Monday, January 28, 2013

Change Your Focus



Distraction is my mother's favorite Truth Tool to use. (Did I tell you she fell last week and broke her sternum and had to have five stitches in her hand. She had barely gotten back to normal from when she fell last year and broke eleven ribs and her clavicle!) She is a trooper! She is 86 years old and is spry and feisty. She is amazing. I just hope to be as courageous and valiant as she is when I get her age--if I do.

While distraction can be a great Truth Tool there are two cautions. Distraction can be a problem at times like when you are driving a car. The other problem is that when using it we need to be sure we aren't avoiding a problem. The way to tell is that distraction is momentary--a way to clear your mind so you can deal with whatever is vexing you. Avoidance is seeking after pleasure in order to avoid the problem completely.

When using distraction to combat vexation you pay close attention to vexation and as soon as you feel it instead of dwelling on it and making things worse, you change your focus from the thing that is distressing you to something else. You do something that takes your mind off the vexation,but as soon as you've relaxed you go back to the problem and solve it. Go read a book, take a walk, call a friend, write a letter, do whatever you LIKE that will keep your mind off what is vexing you.

It is surprising that often even fifteen or thirty minutes of distraction can give you a new perspective, and make you feel better.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sabbath Scripture

Whether therefore ye eat, 
or drink, 
or whatsoever ye do, 
do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, January 25, 2013

Truth Tool - Good Courage

When Moses left the Children of Israel and Joshua became the new leader, the Lord gave Joshua a charge:
“Have not I commanded thee? 
Be strong and of a good courage; 
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: 
for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest” 
(Joshua 1:9). 

I love this charge, which the Lord later gave to all the House of Israel, and since I am part of the House of Israel, I consider it my charge also.

But one day while I was contemplating this verse some things jumped out at me and hitting me over the head as if saying, “Look!” The first of thing that struck me was that this is not simply good advice, it is a commandment from the Lord. It is a command to not fear, and to not get discouraged. But even the command not to be fearful seemed strange. To me having courage meant to be brave and so did not being afraid. Why the redundancy? And why did the Lord find it necessary to define courage with the adjective good? Is there such a thing as bad courage?

It took me awhile, but I finally discovered that at the time the King James translators were translating the Bible the word courage meant “feelings and passions of the heart” and not bravery. Thus any emotion was courage, and so the Lord is charging Joshua (and us) to only have good feelings in our hearts.

But that presents a big problem. How can we go through our days with the media, other people saying and doing things and only let the good feelings into our hearts? Don’t bad feelings sometimes overpower us? The answer to that is in the last sentence. The reason we can do it is because the Lord is with us where ever we go or whatever we do. Despite the bad and evil in the world, we can cast it all away because we know there is a Savior who will eventually heal this world and all the righteous in it.

Understanding this charge to only let good feelings into your heart is a powerful Truth Tool. It can be used in time of vexation by simply repeating the words, or as a preventative Tool to recite every day in order to avoid vexation. I have rewritten the charge in modern English and put my own name in it. I have it laminated and carry it around in my wallet where I can refer to it any time vexation starts to overwhelm me. I also have it on a mirror that I see every morning. I have found that there is a power I can literally feel envelop me every time I simply recite the words out loud.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Little More Affirmation

It is obvious how the Truth Tools help us drop the Unnecessary Pain in our lives. The Tools change how we think, and thus we let go of the thought that is causing us Pain and move on. But the Truth Tools are also very effective for helping us deal with Necessary Pain.

For example, yesterday we talked about the Truth Tool Affirmation and how it helps us both avoid and rid ourselves of Unnecessary Pain. But Affirmation also strengthens and encourages us so that we can pass through the Necessary Pain of life valiantly.

When dealing with Necessary Pain the power comes not from Affirming your own strength, but from Affirming the strength of God. Paul said it best, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13). Other Affirmations that help us endure the Necessary Pain of life are: "I have a Savior who strengthens me," "Yoked with the Savior I can endure anything." Again, just saying these words with conviction strengthens and empowers.

There are many ways to word Affirmations, but the important thing is to acknowledge that there is a strength beyond our own supporting and helping us. That is the most powerful Affirmation there is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Truth Tool - Affirmation


One of the ways to keep ourselves out of the Pit of Illusion and to avoid vexation is to use a Truth Tool called Affirmation.

