BYU School of Family Life professor Erin Holmes shared ways she has learned to cope with uncertainty in life during her devotional address on Tuesday.
Holmes said uncertainty can be challenging, but relying on faith and hope to seek the Lord and understanding His plan, can help people find assurance concerning their purpose.
Holmes said while uncertainty is inevitable, it is an essential human experience.
“In essence, uncertainty is a reflection of the gap between our desire for the ideal and our experience of the real,” Holmes said.
She said she and her colleagues studied this gap of uncertainty in women transitioning to parenthood and found most mothers in their sample experienced disparity between their ideal and real situation.
Holmes said her team also learned the likelihood of depression in a mother increases as this disparity increases, indicating people feel challenged by the gap between their ideals and their actual situation.
Holmes said she and her husband learned they were pregnant about two and a half years ago after years of hoping and praying for another child, but lost the baby about 10 weeks into the pregnancy, leaving her uncertain.
“Loss was not a new experience for me, but somehow this loss shook me to my core,” Holmes said.
She said this uncertainty reflected a gap in her life between the ideal — a fertile body and a healthy baby and pregnancy — and the real — infertility and a miscarriage.
Holmes quoted Elder Robert D. Hales to explain how one can deal with uncertainty.
The apostle said everyone came to this life to better themselves through their own experiences and can do so by waiting on the Lord.
Holmes said she believes this waiting is the antidote for uncertainty and presented four principles to help people wait on the Lord.
Actively seek God to find him
Holmes said it is important for people to trust themselves in finding God.
Holmes was in her early twenties when she and her husband learned it would be difficult to get pregnant. She said they occupied their time with school, church service and friendships, but she still had questions and experienced much uncertainty in waiting.
“This uncertainty and waiting invited me to regularly turn to God for answers,” Holmes said. “I was discovering the first principle of waiting upon the Lord: I had to actively seek God in order to find Him.”
She said she sought God, but the answers did not come quickly.
Holmes said she received an answer to her prayers while singing the words of the hymn “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” and recognized she had to let the Lord guide her on an unknown journey.
“I felt impressed that the journey would include further graduate studies, but I also felt that I would not immediately receive the answers I sought about having children.”
Holmes said she kept waiting and seeking despite this.
She could not just seek with her eyes, but her heart as well. She said she found the Lord even though she didn’t receive all the answers she was seeking.
Holmes said she attended a General Young Women’s session where President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke on being educated and finding purpose in life as a woman.
“In this message, the Lord offered me a vision through His prophet of the kind of future that could be mine. Again I received no particular answer to my lingering question about when or whether I would have children,” Holmes said. “My uncertainty was not resolved, nor was my waiting over.”
Holmes said she felt like she had work to do, and continuing her education would help her serve significantly in the world around her.
Waiting includes trying to understand God’s plan
She said with faith and the Lord, people can accomplish amazing things.
“God’s plan for you will not match the plans God has for others,” Holmes said. “You must come to know what the Lord wants for you personally.”
Holmes said it can be hard to celebrate others’ successes when it seems like the Lord is ignoring one’s hopes, but doing so will open one’s hearts to God’s plan.
Choose faith and hope while waiting
“To me, the opposite of faith and hope is fear,” Holmes said. “So when I say that we can choose faith and hope, I am also implying that we can choose faith and hope over fear.”
She said fear is rooted in the false belief one must do things alone, but faith and hope come from the memory of spiritual experiences or blessings from the Lord.
One can find reassurance in God’s love if lost in the wait
Holmes said after her miscarriage she began to feel distant from God and had difficulty finding direction in her life, but after much waiting and struggling, she chose to have hope.
Holmes said she became pregnant about a year and a half after her miscarriage, but was anxious about losing this baby as well. She knelt in prayer in her office and asked God to be with her.
Holmes said she knew she should not pray for a healthy baby, but for the help to manage any pain or sorrow if she were to lose the baby, because it was a possibility.
She said she finished her prayer and left to meet her daughter when a tingling overcame her.
She said she knew God understood and was aware of her.
“Sadly, I did have another miscarriage,” Holmes said. “But this time I did not lose that powerful sustaining witness of God’s love for me.”
Holmes said when people are lost, although it is important for them to seek God, sometimes God will find them instead.
“I am still waiting. In my waiting, I have sought God and found Him. His plan for me is unfolding as I take his hand and accept the invitation to become a co-creator with Him,” Holmes said. “Sometimes, when I am lost, he finds me.”