During a road trip, my husband and I took turns discussing these 3 questions: (1) What lessons have we have learned from the past? (2) How we can prepare for the future? (3) How can we enjoy living today? It was a fascinating and unifying activity. Of course the lessons learned from the past were usually gleaned from trial experiences. Though everyone’s list will be different, I’ll share just a few ideas we came up with from each category.
- Learn from the past: In the strength of the Lord, we can do hard things; Joy is in God, not in circumstance; recognition of countless divine rescues and tender mercies; the need of a Savior in the eternal plan of happiness; learning what is really important.
- Prepare for the future: Seek learning, both sacred and secular; continue to budget and save; practice prudence and generosity; maintain habits of healthy eating and exercise; establish emergency plans and supplies; maintain and repair property and possessions; nourish strong family relationships; view life with optimism and cheer; have a positive attitude about aging.
- Enjoy today: Appreciate each moment as a gift from God; increase gratitude; perform acts of service each day; prioritize best options for use of time; cherish each other and strengthen our marriage; be actively engaged in good causes; smile more; be other-centered; learn balance and pacing of all good things.
Plan to have this discussion with your spouse. It will give you many Reasons to Rejoice!
What do you think of this definition of repentance? “It occurred to me recently that life is repentance, that progression and improvement and growth and maturity and refinement are all forms of repentance, and that the God-fearing live in a constant state of repentance…[having] desires for holiness and purity, longings to feel quiet confidence before God” (Robert Millet). This perspective helps me to see repentance as an ongoing attitude and movement through each day—a merging of all my thoughts, acts, desires, and longings. Repentance is my soul’s gradual unfolding and refining. Repentance requires a healthy dose of “divine discontent” to see my faults with an earnest desire to overcome them, and “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20) to maintain confidence that Christ’s atoning gift enables me to become holy. Understanding repentance in this way brings peace—another Reason to Rejoice!
It’s possible to turn work into play. I’m trying to learn how to enjoy each task I’m presently doing, no matter how tedious. The difference between work and play may be hard to define. For me, making a quilt is play; arranging a bulletin board for a classroom is work. Yet, on close scrutiny, these two tasks have similar elements. Both require mathematical calculations and measuring, cutting, fitting, creating, and cleaning up a mess. What makes one work and the other play is my ATTITUDE about it. Drudgery can turn into pleasure if infused with happy thoughts. I can smile while I work. I can create a pleasing ambience for my tasks. I can listen to music or uplifting media while I work. I can look for the positive aspects of my chore. “You must love your work, and not be always looking over the edge of it, wanting your play to begin” (George Eliot). Since work absorbs the majority of hours in each day, I want to learn how to more fully enjoy it. With a twist of attitude I can turn my work into play, making it one more Reason to Rejoice!
At a family gathering of children, teens, and adults, we gave each a wooden clothespin with instructions to squeeze tightly with thumb and ring finger—pinching it in that position for two long minutes. The beginning was easy, but soon we were in agonizing pain, struggling to endure to the end. We talked about what this activity taught us. What does it mean to endure to the end? Is there a difference between simply enduring and enduring WELL? An insightful discussion followed. We decided that enduring well means never giving up, even when things get tough. Enduring well means facing our trials with courage. Enduring well means having a positive attitude—no grumbling! Enduring well means pushing through fatigue. Enduring well means being faithful to our covenants with God. We promised to encourage each other when tempted to quit, and help each other finish strong. We agreed to place our trust in God’s promise: “Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7,8).
Have you ever had “ONE OF THOSE DAYS” when everything seems to go wrong? Perhaps the alarm didn’t chime (at least so you could hear it); there was no milk in the fridge for cereal; you spilled on your favorite shirt; you ran out of gas in your car; or you couldn’t find your cell phone. A wise teacher said, “Remember that Heavenly Father is more powerful than Satan, so don’t let Satan get you down.” Any of the above experiences might lead to Satan dragging us down. When this happens to me I feel discouraged. But discouragement doesn’t come from the Lord. To change my attitude, I seek direction from the scriptures or the words of living prophets contained in Church magazines (Ensign or Liahona). “Scripture power keeps me safe from sin. Scripture power is the power to win. Scripture power! Every day I need the power that I get each time I read” (LDS Primary Hymnbook). Words from this song are intended to direct young people, but I also find them uplifting. When discouraged, I apply a good dose of scriptures, and am lifted with spiritual refreshment. Myopic view of problems flips to the bigger picture of what I can become and what the Lord wants me to accomplish here on earth. It is a simple formula that works for me.
How do you feel today?
She had suffered poor health for many years when I asked, “How are you feeling today?” Even though she had always maintained a cheerful disposition throughout her many trials, I expected a laundry list of aches and pains. But I didn’t get a list. Her answer was simply, “I have no complaints.” She couldn’t have honestly said, “I feel fine”—because she didn’t. Immediately, I made a mental note to remember these four powerful words to use in a variety of situations—striving to remain positive when things are going badly. In such a case, if someone asks, “How are things going?”—I will smile and say, “I have no complaints.” One day President Thomas S. Monson noticed a fellow elevator passenger looking dejectedly at the floor. Amused, President Monson asked, “What are you looking at down there?” Then added with a smile and twinkle in his eyes, “It is better to look up.” These six words added to the four previous ones make a total of ten powerful words that will make a difference in the way I maneuver through tough days. I will forget the day’s troubles and remember the day’s blessings.
Finding Peace Inside
Is it possible to find peace living in a world filled with strident voices, violence, and crime? These words from President Thomas S. Monson lift my spirits. “It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future, even fearful if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives.” He counseled us to focus instead on blessings, to remain steadfast and cheerful through our troubles. “This attitude is what will pull us through whatever comes our way. Fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.” I feel peace knowing that I am a child of God and that He has a plan for me. I feel peace in covenant-keeping because God’s promises are sure. I feel peace in my marriage as we move through our days hand in hand—learning, loving, growing. The Holy Ghost fills me with peace, even during trials. Peace is love in my heart, restraint from temptation, and joy in sacred things. I feel peace in prudent living, with simple tastes and habits that constitute aesthetic leanness. Alan and I strive for “elegance rather than luxury; refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy…not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently…to bear all cheerfully…to let the spiritual grow up through the common” (William Henry Channing). Peace does not come from external things; it is a gift of the Spirit—incorporated as an attitude. Yes, I CAN find peace even living in a chaotic world.