November 27, 2015

A Summer With Great Aunt Rose: GC 4

There is so much to glean from Elder Uchtdorf's story about Great Aunt Rose. What a great way for me to learn--I love stories.

And I loved picturing Great Aunt Rose sitting on her couch, with that creepy cat curled up nearby, reading her scriptures. Not only reading her scriptures, but having a conversation with them! "And as she read, she sometimes made comments like 'Oh, he shouldn't have done that!' or 'What wouldn't I give to have been there!' or 'Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever heard!' . . . It sounded to Eva as though Rose knew God as a friend." Her scriptures came alive. Her prayers were genuine. Oh, how I need to be more like this in my daily study and devotions!

One clear message of the parable was about happiness. "There is enough that doesn't go right in life, so anyone can work themselves into a puddle of pessimism and a mess of melancholy. But I know people who, even when things don't work out, focus on the wonders and miracles of life. These folks are the happiest people I know. . . God didn't design us to be sad. He created us to have joy! So if we trust Him, He will help us to notice the good, bright, hopeful things of life. And sure enough, the world will become brighter."

When I focus on my problems, that is all I see. It is quite discouraging. When I focus on what is good around me and in my life, I feel hope, peace, and joy.

For whatever reason, this story made me think of a little shift in my thinking that happened to me one day well over a year ago. We were going through a particularly rough time with Perry. He was having huge meltdowns and tantrums multiple times a day. He was super aggressive. There were many, many behavior problems we were working with therapists on. To say the least, it was a hard time for all of us. One day, while trying to move him to safety during a meltdown, not only was I hit and kicked, but I, also, ended up with a huge bite on my arm. All I wanted to do was curl up and cry and feel sorry for myself. He bit me! I couldn't move on from that. I wanted to wallow in self-pity. But the therapist was coming in a few minutes to start our session, and while I value a good cry, it hit me that self-pity and seeking sympathy from others wasn't going to change it. It sounds harsh, but no one else really cared if I got a little bite on my arm. No one was coming to swoop in and magically fix this. What I really needed to do was move on and open my eyes to other things in my life. Focusing on this bad, hard thing that happened wasn't going to change it, make it go away, solve anything, or really even help me feel better. I needed to zoom out and try to see the big picture. I needed to notice the areas we were making progress in and the good moments we were having. It wasn't easy to do, but when I was able to focus on the positive side of things, I felt much more hopeful and had more energy to do what I could to help us get through and figure out how to deal with the negative situation. Sometimes it is a choice and a shift in our thinking that helps us find happiness, not a complete change in our circumstances.

Through Rose, President Uchtdorf also teaches that at the center of the happiness that we can feel is one thing--love. "It is love--the pure love of Christ . . . everything else in the gospel--all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts--lead to love. When we love God, we want to serve Him. We want to be like Him. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs."


He concludes his address with "As you walk along your own bright path of discipleship, I pray that faith will fortify every footstep along your way; that hope will open your eyes to the glories Heavenly Father has in store for you; and that love for God and all His children will fill your hearts."