Whenever a new year comes around we like to reflect on the past year and then make resolutions for the new year. If you are like me those resolutions last a week or so. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tells of a man that made a long list of resolutions for the new year:
“One man who had made a long list of New Year’s resolutions felt pretty good about his progress. He thought to himself, “So far, I’ve stuck to my diet, I haven’t lost my temper, I’ve kept to my budget, and I haven’t once complained about the neighbor’s dog. But today is January 2 and the alarm just went off and it’s time I got out of bed. It’s going to take a miracle to keep my streak going.” (“The Best Time to Plant a Tree”, First Presidency Message, Ensign, January 2014)
I am lucky if my resolutions make it that long. President Uchtdorf continues:
“There is something incredibly hopeful about a fresh start. I suppose at one time or another we have all wanted to start again with a clean slate.
“I love getting a new computer with a clean hard drive. For a time it works perfectly. But as the days and weeks pass by and more and more programs get installed (some intentional, some not so intentional), eventually the computer begins to stall, and things it used to do quickly and efficiently become sluggish. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Even getting it to start can become a chore as the hard drive becomes cluttered with miscellaneous chaos and electronic debris. There are times when the only recourse is to reformat the computer and start over.
“Human beings can likewise become cluttered with fears, doubts, and burdensome guilt. The mistakes we have made (both intentional and unintentional) can weigh upon us until it may seem hard to do what we know we should.
“In the case of sin, there is a wonderful reformatting process called repentance that allows us to clear our internal hard drives of the clutter that burdens our hearts. The gospel, through the miraculous and compassionate Atonement of Jesus Christ, shows us the way to cleanse our souls of the stain of sin and once again become new, pure, and as innocent as a child”. (“The Best Time to Plant a Tree”, First Presidency Message, Ensign, January 2014)
As I write this, my computer is acting like it needs to be wiped and have a clean start. I keep getting this message that the library needs to be repaired to run properly. It happens about every 20 seconds and is really annoying and I cannot do anything until I put in my password and hit continue. If I try to hit cancel, the message just comes back. Sometime our lives get that way. Satan is continually popping up telling us we need to fix something that does not need fixing, or the Holy Ghost tells us that we need to fix something that really does need fixing. Either way our lives seem stuck until we respond to the Holy Ghost and fix it and we let Satan know that his pop up messages are not going to work and we dismiss him permanently.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ can be a great blessing in our lives if we are willing to allow it to reformat our spiritual hard drives and change our lives. As we recognize the things that we need to change and make the changes we can have the fresh start that President Uchtdorf talks about. Sometimes it involves repenting of something we have done and should not have done. Other times it means promising to do something that we should be doing. Either way through the mercies of the atonement we can begin again and walk the gospel path that leads us to becoming a more perfect person through Jesus Christ.
I have decided that there are three things that I would like to work on in my life this year that would hopefully bring me closer the Holy Ghost and allow me to take advantage of the atonement of Jesus Christ:
1. I want to find greater joy and happiness in the things I do.
2. I want to be a greater service to others and help them find joy and happiness in their lives.
3. Increase my sensitivity to the Holy Ghost to allow me to know when I am wandering off the Gospel Path.
Resolution #1 – finding greater joy and happiness in life. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and do not enjoy what we are doing. I also think we need to slow down and enjoy life, laugh a little more. Sharon Samuelson, the wife of Cecil Samuelson the President of BYU, had this to say about the importance of humor in our lives:
“President Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, were wonderful examples during their lives of optimism and humor. Sheri L. Dew’s description of them mentions that “Gordon and Marjorie were attracted to each other’s sense of humor, love for the gospel, innate optimism, and love of life” (Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996], 106). Sister Dew also described their marriage as one in which “Gordon’s dry wit delighted Marjorie, who loved the fact that although her beau was practical, self-disciplined, and serious about the things that mattered to him, he didn’t take himself very seriously and was often the first to poke fun at his own quirks” (Go Forward, 106).
