Archive for the ‘gratitude’ Tag

A True Believer

Reading: Alma 26

Today, the reputation of religious people in society at large has been tarnished by the bad examples of a few. Religious leaders who are after money, political power, and who do not practice what they preach are much too common. As I read Alma 26, which consists of Ammon rejoicing in how blessed he has been by the Lord, I saw the attitude of a true believer.

Ammon is perhaps the greatest missionary in the Book of Mormon. He and his brothers forsaked their own right to rule the Nephites as king, and instead went to preach the gospel to a group of people who had been their enemies for centuries. As they preached they debased themselves, seeking to serve their enemies so that they could convince them of their sincerity and the truth of their word. Ammon and his brother’s choices lead them to the conversion of a whole kingdom of people who so loved the Lord that they were willing to give up their lives rather than continue to fight and kill. Even after all of this, Ammon did not take credit for himself but gave credit to the Lord. In verse 12 he says,

Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therfor I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

In our church the clergy is set up in such a way that it discourages anyone who is after money and power. All but a very few in the church do their work entirely as volunteers. Even missionaries and mission presidents must pay their own way as they take two to three years out of their own lives and whatever other employment they have. There is also a high rotation, so that a person serving as a bishop now many in a few years be serving in the nursery (basically babysitting 1-3 year olds) and no one would think it strange. Those in the highest levels of the church are kept so busy administering to a large worldwide church that they have no time for lives of leisure. Yet, church members are not perfect and you still occasionally hear of a bishop who behaves inappropriately or others who abuse their positions (always with quick punishment and removal from said position upon discovery of the infraction).

Ammon, however, had the opportunity for all the money and power he wanted. He could have been king. He could have let the Lamanites worship him as a God. Yet, each time he gave God the credit and sought only to serve God and his fellow men. Ammon was a true believer and I only hope that we all can follow his example.

Today I am going to try to be extra thankful and thank God for all they many ways he blesses me.

What great leaders have you seen in your life? What was it about them that made them such a great leader?

Advertisements

What Has God Done for You Today

Reading: “O Remember, Remember,” YouTube Video featuring Henry B. Eyring

This week I’ve been taking my daughter to swim lessons, which also happen to be right at the time I would normally write my posts. So, I’ve been a little behind.

Today I just wanted to share this little video with you. I write in my journal, but I do not always take time to write about what God has done for me that day. Today and in the future I’m going to take Elder Eyring’s counsel and write about what God has done for me that day.

What has God done for you today?

A Soft Answer

Reading: Christlike Parenting by Glenn I. Latham, Chapter 4: Revile Not; Proverbs 15:1, Matthew 5:9, Romans 12:17

Yesterday I talked about how being grateful makes it harder to be angry.  Today I wanted to expand on that by sharing with you some of the things I read today in Christlike Parenting by Glenn Latham.

In this chapter Glenn Latham entreats us not to lose our temper with our children, and that when they act out in anger we should continue to remain calm and unruffled.  He cites the scriptural definition of charity:

And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (Moroni 7:45, emphasis added)

A similar injunction can be found in Proverbs 15:1:

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

This year I have been working very hard to be more patient with my husband and toddler.  Many times I have been presented with the choice of using grievous words or a soft answer.  When I am feeling angry it takes self control and determination to choose the soft answer, but when I do everybody is happier, most especially myself.

I don’t know how I could overcome the temptation to use grievous words without gratitude.  I must think about how much I value my relationship with my family in order to be willing to put off the satisfaction that a biting retort would give me.  In order to endure through a tantrum without throwing a tantrum of my own I need to somewhere think about the great blessing that God has given me to have a healthy, mostly happy child, and how my actions will affect her in the long term.

Today I am going to make a special effort to step back when I am tempted to use grievous words, even mild ones, and think of what I have to be grateful for in that situation.  Then I will write about it in my journal. (I know this is just another version of what I did yesterday, but when I did it yesterday I learned some things so it seems worth repeating.)

When you are angry, how do you resist the temptation to “revile” or return hurt for hurt?  Do you notice times where it is easier to deal with anger?  What is different about those times?

Gratitude: A Great Virtue

Reading: “An Attitude of Gratitude,” Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 1992

When I read many talks or articles by the same person I often begin to see patterns or repetitions that reveal more about how that person thinks.  In the talk I read today I found repeated a line from the talk I read yesterday, both of which were given by President Monson, but 15 years apart.  That line is:

If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.

As I pondered this idea, that gratitude is among the greatest virtues, I thought about how happy people who have gratitude seem to be.  I remember a sister in a former ward who was so sweet and often expressed her gratitude.  Although she was mostly deaf she instead chose to focus on the positives around her and her life was greatly blessed by it, as were the lives of her children.

Also, I notice that gratitude seems to be an inoculation against many other serious vices of our time.  Sins like pride, anger, murmuring, gossip, cruelty, and materialism all become practically impossible if we are cultivating heartfelt, righteous gratitude.

As I have often written in my blog posts, patience is definitely something that I struggle with.  Today I will pay particular attention to my blessings at times when I am feeling annoyed and then write about those things in my journal.

Is there anything that you struggle with that might be made easier with an attitude of gratitude?

Finding Joy in the Journey

Reading: “Finding Joy in the Journey,” President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, Nov 2008

Just before I sat down to write this post, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the things buzzing around in my head that I really wanted and needed to do today.  So, I wrote them all down in a list on a piece of scratch paper.  In an effort to be realistic about what I could get done today I then wrote next to each item the amount of time it would take to accomplish each task.  I felt too discouraged to add it all up, but I know if I had it would have been enough tasks for at least three days, maybe more.

