Published on January 5, 2009
Lessons for our Times: Finding Joy in the Journey Inspirations from our Prophet: President Thomas S. Monson 1
Last 5 years Last 10 years Sisters, For today’s lesson for our times, I have the pleasure of teaching the messages from of President Monson at the General Conference last month. Change as a Constant was reiterated throughout his talks. So I want to start with a 5-minute exercise to help each of us understand this principle. Think about what has happened in your live over the last 5 years and the last 10 years. List the changes you have gone through during that time. 2
•How many times have you moved house? •What states have you lived in? •What kind of jobs have you held? •How many times have you been pregnant? •When did your children have left your home? •What cars have you bought and sold? •How many times have you been ill? •How many vacations have you enjoyed? •What celebrations have you attended? Here are some thought starters for you. 3
1. Be Grateful 2. Love More 3. Live Today Let’s go back to the exercise. With all of the changes we’ve discussed, when the change was happening, would you be thoughtful? Optimistic? Grateful? Those are some of the key themes mentioned President Monson’s Sunday morning session called “Finding Joy in the Journey”. Live Today. Be Grateful. Love More. He tells us, “this is our one and only chance at mortal life-here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. 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 non-existent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey-now.” Joy – what does that mean to you? 4
Three New Temples In the Conference Welcome, President Monson set the tone for his talks around change with the phrase, “the past six months since last we met seems to have flown by. Much as transpired as the work of the Lord has moved forward uninterrupted” He tells us of the 3 new temples in Brazil, Panama and Idaho in the US along with the celebrations accompanying each event. He tells us of the 4300 members from the Temple district in Brazil who assembled with a choir of 1700 voices presenting an inspirational program. President Monson offered a silent prayer to Heavenly Father asking Him to look with mercy on those who had prepared diligently for this event so that the impending rain and wind might not harm them or their costumes. And, He honored that prayer, saving the rain for later in the evening. 5
Change in Congregations Since 2000 President Monson shares with us similar celebrations at the Temple dedications in Panama and Idaho saying, “I am an advocate for such events. They enable our youth to participate in something they truly find unforgettable. The friendships they form and the memories they make will be theirs forever.” He then shared more good news: new Temples in Calgary, Alberta Canada, Cordoba, Argentina, Kansas City, Philadelphia and…Rome. The Church continues its steady growth, punctuated by these marvelous celebrations. Here is a chart I grabbed from one of the (many) Church web sites. It illustrates how congregation growth in the United States has been stable overtime, with usually around 150-200 wards being created each year. <The large jump in branches in 2004 can be attributed to the formation of Young Single Adult or Spanish speaking branches> Yet, outside America, we are reminded that there are countries still in darkness from the light of the gospel - countries where the Church is not allowed. President Monson uses the lifespan of the church to foreshadow more specific messages around change that would come in the Priesthood meeting (or so I was told by my husband) and in the Sunday morning conference session. 6
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 When the Prophet said, “Rome”, there was an audible ripple of astonishment throughout the auditorium. I was reminded of the quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. 7
1.Be Grateful 2. Love More 3. Live Today And that quote provides a nice transition into the key messages President Monson was inspired to share with us. <comment about not having a teleprompter> So what if right now, we are in the middle of trials? How do we find joy in that journey, when things seem bleak and feel hopeless? President Monson offers the best advice: Express gratitude for our blessings. Yes there may be times when that is easier said than done. But even through our darkest hour, we can find something to be grateful for. If our health is suffering, maybe we have insurance to cover the costs of our medical bills. When there is a sudden death of a loved one, maybe we are surrounded by friends and family members in our time of need. Maybe we have a car that has just completely fallen apart and don't know how we will afford to pay for the expense of it getting fixed, but maybe we come home to a loving family and children who are happy to see us. Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us. There are always blessings surrounding us, even when we are facing times that are difficult, we just need to do our best to be grateful. 8
In his talk, President Monson gave an amazing example of someone who showed gratitude throughout her trials. Her name was Borghild Dahl. quot;She was born in in Minnesota in 1890 of Norwegian parents and from her early years suffered severly impaired vision. She had a tremendous desire to participate in everyday life despite her handicap. Against the advice of educators, who felt her handicap was too great, she attended college, receiving her bachelor of arts degree. She later studied at Columbia University and the University of Oslo. She eventually became the principal of eight schools in western Minnesota and North Dakota. Miraculously, in 1943-when she was over 50 years old-a revolutionary procedure was developed which finally restored to her much of the sight she had been without for so long. A new and exciting world opened up before her. She took great pleasure in the small things most of us take for granted, such as watching a bird in flight, noticing the light reflected in the bubbles of her dishwater, or observing the phases of the moon each night. Borghild Dahl, both before and after her sight was restored, was filled with gratitude for her blessings. In 1982, two years before she died, at the age of 92 her last book was published. Its title: quot;Happy All My Life.quot; Her attitude of thankfulness enabled her to appreciate her blessings and to live a full and rich life despite her challenges.quot; 9