But to understand how to use Affirmation we need to first understand a little about how the mind works. The mind does not compute the command “don’t.” When we tell ourselves things like, “Don’t hurt!” or “Don’t eat that!” or “Don’t hold this grudge!” it doesn’t work because the mind only calculates “do.” Try imagining not eating that donut. Just my mentioning this made you see yourself eating the donut. You may have imagined setting it down after a bit, but you first imagine eating it. You simply can’t imagine not doing something. A wise friend once told me never to say to a newly licensed, teenage driver as she backs out of the driveway, “Don’t hit the mailbox” because as soon as you say it, the mental picture of hitting the mailbox pops into her head, and the next thing you know a dented car hovers over a fallen mailbox while you try to console the hysterical driver.

So as we try to redirect our behavior or to overcome negative feelings, the most important thing we can do is replace the negative thought with a positive, Affirming, thought. “I eat healthy foods.” “I feel good.” “I forgive him.” As we come to understand this principle we realize that our negative and positive thoughts and feelings are powerful. But the most important thing to realize is that when given enough time, the positives will always have power over the negatives. The prime example of that is the Atonement, the most positive event of all time which will eventually overcome all negatives. But remember, positive encouragement takes time. A forceful, manipulative, negative approach to get someone to do what you want them to do may intimidate them into doing it faster, but it will always generate negative feelings in the other person that can fester and cause more problems—usually worse problems. On the other hand, a positive, loving approach may take more time, but it will last and generate positive feelings in the other person and in yourself.

Keeping your self-talk Affirming and positive can help you conquer and avoid Unnecessary Pain, and being Affirmative with others can strengthen relationships.You don't have to take my word for it. Right now say out loud, "I can't do this." Repeat it several times and notice how you feel inside. Now repeat out loud, "I can do this!" Say it several times and stop to notice how you feel inside. Just saying the words without even thinking about something you are doing creates a different feeling inside you. The Affirmative words, "I can do this!" make you feel good and confident--they encourage you.

So when negative words about yourself or others creep into your head, use the Truth Tool, Affirmation, and quickly turn the negative into positive.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tools of the Trade

I hope you've been paying attention to the stories you are telling yourself. I also hope you are determining whether what you are saying is the Truth and nothing but the Truth, or an Illusion, what you think should be instead of what is? If your story is not the Truth then you need to drop it and how to do that brings us to the subject of Truth Tools.

Truth Tools are strategies that help us get rid of the vexing thoughts that plague us when we are in the Pit of Illusion

Truth Tools are meant to help us move out of Illusion and into a neutral position where the Spirit can then help us Live in Truth. But one of the first things we learn as we begin to use the Tools is that one tool can't do it all.

Just as a carpenter building a house needs more than just a hammer, you and I need more than one Tool to help us Live in Truth.  If one tool doesn't work in a situation,  you try another until you find one that works.

Some of the Truth Tools I’ve identified and use are:

Anchoring
Humor
Music
Rewriting
Questioning
Distraction
Good Courage
Affirmation

Whenever you feel negative emotions such as fear, worry, stress, anger, self-pity, sorrow, or envy pushing you into the Pit of Illusion, pick one of the Truth Tools and use it to get rid of the negative emotion. Once the negative feelings are gone you can move into the positive.  It is a lot easier than trying to go from negative directly to positive. Once in the Realm of Truth you can experience  happiness, joy, love, and peace which are always available when Living in Truth.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cows and Cuds


Rumination is a fun word to say. Say it out loud and see how it rumbles around in your mouth as it tickles your tongue with soft vibrations and finally exists your mouth in a slow swishhhh.

The word ruminate comes from the Latin ruminari which means “to chew the cud.” In other words, a cow ruminates. Or to put it more graphically, the cow regurgitates a cud, which is food it has already swallowed that has been semi-digested into a cud, and then it chews on it—again. Sounds pretty disgusting, but before that disgusting scrunched look on your face goes away think about how much ruminating you do. Yes, YOU! People ruminate, but instead of a wad of regurgitated grass in our mouths, we ruminate with regurgitated words in our heads. This is what storytelling is all about.

Besides meaning “to chew again what has been chewed slightly and swallowed” the word ruminate also means “to go over in the mind repeatedly.” The problem with rumination is that it is usually regurgitated negative stories that we tell ourselves over and over again. “I can’t do anything right.” Or ,“My parents shouldn't have mistreated me.” Or, “I’m not a very good parent.” or "My neighbors shouldn't be so messy," or "My spouse should appreciate me more." I don’t need to list more, you get the idea.

