Last week I spoke about a new perspective on our trials we can gain from a new perspective on a familiar scriptural phrase. It amazes me that such profound wisdom could be hidden in such plain sight. Yet if we fail to see what’s in plain sight, it’s not because it’s hiding.
Knowing our trials are never here to stay breathes confidence that our future can be better than our past. That confidence can provide the foundation we need to make changes in our lives. And changing our lives always means changing ourselves.
If we want our lives to improve, then we must improve. It’s natural law, and there’s no way around natural law. When it comes to improving ourselves, the most effective improvements we can make always occur in our thinking.
A lot of people, LDS singles included, talk about thinking positive. But many who talk the talk don’t walk the walk. They don’t really believe inside themselves the positivity they preach. And it shows in the way they carry themselves, how they interact with others, and their verbal expressions about the future.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We all have the ability to reformat and reboot ourselves. We can always reinvent ourselves.
Faith precedes the miracle
Experiencing a transformation from a pessimist bathed in despair and hopelessness to an optimist awash with confidence and hope is truly a miracle. But we must first believe before we receive.
Whatever our problems, we will never find solutions with the same type of thinking that created our problems. We must think on a higher level if we are to find solutions. And by definition, thinking on a higher level means changing our way of thinking.
Why do some adopt true belief while others adopt only a semblance of belief? Anyone can say the words comprising positive phrases, but it takes something more to believe deep down that those phrases represent truth for you and your life. God could do such wonderful miracles in all of our lives if only we truly believed.
And that’s the change we need most of all, a change within ourselves about how we think about ourselves and our world. Truly faith is power because true faith transforms us with the power to meet whatever challenge life brings us with both the confidence that God will support us and an optimism that better days are always in store for us.
But those who don’t believe don’t receive. They are left to the consequences of their choice of disbelief. Belief always has been a choice, and it always will be. Once we choose to let go of our “need” to understand how it all works, to see the end from the beginning, and just trust that God will provide the way forward, we open our hearts to the faith needed to produce miracles in our lives. Only after we open our hearts to faith can we open our eyes to see the miracles we want in our lives unfold. Faith precedes the miracle.
You can create a new you
Experiencing the miracle of transforming the way we think allows us to experience the miracle of transforming our lives. We can reinvent ourselves into someone capable of doing what before we could not do. That’s because the only limitations we have are often the ones we place upon ourselves with the way we think. When we change the way we think, we free ourselves to be what we need to be to live the life we want to live.
The greatest miracle of all — the Atonement of Jesus Christ — can change us into better men and women. Inherent with feeling God’s love is a realization that we are worth loving. When we honor that realization by loving ourselves, we allow the power of the Atonement to work within us and transform us into something more than we were before.
In essence, we reinvent ourselves.
Knowing our true worth allows us to know our true potential. And knowing our true potential is the first step towards achieving it. What is that potential? We all know the Sunday School answer; our true potential is to become like our Heavenly Father. But have you ever stopped to think about what that actually means?
It means that we can do what He does because we are as He is. What does God do? He creates. Understanding our potential as children of the Ultimate Creator provides a glimpse of ourselves as creators. We begin to believe we can reinvent ourselves.
Change the way you think about yourself. Reformat and reboot yourself. As a child of God, you can create a new you. You can become more than what you have been. You can reinvent yourself.
It is truly interesting to see when you have eyes to see. The Lord really is mindful of all of us. His tender mercies abound around us. You just need eyes to see them.
I know the Lord is mindful of me. He’s been sending choice people across my path, people who say what I need to hear and share ideas I need to consider. And with everything I’ve been experiencing lately, there’s a lot I need to hear and to consider.
The Lord always sends light to those who reach after it. He ordained the dawn to follow the night, and the dawn always comes.
And now a new dawn is breaking for me. Nothing in my life has physically changed. But my perspective and the way I see my world and my current situation has changed substantially.
It always did come to pass
Mark Twain once criticized the Book of Mormon in part because the phrase and it came to pass appears very frequently. In writing his history of the Nephite nation, Mormon constantly uses this phrase to tell us about the events that occurred among his people and their ancestors. We find this same phrase in the Bible, so its use to convey happenings isn’t confined to just one continent.
I have to admit that until recently I never gave that phrase all that much thought. But not anymore. Now I see it as a great testament of God’s love for the wonderful message that it carries.
