Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's a New Day

Many years ago I gave a talk at a Stake Relief Society Conference and the next day a woman called me to chew me out. “It’s so easy for you to stand up there and talk about all these good things,” she said, “because your life has all been so good. You had good parents and have a good husband. But my life has been a disaster.” She then proceeded to tell me how bad her parents were and how she had been divorced and forced to care for four young children alone. She went on and on and frequently made snide remarks to reinforce her point that my life was perfect and hers was a mess so it was easy for me to live the gospel while it was difficult for her.

At the time, I remember thinking how strange it was that she thought my life so good. All she knew about me came from the hour we shared together the night before while I was speaking and I hadn’t said anything about my home life past or present. She didn’t have a clue what my parents were like or my present situation. For all she knew I’d been raised in an orphanage by cold and cruel caretakers! Her idea of what my life was like was pure fiction that she was inventing.

I got the impression she had created this perfect life for me and juxtaposed her life beside mine as an excuse for her own failings. While it is true that I have good parents who are active in the Church, there were problems—many problems that she knew nothing about.

But even stranger than her assumptions of what my life was like was the fact that she thought she had to call me and tell me all she did. What motivated her to find my phone number, pick up the phone, and vent all her negative feelings—especially her excuses about why she couldn’t possibly be good—to a stranger she had heard speak the night before? I’ve often wondered if the Spirit didn’t prick her conscience that night to do something or to be better, but instead of doing what the Spirit told her to do and repenting, she spent the night trying to justify herself—to find excuses for the way she was. And her past was her excuse. I felt so sorry for her. The same amount of energy could have been used to pull her out of the Pit and into the realm of Truth.

What she didn’t realize is that despite our pasts, every day is a new day and we all have the freedom to choose to make this day a good day despite our past. As we wake each morning, we have a choice to make as to how we will spend the coming day. Will we enjoy and appreciate the opportunity and beauty of the day or will we agonize over the many tasks we have to do or worse, will we wallow in self-pity because of what was done wrong to us yesterday? When we remember that we are free to choose how we think, we choose to stay out of the Pit of Illusion and to spend our time and energy enjoying the Truth by loving whatever is.

Picture: by nikilynn http://www.flickr.com/photos/niki-lynn/


Anonymous said...

My father told me all the time when I was young that often when people say negative things or put you down, it is a reflection of how they feel about themselves rather than what they think of you. I have found that to be so true, especially if you're doing something that hits a nerve in an area where someone feel inadequate. You probably made some points she knew were true, but because of whatever reason, it was easier to knock you down to make herself feel better, rather than make some personal commitments to do better for herself. The other thing I found interesting is that there are still people who think there are people who go through life with no problems. Everyone is here to be tested and everyone is, although we don't always see where. We choose to face our trials with a good attitude and positive actions or wallow in our misery. We do make our life livable and happy by our choices, not our tests. I'm sorry she picked you to rant on. If she knew you better, she would realize what a great friend you are and how much better her life could be by associating with you!

SuSu said...


Anonymous said...

I hear/feel the whisperings of the Spirit sometimes when I am just about to fall into an old bad habit. I know both the pull of those old habits and also the joy of breaking free. Satan tries to convince us that we have no choice, that there is no other way, that the unknown is scary and painful, but when we move forward in faith, there is a lightness and freedom and joy that is so exquisite. An example is instead of getting mad at my daughter being prompted to give her a big hug and tell her I love her and doing it and then realizing that it was a choice that I don't have to get mad at her. It just isn't required, necessary or happy.