This is an open blog, to any and all that would like to share their thoughts on ways that you find strength throughout life.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Joy in the Journey

Everywhere we go, we hear talk of change. A new president, either party promising change. Changes that hopefully will help our failing economy. Changes in our personal lives...our jobs, our relationships, our health, our financial status, our home...and the list could continue forever. Because there is nothing so constant in life, as is change.

Our current Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson spoke in our General Conference address last weekend about change. That is the inspiration for this post, as it has been on my mind since hearing him speak, and in the last few days numerous friends and family members have brought up this talk in conversation with me. I have been impressed that its something I really need to learn and understand.

President Monson said, "Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly."

Not one person is exempt from the inevitability of change. We are not alone in dealing with it...and we owe much of who we are, what we have and who we will become, to change. Without it, we could not learn and progress.

"Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now....Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes." ~ President Monson

Each and every is happening and if we think about how short this life really is, we would not want to waste any more of it. President Monson admonished, "Find joy in the journey- now."

He also quotes a line from the musical, The Music Man, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

When I think of that line, it makes me think about how much of a procrastinator I can be. How often I tell myself, "One day." And how a lot of the time, that day has not come and probably will never come. Especially at my young age, I know I look toward the future a lot of the time to give me the things I wish for. And while I think it is wise to always be looking to the future and planning for things to come, we shouldn't be gazing off wistfully waiting for the future to happen. Before we know it, the future will be our past and we will have missed out on many of life's greatest gifts and treasures, looking for the ones we thought lay ahead for us in the future.

"There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today." ~ President Monson

Much of finding joy in our journeys has to do with learning from our past, but not dwelling on it. Especially upon things we cannot change. The other day I was looking at all of my daughters baby pictures. She'll be two next month...and I'm sad. I'll never have her as my little baby again. The thought brings tears to my eyes and I don't ever want to let her go. But, that change is inevitable. Dwelling on these unchangeable details will do nothing but cause me unnecessary sorrow. I need to relish in her adorable two-year-old-ness. I need to take advantage of my opportunities to teach her, love her, kiss her, hug her, cuddle her, read to her, play with her...etc. Because if I don't, I know I will blink and she will be 18 and ready for her own life.

Life is stressful. There is so much to think and worry about all the time. So much so, that a lot of the time we don't take the necessary opportunities to show love to others. Families pressed for time constraints due to extra curricular activities, meetings, homework, TV shows, etc... don't always take the time to have dinner with one another, talk and express the love they have for each other. While all of those things have their time and place in life, the importance of these relationships and the necessary time and effort needed to cultivate them, far outweighs any other obligations. Wrote William Shakespeare, They do not love that do not show their love.” And President Monson added, "We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us...Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

No one wants to feel the regrets of it being too late to share how you felt. Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” If we can't find the time to find the joy in our relationships with our loved ones, nothing else we do in this life will be worth anything. It's like the parent who goes to work all day to support their family, yet exhausts themselves beyond a point of functioning when returning home. While it is necessary to feed, clothe and shelter your family, it is just as necessary to nurture them with your love and presence. Family relationships, more than any other kind of relationship, must be cultivated. No amount of money will buy back the lost time and experiences.

We wait, everyday, anticipating change. I do it very much so myself. I love having something to look forward to. I don't think this is a bad thing, but only as long as it is within balance. We should look to the future for hope, but we should relish in our daily lives and be grateful for each day we are living. Things that I do today ARE the future. Today and now is the future of my life and they make a difference. And for this, I must be grateful.

President Monson also discussed the importance part gratitude plays in our lives. We must recognize and show our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Blessings sometimes manifest themselves in ways we would not expect. I always think about this when I'm running late due to circumstances beyond my control, like red lights or a traffic jam. I think about how frustrated I am with being late, but that perhaps it is a blessing and the Lord is protecting me from an accident that could have happened. This is an extreme example, but I think we need to look more at our lives and the blessings within them. Always waiting for something bigger and better to happen is a slap in the face to the Lord who has blessed us so greatly. Unfortunately, sometimes we never understand how greatly blessed we are, until we lose it.

There is no time left in my life for complaint. There is no time left for waiting for things to happen. Inevitably, sorrows will come. We will all encounter trials in life...some that will seem unbearable. Somehow, we have to strive to find joy in the journey of it all.

I have a blessed life. One in which I can't even begin to understand how I was lucky enough to be given. I have led a joyous journey thus far and look to continue to find the joy in my everyday life.