Everyone has trials and hardships in life. That’s a part of life for everyone, no matter the time or place. So the events that Mormon recounts from the history of his people were fundamentally no different than the events that happen in the lives of us all. We all experience sadness, heartache, loneliness, and pain.
Yet in each and every one of those cases, Mormon records “and it came to pass.” Think about that for a moment. Those events, whatever they were, did not come to stay. They came to pass.
And so it is in all of our lives. The events we experience, trying though they may be, never come to stay. They always pass on with the continual motion of time. Day always follows night which always follows day. The events we experience in mortality, as bad as they seem, never come to stay. They always come to pass.
And it always will come to pass
It’s been almost three years since my dear friend Tashi was taken from me. I still miss her terribly. At times I wish she were still with me. Then she could walk into my lap as she used to do and look up at me as if to say, “What’s wrong? How can you be sad when I’m here with you?”
That day she died I felt like dying too. A sadness as I had never known enveloped me, and for many hours all I could do was cry in my grief. Slowly with the passing of time, those emotions subsided, though I still grieve for my cat. As I said, I still miss her terribly. But the overwhelming emotions that engulfed me the day she died are no longer with me. They came, not to stay, but to pass.
And so it has been with every negative and trying moment in my life. All of them came into my life, and none of them came to stay. They all came to pass. And thus it will be with every tribulation we might experience. They won’t come to stay. They will come to pass.
We choose our end
Newsflash: In the end, we all make it to the end. The only question is what that end will be. That’s because where we end up depends on how we choose to confront the difficulties of life that come to pass in our lives.
Will we cower in the corner in a pitiful clod of despair, slaves to fear and hopelessness? Or will we rise above our challenges with faith and the confidence that God is still in control of His universe, the same universe in which we are living?
Mormon’s constant repetition of and it came to pass emphasizes the transient nature of our trials. They never come to stay. They always come to pass. One moment is bad, but the next is always good. Spring always follows winter. Day always follows night. And it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
Whatever trials you may be experiencing in your life, remember that they never come to stay. They always come to pass. So let them pass, and look to brighter and glorious days ahead in your future.
I’ve been writing lately about a mystery burden, which may surprise some of my long-time audience members. Although I never divulge all details, I also don’t hold back on a general description of my life occurrences.
This one, however, gives me pause. Suffice it to say my heavy burden really tears at my heart.
Honestly, I haven’t yet felt the full pain of my burden. Working 60+ hours each week means I don’t have time to think about it very much. That’s the silver lining; it’d probably break me if I weren’t so distracted.
Yet sooner or later the piper demands payment. I know I’ll feel the full effect of my burden shortly. And I know that in that moment, after all my efforts to reach for the light have ended only in darkness, the clouds of despair will gather around me. And the siren call of pessimism will take monumental effort to resist.
In that moment I will need to take courage.
It’s always easy to be pessimistic. That’s because pessimism requires no courage. It never has, and it never will.
Alternatively, optimism always requires courage. Optimism requires us to believe in what we don’t know because it lies outside our experience. So many of us are so accomplished at using our past failures to predict our future, we can very easily discount optimism.
Many of us are also more comfortable with failure than with success. We’re so much more familiar with the doubt and fear we know than with the faith and confidence we don’t that we choose darkness over light.
It takes courage to resist these negative tendencies of the natural man. It takes courage to reach for the light even though all you can see is darkness. It takes courage to hold to a dream when everything and everyone around you seems to say it will never happen, when you seem to be the only one who believes in you. And it takes even more courage to believe in you when even you don’t believe in you.
Yet God never stopped believing in you. At the end of every day, you can choose to believe that or not.
Here’s what I choose to believe. I choose to believe God is real and that He loves me so immensely He could never lead me into permanent misery. Though all the hounds of hell howl about me, I will take courage and reach for the light. I will take courage and meet my demons head on with optimism and confidence.
I will take courage because in the end I know God will not forsake me. My blessings are real. God loves me so much He wants me to have them. My dreams are not just vain imaginations; they’re glimpses of the future God wants me to have. They’re not only possible, they’re probable. And I increase their probability of occurrence to practical certainty by taking courage and reaching for the light, even when I cannot see any light around me.
Perhaps I should say especially when I cannot see any light around me.
I believe this because I choose to believe it. You can choose to believe it too. Anyone can be pessimistic, but you and I are destined for too much greatness to cower before the pathetic pastures of pessimism. Don’t let that be your choice.
