After having returned from my mission, I lived at home and worked at my father’s printing shop in Taber, Alberta for three months. This allowed me to save some money. I moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta at the beginning of January 2017. I planned to combine my savings with student loans and to begin a college program in March. Before I started classes, I tried to keep busy by being involved in the Church, making new friends, and finding part-time employment. Where I was heading in life looked pretty clear.
Then, two weeks before my program was to start, I received a call from the college informing me that my program had been cancelled. No reason was provided. I now found myself with a job that did not provide enough for me to pay my rent; my savings were shrinking very fast; and I had no clear direction for my schooling. I felt very nervous as all of my future plans suddenly became foggy.
Not long after that discouraging phone call from the college, I heard an announcement that the Church was starting a new Self-Reliance Initiative (see also: srs.lds.org). This piqued my interest. I decided to attend the personal finances classes. I ended up in the same group as my oldest sister who lived on the other side of town. I felt that if there were anything that could make things better, it would be attending these classes.
To get to my first group meeting, I had to walk for an hour from my house to the Stake Centre since my only mode of transportation—my bike—had been damaged a couple of days before. I really enjoyed attending that first class. I learned about connections between our temporal needs and our Heavenly Father’s love for us. As the First Presidency stated in the introduction of the manual PERSONAL FINANCES FOR SELF-RELIANCE: “Dear Brothers and Sisters: The Lord has declared, ‘It is my purpose to provide for my saints’ (D&C 104:15). This revelation is a promise from the Lord that He will provide temporal blessings and open the door of self-reliance, which is the ability for us to provide the necessities of life for ourselves and our family members.” I left reassured. It sparked hope within me, and I felt that I was doing the right thing.
During another class, we learned about the importance of first paying tithing and second putting money away for savings. We should do these two things before paying for anything else, even necessities. I had a strong testimony of paying tithing (Malachi 3: 10) before anything else, and I had been doing so even with what little I was making. What really made me stop and think was why I would put money into my savings each month when I would just be taking it and more back out to pay for food, rent, and other things. As the meeting went on, I realized that putting money into savings was just as important as paying my tithing. No matter how little economic sense it made, it was something God wanted me to do. So, I went home that day and decided that I would just take a leap of faith: I put some money into my savings account. It was my first such deposit in a long time.
One week later, the general manager of the hotel where I was employed came in and told me of extra work needed at our sister hotel in town. This new job opportunity was much closer to where I lived and easier to travel to on my bike. My employer’s needs were so great that I was allowed to work as many hours as I wanted, and I could decide when my shift start-and-end times would be. I would also receive some training for other jobs in the hotel so that I could fill in wherever needed. I immediately thought about how this was a blessing for my obedience.
Several weeks later, I received notice from my sister of a potential opening at a prominent carpentry business. It is my dream to be a carpenter, so I went and applied. Though I did not have as much experience as they were looking for, they hired me right after my interview. When this happened, I could literally see the Lord’s blessings pouring down as I had applied self-reliance principles.
By attending these self-reliance classes, my life completely turned around. In addition to improving my financial management skills, I received many other blessings: I had a better job in a career that I wanted to pursue. I was able to afford a car. I also met the young woman who would become my wife! My faith grew more than I ever thought it could. I’m thankful for taking that leap of faith by applying the principles of the Church’s Self-Reliance Initiative. Even today, as I have finished going through the personal finance classes a second time—with my wife this time—we are still receiving many blessings. We are becoming much closer to the Saviour. I know God loves us. As long as we are willing to put our lives in our Redeemer’s hands, He is more than happy to help us meet both our temporal and spiritual needs.