Friday, January 28, 2011

Hard & More Needful

As I continue to be grateful to the Lord for allowing our family to do a few hard things during this financial struggle of ours, today I find myself in an interesting place. The past day or so has seen us facing some amazingly miserable realities that seemed to put in question the very heart of our beings. Not long ago, however, I realized that “Choosing the best activities sometimes means choosing the best hard activities too.”[1]

Using the words of Dallin H Oaks’ talk in the October 2007 General Conference entitled, “Good, Better, Best”, I’ve edited a few words to reflect this idea of choosing the best Hard activities.
“Just because something is good hard is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good hardgoodhard, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.” things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than
He then recounted the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, explaining that the Savior taught us in this passage that “learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more ‘needful.’” With my edits, he goes on to say,
“As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is goodhard. Other choices are better, and still others are best simply more needful.”

Since Rob lost his job well over two years ago, Rob and I have spent a good amount of time considering our Choices. While unemployed, one encounters a mostly lot of Hard choices and not so many good, better, best ones. During one experience on Elder Groberg’s mission the choice before them was to wait for the wind to pick up or row. By choosing to row, Elder Groberg still had to make a Hard choice, leaving behind any chance of using wind to take them to their destination. In this case the more Needful choice was to leave the sailboat behind. Sacrifice, in and of itself however, is not reason enough to make a Hard choice the right one. Saul discovered, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken [to the commandments of the Lord] than the fat of rams.”[2] Consequently, Elder Groberg discovered that, “We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impressions to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of”[3] even if those choices aren’t the Hard ones we expected to be more Needful.

I believe that my biggest challenge of late has been correctly understanding which Hard thing He wants me/us to do. Choosing something out of our comfort zone financially or physically is only one type of Hard thing we can choose right now. Another might be to simply “let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”[4] Or, even more difficult sometimes is the challenge to be confident under pressure. Elder Holland explains, “There are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. … Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”[5]

Over and over again during the past few months, I remember expressing how confident I was about getting the job with Valley Landscaping in Virginia. Was that really merely the crazed imagination of someone hungering for a real paycheck after two years? Or was it God giving me the confidence I needed to survive this week?

Rob said yesterday that this rejection felt like “Carson City” all over again, meaning the experience he had two years ago when he interviewed for a job there (which he obviously didn’t get). At first I agreed with him, but then my heart rebelled and suddenly a determination welled up within me that said, “No! This job was/is different!” And shortly thereafter I determined to fast and pray that hearts would be changed so that Rob could get this job. Furthermore, in my heart I determined that I wanted something to happen before noon today that would prove we were on the right track with this.

It was a good fast, but a difficult one too both physically and emotionally. Not feeling real well, I was at a loss today as to what to do. Then the February church magazines came, and I sat down to do my whatever-I-want/“all you can eat” Ensign browsing. And I found the article, “Did I Still Love Him?” and Elder Holland’s quote from above. Somehow that gave me the inspiration, along with a random suggestion from Rob to write and send the following email to the owner and along with a manager of Valley Landscaping.

Subj: Necessity is the mother of ‘taking chances.’ Sam Clemens
Dear Sirs,

It has been well over two years since my husband, Robert Beckstrand, was laid off from his job here in Arizona. Since that time he had tried everything he could to provide for his family. He is a very hard worker who is passionate about landscape architecture and landscaping. That passion has been so strong that despite many voices around us telling him to pursue other vocations, he has adamantly remained in the field he loves. Consequently, everything he has done since being laid off has helped prepare him to do exactly what the position with your company requires.

It is not my intention to continue any further possibly bothersome communications. My heart over the last few days has, sincerely, been full of prayers that you would find peace in the person you chose for this position. However, if you can find it in your hearts, I plead with you to give my husband an opportunity to show you how much he can benefit your company and how faithfully he will fill this position.

~*~Verena Beckstrand

I finished this email before noon today. Of course I would have loved to hear from them today offering him the job. But I did get reassurances from others confirming my hearts desire to hold out hope. And I truly believe that I was inspired to write this, thus answering the determinations of my heart in fasting.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to make God’s will real in my life, to choose having Faith in Him and His inspirations over doubting, even in the face of mounting pressures. What’s going to happen next week? I don’t know, but I am content that it will be in accordance with God’s will and that Rob and I are fulfilling the callings and commandments that He has given us.

And I am at peace with the progress and the more Needful choices we are making to provide for our family.


[1] Personal Journal, Jan 22, 1011.

[2] Hales, Robert D. “Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life.” General Conference, October 2010.

[3] John H. Groberg, “The Lord’s Wind,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 28.
[4] D&C 101:16
[5] Name withheld, "Did I Still Love Him?", Ensign, Feb. 2011, 33–35 (written by the best friend of a home schooling friend of mine, incidentally, though I told her not to tell me her name since it’s ‘withheld’ ;)

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