Finding Your Answers: Melanie Burk

March 3, 2015

If you had asked me 15 years ago what my life would be like, I would never have guessed that this would have been my path. I had it all planned out–with visions in my head of playing basketball in college (I was a total jock) studying abroad in Italy, eventually falling in love, and becoming a wife and mother. I thought with all my heart, that I could work hard and achieve all of these goals. Nothing could stand in my way! (Just writing this makes me smile and chuckle inside at how naive and young I was)

As the years passed, I quickly learned the Lord had other plans. Several basketball accidents, and a freak rock climbing accident tore my ACL, MCL, and meniscus. I tore them not just once, but three times, resulting in 6 painful knee surges and years or reconstruction–and so many years of crutches! It seemed that whenever I had my plans or ideas set, things would dramatically alter–so that I had to simply throw my arms in the air, laugh, and accept that I needed new goals and plans.

Through the years I continued to shuffle and change my course, praying and seeking for guidance, but it didn’t go smoothly at all. I felt inspired to study design, only to be rejected and turned down from art programs and jobs, and it seemed that I was experiencing failure in all areas of my life, at every turn. At first it was easy to shrug it off and alter course, but after four years of continual setbacks, I began to feel like something was wrong with me. I felt completely at a loss with all of my plans and goals, and so I did the only thing I knew I could, I turned to the Lord. I asked Him what he wanted me to do with my life, and what my role and calling was to be. Although I had asked him these specific questions before, at this time I began earnestly seeking in a way I had never before done.

I pleaded, cried, knelt and prayed . . . but no large insight, big ideas, or clear directions came to me. For over a year, I pleaded with the Lord–and only felt small, seemingly insignificant promptings about what to make and do with my life. Finally after a year of this, it hit me like a ton of bricks–I was to act on these small, tiny little promptings in order to receive larger ones. I was failing to act.

 

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I again turned to humble prayer, asking for forgiveness in being slow to move forward in faith. I began to act, leaning on these small promptings. I learned to see that the guidance came in small, quiet moments, as if they were small candles placed in my path to light the way as I shuffled onward in the dark. Almost always, it took months of acting on my promptings before I would receive a large confirmation letting me know I was on the right path. I didn’t end up studying abroad in Italy–instead, in a huge leap of faith, I served a mission for my church to Brazil, which paid rich spiritual and life changing dividends. I did end up graduating with a degree in design, but it took six years of hard work, rejection, persistence and much sweat and tears.

And yet, through all of this–I knew that I was just beginning on my path of having questions, turning to the Lord, receiving answers, and moving forward in faith. When you turn your life over to God the path is rocky, difficult, and challenging as He pushes you to vistas you would never dream of climbing. But it is all worth it, because He is leading you, guiding you, and even carrying you at times–and the blessings are immeasurable.

There have been many times where I felt like I just couldn’t do what the Lord was asking me to do. Six years ago, we felt strongly my husband was to change careers while I was to start a graphic design business–all while having and raising children. This seemed like an impossible task to me, and being an artist and a mother, while supporting my husband, felt very overwhelming. There have been many tears, prayers, and sleepless night as I prayed for direction, strength, and wisdom of how to proceed.

The answers have come as I have learned to rely upon the Lord and follow the spirit. It’s not always neat and tidy–many times deadlines are missed, and I forget to run errands. My family always comes first, but I have also learned that the Lord has other things He intends for me to do, even though I don’t know why. I follow, humbly, and I feel tremendously happy and fulfilled, because I know that I am walking in the path that He would have me live.

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When people, as they often do, ask me–how do you find your path in life, or how do you balance everything? I laugh a little inside, because they don’t know the years of sweat and tears that have gone into these very questions and answers. Those are questions that I cannot answer for anyone. Indeed, to find the answer to many of life’s questions you have to find it for yourself. Deciding what and who you need to be is something that NO ONE can answer–except He who knows your heart, talents, and soul better than even you. He has a much better path for you than you could ever carve out for yourself. I promise you that as you turn off the phone, instagram, pinterest, and the outside voices that tell you who you should be and what you should do, and as you turn you attention and focus on asking questions to our Heavenly Father, that He will give you the strength, courage, and knowledge to not only find your answers, but act on them.

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Photos by MegRuth Photo

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6 Comments

  • Reply Allison March 4, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post and for being willing to share what the process of faithful questioning has been like for you! I needed to read this 🙂

  • Reply Heather March 4, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I love this, especially how Heavenly Father guides us in small ways until we start following those small promptings and then bigger things happen. My life has been way different than I ever expected, and sometimes it took me years to finally understand what Heavenly Father was trying to tell me.

  • Reply Ginger March 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Melanie. Thank you for opening your heart + soul. You’ve inspired me + changed my mind on several occasions without even knowing you’re doing it. You live these words wvery single day! What a special spirit you’ve been blessed with. I look up to you + am grateful for your strength in my life! Love you!

  • Reply Johanna March 4, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Beautiful Mel. Heartfelt and inviting. Thank you.

  • Reply emily falke March 7, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I found my answer to be the opposite. I always felt like I needed something to stretch me beyond my wife and mother duties, but nothing ever felt right, no matter how good the idea seemed. Finally I was ready for the answer and it came strongly one day driving home after taking my daughter to school – You want to do an important work, so do My work. Use the talent I told you I gave you-to teach-to teach your children the Gospel. I need them to be strong. There was some chastising because I didn’t act when I received the same prompting a year before. My heart finally made the turnover change, and other desires slipped away, leaving space for a testimony that God hears and answers, and happiness and peace are found in following Him.

    • Reply Melanie Burk March 7, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Emily- Thank you So much for your comment. It’s true that we each have different paths in our life- and a different plan that God has for us. What a great woman you are to recognizing what you need to do. I think it’s always hard to humbly accept that sometimes what we would like to do, is not always what we God wants us to do. Thank you for leaving your comment- more than anything, I hoped that this post would help people realize that we each have a different path, and that we have to ask God questions and recognize those answers to know what we should do. It sounds like you are doing a GREAT job on that, so thank you for leaving your thoughts and testimony, hugs! Your children are So blessed to have you!

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