Rumination is terrible when we tell ourselves stories based on lies like these. But the Good News! is that unlike cows, we don’t have to ruminate. When the old stories, the word cud, begins to regurgitate we can spit it out and refuse to chew on it. The best way to do that is to replace the old cud with something new. For example when the old cud, “I can’t do anything right,” comes up, you spit it out and instead chew on the idea, “I made a mistake, but I’ve learned from that and it won’t happen again.” That thought tastes a lot better, and it will lead you on to brighter and more delicious things.

Negative Storytelling only generates Unnecessary Pain and accomplishes nothing good. So spit out the story and Live in Truth.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rejoice in the Truth!

Happy Birthday Mr. J!
Today is Mr. J's birthday! His work celebrated his birthday yesterday with a cake that said, "Happy 50th!" He took a picture and has shown it to everyone. "Cake's don't lie," he says with a big smile. But we all know better.

And what does Mr. J's birthday have to do with Living in Truth? Lots, and it's not about the words on the cake.

When we Live in Truth we find joy in the simplest things. Instead of hating, dreading, and trying to forget something like a birthday (creating Unnecessary Pain!), we embrace it and enjoy it. Birthdays give us a chance to make a day exciting and extraordinary--not like all the other 364 days of the year. Whether we want to or not we are getting older every day. So why spend a birthday crying, whining, wishing, regretting that we are a year older, in other words, CAUSING ourselves pain when we could use the day as an excuse to gather the people we love most around us and have a great, memorable time?

That's what we did yesterday with friends, and we're going to celebrate again today, and again Sunday! Birthdays and anniversaries are a time to rejoice!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Shooting Down the Should Sharks

We have season tickets to a local theater and love going to the plays with some friends. For years I've called this couple before the run of the play, determined when we could all go together, and then made our reservation. But the other day I got a text from them saying they had made their reservation for the next play and if we wanted to come with them this was the time they were going. Well, the time was a weekday matinee when Mr. J works and so we couldn't go. As I read the message I began to feel the vexation rising in me. "They know Mr. J works and can't go at that time. They shouldn't have done that. They must be trying to get out of going with us. That was rude after all these years that I've taken the time to include and even do the reserving for them. They must not want to be friends with us anymore." (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! You get the idea!)

As those Should Sharks began to swim through my mind, I realized what I was doing and that it would not accomplish one single good thing. All those Should Sharks would do is cause me pain, and so I changed the story I was telling myself to, "Since they are both retired they must have forgotten that Mr. J is still working. They just didn't think about it. And even if they did think about it and don't want to go to the plays with us anymore, then I don't want to be hanging on to our relationship if they no longer enjoy our company. Everything is fine."

Granted, this is a small, inconsequential problem, but it illustrates how we create meaning out of the things that happen to us. Something happens and we begin to tell ourselves a story. The simple Truth is that they reserved tickets at a time we couldn't go. Why? I have no idea, and by making up a negative story I cause myself Unnecessary Pain. All I have to do is deal with the simple Truth. In this case I decided to live with it, and reserved our tickets at a time we could go. No pain. No vexation. No Should Sharks because I invented no story. (Or at least I didn't cling to the story I had begun to tell myself!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More On Vexing

The Vexed Man by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt
Almost everyone I've ever asked has had a similar thought come to them at one point in their life or another. It's about color, and the thought is that when you and I are looking at what is to me the color red do we see the same thing or is what you call blue red to me?

It is a strange thought, but one most of us contemplate and for a good reason. What the question is really about is, "Do we all experience the same reality?" Even if we all see the same red, the answer to the underlying question is a resounding, "NO!" We do not all experience the same reality. Each of us interprets and gives meaning to the things around us and that is what creates our reality.

So what does this have to do with vexation?

When we realize we are creating the reality we also realize we can change it. At first it is difficult because we are used to thinking that vexation is imposed upon us by the circumstances in our lives. But vexation isn't imposed it is created by the way we think about our circumstances. For example the vexing thought, "She is driving me crazy!" is an interpretation that is really, "I'm letting her drive me crazy!" The thought, "He shouldn't do that!" when analyzed in Truth becomes, "He did that so now what do I do? Fix it or live with it?"

