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“All Roads Lead to Rome”

Has God ever inspired you to do something that didn't work out? Ya, me too. It's frustrating, right? Below are two expereinces that helped me learn why this happens. I hope you learn somehting too.

Several years ago, someone I care deeply for was called as the Young Women President in her ward. Unfortunately, she suffered some severe mental health challenges shortly after her call. Due to these challenges, she felt it best to ask for release. She knew this was the best course of action but struggled with the belief that the Bishopric had received divine direction that she was the person to fulfill this calling. The fact that God was the source of her call made her feel that she was going against his will by asking to be released. Why would God direct her to serve in a calling she could not fill?

In 1836, the Kirtland Safety Society (KSS) was established by Latter-day Saints as a community bank in Kirtland, Ohio. In less than a year, amidst a nationwide financial crisis, the KSS failed, leading to great strife within the church. Some church members accused Joseph Smith of being a fallen prophet due to his participation in the KSS (Joseph Smith and other church leaders were involved in the bank’s creation and actively encouraged the Saints to support the endeavor). While Joseph is not recorded as stating God had given revelation to start the KSS, Wilford Woodruff quoted Joseph Smith as saying he had received “the word of the Lord upon the subject of the Kirtland safety society” and that “if we would give heed to the commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well.

In both cases, guidance and inspiration were sought from God and he seems to have given his approval. Why would God suggest or approve something that he knows will fail? It could be easy to interpret that as God not keeping his promises or you doing something against God’s will. But this assumes there is only one way to solve a problem. That God has one plan, which excludes all other plans. But I just don't think this is the way God operates.

Within some aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there seems to be a right way to do something (e.g. The baptismal ordinance). But I believe for most there are many ways to get things done (e.g. Who should serve in a specific calling). I have an uncle who is fond of saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” Meaning different paths can lead to the same goal.

In experience #1, the Bishopric received divine confirmation that this sister should serve as Young Women President. So why was she not able? When she asked this question, the wise Bishop gave invaluable counsel. He reminded her that a spiritual confirmation of a calling means that God approves of that calling. He is saying that this person has the capacity to fill that role and that it would be a good thing. It does not mean this is the only person that would do good things in this calling. It does not mean God’s plan will fall apart if this person does not serve.

In experience #2, we assume that Joseph Smtih prayed to know if starting a bank in Kirtland would benefit the Saints, the church, and Kirtland. We also assume that because they went forward, God gave some type of spiritual confirmation. But that does not mean he was saying, “this is the only way, and it will work out exactly the way you want.”

Revelation, whether personal or within the church organization, is not always a "this is how this must be" decree from God. So, when you feel an impression to enroll in a specific educational program, or a confirmation you should marry that special someone, it does not mean that is God's only will and your life will be a disaster otherwise. Seek the guidance of your Heavenly Father. Do your best to follow that guidance when it comes. But have the faith to be OK if it doesn't work out exactly as you think it should. Have the faith that there many roads to "God's will."

1 Comment

Jane Wolsey
Jane Wolsey
Mar 20, 2023

Thanks for sharing. I share your view and feel blessed to have agency in making decisions as we seek to be guided by the Savior.

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