Then, in an effort to learn about gratitude I decided to read “Finding Joy in the Journey,” a talk given by President Monson at the last general conference.  In this talk President Monson lovingly asks us to pay more attention to the people in our lives and to “find joy in the journey.”  He said,

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. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.

It seemed to me that while I was praying for a way to get everything done, God is trying to tell me to stop driving myself so hard and to choose the better part.  I am also reminded of the scripture Luke 10:40-42:

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:  But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Today I am going to take this timely counsel and try to find joy in my journey.  Specifically, I will take a five minute break every hour or so just to pay attention to what is going on around me and to be more grateful for my blessings and my family.

How do you get past your to do list and enjoy your daily life?  What helps you to find joy in the journey?

Thanksgiving

Reading: Gratitude Gospel Topic on LDS.org, Luke 17:11-19

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude.  The whole pilgrim thing is a nice story, but if you study the real history about the Thanksgiving holiday the real reason we keep practicing it is that throughout time leaders of our country have thought it would be good to take a day to be grateful.  Now, it is a precious holiday we practice every year.

Gratitude is a virtue that is important to our happiness.  The scriptures teach the value of gratitude, such as the story of the ten lepers who were healed.  The story, found in Luke 17:11-9, goes like this:

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
One interesting thing in this story is that all the lepers were healed.  Yet, the Savior said to the one leper who turned back “thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Could it be that while the other lepers were healed of their physical illness, it is only the leper who showed gratitude who became whole in spirit as well?
On Thanksgiving, it is easy for me to be grateful.  The holiday gets me thinking about all the things I have to be grateful.  At other times, though, it is not so easy.  I get wrapped up in the problems I face and I sometimes think more about how hard things are than what I have to be grateful for.  It seems to me that gratitude is something that doesn’t just happen, but is a habit we cultivate over time.
Since it is so easy to be grateful today, tomorrow I am going to write in my journal at least 10 things I am grateful for.  I suspect once I get going I may come up with more than that.
On a side note, since Thanksgiving can also be stressful you may enjoy this meditation on gratitude from Meditation Oasis that it is good for both relaxing and cultivating gratitude.
What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude for the Atonement

Reading: 2 Nephi 9

Continuing my theme this week of reading about the atonement, this morning I chose to read 2 Nephi 9.  This chapter is part of Jacob’s address to the Nephites that Nephi chose to copy into his record.  2 Nephi 9 is an especially beautiful account of the plan of salvation, the greatness of God, the Atonement, and our own need for repentance.

One thing that especially struck me as I read this chapter was how often Jacob specifically points out the greatness of God that he would provide the Atonement for us.  He usually says something like:

O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel: For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devilo, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

2 Nephi 9:20

After I read the chapter the first time I skimmed through and counted 15 times Jacob specifically talks about the greatness of God.

One thing the scriptures make clear is that without the Atonement we would all be damned, in the real sense of the word.  We would be miserable and lost for the rest of eternity.  Through the Atonement, we are able to be resurrected and we are able to repent and be saved from our sins.  When we really understand this, surely we must be greatful to the Savior for the incredible service he has done for us, underserving as we are.

Today is going to be a very busy day.  In the morning I need to do a ton of packing and cleaning, and then in the afternoon we will be driving for six hours to visit family for the weekend.  Usually days like this are pretty stressful for me.  So, today, when I start to get stressed out I’m going to try and stop and think about bigger things, about how blessed I am by the Savior’s gift of the Atonement, and see if it doesn’t help me be just a little bit less stressed out.

Do you know of any other scriptures or stories that help us see how greatful we should be for the Savior and the Atonement?  Have you been able to use this knowledge to help you deal with any real life problems?

Remembering What God Has Done For Us

Reading: “O Remember, Remember“, President Henry B. Eyring, Liahona, Nov 2007

So, continuing today on the theme of focusing on Christ I chose to read Elder’ Eyring’s article about remembering what God has done for us. In the article Elder Eyring shares how as a parent he kept a journal recording the things that God had done for his family each day. Then he gave copies of that journal to his children when they were grown. That journal is an inspiration to his whole family today.

He then talks about how easy it is for us to forget how blessed we are by God. We forget when we are prosperous because everything seems so common place. We forget when we are suffering because we are so consumed by how bad things are we forget to see what is good. Throughout all of the history of the Earth mankind has struggled to remember God’s goodness.

The key to remembering the Savior in our daily lives, he says, is in having the Holy Ghost to be with us. The Holy Ghost will help us to remember times throughout our lives that God helped us. We must then strive to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s presence.

Elder Eyring then challenges us to pray for help in seeing God’s hand in our daily lives and then “preserve that memory” for us and for future generations.

I know that this is definitely a good thing to do. Just yesterday, as I was writing in my journal about my scripture study, I realized that focusing on Christ means focusing on his teachings. For some reason I got the idea that focusing on Christ meant thinking about his person, his appearance, his personality, and his opinions. After all, if I were going to “focus” on someone I know, that is what I would focus on.

However, we don’t really know those things about Christ. What we do know is what he taught, and that is what is most important. When we learn Christ’s teachings, then we learn about who he is and we learn to love him. When we focus on Christ, it means we seek to learn and exemplify all that he taught. What a great insight, and I would not have gained it had I not taken the time to write down my scripture study experience.

What has God done for you lately that you maybe haven’t noticed up until now? And/or, do you have any good ideas on ways to preserve that experience for future remembering?