had never met, and he had the specific knowledge needed to draw me out of the darkness my illness had caused.
I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father better during that stay, because I finally put myself in their hands and stopped trying to “grab the reins.”
What I want to become each day is still a better author, however that desire is entirely subordinate to the desire to align my will with the Lord’s so that His purposes will be manifest through me that I may come to know Him.
G.G. Vandagriff is the author of fourteen books as well as a free-lance journalist for the Deseret News. To find out more about her and her writing, visit her website.