Usually we think of living our religion as staying as far away as possible from sin. But there is more. If we want to live our religion we need to keep our hearts pure and as far away from bad feelings as possible. In speaking to some of the early settlers in Utah, Elder George A. Smith once said, “If you wish to enjoy your religion and the Spirit of the Almighty, you must make your calculations to avoid annoyances, as much as possible” (Journal of Discourses, 3:284).
The thing that prompted this advice was a problem with cattle. It seems that cattle were straying from their owners, wandering into other people’s farms, and destroying crops. Disputes would then ensue. Neighbors were mad at each other and demanding payment for damaged crops. Bad feelings erupted on every side, and, as Elder Smith acknowledged, bad feelings keep us from the companionship of the Spirit.
So what was Elder Smith’s solution? He told the people to build fences. If they fenced their land stray cattle couldn’t get in to destroy crops and then bad feelings wouldn’t get in to destroy hearts.
Stray cattle don’t bother most of us, but we all have things that annoy and disturb our peace. But if we look carefully at our circumstances we can come up with a strategy to help prevent the annoyance and keep our hearts pure. Sometimes it takes a little imagination and work, but there is a solution if we will look for it!