Here’s what I will tell myself. You weren’t born to be just anyone. You were born to be you in all your glorious uniqueness. The failure of others to recognize that truth doesn’t destroy it. It might conceal it, but it cannot destroy it because nothing can destroy truth. And the truth is that greatness is your birthright, which you can claim if you take courage and reach for the light.
President Monson has often said whoever God calls He qualifies. God loves you so much He’s calling after you to come home, so surely He’ll give you strength to carry on towards your blessings when you take courage and reach for the light.
Of course it’s hard. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth anything. But because it is worth everything, everything is required of you — all your heart, all your mind, all your faith, all your hope, all your love, all your tears, all your toil, all your might. No matter how dark and dreary your world may seem, take courage and reach for the light.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself. You are far too valuable to surrender. It’s not over until you win. Now take courage, and reach for the light!
Recently I’ve been experiencing some difficult times. Without going into a lot of detail, it feels like the load on my back is more than I can manage.
By no means do I pretend that somehow makes me worthy of special attention. We all have challenges in life. In fact, that’s why we are here — to experience challenges while in mortality. So I don’t feel any pity for myself. I simply feel the weight of my burden. It’s heavy.
Moments like these can be especially dangerous. That’s because moments like these make entertaining doubts extremely easy. And doubts are very corrosive, not just to faith but also to our sense of well-being. Doubt can rob us of the joy God wants us to have every single day. Entertaining it truly places us in great peril.
The danger of doubt
I’m not using hyperbole to make a point. Entertaining doubt is dangerous precisely because it corrodes faith, and faith is essential to experiencing joy. When we doubt, we stand in our own way to our own happiness.
Of course, not all doubt is dangerous. Some doubt actually is healthy. Asking questions shows a well-trained mind, so long as we avoid questioning what we know to be true.
Once you know for yourself something is true, you have no need to re-examine it. You can go forward building on what you know to be true and asking questions where you don’t yet know one way or the other. In those areas, doubt can be very friendly and promote good mental health.
Doubt becomes dangerous when we start questioning what we already know to be true. For example, I know the Book of Mormon is true. I don’t need to keep asking if it’s true, and I can use my knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to ask questions in other areas. If I were to continue asking about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, I’d waste my time going around in useless circles of questioning. There would be no growth, and thus there would be no joy.
If you find it easier to listen to your doubts, you need to train yourself to doubt your doubts. The best way to provide that training is with positive self-talk. You need to be more attentive to the messages you give yourself.
A common way we give ourselves those messages is with thoughts that run through our minds. If you call yourself a demeaning name when you make a mistake, or you think to yourself your blunder is just one more log on the fire of being denied your righteous blessings, then you’re training yourself to be your own worst obstacle.
You need to catch yourself when those messages come, reject them, and then replace them with positive uplifting messages. Instead of calling yourself something demeaning, forgive yourself and resolve to improve. Instead of collecting evidence for why your blessings won’t come to you, collect opportunities to improve and keep reminding yourself that you will succeed if you never surrender.
Negative messages can come to us through the media we choose to embrace. If you take in negative messages of hopelessness and despair, then it shouldn’t surprise you when you begin to doubt positive messages of hope and encouragement. You’ll find it easier to believe those messages may be good for others but just don’t apply to you.
That’s why daily prayer and scripture study are so important. They provide opportunities for us to remember who we really are, helping us to believe in positive messages more readily. Regular temple attendance can have a similar impact. Life’s all in how we approach it.
Break free of the habit of fear encouraged by negative self-talk. Embrace a habit of faith by promoting positive self-talk. The blessings you want probably won’t come overnight, but they most certainly won’t come if you refuse to change the habits that influence others to choose against you. No one wants an eternal companion, let alone a life partner, who they can’t believe in. And why should anyone believe in you if you don’t believe in you? Most people won’t.
I believe in you, though. I don’t care where you are from or what has happened to you. So long as you breathe and possess a coherent mind, you have the ability to do incredible things. The first step to realizing that ability is to believe in yourself and nourish within your soul positive messages that promote faith and encouragement.
Doubt your doubts and send them packing. Your blessings won’t come overnight, but the journey there will be much more enjoyable when you truly believe your blessings are there for you to have and you treat yourself worthy of those blessings.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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