Saturday, April 4, 2020

It is Okay to Feel Good



“I don’t feel good,” we often say when we are under the weather. We get a little bit of extra rest, eat right, and relax from the stress just long enough that we get back on our feet again. But do we really give ourselves permission to feel good?

As Christian men and women, we often get the mistaken notion that it is bad for us to feel good, that if we feel good, we must be doing something wrong. Perhaps we haven’t given enough of our time to help others, we haven’t sacrificed our own needs long enough for our families, or our suffering for the cause of Christ has not yet reached the level of purification that we think we need.

We examine ourselves and find that we come up short; therefore, we dive in once again, overworking ourselves, denying our own needs, and making sure that we give all that we have and then some. Unfortunately, the day comes again where we are physically exhausted. We say, “I don’t feel good” and we take some time off and do what it takes to get back on our feet again.

It is a never ending cycle, the notion that we have to give more and more until we are empty, unfulfilled, and in essence, burned out. Is that what God really meant when he said, as quoted in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”?

Our motivation to love the Lord tends to slacken when we give so much that we have nothing left. We lose sight of the purpose in what we are doing, and may even turn against those we previously served willingly and ably. We realize that there is a limit to our physical strength, and that we cannot give love when we feel emptiness in our souls.

Christ paid the ultimate price so that we wouldn’t have to. How does this apply in our situations? Our love of the Savior comes as we recognize the personal nature of his atonement. We connect with him when we experience a small portion of the pain that he went through for us individually. Loving him in return motivates us to serve others.

It is not necessary, however, for us to repay the debt that we owe. We cannot be more than we already are. It is our responsibility to set boundaries in our lives to make sure that we do not overextend ourselves. Getting adequate physical rest, nutrition, and nurturing allows us to not only feel Christ’s unconditional love, but to share it with others.

Feeling good is not an event; rather a choice that we make. We find contentment as we pause, feel our Savior’s love, and find peace in the process of becoming more like him.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Waiting




What am I supposed to be doing right now? I just can’t seem to figure it out. The last time I remember going through this process, I made a plan that was workable; one that would enable me to fulfill the destiny that I thought was mine. Now, for some reason, I feel lost.

There are so many things going on right now that my head is spinning in several directions at once! One minute I am coming, the next I am going, and in between times, I see things that just don’t make any sense at all! Am I going through a transition? Is it grief? What is happening? Dear God, please help me!

Maybe if I just sit down and relax, things will begin to make sense. Stop…. Breathe…. Inhale…. Exhale…. Close your eyes…. Lean back and rest…. There…. It will be okay…. Everything will be fine…. You will get through this…. It will not last forever!

Now, let’s take a look at what is happening right now: 1) aging mother, 2) husband looking forward to retirement, 3) children needing love and support, 4) house needing repairs, 5) stress at work, 6) church callings on hold, and 7) time available.

Problem – Fear of the Unknown – I don’t know when my mother will die. I don’t know how things will go with my husband’s retirement. I don’t know what will happen in the lives of my children. I don’t know how much it will cost for the home repairs and when they will be done. I don’t know how how to deal with the stress at work, and I don’t know things will get back to normal at church!

I have so much time on my hands that I am wringing them to a frazzle! The confusion I am experiencing is just worry about all of these things jumbled up into one big mess! I am on the downhill slide of life, and I see the end of the road in so many instances that I am beginning to wonder when my time will be!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “…Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!

Lord, my life is in Thy hands. Thou hast given me time. Allow me to use it to glorify Thee. Give me the insight to see those who may be struggling, to help those who are hurting, and light the way for those who may be lost. Forgive my weakness and imperfections this day, Lord, and help me to trust in Thee! 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Finding Peace



What is peace? Is it happiness and contentment, or something altogether different? When we feel it, we know it, but can we create it? Or is peace something that happens because we are in the right place at the right time?

Sometimes, we think of peace as the opposite of war. When we are at war, we are fighting against someone or something. Being at peace in this case is the absence of fighting. It is a resolution of our differences to the point that we can live side by side without fearing for our lives.

