Sometimes it seems life gives us the roundabout way of getting to our goals. There have been occasions over the years where my husband and I have looked back and thought, has this been a waste of time? But we would be wrong to continue that thought.
An Unexpected Friend
I am a nursing professor and in addition to lecturing and other various activities, I take students into the hospital setting and teach them how to apply what we have been learning. Every semester presents students with new strengths, new weaknesses and new opportunities to learn. Not every learning opportunity is for the students however.
It was a new semester and mid-morning on our first day on the floor. Things were a little chaotic while the students were adjusting to the new floor. I was checking in on the students to make sure they knew what they were doing. A nurse was walking by with her hands full of items to start an IV. I asked her if I could help, and she said, “This lady has awful veins! I was going to ask the charge nurse. You can take a look if you want, but there isn’t anything there to stick.”
I took her stuff and told her I would see if I could help. The students were eager to follow me and watch. We went in to the room where an old woman was covered in blankets and reclined in her chair. In the far corner was an older gentleman who I later learned was her son.
I told her I was there to start an IV and she sighed and turned her head in obvious despair. As I looked at her arms, I could understand both the nurse’s and the patient’s frustration. She had bruises up and down her arms from previous blood draws, her skin was loose, and her veins would disappear quickly. This makes starting an effective IV very difficult. I began looking and struck up a conversation with her and her son as a distraction. After a few minutes of teaching the students about IV’s, I was able to get one started in the back of her arm.
He will not…
A little bit later, I was speaking with the son and before I knew it, I was opening up to him as if we had been old friends. I spoke of our situation with work, the business, our kids…all of it. Normally, people open up to me, but on this particular day, he became my confidant. He shared how he had started a business with his wife and they ended up declaring bankruptcy. He spoke of their climb upward to where they are now. I felt so much strength just from listening to him and knowing that we would be alright, no matter the storm.
Then he said something that has burned in to my soul. He said, “God doesn’t waste your time.” He continued, “If you are in a situation, there is a reason. He will not waste your time.”
The truth of that statement provided so much clarity and depth, my whole being knew it be true. He will not waste your time. Now you may be thinking, but we get to choose what we do with our time. And we do.
But we also believe that everything we do, God uses to His benefit and for the growth of His children. So regardless of your choices, He knows you were going to make them, or that you are making them, and He will work them to our benefit if we will trust in Him.
Lessons from Nephi
I have thought about Lehi and his family after they departed into the wilderness. Everyone that left with Lehi traveled with different motivations and different attitudes. Eight years of wandering in the wilderness, making progress when they chose to follow the Liahona. Eight years…. Eight. That’s eight years of walking in the wilderness, carrying and having babies, and all the trials and struggles that came along with it. This was followed by another three years or so building the ship and sailing to the promised land. I’m pretty sure I would have had times where I felt like my time was being wasted.
We speak of trust and patience quite often in the gospel, but to be honest, when I feel that my patience is being tested, I become extremely impatient. I can hold on for a little bit until I have decided it is enough, and then I get frustrated and angry that I am still dealing with the situation. I don’t mind learning patience on my own terms, but sometimes the Lord’s timing is frustrating!
It causes me to think about key players in the story. What did Nephi need to learn about Nephi? Are there things he needed to learn as he stood in the face of his older brothers? What were his lessons in terms of obedience, patience, strength and the Lord’s timing? I think about the struggles that Nephi’s wife must have had. To stand in opposition to much of her family, based on the testimony of her husband. What testimony did she have to gain? What did she need to learn about herself?
Liken Scriptures Unto Me
So I take the story and try to see it from my experience. Looking back on this past year, I have realized that God doesn’t waste my time. I know that our choices have been right. I know that they are what we needed to do. And just because the results I wanted haven’t come, that doesn’t mean that it was the wrong move. It means that God is teaching us. God is preparing us. There are things He is helping me learn about me.
If you are in a difficult situation and seem to feel stuck, wondering when relief will happen, consider that God is trying to teach you something. There is something He needs you to learn about you. He won’t waste your time.