Yet the Prophet’s remarks weren’t the only ones which inspired and impressed themselves upon me. President Dallin H. Oaks’s address entitled “Small and Simple Things” reminded me of the great power of small actions performed consistently over time.
To be clear, I’ve always liked President Oaks. His logical approach to addressing any question has always resonated with me. And he’s been a real champion for LDS singles. Some of the most classic discourses for singles have come from him.
Considering that admiration, I’m always impressed with his remarks. But something was different for me this around. As President Oaks spoke, I felt an urgent need to consider what small and simple things I have in my life.
Ask the questions
President Oaks began by sharing two photographs each showing a tree with a root that had slowly grown underneath an adjacent sidewalk and cracked it. He observed that “the thrusting power that cracked these heavy concrete sidewalks was too small to measure on a daily or even a monthly basis, but its effect over time was incredibly powerful.”
President Oaks then mentioned many of the small and simple things that can uplift us (like prayer, scripture study, and repentance) as well as those small and simple things that can hold us back. He of course mentioned the Word of Wisdom and pornography in this regard. But I remain impressed with the other areas he included in his cautions:
For good or ill, those small and simple things we embrace consistently will shape us into who we become. President Oaks quoted Brigham Young when speaking on this point.
All this begs questions for each of us. What small and simple things do I have in my life? Will they lead me where I want to go? And what ones should I have to help me achieve my goals and dreams?
Consider the time
Whatever we decide to incorporate into our lives will have little if any effect if we don’t perform it consistently. The half-hearted, occasional, or sporadic effort won’t produce change. Consistency is the key that unlocks success.
What really struck me about President Oaks’s remarks is his holistic perspective. Of course he mentioned the small and simple things we’d expect, like prayer and scripture study. But he also talked about other things, like how we spend our time.
So many of us spend so much time in consumption. We constantly seek to be entertained. We often think more about how we can satisfy our own desires than how we can help someone else.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a good time and enjoy ourselves. I’m just saying we shouldn’t be spending so much time consuming at the expense of time producing. Excess consumption practiced consistently will not make you any better, nor will it improve anyone else’s life. And if no one’s life is better because of how you spent your time, how can that not be considered a waste of time?
Embrace your daily practice
Many of President Oaks’s examples of small and simple things describe our environment. And indeed, much of our environment we make with what we choose.
Lately I’ve been discovering the choices I make in the first and last hours of the day largely determine my environment during the day. There’s nothing hugely momentous that I practice in either of these hours. I of course have prayer and scripture study but also embrace exercise, reading, language study, and meditation.
Taken together, my daily practices form only about 8% of my day. But I’m starting to feel effects growing within me from my consistency in performing these small and simple acts every day, including increased confidence, increased desire to work, greater feelings of gratitude and abundance, and of course less distance between myself and my Heavenly Father.
What small and simple things do you have in your life? Are they helping you to become everything you’re capable of becoming? Or are they preventing you from improving? The Lord has said, “Out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). When we consistently practice the small and simple things that uplift, we can achieve the impossible. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
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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