We may think of peace as quietness, like walking along a beach in the cool of the evening, listening to the sound of the waves as they break onto the shore. It may mean enjoying the stillness of the morning when there is no wind and we hear the chirping sounds of the birds as they welcome the sun to a brand new day.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, stress is high, funds are low, and we frequently feel harried and frustrated. In these moments, peace may be the absence of things to do, a moment of relaxation after a busy day, or a hug from someone we love that calms our jangled nerves.

Peace can simply be stillness within the soul, a sense of calm that comes from knowing that all will be well, no matter what happens. This kind of peace comes only from a witness that we are not alone in this world, and that there is a power and influence beyond our own at work in our behalf.

Christ tells us that the only way to have peace is in and through him. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, KJV).

In order for us to have peace, we, too, have to look beyond this world. As we fill our minds and hearts with the words of our Savior, and seek for his Spirit to be with us, it does not matter what happens around us, we will be at peace.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Be Still and Know



Life has a way of knocking us in the head sometimes. We think that we know where we are going and what we are doing, and then something happens that leaves us stunned. We wonder who we really are and what our purpose is in this life.

We stop for a moment and think about what we are doing. We see the people, things, and activities with which we have filled our lives and ask some important questions. Am I truly happy? Is there meaning and purpose in the choices I have made? Am I doing those things that God would have me do?

In her book The Fear Cure, Lissa Rankin, MD, speaks of the space between thoughts, and how our ability to capture and capitalize upon this space allows us to experience peace and happiness in our daily lives, as well as overcome the negative emotions that threaten to consume us.

During a restless night prior to a musical performance, I remembered this principle. Slowing down my thoughts just enough to find this empty space, I suddenly found myself basking in the warmth of God’s unconditional love. It was as if the clouds had parted and warm sunshine was streaming into my consciousness. My anxious heart calmed and I was able to rest peacefully.

Now, in the wake of a family illness, I seek that same reassurance that I am loved, and that there is meaning and purpose in my life. I remember the scripture in Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” For a brief moment, I once again enter that blessed space that has become my salvation, that stillness of mind and heart that allows me to experience God’s unconditional love.

This is the love that is home. We knew it before we came here. We are God’s children and lived with him before this life. It is the love that carries us through the storms and tempests that threaten to destroy us. It is the love that when we leave here, will rise with us into the great beyond as we return home once again to his arms, fresh and new from the rebirth that we call death.

There, time will cease to carry its poignant reminders of our insignificance and nothingness. Our petty worries and the aches and pains of this life will be no more, and what we glimpse in those quiet moments of stillness will be ours, to have and hold, forever!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Finding the Motivation



“I don’t care. I just don’t want to do it, that’s all.” There, I said it, the forbidden words that I have been thinking. Now what? Does that mean that I don’t have to do it? Am I off the hook? Is that all there is to it, just saying “I don’t want to?”

There are many things in life that are difficult. Jim Rohn, success philosopher, tells us that one of the most important aspects of being human is the ability to “make ourselves” do what needs to be done. How does this happen? He says that when we find enough reasons, then our wants and desires change.

Motivation is all about finding the reasons. Dallin H. Oaks indicates that there are basically six reasons for us to act. He lists the following: 1) hope of earthly reward, 2) desire for good companionship, 3) fear of punishment, 4) sense of duty, 5) hope of eternal reward, and 6) love.
Although Oaks lists these as reasons for service, they have a lot to do with our lives in general. 

Reasons motivate action. If we have enough reasons, we will find a way to make happen what we want. If one of our family members is faced with certain death, we find a way to prolong their life because we want them to remain with us as long as possible.

How does this apply to everyday? Our reasons come from our past experience. When we suffer the consequences of inaction, we are more highly motivated to action. In other words, “no pain, no gain!” We don’t decide to set an alarm and get up on time until the boss cuts our pay or fires us for being late to work!

Desiring change is usually the catalyst for increased motivation. If things are going well in life, we have little incentive to change. The Lord tells us in Alma 32:13-16* that being “compelled to be humble” is   good, but it is even better to change willingly “without stubbornness of heart.”

