Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hopes, Dreams, and God

This is a (rather long) story about a boy named Todd--whose intelligence and curiosity got him out of trouble as often as it put him in it.

One day, Todd was thinking very seriously about what he should do with his life. He decided to choose a path involving statistics and probabilities. He chose this because he realized early on in life that he the capacity to do anything his heart desired--and that the course of life through the actuarial sciences would give him the best consistent salary. On this day, in which Todd was reflecting on his life, he realized that there were only a few joys that he could find in statistics and probability.

That wasn't enough to deter Todd from his plans, of course. He was rather bull-headed and stubborn. Being a spiritual man, though, he made this a matter of prayer. The inclination to look into studying the sciences came quickly to mind. A week passed, and none of Todd's stubborn attitude could shake the thought of studying physics. He talked to his dear sweet wife about and they agreed that they would try something outside of their intended course.

So, Todd began exploring a career in physics. At first it was difficult, and didn't really seem like it was for him--but he felt very strongly that God wanted him to be here.

One day, Todd found himself alone in a lab. While he was working on his lab, everything suddenly became clear, intuitive, and had a certain flow to it. He understood what was going on, and realized the implications of what the lab illustrated.

From then on, school was no longer just a way to get a job--it was enjoyable. Through subsequent labs and projects, Todd found a great joy in working with his hands--as opposed to just pencil and paper. God had led him to a career that He knew Todd would enjoy much more than one crunching numbers.

So life went on the way it usually does--with its hardships and its tender moments, but quite usually. Todd quickly realized, after some experimentation, that he wanted to design things, and build things that could make the world a better place. He started designing little trinkets and things, and drawing up plans for them--but he had no way to implement them. He was studying and working to provide for his family. The lived in such a small place, and he had no room to experiment or build his inventions--and no money to buy tools to build them with either.

One day, a few months later, his wife gets a call that her grandpa is dying. Todd couldn't afford to leave himself, but he was happy to do anything he could to get his wife to her grandpa. It was a very emotional time for the two--as they had never been apart since the day they were married.

A week passed, and Todd's wife returned home almost broken. She had worked so hard to clean out her grandpa's house and help settle his affairs while she had been gone that she had barely slept. Todd quickly brought her in to a freshly cleaned home, a bouquet of flowers, and a tender kiss to help put her to rest.

Later that day, Todd's wife reminds him that there were a number of items that were claimed from her grandpa's estate, and that her father was driving them down. That night, a few boxes arrived. Todd helped unload them and then went to bed--being too tired to do anything else.

The next day, after some particularly frustrating events, Todd came home from school a little more surly than usual. Some very unfortunate things had happened that day, and he was feeling rather down. His wife told him that one of the boxes on the kitchen floor was for him. Thinking this to be another chore, Todd grumpily walked over to the box.

Now, Todd had only a vague idea of what this box contained, as his wife had told him it was a box of tools.

So that you might better understand, let me illuminate. The grandpa that was dying was a very intelligent man. He was very smart, and loved working with his hands. Often, through life, whenever there was a need for something, he would just make it himself. He was very well versed in the sciences, and mechanics, and in just about any intellectually stimulating craft. Over the years, he had expanded and improved his workshop until he had just about every tool he would ever need (including many he built himself). When his sweet-heart died, he lost much of his drive, and his workshop fell abandoned. This box contained hundreds of very powerful and useful tools--nearly everything you'd need to equip a workshop.

When Todd opened the box, he was speechless at first. He looked inside and quickly recognized and identified each item. Most all he had worked with before, but never anywhere but in a lab at school. Never had he dreamed of having a toolkit so complete. He had wanted to invent, but never had the means available for him to do so. Now he did. Realizing what had just happened, Todd started to cry. God had not only shown him what would make him happy in life, but had clearly just given His son the means to do so.

To those who might think that all this is coincidence, I say that coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous. It was not coincidental that I changed my major--those close to me will even tell you that I wasn't sure why I was doing it, other than it felt right. Maybe it was coincidence that I had a feeling--at random--that I needed to change my life direction, and it made me happier with life. Maybe it was coincidence that I happened to be better working Physics problems than statistics too. I wanted to be an actuary since I was 16 years old, and nothing was going to deter me from that. I had even attempted the first qualifying exam and was preparing to take it again at the time, just barely bought a brand new text-book to independently study from too.
It seems odd to me, though, that I would, within a few months of making that switch, take naturally to it. Designing things was a choice--but it was more so to help me understand and see what it was I was studying. I figured that if I could design something based off a principal, then I had likely mastered that principal. However, there was no way I would've know that I enjoyed doing that more than developing statistical models. That would be something that an omnipotent God would readily know, though.
For those who are still doubting, let me share with you two more random occurrences: about a month ago, we finally had a financial break in our finances. We finally got the means to rent space for me to develop and design in. As if that weren't enough, I had one device that I started designing stick out in my mind above all others. It was based on my own personal theory of electro-magnetism, so I was skeptical towards ever trying it. I found out on the same day that I received these tools that it not only is possible, but that some research regarding that device had been published that very day.

Tell me that is coincidence, and I'll tell you that you're stretching your odds. I know the odds, and I know the math. It doesn't take someone trained in actuarial science to tell you that it is more likely that these events (which had no direct relation to each other) were intentional rather than random. Not only that, but in my life, this sort of thing happens all the time. This is not the first, nor the greatest blessing that I've been given. Those who know the full story behind my marriage, and my family, also know that they were given to me in a similar way--"coincidence" after "coincidence."

God is real, you just need to learn more about Him and the way He operates, and you'll start seeing these things happen more frequently in your own life. He is your Father, He loves you, and wants you to be happy. He knows, better than you do, what will make you happy--that's why you're on this earth in the first place. When you learn about His ways, and learn to quiet your mind, He'll inspire you to do what will bring you the greatest joy in your life. He's done this for me, and He wants to do this for everyone--but we need to learn to listen, and learn to follow Him when He wants to guide our lives.

Why I'm (still) a Mormon

I don't expect much more to ever be posted on this blog, and I'm largely just posting this to share it with some particular friends....