“Listen to the words of Sister Hinckley as she gave advice on the way to get through life:
“Another thing that we tried to do is not take ourselves too seriously. You get into a lot of trouble when you do that. I tried to laugh instead of cry when you felt like crying. It was always better to laugh, [like] the day I took a beautiful casserole from the oven and my six-year-old boy said, “Mom, how come you baked the garbage?” Children are like that. There are days when it is hard to laugh. [Marjorie Pay Hinckley, BYU Women’s Conference, 2 May 1996; see also Marjorie Hinckley in Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, ed. Virginia H. Pearce (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999), 61]
“This is insightful advice from a witty, cheerful, and gentle woman that we would be wise to follow.
“In another instance of speaking concerning laughter, Sister Hinckley added, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache” (Marjorie Pay Hinckley, Small and Simple Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], 126; also Glimpses, 107).
“Laughing instead of crying helps you to move forward and face your challenges as you fill your lives with the virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy things of life. Good effects can come from communicating with humor and laughing with friends and family.” (“Shall I Laugh, or Shall I Cry”, BYU Devotional Address, September 10, 2013)
Another part of not taking ourselves to seriously is that we should not be offended too easily. If something happens or someone says something that is rude or hurtful, we need to step back and realize there is something going on in that person’s life that is causing him or her to say what he or she did or act that way. I have been a referee for youth, high school and college sports for over 20 years. If I got offended and quite every time someone yelled insulting comments to me, I would have had a short career as a referee. They usually are not expressing those comments to me personally, but as a referee. Usually they don’t understand what is really happening in the game or why the rules are being applied the way they are at the time. So we need to lighten up and not get offended, laugh and go on.
Resolution #2 – Be more service oriented. Helping others find joy in their lives will help me fulfill my first resolution. If we open our hearts and our eyes we will see that there are individuals all around that need our help and love. As you are walking down the street watch for those whose eyes are sad, or hurting. Most of the time all they need simple hello or other kind word. Open the door for them, help them with their groceries, comfort a crying child. Doing something simple goes a long way. Do you know a young couple that cannot afford a babysitter? Offer to watch their children one evening while they get away for a few hours.
President Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS Church, made this comment about serving others:
“To find real happiness, we must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man. Service to others is akin to duty—the fulfillment of which brings true joy.” (“Guideposts for Life’s Journey,” BYU devotional address, 13 November 2007)
If we pray to have the Holy Ghost guide us each day, we will come to know who is lonely or in need of our help and when we feel those prompting, we need to be willing to do something or say something to brighten their day. If they need more help than you can give at the time let them know you will follow up and then do it. It is my goal to strive to live worthy of the Lord’s spirit to direct me to those that need uplifting and when that happens, that I will be willing to help in anyway I can.
The third resolution is a bit more involved and I have a lot of work to do here. I want to live my life so that the Holy Ghost can be my constant companion and that I will know when I am wandering from the Gospel Path that leads back to our Heavenly Father and our Savior. I listened to a talk recently by Gary Barton where he described the lesson he learned when he was learning to be a welder. He was working in a local bronze foundry. He had never welded anything. He was given the proper instructions and equipment to protect him, but when he put on the welding helmet everything went dark. He said:
“The lens on a welding helmet is very darkly tinted in order to protect the eyes of the person welding from the extremely bright light produced by the welder. How could I weld if I couldn’t see? I lifted the helmet, turned to my supervisor, and shared my dilemma. He patiently explained that in order to see through the lens, I must rely on the light produced by the welder. I must learn to use the light. What a revelation!
“I again checked to make sure everything was prepared, lowered the helmet, and, as perspiration trickled down my face, started the welder. With a flash I could see. My vision wasn’t clear, but I was able to see well enough to learn.
“As we are confronted with difficult choices and decisions, especially those related to our eternal progress, we must prepare ourselves, act in faith, and learn to use and rely on the light. As we do so, the personal lens through which each of us sees can become clearer, and we will be better able to make decisions that will bless our lives and lead us to Christ.” (“The Light Trough the Dark Glass”, Gary C. Barton, BYU Devotional Address, July 23, 2013)
I know many time I do not trust the light to show me the way. Sometimes my life has not been in harmony with the commandants enough that I am worthy to have the light of Christ with me. It is my hope that I can have an increase of faith and desire to keep the commandments so I can be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost enough so I will be able to see clearly the gospel path even though I am surrounded by the darkness of the world.
I know that if I can work on these three goals that my life will be full of joy and happiness and that the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will shine through me to all of our Heavenly Father’s children and bring them greater joy and happiness as well.
Your comments are welcome.