Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Best Life

It seems that its been a really hard year for a whole lot of people, in just about every way a year can be hard: physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually. There also seems to be a prevailing mindset with most people (myself included, often enough) that once I reach point x, life will be better. What that point may be can change depending on the speaker and life's current circumstances, but its usually something like "when I get another job" or "when I'm out of debt" or "when the kids are out of the house". There seems to be this idea that we will reach a point when life is suddenly calm and easy. But that just isn't how it works. How many times have I said, in the last four years, "The last few months have been insane!" or "Its been a rough couple of months." Its been true every single time. Life never stops. That's what that whole "endure to the end" thing is all about.

Oh, I won't deny that life's vicissitudes seem to come in waves. Its never just that the roof is leaking--its that you discover a leak in the roof and when you go to fix it, you find termites in the walls and as you try to flush out the termites you find mold in the floor, so you start pulling up boards and find that there's a rat infestation in the basement. Yes, it does seem to be true that when it rains it pours, that there are times when life is easier for a little while and times when everything seems to be pressing down on you at once. But every day, every year, and each stage of life comes with its own challenges. Unforeseen troubles and tribulations pop up often and without warning.

And yet, throughout the scriptures, we find over and over again that direct and loving command, "Be of good cheer". He who spoke those words knew something of tribulation. Born to royal descendants, he was nevertheless raised in rather humble circumstances, working physically very hard to get by. His life was often very lonely, being the one person who can truly claim to have had no real peers, no one who knew what life was like for him. He was betrayed by friends, often publicly maligned and lived through a great deal of difficulty before a painful death. But there it was, over and over again, "Be of good cheer". In Mosiah, the Lord told the saints in bondage to submit "cheerfully and with patience" to the burdens they had to carry. He gave them this command that He knew they could follow because, as He told them, "I will ease the burdens. . . that even you cannot feel them upon your backs."

Life is good the moment that we decide that it will be. Happiness--joy--is a choice that we make. We focus on the blessings we have at the moment and the promises of what's to come in the future, and we say a prayer for some help maintaining that positive attitude and firm faith when the rain starts to fall, and we decide to have a good time while we're here. I get so tired of hearing the refrain, "Life isn't fair". Well, no, mortal life isn't fair. Eternal life is absolutely fair. We will be judged with perfect justice and incomprehensible mercy and receive exactly what we should, in the long run, so keep a long perspective and think of the promises beyond the next 10 minutes.

But don't look just to the future for your joy. Its easy, particularly when things aren't going so well, to look around and be an Eeyore, grumpy and gloomy and edgy and nervous. But it doesn't make us feel any better, and it certainly doesn't do those around us any favors. Start counting your blessings--there are probably more of them than you think. Find something that restores that perspective for you, and go to it as often as you have to. Yesterday I was sitting in the shade of a big tree, on fresh cut grass, watching my kids run and play. In those set of circumstances, no matter what's going on or how I'm feeling, I simply can't not think that life is grand.

For all it misery, dishonesty, sickness and drudgery, the world is still a beautiful place filled with countless blessings. If you're looking for it, you will still find heroism, honesty and kindness. Go watch a child run through some wildflowers (or a backyard sprinkler, for that matter), sit next to a campfire or walk along the beach and tell me that there isn't much to be grateful for, that life isn't pretty fantastic. Tell me that you don't catch glimpses of boundless, eternal joy.

The good life is right here, right now. When I jumped out a of plane and was free-falling through the air, looking at what suddenly seemed to be a very small island below me, it occurred to me that the only difference between the sheer terror of falling and the exhilirating joy of flying, was knowing that there was a parachute. Whatever the temporal challenges you may face, you've got an eternal parachute--you'll be taken care of and land safely. So go on, enjoy the flight.

1 comment:

Christa said...

yes, i agree. life is beautiful. this is why i need to take occasional trips up to the mountains or to the temple to sit in the celestial room. the calm and quiet moments are when we can really see and feel the bigger picture.

having said that, i guess i'm am guilty of this because as our savings depletes and the pressure grows there is still truth in the statement, "things will be better when we can get more income and don't have to worry about making our house payment next month."
more than not, i simply refuse to think about those possibilities. i tell myself we will cross that bridge when, and if, we ever even get there. sometimes though, it's almost too much.

the real test of faith is through time. it's been a very long year. i hope SOMETHING changes soon, but really, even if we have to move in with paul's parents it'll be okay. And i don't just believe that, i KNOW it.

and one more thing i know, my blessings FAR outweigh my trials.