Recently I have been listening to “Remember Lot’s Wife,” an address given by Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the LDS Quorum of Apostles, to an arena full of BYU students.  In this talk, Elder Holland sets out to explicate the short and quippy Luke 17:32: “Remember Lot’s wife.”  Not a verse often quoted for its significance or lyricism.

(Lot, you’ll remember, is the nephew of Abraham, who, with his family, was ordered by God to flee Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities God decided He needed to destroy because, Elder Holland explains, God had “had as much as He could stand of the worst that men and women could do.”)

What Elder Holland says the verse means, at least here, at least in one context, is this:

Apparently what was wrong with Lot’s wife is that she wasn’t just looking back, but that in her heart she wanted to go back. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her.  . . .  In short, her attachment to the past outweighed her confidence in the future. That, apparently, was at least part of her sin.

Elder Holland explains that sometimes our desires to look back to/go back to/yearn longingly for a past that will not—and should not—come again (or stay forever), is a way of not having faith.  Of not being godly.

I have been thinking about this.  And how the injunction to “remember Lot’s wife” doesn’t just mean—don’t pine for the past; it also means—look to the future.  This can be a darned tricky, darned scary thing to do.  Even if what is ahead is beautiful.  Is great.  Is exactly what I want.  Is awesome.

As Jennifer Aniston’s agent says to her, apparently*: “Every thing that you want is outside of your comfort zone.  Everysinglethingthatyouwant.

This, it turns out, might actually be true.

Elder Holland explains what he sees young adults/people/homo sapiens everywhere asking themselves on their paths to God and happiness:

Is there any future for me? What does a new year, or a new semester, or a new major, or a new romance hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to go home?

I, it turns out, am asking some of these things too.  Good things are ahead for me.  Are being casted, are waiting in the wings, or are being quickly ushered to center stage, down front.  Curtains, lights, action.  But as much as I like the new show, I find myself wondering about opening night.  And feeling nervous about performing for an audience waiting to be wooed and won.  Or not.

(Incidentally, I hate acting.  I’m not very good at it.  Too “badum ching,” a friend once told me.  And it produces too much adrenaline.  I avoid adrenaline.  And anxiety.  And nervousness.  And any enterprise that depends more upon my brain stem and my fight-or-flight response than my higher order thinking, feeling, and reasoning skills.)  (I know, I know–I’m the funnest girl you ever met.)

But Elder Holland has a response, of course.  To you, to me, to any of us who is/are standing between the past and the future, the possibilities and the has-beens.   And, as usual, his response is an empathetic and loving one.  He says:

To all such of every generation I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ is the “high priest of good things to come.” . . .  Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant, and live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, trust and divine love transform your life today, tomorrow and forever.

Or, in other words, Every thing that you want is outside of your comfort zone, if you, like I, may be wondering if the past is more comfortable than what may be coming in the future.  Everysinglethingthatyouwant.


Lot’s wife.  Poor lady.  I’m gonna try to remember.


* I read it in some grocery store magazine.  I was unwittingly moved.  But I still didn’t buy it.  (The magazine, that is.)