Motivation is increased when we find out that there is a better way, and we want it for ourselves. There it is, that “want” word again! Our motivation changes when we say, “I want to” rather than “I need to,“ “I have to,” or “I should.” Changing because we are compelled to do so rarely brings lasting benefits; rather a lifetime of change comes when it is what we want for ourselves and our loved ones.

The highest motivation of the human heart is to act out of love. When we love God and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31, KJV), we find plenty of reasons. We look forward to each day with newness of life, and go forward, knowing that God will provide a way!

*Book of Mormon, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Fight Fear With Faith




What if I do not pass this test that is before me now? What if I fall short or do not make the grade somehow? What if my strength is not near enough and I fall flat on my face?  What if my mistakes are so evident that I end up a sore disgrace?

What if my voice quivers and cracks and cannot sing with a pure tone? What if my mind goes blank and I look like I am in some other zone? What if my feet trip over a crack or bump that is in my way? What if I lose my notes and just don’t know what to say?

What if I see the light but cannot open my eyes? What if someone I should have known appears in a disguise? What if the sun and moon and stars simply fall down from the sky? What if spaghetti and meatballs just happen when I am passing by?

Okay, I see the simple point. My fears are nothing more than my mind playing tricks like shifting sands upon the rocky shore. It wants a sure foundation upon which to build but because I cannot see the end, these thoughts refuse to yield.

I want safety, security, comfort and ease that do not move or rescind, but fear is funny, it changes and shifts, like the fluttering wind. I want to know before I begin that I will not lose my way. I want to know I’ll still be standing at the close of day!

My dearest child, I’m here for you, you do not walk alone. Follow me, the way is sure, the path is paved with stone. I will guide and help, comfort and bless as you travel this unknown way. I will lead you on this uncharted road, and be with you till the end of day.

You are precious to me indeed; I will not leave you to chance. Take my hand, we’ll go together, I’ll teach you how to dance. Failure is nothing more, you see, than the process of learning how. It means you have things you need to depend on me for, yes, right now.

As you humbly look to me, I’ll give you the strength you need. Together, you see, we’ll work it out, yes, with me, you will succeed!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Ten Second Rule



“Our thoughts are not our own,” the speaker said, “They come from all around us.” She went on to say that in order for them to become our own, we have to act on them. “When we have an unwelcome thought, we have ten seconds to change it. It doesn’t have to stay with us.”

Ten seconds…that is a long time. If we count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand, six-one thousand, seven-one thousand, eight-one thousand, nine-one thousand, ten-one thousand at a good clip, we get an idea of how long it is.

I have always believed that we have a split-second of time once a thought enters our minds to change its outcome. I call it the “Split-Second Opportunity.” Perhaps this is the time to which the speaker was referring. It is that single moment where we see in our mind’s eye what will happen if we act on the thought that has occurred to us.

During that moment, our past meets the present. Our automatic response is in front of us and we see what will happen if we choose to accept it. These consequences are then weighed against our beliefs, hopes, and dreams, and we go forward with what we think is best.

Or is that really what happens? Do we utilize the power that exists within us? Do we understand that we have the ability to change or are we simply living on automatic pilot, hoping that we will reach our destination safely? Are we allowing our past experiences and current circumstances to dictate our every action?

If not, we have the chance of a life-time! We can change our future! In this critical moment, we have the ability to break the chains that bind us down to misery and unhappiness. We have the opportunity to accept our own ineptness and turn it into strength!

Perhaps it isn’t that simple. Life is complicated. We try every day to do our best, but things get in the way. People don’t do what we think they should. We feel frustrated and upset when problems happen and it takes more effort and time than we had planned. We get down on ourselves, stressed to the point that we cannot seem to function.

Our automatic reactions are affected by our state of mind, physical health, and use of mood-altering substances. We may have major hurdles to cross before we can get to the point that we are able to even recognize that we have the power of choice.

And yet, what if it did work? Try the ten-second rule, for your emotional health!