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Why We'll Never Be Prepared for What's Next—And That's Okay

We've all been stressed or have felt overwhelmed in trying to live up to what is expected of us. But sometimes, being in over your head is not a bad thing.

A few years ago I signed up for a marathon.

When I decided I would run the 26.2 miles, I couldn’t even jog for one mile without stopping. But, I decided that regardless of what was expected or how hard the inclines, I would finish the race.

However, whenever I start a significant event in my life, feelings of personal insignificance usually quickly follow.

Like when I was set apart as an elder.

Or when I received the first investment dollar into my company.

Or when I started my MBA.

Or when I proposed a few weeks ago.

Every one of those events didn’t change who I was but rather explained who I was and made me more committed to climb.

I realized that even though I had prepared for each of these steps, when they finally did come, I wasn’t ready. I had no sudden epiphanies or magical wand that transformed me into a member, an elder, a student, or a husband. I was still just . . . me. How was I ever supposed to measure up and succeed at tasks so above my head?

But isn’t that the way it goes? Isn’t that how God works?

As my MBA Professor Grant McQueen reminded me at our class convocation,

When God wanted an ark, He didn’t look for a boat builder.
When God wanted Goliath killed, He didn’t look for a giant slayer.
When God wanted the Church to settle in the West, He didn’t look for a frontiersman.

So when God wants an incredible life to be lived, He is looking at you.

Why do you think that Christ told Peter and Andrew, “ I will make you fishers of men?” (Matthew 4:19) Because they were just men who fished before Christ.

Maybe you’re like me and often feel a sense of doubt about your abilities, but even Shakespeare decried such notions! “Our doubts are our traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing the attempt” (Measure for Measure, act 1, scene 4).

You can and have done incredible things even when you weren’t ready.  And when you took that first step that eventually led you to overcome by the finish line, guess what? You survived.

We will never be “ready” for our biggest dreams or for what God wants us to become because that was never the point. We are meant to take the plunge and get in over our heads because then we can climb up. Stretching and plunging and sometimes even falling, that is where progress is hidden.

Neal A. Maxwell reminds us, “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability” (“It’s Service, Not Status, That Counts,” Ensign July 1975)

Because like I ran across that marathon finish line, completed my mission, sold my company, and graduated with an MBA, I now have the opportunity to move forward with my fiancé and work towards a celestial marriage.

So let us not fear the uncertain hills of hard work ahead but instead remember the mountains of experience we have already summited with the assurance that we can accomplish anything in this marathon of life as long as we just keep moving forward!


Zack Oates is an entrepreneur, hot tubber and blogger (but not in that order, necessarily). He lived in Ukraine for two years serving an LDS mission and started a nonprofit in 2008 called Courage to Hope, which works with victims of domestic violence in Ukraine. He has traveled to six different continents in six months this year, and recently proposed to his fiancée. Check out his blog, bowlofoates.com.