By Our Side for the Journey

How do you feel when you’re about to embark on a new journey or experience? This year, I volunteered to help with events hosted by a local foster care agency, and I attended an information meeting at the beginning of the summer. On my way there, my stomach felt unsettled, but I understood the source of the discomfort: I was going to a place I hadn’t been to before, meeting with people I didn’t know, and trying something new. I acknowledged the feeling and moved on. So far it’s been a great experience to be involved.

Of course, this wasn’t some significant undertaking. Not like leaving home for two years as a young adult to preach the gospel in a foreign country. The funny thing is that I don’t remember feeling nervous or anxious to do that, though I’m sure I was. I do remember being excited to go, in spite of the fact that I was leaving behind everyone and everything familiar to me, and I was still a very shy person.

I’m certain we had some mixture of these feelings as each of us prepared to embark on the most eternally significant journey we will take—that of leaving our Eternal Father’s presence, being born on earth, and traversing mortal life. There would have come a point at which it settled on us that this was for real and everything was going to be different.

Before we left God’s presence, we received instructions about the purpose of mortality. We learned that we should prove ourselves faithful to the Lord, and because we would often fail, a Redeemer would come to atone for us (Abraham 3:24–25; 1 Peter 1:18–20). Through it all, the Father and the Son wanted to be close to us, not distantly looking on, to give us the best chance of returning to Them having learned the lessons They had to teach.

The Parable of the Driving Lesson represents this entire journey, from departing our home in heaven to our return. Eva received instructions before she ever left. She worried, she frequently looked to her dad for reassurance or additional guidance, and she sometimes struggled to maintain focus. At times, the drive was going well and she was staying on the right course, and her dad trusted her to keep going. He saw things coming that Eva didn’t and could direct her accordingly. And he allowed her to run into a frustrating situation for her own education and refinement.

In the end, Eva recognized that she couldn’t have done it without having her father there with her. And he wanted her to learn things that would stay with her and be of lasting benefit to her.

The things that happened on that drive represent various things we encounter in this life for various reasons. We may not always be sure we’re doing the right thing. We may not always receive resounding reassurance from heaven that we are. God allows us to encounter challenges that He knew were coming. If we’re heeding Him, he may steer us clear of some.

I hope it isn’t lost on us that while we are participating in a plan that Heavenly Father put in place, He didn’t boot us out the door and tell us to come home when we had achieved perfection. He never intended for us to go it alone. He sent Jesus Christ to make the plan work, not only so we can repent and receive divine forgiveness, but so we can also receive divine power to overcome the adversary’s attempts to pull us down. We can pray, study the scriptures, receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, make covenants and receive knowledge and power in temples, and follow the Lord’s prophet and apostles. We can make discipleship a way of life. Through all of these things, we can have the experience of Heavenly Father and Jesus making the journey with us, not looking on from afar.

Photo by Kaique Rocha on

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