Have you ever interviewed for a job that you really, really want? My friend, who I’ll call Lisa, has a grown daughter I’ll call Amber. Her daughter said on the phone recently, “I’ve been fasting and praying. I really need this job.”

My friend was supportive and expressed her confidence that Amber would be perfect for the position, but inside she ached, knowing how competitive it could be.

Then she felt a prompting. She should send Amber certain items. For starters she would send an encouraging card, reminding Amber how strong and wonderful she is. How proud of her Lisa is. Then, if Amber didn’t get the job, her daughter would have a reminder that she’s talented and skilled, and might get the next one.

“I may as well include a check for a hundred dollars,” Lisa thought. That would ease the sting if she didn’t get the pay increase. “I’ll tell her to spend it on something she’s been wanting.”

Then, Lisa felt she should include one of those small statues depicting women. One that Amber had always loved.  Soon the package was on its way.

Lisa timed it so the items would all arrive on the day when the job offer would be given. Then, if it turned out Amber didn’t get the position, at least she would feel her mother’s love.

Sure enough, Lisa called that afternoon.  But instead of a heartsick daughter, she heard an overjoyed Amber sharing the happy news that she got the job!  She had also just come in the door with the mail in her arms, and opened the card while Lisa was on the phone.

Tears flowed. “Mom, I needed this so much—you truly believed in me,” Amber said. Then she opened the check and gasped. “You have no idea how perfect this timing is,” Amber said. “I’ve been short on funds and this is a huge help!”

And then the gorgeous statue, a forever reminder of how capable she is, and how much her mom loves her.

As Lisa told me the story, she chuckled at the thought that her gifts had been sent with the idea of “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Here she had been thinking of possible consolation, but Amber only saw the joyous trust her mother had in her ability to land this job.

And what a great lesson for Lisa, in so many ways. First of all, to remember that Amber had been fasting and praying. There is great power in this. And, even if she hadn’t achieved her goal, it would mean that God had something even better in mind for her.

Sometimes we’re afraid to celebrate “before the ink is dry,” so to speak. We don’t want to give in to elation only to have our hopes dashed the next day. But Lisa learned not to immediately worry about the worst possible outcome.

Interestingly, she learned not to draw quick conclusions about a prompting. Yes, the Holy Ghost whispered to her about things to send to Amber. But it wasn’t because she would need a boost after a big disappointment—it was to join in the delight of answered prayers. It was to show her a mother’s confidence in Amber’s value and qualifications. What a wonderful twist in the story’s surprise ending and in what Lisa learned.

So often we receive inspiration to do something we think sounds crazy. Stop by the home of a totally active member, just to share our testimony? Why?  But then, if we follow that nudge, we discover this person was in a pit of despair and needed exactly that.

Strike up a conversation with a stranger? This can seem daunting, but then we discover God has placed this person in our path for a reason. Sometimes we need to help them, and sometimes they need to help us.

President Dallin H. Oaks spoke in a BYU fireside once, and outlined eight purposes of communication from the Holy Ghost.

First, He testifies to us that Jesus is the Christ, and the gospel is true.

Second, He prophesies. “Within the limits of one’s areas of responsibility, a person may be inspired to predict what will come to pass in the future.”

Third, just as the Spirit comforted Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, we can receive comfort from priesthood blessings, forgiveness of our sins, and even “visions of departed loved ones.”

Fourth, the Holy Ghost uplifts us “from depression, feelings of inadequacy, or plateau of spiritual mediocrity. He comes as we read scriptures or enjoy wholesome music, art, or literature.”

Fifth, He can inform us. This can include being given the words to speak, or could be information communicated by the quiet whispering of the Spirit. Elder Oaks also said, “On some sacred occasions, information has been given face to face from heavenly personages.”

Sixth, The Holy Ghost can restrain us, and warn us of danger.

Seventh, He can give us confirmation that we’re on the right track. When we propose “a particular course of action” and pray to know if it’s the right choice, the Holy Ghost can give us peaceful assurance.

Last, He can impel us to do something we were not planning to do. These are the revelations that puzzle us, the ones that don’t make sense until afterwards. But when we heed them, we are always grateful.

Like Lisa, we may feel prompted to do something and we will attach a different purpose to it. But God always knows what He’s doing, and will guide us to do the very best thing. So often we need to just follow that inspiration. We’ll learn what He wants to teach us as we put absolute faith in Him. What a glorious thing it is, to follow President Russell M. Nelson’s urge to truly “let the Lord prevail.”

Hilton’s book, A Little Christmas Prayeris the perfect Christmas gift. Sometimes it takes a child to raise a village, and this tale teaches anyone, of any faith, the magic of gratitude. All her books and Youtube Mom videos can be found at jonihilton.com