Psalms 100:3-5 Psalms 100:3-5 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 10
President Monson says: quot;If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.quot; The greatest example of showing gratitude in the midst of trials is Jesus Christ. In his short life, he endured incredible physical, emotional and mental trials. And not just once, but over and over. Yet through it all he kept an eternal perspective and continually showed gratitude to Heavenly Father. The night before he was to be crucified, he gave these words of comfort to his apostles: John 16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 11
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. … So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end A favorite hymn always lifts our spirits, kindles our faith, and inspires our thoughts. So, what are you grateful for? What are your blessings? Mothers? Fathers? Teachers? Children? Friends? Our Country -- the greatest country in the world? Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ? 12
1. Be Grateful 2.Love More 3. Live Today Love more. A couple of weeks ago, we were reading and discussing Joseph Smith’s letters home to Emma and his family. One of the sub- headings leapt out during my reading, “The responsibility to teach our children is always with us”. This section is poignant as it shows the tender side of the Prophet as husband and father. “O my affectionate Emma. I want you to remember that I am a true and faithful friend to you and the children forever. My heart is entwined around yours forever and ever.” How do you show others you love them? 13
They do not love that do not show their love Stresses come into our lives, regardless of our circumstances. Look back at your lists of changes. How many of those changes felt stressful at the time? Did time seem to slow down or speed up during that time? President Monson says that we should not let the stresses get in the way of what is most important -- the people around us. He then goes onto quote Shakespeare, adding that we should never assume they know how much we love them, “They do not love that do not show their love.” He counsels us that we will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown, rather it is the reverse we will regret. Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug -- give your parents a hug -- say I love you more. These are the things President Monson wants us to do to live today, love more and find joy in the journey. How can you love more? 14
These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year. He shares with us the story of Church member Jay Hess who was captured as a prisoner-of-war (POW) during the Vietnam War. For 2 years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. Eventually his captors allowed him to write home a limited message of 25 words. This message was important -- Brother Hess didn’t know if he would ever see his family again. His family had to recognize it was coming from him. And it had to provide valuable counsel. He wrote, “These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.” WWYD? What would you do if you only had 25 words to share what is important? I’d like to spend the next 5 minutes or so developing our own message to our children and grandchildren. Just 25 words. It needs to communicate who you are and counsel them in the truest sense of the word. President Monson says to us very explicitly: one day, we will run out of tomorrows. It probably won’t be because we’re captured as a POW -- cancer or a stroke may hold us hostage instead. Live now. 15
Be grateful. Love more. Live now. My father used to tell me that time is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present. I felt President Monson was talking to me when he quoted a character from my very favorite play by Thornton Wilder, Our Town. Emily Webb dies in childbirth but she does not want to rest in peace. She wants to re-live the joy of life. She is granted her wish to return to earth on her 12th birthday. Her excitement quickly fades to despair when she knows what will happen. She realizes how unaware she had been of the meaning and wonder of life while she was alive with the rhetorical question: “Do…human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?” He draws a parallel to Doctrine & Covenants section 88 verse 33: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” 16
1. Be Grateful 2. Love More 3. Live Today President Monson ends his talk with his testimony of Christ and then says: quot;Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days-as much as we can-with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and deed.quot; I want to express my gratitude for all of my blessings. To have a wonderful and loving marriage, and three healthy daughters. I’m grateful to have a peaceful home. I’m grateful for my family and friends. I’m grateful for the trials that I am given to teach me what I need to learn. I am grateful for my testimony of this gospel, to know without a doubt that it is the truth. I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and a loving Father in Heaven who is mindful of all of my needs. I pray that we will all be able to find joy in each of our journeys. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 17
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