Small continuation from last week’s post.
I have been looking this past week for little things in my life that show me that the Lord is mindful of me. (and if he knows me – he certainly is watching out for you!) I have been amazed at the small and simple things that I have noticed.
D&C 98:1-3 “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.”
These 3 verses are full of comfort, concern and excellent advice. Fear not. Be comforted (I know your circumstances). My time is not your time – so please be patient – and have faith that I am working things out for your good. Keep praying – I want to know what is in your heart. I will not forget you. Be grateful – in everything be grateful. I think when I am grateful and see the blessings in my life – the things I need to be patient with aren’t so front and center in my life and I have more peace.
Give thanks and be patient. God has a plan. A really good plan. Work hard, be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.
It is hard for me to not have an assignment in my church congregation. I am hopeful that something is coming but right now I am working on patience and being observant. I read the below in my scripture study and it seemed to come as direct revelation to me:
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.” D&C 58:27-28
It seemed that Heavenly Father was speaking to me – letting me know he was aware of my feelings and he had an answer for me! I don’t need a calling to serve others. I don’t need an assignment to meet needs. I know that there are many needs in my home, my ward, my neighborhood – so I am trying to open my eyes. I have been amazed at the tender mercies that have been shown to me – letting me know that I am needed and I can serve others – even if I don’t have an official calling. Perhaps that is a no-brainer – but it was just what I needed today.
Russell M Nelson shared the following experience:
“Early in our married life when Sister Nelson and I lived in Minneapolis, we decided to enjoy a free afternoon with our two-year-old daughter. We went to one of Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes and rented a small boat. After rowing far from shore, we stopped to relax and enjoy the tranquil scene. Suddenly, our little toddler lifted one leg out of the boat and started to go overboard, exclaiming, “Time to get out, Daddy!”
Quickly we caught her and explained, “No, dear, it’s not time to get out; we must stay in the boat until it brings us safely back to land.” Only with considerable persuasion did we succeed in convincing her that leaving the boat early would have led to disaster.” http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1997/04/endure-and-be-lifted-up?lang=eng
How often do I foolishly want to get “out of the boat” when I am tired of enduring whatever is before me? I understand (because of personal experience) the foolishness of getting out of a boat in the middle of a body of water (unless of course you have a life jacket on and are about to strap on a wake board!) but I don’t always have the understanding of why certain difficulties are before me. That is why I go back to the promise that the Lord made to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail.
“My son, 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; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.” D&C 121:7-8
Now I don’t have foes like Joseph did – I don’t have trials like Joseph did – but I do have things that are difficult for me. And the promises that the Lord made to Joseph apply to me as well. And how do I “endure it well”? Don’t give up. Cheerfully do all that I can. Have faith. Don’t be offended. Look for the good. Remember the strength, peace, and courage that come from regular prayer and scripture study. Don’t give up. Look to the Lord. Trust in the Lord. Wait with patience on the Lord. And NO MATTER WHAT – don’t get out of the boat. Because I know that in the end – it will be worth it!
Two totally separate events on Friday caused me to think and reflect …
1st event: We have chickens in our back yard. Right now we have 5. They are pretty black ones with flecks of gold running through their feathers. I had 6 apples that were beyond human consumption but apparently chickens think they are just as tasty as chocolate is to me – so I tossed them into their pen. The chickens went crazy and pecked at an apple, then noticed that another chicken was pecking at another apple so they must have decided that the other apple was better. This caused the bird to try and chase the other chicken away so they could eat that apple. This went on for a while – the chickens taking a bite then moving to a different apple that appeared to be better. Even though there were enough apples for all of them to have one (with one more thrown in for good measure). They never seemed to be satisfied with their apple and always thought another chicken had a better apple than they did.
2nd event: Last Friday and Saturday, my sophomore daughter swam in her final meet of this years’ HS swim season. She swims both the 500 free and the 100 backstroke. When she finished both of her events in the meet she looked up at the scoreboard and a huge smile erupted on her face when she saw her time! She was delighted and thrilled beyond measure! She had set some pretty aggressive goals at the beginning of the season and had been working hard to accomplish that goal and now she had accomplished them!
