So, I’m not really good at completing challenges issued by Church leaders. I have good intentions, but well, despite those intentions, I only made it to the book of Jacob during President Hinckley’s Book of Mormon challenge in 2005.
This summer, our stake president issued a challenge that we attend the temple six weeks in a row. If we did it, he promised blessings. At the time, our son had been diagnosed with a chronic disease. The management of the disease had me feeling overwhelmed, and with our crappy insurance, we weren’t sure how we were going to be able to pay for A’s medical needs. And, that crappy insurance refused to cover any of our unexpected pregnancy.
Now, I don’t usually take the equation of “doing A (fill in the appropriate commandment/direction/etc) = B (promised blessing).” In fact, in my life, I find that my prayers are most frequently answered differently from what I asked for. So, I was skeptical that I would get what I was asking for. Still, if blessings were promised, I knew our family needed two very specific ones: my son, A, would improve from a newly-diagnosed illness and that we would be able to find decent health insurance.
DH, Harijans, and I first tried to complete this goal in August. We made it three weeks and then, got lazy about planning for babysitters, times, etc. We missed the last Saturday night session on the 4th week and realized that we’d have to start over again.
This is rather unusual for us. We’ve never been great temple attendees, and we’ve never been great at following through on “challenges” like this one. I think we were both surprised to realize that we weren’t going to make excuses for that week; we were going to start all over again. We knew we needed to complete this challenge despite our wishes that we could be more spirit of the law (couldn’t we just do some initiatories?) than letter of the law (one session every week with both spouses in the same session).
Darn it, we’d try again.
So, in September, we started over. Harijans leaves the house a little before 7 am every morning and usually doesn’t get home from work until about 8 or 9 at night, so weekdays were out. This meant we had to go on Friday night or Saturday—you know, when just about everyone else goes to the temple. That left us bumped to the next session a couple times. I never really minded being bumped to the next session before I had a kid, but when you’re relying on someone’s generosity for babysitting, well, it would leave me with feelings probably not conducive to temple worship by the time I’d been sitting and stewing for an additional half hour.
In mid-October, we completed our goal. And, here’s the strange thing (at least for me), as we worked to complete this goal, I noticed that these very specific blessings that I had prayed for were happening. A has gotten better. He’s gained enough weight to be back on the charts for height and weight. He’s had a few new foods added back into his diet—two of which are foods that I, frankly, didn’t think we’d be trying for several years.
We got good insurance that helps with more of A’s medical expenses and my pregnancy (the only insurance in the state of Arizona that covers pregnancy as a pre-existing condition).
Here’s where I have to sheepishly admit my own disbelief. For the past few months, now, I stop and think, “Wait, I got exactly what I asked for.”
I’m still scratching my head over this experience. I think it’s taught me why some people have such blind faith–occasionally, we do get exactly what we ask for. It’s also made me realize that I tend to use my brain more than my heart when it comes to spirituality. Here I set out to do this challenge, feeling like God would answer my prayers but probably not the way I wanted them answered. I wonder how often I make up my mind about spiritual matters when I really should just go with my heart.