Living with an Eternal Perspective

Again we had a Relief Society lesson that really made me think about my life, who I am and who I want to become.

Lately, I have been struggling with indecision.  Moving has left me with a bit of a void and probably too much time to myself.  Others have said, "That sounds so wonderful to me!"  Yes, it is nice.  But you know how it goes - - when we're busy we want to bored and when we're bored we want to be busy.

Elder David A. Bednar has said "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load.  But bearing a load is a  necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness." I haven't really had a "load" to move me forward.  In the past I had homeschooling, book groups, and time consuming church callings to give me direction, to move me forward.  The break from all of these things was nice for awhile, but eventually there just seemed to be too much time on my hands with no direction to follow.

You'd think with all this time on my hands my house would be cleaner, my gospel study would be deeper, meals would be amazing, laundry would be done, exercise would be consistent, and all my family's needs would be met.  But...that's just not the case.  None of these things are much different than when I'm busier.  Rather, I find these things to be worse because there is no momentum behind the action.  There are no external forces pushing me, no normal routine to follow.

In Relief Society last Sunday, we mostly discussed this one quote: "The eternal perspective of the gospel leads us to understand the place that we occupy in God's plan, to accept difficulties and progress through them, to make decisions, and to center our lives on our divine potential (emphasis added.)"

These words struck me pretty forcefully. My thoughts turned to my indecision when I realized,"Wait!  If I know my place in God's plan and center my life on my divine potential, then decision-making shouldn't be so difficult, progression will naturally occur."  I've had indecision because I've been waiting to be told what to do.  I know we all want our deadlines to vanish and burdens to be released, but in reality those burdens are what drive us to accomplish things in life.  Yes, we have to beware of making sure the right burdens are upon our shoulders and we're not just filling our time with meaningless activities.  But again, Elder Bednar has said, "Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: 'Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?'"

These loads we carry are not just mortal burdens placed upon us.  They are driving forces and oftentimes gifts from God that keep us moving forward.  So next time I'm "too busy" I will evaluate what load I am carrying to be sure I am in line with my eternal goals and then move forward with that burden upon my back.

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"Faith in Father's plan gives us endurance...Hope keeps us 'anxiously engaged' in good causes..."   - - Elder Rafael E. Pino - - 


Evaluate Your Life Day


So. Where are you?  How do we even begin to start this process of evaluating where we stand emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually?

Brene Brown has said, "Great mothers know that they are worthy of love and belonging, and as a result they raise children who know they are worthy of the same things (Rising Strong, p. 113)."

Motherhood brings up all sorts of emotions that sometimes are hard to deal with.  We have the pressure on our shoulders of not only ourselves being emotionally stable but also tend to carry the emotions of our children on our backs as well.  Right or wrong, good or bad, this is a reality in the life of a mother.

When we are emotionally exhausted it is that much harder to carry their weights.  What do you do to strengthen your emotional bucket?  I, personally, do yoga, read, take a nap or write (writing is amazingly therapeutic!).  So, do something to recharge your battery and tell yourself you are worthy!  You are strong, raising strong kids!

This one's a little easier to examine.  We know how healthy we are or are not in the physical department.  We know we don't exercise enough and that we eat too much junk food.  Rather than feeling shamed by this, make a change.  I'm going to commit to drinking more water.  :-)

Women need women.  Dr. Leonard Sax writes about this in a couple of his books.  He tells us that the quilting bees were an integral part in a woman's life in colonial times.  He says we've gotten away from the "back fence" neighbor feel, borrowing baking ingredients and advice across the fence.  That footpath between houses is no longer as prevalent in this day and age.  When's the last time you borrowed sugar from a neighbor?  Or had lunch with a friend?  It's too easy to be too busy for friends, but friendship will keep you strong as a mom.  I am eternally grateful for the friendships that have developed in my life and excited to gain more as time goes on.  ;-)

The scriptures give us great guidelines for this category through the words of Alma.  We know these questions well:

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body? I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?  Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?  Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?  I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? - - Alma 5:14-19 - -
During our most recent General Conference, Elder Larry R. Lawrence invited us to ask the quesiton, "What lack I yet?"  What am I doing to increase my relationship with God?  What am I doing to keep myself progressing toward Him?  Tough but important questions when it comes to evaluating ourselves!

Some Final Thoughts
Our bodies are gifts from God, yet complex in their make up.  Each of these components - - emotional, physical, social, and spiritual - - rely on and affect the others.  To be imbalanced in one is to be imbalanced in all.  Yet, sometimes when we are socially strong, that can compensate for when we are emotionally weak.  Let us take a moment "examine [ourselves]" and see where we are in all areas of our lives, make changes, and watch for results!

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"With His love and the love of His Son in my heart, I challenge each of us to 
follow our spiritual desires and come to ourselves. Let’s have a talk with 
ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?”


Unanswered Prayers

Have you ever thought that unanswered prayers may be more about the love God has for us rather than the love He doesn't have?  Our home teacher presented that thought to  us a couple of weeks ago and I've really pondered on this idea.  I know we frequently discuss how an unanswered prayer doesn't mean the Lord doesn't care about us or that maybe He has something better in store for us.  But I have never thought of it as an actual expression of His love for us when blessings are withheld.

The instant thought I had when our home teacher spoke was, "What restraint!"  In the scriptures we read, "...what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him (Matt. 7:9-11)?"

As a parent, when I see my children with a need, even a want sometimes, I desire to help them as much as I possibly can so that they can feel blessed and loved by me.  But, also as a parent, I know that if I gave them everything they wanted they wouldn't truly be happy.  Sometimes that is really, really hard!  When they come home having had a hard day, I want to take make it all better.  When they fall and scrape their knees, I want to take the pain away.  When they are hungry I want to feed them.  When they don't have clothes to wear, I want to buy them covering.  The list goes on and on.

Our loving Father in Heaven must desire the same thing.  I can just imagine Him looking down on us thinking, "Oh, I wish I could step in and help you right now." Or "I really want to give you what you're asking for, but I just can't."  It takes a lot of love to withhold some things.  It takes a lot of love to set boundaries on what can or cannot be done.  It takes a lot of love to sacrifice our own desires for the larger picture in raising our children.

In a similar vain, President Ezra Taft Benson has said, "Jesus aimed to make of every man a king ,to build him in leadership unto eternity. ... Jesus desired to lift, rather than suppress, the individual."   Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow! In order for us to grow, we must sometimes struggle and even fail.  It's not easy watching our own children falter.  Sometimes I think it would just be easier to do things myself or to step in and carry their burden for them.  The Lord will use this rescuing tool every once in awhile, but more often than not, He knows the greater blessing will come after the trial of our faith.  And so He holds back. with great restraint, and waits for us to learn and grow.

These thoughts are so comforting as I ponder on my own unanswered prayers.  Knowing that my Father loves me enough to allow me space and time to become who He needs me to be, I can hold on.  Knowing He has a grander view of the potential I have in me, I can rise to the occasion (as my mother who day) and endure with greater joy and understanding.  The wait may be longer than I would like, but the unknown no longer needs to be unbearable because I know that my Savior loves me that much.

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"There is nothing about us He does not know. He is conscious of our every need and could provide all of the answers.  Yet...His purpose is our eternal happiness..." 
- Elder Richard G. Scott -  
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