Let me be clear – she did not win her race and she knew that – she did not qualify to swim in the state meet. But she knew that she had swum her best and that was what was important. She didn’t compare herself to any other swimmers and feel that somehow her accomplishment was diminished because of their accomplishment.
So what am I to be – a chicken that constantly feels that someone else has something better and can do something better than me? – or a daughter of God who knows I need to try and do my best – knowing that the race is against me, not my neighbor, my friend, my acquaintance or anyone else. Remembering that my accomplishments are individual to me – and comparing myself to others isn’t productive.
I love this quote from President Hinckley:
“I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. Please don’t nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort.” Ensign Nov 1989
Have you ever had one of those days when you have a hard time believing that you will be able to accomplish that which is before you? Or wondering if you really make a difference? Or if you are needed? Or thinking perhaps that someone else could do better than you are? When you know with your head that Satan is messing with you and whispering discouraging and depressing thoughts into your mind – but your heart is having a rough time believing. That is when I need to remember to pull out my scriptures for the greatest pep talk ever!
Doctrine & Covenants section 6 – verses 33-37
33 Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
35 Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
36 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
37 Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.
In each verse is encouragement and hope. God is there. Do good things. Don’t fear (don’t fear the other Mom/colleague/friend/neighbor that seems to have it all under control; don’t fear your inadequacies; don’t fear failure; don’t fear the unknown). Work hard – be a doer. Look to the Savior – remember that the atonement is real and it is for YOU – to strengthen you as well as to wipe away sins! Go forward with faith for God knows you! As President Uchdorf said in October 2011 General Conference:
“What mattered to Him (God) was that I was doing the best I could, that my heart was inclined toward Him, and that I was willing to help those around me. I knew if I did the best I could, all would be well… At times we may even feel insignificant, invisible, alone, or forgotten. But always remember—you matter to Him!” http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/you-matter-to-him?lang=eng
An article in the September New Era struck me as I read it yesterday. (no – I wasn’t struck by lightning because of my wickedness :) ) The article was titled: “What’s so great about the great and spacious building?” and was written by Dennis C. Gaunt. He said:
“Rather than focusing on can’t and don’t, we would be much better off if we used the word won’t. As in, “I won’t – I’m Mormon.” Using won’t instead of can’t changes the focus of the phrase and shows that we are empowered to choose for ourselves… I believe in agency and accountability and I want to do what’s right. I am choosing to act and not be acted upon.”
I have choices to make and I know what is right and wrong. I liked the thought that when I say “I won’t” I am being courageous and standing for what I believe. It also shows that I have thought about my life and made decisions – which I intend to follow. I am not being deprived when I use “I won’t” – while sometimes “I can’t” implies that I am being deprived of something that I really want. (although this totally doesn’t apply to chocolate – that is really an “I can’t” phrase!) Something for me to think about this morning!
My son Matt has been playing a game for the past several months whenever we are in the car.
Whenever he sees a yellow car or truck – he taps me (or whomever is in the car) on the shoulder and says “bingo”. I am not very good at the game. I see yellow cars much less often than Matt does so I get tapped on the shoulder rather often! When we started playing the game – I didn’t think there were very many yellow cars on the road. As we have played for a while – I am realizing that there are more yellow cars out there than I was aware of.
(OK – perhaps the picture above is a bit of an exaggeration!)
I started to think about how when you look for something – you begin to be aware of it and how often it occurs in your life. I want to be happy and optimistic. I know there is much good in my life and a multitude of tender mercies that occur on a very regular basis. Perhaps – I would notice those good things if I were more observant. Just like I now am noticing how many yellow cars are on the road!
So Tanna and I decided we were going to change Matt’s game. Whenever we see a yellow car – instead of saying “bingo” we are now going to say “look for the good”
That phrase is helping me remember and see how many good things are in my life. It is helping me be more optimistic. It is helping me remember that “man is that he might have joy” 2 Nephi 2:25. It is also helping me remember that most people are doing their best and not intentionally bugging me. As Jeffrey Holland said so well:
“..be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you… Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.” April 2013 General Conference.
So – next time you see a yellow car – remember to “look for the good” and then open your eyes to see.