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!
Here’s a good question to ask yourself: What sacrifices have I been asked to make in my religion? I believe that a religion that does not require effort and sacrifice—doesn’t produce faith, refinement, and spiritual growth in its members. We understand this principle in other areas. For example, if I work hard and save money to pay for my college tuition, I will apply myself with greater diligence and appreciation. And how absurd it would be to ask a physical trainer to help me develop bulging biceps and total body fitness without performing strenuous exercise? The principle of sacrifice and reward has application in every dimension of our lives. It applies to religion too. If it doesn’t pinch, it isn’t a sacrifice. Here are some sacrifices I’m striving to make. I am imperfect, but I will never give up trying.
- Resist forbidden things.
- Study scriptures daily.
- Pray morning and night (and in between).
- Obey commandments.
- Minister and serve others, even when it’s inconvenient.
- Prioritize marriage and family as number one—to love, teach and minister.
- Cherish the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Fast and pay tithing.
- Repent when I make mistakes and strive to improve.
- Stand as a witness for truth.
- Treat others kindly even when mistreated. Forgive freely.
- Learn to love with compassion and courtesy.
Note the ACTION WORDS: Resist, study, pray, obey, minister, serve, prioritize, cherish, repent, stand, learn, love, forgive.
Have you ever compared our covenant with Christ to a marriage covenant? Just as a husband and wife become ONE with each other through the covenant of marriage, the Savior and a faithful follower become ONE with each other through the covenant of the gospel. Spouses renounce all other loyalties, and put each other first. One who covenants with Christ surrenders all competing claims on his allegiance, and puts God first. A bride takes her husband’s last name and becomes heir to his property. Those who covenant with Christ take upon themselves Christ’s name and become heirs of His glorious kingdom. Spouses pledge fidelity to one another. Covenant-keepers pledge enduring faithfulness to Christ. They are continent, committed, and converted. “May the joy of our fidelity to the highest and best within us be ours as we keep our love and our marriages, our society and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be” (Jeffrey R. Holland). I want more than anything to endure to the end as a faithful covenant-keeper with Christ, and remain faithful to my sacred marriage covenants. This guarantees a multitude of Reasons to Rejoice now—and throughout eternity.
The Lord measures growth, not height. He celebrates our progress and desire to improve. We should do the same when evaluating our marriage relationship. Ask: In what ways are we getting better? My sweetheart and I have always loved each other dearly. But we weren’t at first what we have become today. We have been continually growing with stronger bonds of endearment, trust, understanding, and communication. This reminds me of hiking Mt. Timpanogos years ago. As we trudged up the steep slopes, my eyes were focused on each step. The higher we went, the more labored was my breath. Because my eyes were focused on stepping carefully along the narrow path, I didn’t enjoy the perspective of our vertical ascent. Then we stopped and turned around. We were amazed to see clouds hovering far below, with the long, winding trail disappearing underneath. Had we really come this far? We hadn’t yet reached the top, but we stopped to celebrate where we were at that moment. In our marriages, we need to occasionally stop and turn around—and view how far we have come. Ask each other: How have we grown, individually and as a couple? What wonderful traits have we discovered in each other over the years that we didn’t know at first? Take time to appreciate and celebrate where you are at this moment—this very moment!
It’s a good idea for couples to discuss and actually write down strengths in their marriage relationship. This activity helps to identify and reinforce the positive things. We did this and listed the following strengths:
- Honoring. Respectful communication; many expressions of gratitude; loving affirmations; physical affection.
- Absence of Contention.
- Exchanged kindnesses. Anticipating needs in thoughtful gestures.
- Unity in priorities and values. Sharing a love of God and desire to be faithful; sharing similar goals; having reverence for life and each other.
- Playfulness and humor. We laugh a lot.
- Appreciation of each other’s differences and strengths. This is unifying.
- Shared enjoyment in serving others.
You might try this as we did, on a date night sitting across the table at dinner. It might surprise you to identify some delightful new dimensions of your partnership that were previously overlooked. By reinforcing the positive, this activity supports the commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love” (D&C 42:45).
What does this statement mean to you? “The perfect is the enemy of the good” (Gordon Livingston). To me this statement means that perfection can actually become my enemy if it prevents me from acknowledging the good things in my life. My sister’s philosophy is that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfectly wonderful. Does anyone have perfect days? Probably few have these. But lots of us have good days. And all of us have good moments within our days—even in difficult days. We just need to recognize and remember them. I also see other applications to this quote. We should celebrate the good—not perfection—in friendships, marriage, and family relationships. We should acknowledge the good—not perfection—in our jobs, service, learning, and talents. I should measure my own worth by growth and good, not by the impossibly high bar of personal perfection. Good does not have to be perfect to be celebrated. “Cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9). Recognizing and remembering the good will give me daily Reasons to Rejoice!