When I think of crossroads, I see a rural landscape with two country roads dividing the picture into four equal squares. In the middle is a puzzled man, looking down all the emptiness, wondering which way to turn to reach his goal.
However, in my experience, when we come to a crossroads in mortality—a decision that will change our whole direction and way of life, we usually don’t see it marked. We might be in the midst of stress, illness, despair, infatuation, or blinded by happiness. There are people all around us, usually making demands or requiring our attention. In short, we are not alone in a field with a clear-cut view of our direction.
The way we choose to go is determined by the character we have spent our lives developing. Because of this, no choices we make at our crossroads are accidental. We won’t miss the right turning if we have prepared ourselves by putting the Lord first in our lives, by consistently praying to know His will, and by learning to recognize the Spirit. The fact is, if we’re on the right road to begin with, holding on to the Iron Rod, we will usually make the right choice without realizing it.
I have been thinking about crossroads a lot in the past couple of days because I have been given a new perspective on a crossroad that my husband and I faced nearly six years ago. The turn we took changed our lives out of all recognition and led us down the path we never dreamed we would find.
I was slogging along, doing the best that I could with my 22 year old illness–depression. David was doing his best to support me and growing very weary, but remaining faithful. Out of the blue, David and I were asked to speak with the Stake Presidency of the 9th BYU Stake. President Griffith eased our natural anxiety by telling us this was just a “get acquainted visit,” but they were searching for a new Bishop for the BYU 28th ward. I shrank into myself. David had been a Bishop before. He had given himself to the task 24/7, and that time coincided with the beginning of my illness. It was one of the hardest periods in my life.
David informed the Stake President of this fact, and we thought that would be the end of the matter. However, a few weeks later, we were called back in. David was issued a formal call to be Bishop. I reminded the leader frantically of my depression. He said, “That’s one of the reasons the Lord wants David in this calling.” (We have just recently learned that the Stake President, in following the Spirit, was going against our home bishop’s advice. Our bishop was sure that I was too ill for David to leave me for long periods of time.)
It was only because of our temple covenants that we accepted the call. However, because of that weary decision, our lives were changed forever. President Griffith told us that the Stake Agenda was to preach the Atonement in every talk and every lesson in our new ward.
Many of the rewards of this new calling came immediately. Working with the BYU students was so uplifting that even I could feel the Spirit. (During depression, it is very uncommon for the person who is ill to be able to feel the Spirit.) Studying the atonement in all its amazing complexity and applications was a completely new experience, and offered hope to us that perhaps our lives could be changed through the enabling power of our Savior’s sacrifice for us.
The third year David was in this calling, I finally knew enough about the divine subject to trust the Lord completely. I laid my burden at his feet with some trepidation. However, after this act of supreme faith on my part, I was given the medications to cure my illness not even a week later. I have told that story many times in this space.
My life changed directions from down to up. So did David’s. He learned the skills of applying the atonement in his daily life to the extent that he was also given the inspiration and guidance to take an entirely different direction professionally. This has proven to be a tremendous miracle in our lives.
We would still be on that sad and lonely trail if President Griffith hadn’t persisted and followed the Spirit in forcing us to choose at that crossroads. Past experience dictated that we were in for a rough time. However, our choice was rewarded by blessings unnumbered. We are on a different road, a road that could only have been accessed by faith during a dark time in our lives.
I am so grateful for the choice that we made, simply because we had learned to sacrifice. It was an “invisible crossroad” and we never had any idea that it would change us forever