One of my favorite quotes is from President Hinckley, "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." This quote sits on a plaque in my kitchen. It reminds me everyday that the Lord meant for me to find joy in this life. He has done his part in blessing me with those is then left up to me to find them and joy in them. My part is the easy part.

Change is inevitable and change is hard. Change is what makes this journey of life, life. And my goal is to find joy in that journey.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Be A Little Better

I just heard something someone said about me. It wasn't a good thing. Hearing it really stunk and hurt my feelings. Granted this person I'm sure never meant for me to hear, but that's a whole other story about making sure people we talk to are trustworthy. Nonetheless, you never like to hear when someone has something bad to say about you. It's inevitable that not everyone is always going to like you. The reality probably is, that people talk behind our backs more often than we think. Maybe I'd rather it have stayed behind my back than staring me in the face. Or then again, maybe not...

...because once I got over the initial reaction of defensive mode, and the "how dare barely know me..." blah, actually really made me go inward and think. And I'm talking, I was getting ready in my bathroom and I caught my reflection in the mirror gazing off into oblivion forever. It really made me think about my character and who I am. After all, the comment wasn't even like, "she's ugly....or fat...or has a big nose" fact I almost felt like I'd welcome that comment first before one on my character. I came to the realization within myself that I was generally not what this person had said about me. Also, as is human nature, I talked to people who genuinely care for me and know me better than anyone, not to mention, the people that would "tell it to me like it is". Again, it was confirmed that generally I was not this way.

However, what I came to grips with, within myself, was that I had tendencies to be what this person accused at one point or another. I definitely have the capacity within me to be a lot of things...I am, after all, human. So, I came to the conclusion that however far stretched this comment was, there could be some truth to it and I could be better. Not for this person, not for anyone else, but for me and the Lord.

This experience has made me realize that I want to be able stand up and be a little bit better than I was before. There is always room for improvement and I wanted to take this negative experience and use it as motivation to be a better person.

All of this introspective thinking coincided nicely with Conference weekend, where I was able to hear a lot of great counsel on things that I wanted to work on. I feel a lot of peace and hope when I think of the Saviors Atonement, and the opportunity that it gives me everyday to wake up and be just a little bit better than I was the day before. The point is, that I have to take those opportunities, press forward and CHOOSE to be better. And the Lord has promised that this peace will multiply ten fold if we make those small efforts:

"Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11

President Hinkcley said on this matter: "We are all this together, all of us, and we have a great work to do.
Every teacher can be a better teacher than he or she is today.
Every officer can be a better officer than he or she is today.
Every father can be a better father.
Every mother can be a better mother.
Every husband can be a better husband, ever wife a better wife, every child a better child.
We are on the road that leads to immortality and eternal life and today is a part of it. Let us never forget it."

I can actually now say I am grateful for what I heard. I hold no malice for the person who said it. As I said, I don't feel this person, who is a good person, would have ever wanted me to hear what they said. It's funny how the same things in life that can tear us down and have the capacity to lead towards negativity also have the ability to be those things that mold and change us into better people. It all depends on perspective and how we use these experiences in my life.

Wow, if I think about all the negative situations I've been in, in this capacity, I can't imagine the amazing lessons I might have learned, while instead I dwelt on them as purely negative experiences. I have a lot to make up for.

And I'm going to start with trying to be a little

Saturday, October 4, 2008

LDS General Conference

I have just finished listening to the 1st session this morning of our semi-annual General Broadcast for the church I belong to, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For those of you who don't know what this conference is, its a conference in the months of April and October in which we receive counsel, inspiration, guidance and direction from the leaders of church. Our loving prophet, the Lords apostles, and other general leadership of the church. It's something that I look forward to so greatly and when I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, "High On The Mountain Top" at the opening of the session, my eyes welled with tears, soley because of my gratitude for my knowledge of the Gospel and the fact that I have been blessed to have always had it in my life. Definitely throughout my life General Conference has been something I have taken for granted, but I just am so grateful that our loving Father in Heaven has allowed us the opportunity to participate in this wonderful conference, and in a time of such gloom and despair, feel our faith and hopes renewed.

So, with that, my only message today is that I invite you, if you aren't already, to listen to the messages of this conference. You can do so by viewing it on TV. It's broadcasted on the BYU channel (which is 374 for DirecTV...I'm unsure of other companies), on public service channels, livestream over the internet at WWW.LDS.ORG or at any LDS church building. Transcripts and video clips of this conference will also be available for reading and viewing after this conference on the church website within the days following the conference.

This conference is for THE WORLD, not only for the current members of our church. This post is soley an invitation to find strength within something that fills my soul with strength beyond words.