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Getting Exactly What I Asked For

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.

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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  1. CJ says:

    It is good that you wrote this down. Sometimes when I recognize blessings I write them down in my journal. Later I read them and marvel.

    I wonder how often other blessings go unnoticed.

  2. Deborah says:

    You’ve given me a lot to think about, Emily. Thanks. As for mind/heart — sometimes I don’t know who’s leading who . . . . and I’m so glad to hear A is improving. If eggs is one of those foods, I got recipes for you!

  3. jana says:

    I love this story Emily. Thanks so much for sharing it, as it’s good food for thought. 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this, Emily! I am so glad for you that you obtained the blessings you needed!

    In my little family we also have a very specific thing that we are asking for right now — keeping our foster daughter permanently and getting it resolved before DH completes his Ph.D., when we might have to move out of state. It feels very scary to me to ask for this specific thing in a specific time frame. I wish that someone would give me a specific path of what I need to do to make it happen. I wonder if I can just adopt your challenge!

    In any case, your story is a testimony that has given me a good boost today. Thank you!

  5. bigbrownhouse says:

    I’ve found – over and over again – that I often get exactly what I ask for, especially when I focus my desire into specific word or action. It’s hard to explain, but there it is.

    I have neither prayed nor attended an LDS temple for years.

    So when I read this story, I can’t help but wonder how much of what look like “blessings” in a specific religious sense are like what I continue to experience, except that the chosen method of focusing happens to be a religious practice like temple attendance. (I’m not sayin’ they aren’t – I’m just wondering.)

    At any rate, it’s wonderful that you found what you needed, however it happened.

  6. Caroline says:

    I’m so glad things are working about better for you, Emily!

    I haven’t been to the temple for about 5 years now. Too painful. This is personal, so don’t feel like you need to answer, but I have to ask. How do you emotionally deal with the difficult things there?

  7. Tatiana says:

    That’s so great, that you got what you needed!

    bigbrownhouse, I usually take that to mean that God hears prayers even of people who aren’t praying, exactly. 🙂 We believers are incorrigible, aren’t we? We tend to interpret everything in terms of our beliefs. (I guess even nonbelievers do that, actually, interpret the world in terms of what they believe, don’t they?)

    Sometimes I get specifically what I ask for, but other times I don’t. I think this may be because I don’t always know what I really should be asking for. I’m starting to have Panglossian feelings that everything that happens is the very best possible thing that can possibly happen to me specifically. Whether it be challenges, sorrows, difficulties, or joys, I’m beginning to see the positive side of everything that I experience.

    I’m the type that, if Heavenly Father asked me before I was born, what sort of life I wanted, I would have said “Pile it on! I want to progress as fast as I possibly can, no matter how painful that may be!” Who knows? Maybe I did just that. =)

  8. Julie P says:

    Thanks for this story; it’s something I needed to hear.

  9. EmilyCC says:

    Deborah, I love your recipes–send them on over!

    Ana, your situation does sound scary (I always look forward to Z’s updates on your blog). I’m keeping your family in my prayers as the court date approaches.

    Bigbrownhouse, I like your explanation of “focusing.” We’re describing the same phenomenon but using different language.

    Caroline, oh, your question probably requires a separate post. A short answer would be that there are still times when I get really sad or angry, but I find that inititatories always give me a huge boost–I love those rituals and blessings and having them all done by women. I also try to look at all the changes that have already happened and hope that some of the things that bug me now will be changed, too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Emily. Food for thought for sure.
    Question; I’ve always felt that I’m not supposed to ask for things like my MIL health to get better. Am I if that’s what I want to do? I’ve felt (maybe I’ve thought it and thought too much) that I could ask she(mil) and the family have strength to go through whatever must be or that her mind be calmed but not that I could ask that she be healed.
    I have asked for something specific on two occasions I can recall. I’m a convert and prayed about the BOM and JS. I received a strongly affirmative answer. The second time, I was terribly distressed. I had sinned and felt it was totally unforgivable. I was beside myself with guilt. I knelt in my bedroom and was sobbing as I prayed in a rambling sort of way. I was saying how awful a person I was, that I shouldn’t ever be forgiven, and even if He could forgive me that I wouldn’t believe it because I couldn’t forgive myself. Suddenly I felt a little calmed, and as though I was being embraced. The feeling of that hug was so real I opened my eyes to see if any one had come in. I then heard a voice telling me that it was ok and that I was forgiven and loved.
    That was years ago now.
    So what do you think is it wrong to ask for a specific outcome?

  11. Anonymous says:

    I may be too late, but search scriptures.lds.org for “heal” and you’ll see plenty of examples of people asking ot be healed, or the Lord promising healing to any who have faith to be healed.

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