Monday, May 30, 2016

Joy in the Journey - Again -

I spoke at my church's women's meeting yesterday. I took my "Joy in the Journey" talk and reworked it to fit a little difference audience. It went over pretty darn well.

In President Monson’s General Conference talk in October 2008, he said, “Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family.” I will be referring to this talk (one of my all-time favorite conference talks) today.

I’ve been asked to talk with you today about being spiritually, emotionally, and financially secure. And I’m not going to speak about this! Rather, I’m giving the pre-lesson, because I believe if we are happy, hopeful, finding joy in our journey, then stability and comfort will be ours.

Poet and Philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel said, “Life is short, and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling in the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”
President Benson said, “Be cheerful in all that you do. Live joyfully. Live happily. Live enthusiastically, knowing that God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy, but in light and love.”

How many of us are so busy getting from point A to point B that we don’t enjoy the middle? We push through the middle, get to the end, and then get started all over again. How many of us spend time worrying? Do I have the right tools, Is my child’s party going to be as grand as his friends, Why doesn’t my art project look as good as the one in Pinterest, What if it rains? And we worry, and that takes us away from enjoying the moments that we have. And leaves us wanting what we don’t have, rather than appreciating what we do have.

Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I can’t help but think of the atonement, and how we don’t have to live troubled miserable lives.  If we are miserable, then where is our faith? Are we partaking of the blessings of the Atonement? (Brad Wilcox’s talk, “His Grace is Sufficient” both in writing and available on Youtube, speaks clearly and poignantly to this point.) The Book of Mormon and the Bible teach us over and over again to be prepared, to have hope, and to live in joy. Men are that they might have joy, 2 Ne. 2:25; In this life I shall have joy, Moses 5:10–11; The purpose of mortal life is for all people to have joy, 2 Ne. 2:22–25; The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord,

Isa. 29:19; (2 Ne. 27:30). John 16:33 reads, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” President Monson said, “Prepare for the future, Learn from the past, Live for today.”

What brings you joy?

Have you ever, or have you heard your children say, “I cannot wait until . . .” “How much longer?” “How much further?” “How many more days until . . .?” Of course we’ve all said those phrases, but how can we make our journey as important as our destination? Especially when that destination changes on a daily basis? Margaret Lee Runbeck said, “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” Live, don’t just exist, or worse, wait. Between birth and death, triumph and sorrow, beginnings and endings, we enjoy innumerable experiences that often happen without our noticing them. And I’m not saying we have to pause our life to enjoy the “middle,” but to be aware of the middle as we are traveling. “Mmmmm, that is great lettuce.” “I am so grateful for my washer and dryer today.” “Look at that, we have $5 in our checking account, what a blessing.” Simply acknowledging a night’s sleep, a clean toilet, a kind word, an extra lap around the track, uninterrupted time to put on your makeup, are ways to note that good exists in our lives – a beautiful sunrise, fresh snow on the mountain, a good book, scriptures read, are reasons to celebrate. If we allow our hearts and minds to take in the wonders of the every day – we can then have joy in our journey. And it’s about finding a balance – balancing our checkbook, balancing our time taking care of ourselves, balancing our own pursuit in finding peace.  

What brings you peace? What brings you security?

Far too often we let these simple moments pass us by. Don’t! A quote, attributed to George Clooney (J), is this, “Stop capturing moments. Live the moments.” In the day of instant and social media, are we putting down the camera/phone and sinking our teeth into the here and now, rather than freezing and posting, for tomorrow? And what is the cost of doing this?
A few weeks ago Scott and I met with our banker, a single woman, cute and smart. Between transactions she asked us about our children, and she talked about how she couldn’t’ wait until she was married and could have a family. She asked us if we like to travel, and of course we told her “yes.” And as we talked about places we’ve traveled, she said, “I just need to travel now and ‘get it over with.’” And I replied, “Maybe you need to start, rather than get over.”

Author Jack Kerouac said, “Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” Don’t be so busy existing that living is not an option. Pres. Monson, in his 2008 talk, said, “I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do.”

In our goal driven 12-step focused, promotion preparing, dollar strengthened, daylight extended, social media comparing, with the end in mind society, it’s tough to focus on what is truly important – living, living and enjoying today. And if we are, I believe we become healthy women – our spiritual and emotional well-being is strengthened.

Can we live in the moment, being grateful for the here and now? In Nephi 2:27 we read, “Adam fell that man night be, and men are, that they might have joy.” And darn it, this also alludes to opposition in all things. So, in order to recognize the joy, we have to have bad days – messy diapers and snotty noses, stiff muscles from gardening and working out, cranky kids and co-workers, flat tires and flat hair, lost shoes and lost loves. But – real life most often happens during the in-between times – when we are not at Disneyland, but on our way to. Discouragement is unnecessary pain and a denial of divine power. It hinders spiritual growth, so while we may have a discouraging moment, it does not need to affect our entire road trip. 

M. Scott Peck, begins his book, “The Road Less Traveled,” with, “Life is difficult.” And once that is accepted, then the fact no longer matters, and we can move forward. Life will never be totally pain-free. But it can be a lot less painful if we accept what is. Our days are filled with U-turns and unpaved roads. OK, don’t make these diversions axes to carry, make them adventures. The less burdens we carry, the healthier we are.

How do you redirect?

Throughout our lives we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome, others not so much. There are sudden changes – job, loss, illness. But most of our changes take place subtly and slowly. Some days are just ho-hum days – but celebrate these days – they are a part of what makes our days treasured.

Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we move from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details.

Have you ever looked back – and seen that the bad things that happened in your life put you directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to you?” *I know I certainly have – from a lost business, to a lost marriage, to cancer. But I refuse to see this as lost time, lost years. *I remember telling a friend, “I want to live cancer to the ultimate, I want to make sure that I learn everything there is to learn, so I can move past this.” And my friend told me, “Ronda, you’ll be learning from this experience for years to come.” Well, nearly three years past treatment, I am still learning, good continues to come from the journey, the trial. The journey still continues as I help those who are going through terrible difficult illnesses.

How do you know you are on the right path?

I beg you to not spend your life looking forward, “what if’ing” life’s scenarios. I also ask that you not spend your time looking back, “if only’ing” your life. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” Too many of us spend our time worrying over past regrets or grievances, or dreaming or worrying about the future. We need to ask ourselves, “If I am living in the past or future, who is living my life right now?”
I have learned from my husband, when I ask him, “What are you doing tomorrow,” and he replies, “It’s not tomorrow yet.”

President Monson quoted author Sarah Ban Breathnach who wrote, “Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present – love, health, family, friends, work, nature, personal pursuits – the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”

Roman philosopher Horace, admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.” And if we are happy, carry joy and confidence in ourselves and our Father and Savior, then we will have enough, we can be secure in knowing we are on the right path. 

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