The summer before my final semester of college, I found myself in an unfamiliar city. I had landed an internship that would give me valuable experience in my field, and I was grateful for and excited about the opportunities that lay ahead.
I found an apartment, moved in, and settled in for a grand adventure. However, I soon discovered that the job was more demanding than I had anticipated, and I felt a deep sense of inadequacy. The city was much larger than any I had lived in for some time, and I frequently got lost. I had only one roommate. She was nice, but we had opposite schedules. We seldom saw each other for more than 10 minutes a day a couple of times a week.
I felt overwhelmed—really overwhelmed. This confusing, lonely situation wasn’t quite the grand adventure I had imagined. I comforted myself by saying over and over, “This is only temporary.” I knew that in a mere 15 weeks, I’d return to my familiar college campus, my longtime roommates, and a comfortable routine.
In the meantime, I prayed for strength to “just get through” those months. I also attended a young single adult ward. I dutifully went to the full block of Sunday meetings and most ward activities, but I didn’t get too comfortable; after all, this was only temporary.
Toward the end of that first month, I accepted a calling to serve as the home, family, and personal enrichment leader and was invited to attend a training meeting. I considered skipping it. I had served in other Relief Society callings before and knew what my responsibilities would be. Besides, how many enrichment activities could we even hold in the short time I’d be in the area?
In the end I decided to go. At the meeting our Relief Society president, Laura, welcomed everyone and then shared a brief thought about the early Saints and the incredible work they accomplished even though they had spent much of their lives in transition. She talked about the temples they built, the cities they created, the commandments they followed, and the families they raised—all despite leading lives filled with displacement.
Then she said, “Many of you are here for only a short season. I know some of you are completing internships, and a few of you are here for only a few more weeks before you leave on a mission or get married.
“No matter how long you’re here, I hope we can find the work that our Heavenly Father has for us to do and, like our pioneer forebears, do it with purpose and enthusiasm.”
What a wake‑up call! Here I was, just trying to “get through” my life. What might the result have been had the early Saints had my attitude as they crossed oceans and went from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois to Utah, and from Salt Lake City to the different areas they were called to settle? What if Joseph Smith had put off translating scripture until he had a more convenient, permanent situation? What if the Saints had waited until their routines were comfortable, until some future event before they started building their temples, their families—their lives?
Up to that point, my attitude had been a poor one, but that Sunday‑morning meeting gave me a new perspective. I realized there were things I could do better, even if my circumstances weren’t exactly what I had envisioned.
Over the next 12 weeks my heart—and my life—changed. I tried harder to reach out to my neighbors, many of whom, like me, were in the ward for only a short time. I sincerely tried to magnify my calling. I did my visiting teaching with love, not out of a sense of obligation. Not only did I learn a great deal from my companion, but I also learned that one of the women we visited was an editor—exactly what I wanted to be. She gave me some great advice about seeking work in that field.
I was blessed in other ways too. Several of the enrichment meetings we planned required preparation that took me all over my new city, so out of necessity I learned my way around. The intense atmosphere at work didn’t change, but at least I had friends with whom I could relax when I got home. Those friends filled the void I initially felt that summer and have blessed my life since.
As fall semester approached, I felt almost sad to return to school. Putting down mental, emotional, and spiritual roots had made my summer experience rich and full.
I soon discovered that the nomadic, temporary life is more common than I had thought, particularly for young adults. Over the next year I finished school, completed another internship, and then started my first job. I lived in three different apartments, had 12 different roommates, and attended four different wards. But it wasn’t a crisis because I had learned how to make the most of any situation, even temporary ones. In each place I’ve lived since, I’ve been blessed by what I learned that summer.
I am grateful for early Latter-day Saints who didn’t disregard or downplay their opportunities because their situations were only temporary. And I’m grateful to a kind Heavenly Father who, through an inspired Relief Society president and friend, reminded me that every season of life has possibilities for growth and opportunity in doing His work.
Illustration by Steve Kropp