As a child with strict parents, asking my parents for permission was one of the most dreaded actions. The walk to my parents was filled with nerves, apprehension, and anxiety, as well as understanding that the answer was most likely going to be “no”. I remember asking to sleep over at a friend’s house, the answer was usually “you can eat dinner and stay there until bedtime, but no, you cannot sleep over.” The answers were often no. “No, you can’t date until sixteen” “No, you can’t do that” “No” “No”.
Don’t get the wrong idea about my parents; they’re wonderful, loving, good hearted people. There were many times when having strict parents came in handy (like in middle school when this kid I barely knew asked me to be his girlfriend or I was invited to a party I didn’t want to go to, I could always trust my parents would say “no”). Aside from the benefits of having strict parents, I found myself often questioning why I even would bother asking my parents when I already knew what the answer would be. I think what kept bringing me back was this tiny sliver of hope that the answer could end up being “yes”.
Similar to this is the struggle has been the struggle with answers to prayers. I know there have been countless times I have asked for the same thing, over and over again, even to the point of demanding it, but it seemed like the prayer went unanswered. Other times I prayed and felt like “of course the answer is going to be no”. I know the struggle with feeling like my prayers, desires, and questions would be no kept me from even asking.
With life more recently, it feels more and more like the answer is no. The pattern of trials, long periods of hard times and shut doors before suddenly a door or window opens and life gets better makes it hard to believe that a yes is even possible in the middle of this dark period. We often think that we have to continue down the lone corridor, without blessings, without answers, without anything but the hope that the trial will end and the blessings will come. We see it as our penance, our burden to bear, and our lesson to learn; the only way it would be successful is alone in the dark, without the “yes” answer. Yes, we can have the peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost, the support and kindness of family, friends, and others, but the trial, the test, is void of blessings. This sentiment is false.
There is the meme of “The teacher is always silent during the test” that help us continue to believe this. However, the more accurate idea is that we often overlook the blessings we are receiving because of the trials we are facing. When hardships are coming, hitting at all sides it is easy to miss the blessings that are coming with them. Along with this we can also think that because we are in the middle of one big trial, we should be immune from further trials and suffering.
I remember when I was in the midst of an extreme hardship; I took my car to get the oil changed. The technician left the oil cap off. I drove my car, unaware of the problem. When I later discovered it, it was too late. Oil had saturated my entire engine. The damage was terrible. I questioned why Heavenly Father would let this happen to me when I was already in the middle of another trial. As I worked to get the problem resolved, I was blessed to have friends that could fix the problems that were caused by the oil along with many other blessings.
Virginia H. Pearce once gave a great outline for handling the delay in answers or the answer of “no”. In her talk “Faith is the Answer” she says “ Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and they are in charge of this world.  They know me. They love me.  They have a plan for my future.  I will obey the commandments, work hard, and trust in their plan. Sooner or later, everything will be okay.” Often the “no” isn’t meant to hurt us, damage us, or even restrict us. The “no” is to help us grow, to become more, to be ready for a better possibility.
When my parents told me no, it wasn’t because they were jerks, it was to keep me safe. My parents’ goal was to teach me, to help me learn, to keep me safe, and to provide a better life. Like my parents, Heavenly Father has similar goals for us, but His plans for us are perfect, His timing is perfect, His love for us is perfect, and His perspective us and our path is perfect. We, who are imperfect, need to grow in faith. It is our faith that helps us to accept and understand that “no” is not a bad thing, “not now” is doesn’t mean not ever, and silence doesn’t mean He isn’t aware and listening.
As His children, sons and daughters, we must hold strong to our faith. Our faith is the best GPS we could ask for to guide us spiritually through the dark corridors and lost alleyways. We may feel that we are lost, but with our faith, we can count on Heavenly Father. He does not set us up for failure.
Remember: “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and they are in charge of this world. They know you. They love you. They have a plan for your futures. You must obey the commandments, work hard, and trust in their plan. And sooner or later, everything will be wonderful.”
How has faith helped you when the answer was no?