Thus the first step to ridding ourselves of Unnecessary Pain is to admit that we are causing it, and then rejoicing in the fact that if we are causing it we also have the power to stop it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Vexation

We've all had the experience of being in a traffic jam, or at a store in a long line waiting to check out and feeling an impatience that begins to churn into anger. "This should be taking so long!" or "Why does this happen on the days when I'm in such a hurry?" or other negative thoughts begin to cause us all kinds of vexation. Vexation is the warning. Vexation is to the spirit what a temperature is to the body. It means, "Something is wrong here."

Left unattended vexation causes more harm to the spirit, just as a fever left unattended can cause damage to the brain and body. Therefore we need to stop when we feel vexation and ask ourselves what is causing it.

For example in the long line as you begin to get upset because the clerk is taking so long, you ask, "Why am I feeling vexed?"

The answer, "Because the clerk is taking so long."

Then you ask, "Can I fix that or do I have to live with it?"

You can't fix it, so to escape Unnecessary Pain, you have to live with it. You take what comes and love it. And how do you do that? We'll be exploring the Truth Tools which help us deal with what comes, but one of the things you can do right then to help you calm down is to ask yourself what Should Shark is preying on you. What is it you think should be happening? The clerk should be faster. The store should have more check out lines. The manager should come help. What ever you are thinking is an expectation--a Should Shark--but it is not the reality or verity of what IS happening. It is not Truth. The only way to get rid of the vexation that is causing you pain, is to let go of the expectation and find a way to deal with the Truth.

You can stand in the line and be in pain, or you can let go of the expectation and stand in the line in peace. The choice is yours and it is that easy.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Forgetting

I've been cleaning and purging my house lately in an effort to simplify and this sorting through old things has brought back a lot of memories. It has also caused me to realize that a lot of my life is forgotten. I'll find something that at one point I must have thought important to hang on to but I now have absolutely no clue as to what importance it had or why I saved it.

As we talk about Living in Truth I think that is an important thing to realize. Not only does the meaning of material things we have fade away, but most of the things that vex us now will mean nothing to us in a year or two. So why do we let them vex us now?

Forgetting is not always a bad thing. To forget offenses we might have taken, to forget about what other should or should not have done, to forget our past mistakes, to forget the human foibles of others, to forget others' mistakes is good not bad.

Sometimes in our effort to Live in Truth the best thing we can do when we are feeling vexed is to ask ourselves, "Is this going to matter one year from now?" and if the answer is, "No!" then laugh at ourselves and move on.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Avoid the Should Sharks

As in all things Jesus Christ is our example. He shows us how to Live in Truth and in many instances His example is so profound it brings me to my tears. One of those experiences occurs the night the Savior was taken from the Garden of Gethsemane and tried for being the Son of God. 

Living in Truth means that we deal with the Truth or verity of what confronts us and not with what we think should be happening or what should not be happening. Trying to deal with what should be is like boxing with an invisible opponent. You can swing, curse, kick, jab, and punch, but you are never going to hit anything.

So what has this to do with the night the Savior was tried? That night the Lord went to the Garden to pray and asked three of His closest friends and associates, Peter, James, and John, to watch with Him. Then he walked away, knelt, and prayed. When He returned to His friends instead of watching, they had fallen asleep. Shortly after that a mob of hundreds of soldiers and other men approached and another friend, one of His apostles, betrayed Him with, of all things, a kiss. About this time most of us would have been deep in the Pit of Illusion with thoughts such as, "Peter, James, and John shouldn't be asleep. They should have done what I asked. They are supposed to be helping me." And later, "Judas shouldn't betray me. He's supposed to support and help me. And especially he shouldn't betray me with a token of affection." And beyond that, "These men shouldn't be accusing me of crimes I didn't commit.  Here I am trying to save their eternal lives and they want me dead! They shouldn't be doing this."

If at any time in the history of mankind, should and shouldn't thinking was warranted it was that night. But Jesus never sank into the Pit of Illusion with this kind of thinking. Instead He stayed with the reality or verity of what was happening, and dealt with the Truth. And what is happening? Peter in an impetuous attempt to defend the Savior has cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest. Not burdened by what should be or what should not be, not worried about Himself or what is about to happen, the Savior sees the need of another and reaches out and compassionately heals the man.

The reason we fall into the Pit of Illusion is because we let what I call the Should Sharks take over our lives. The Savior never did that. He always Lived in Truth. He dealt with verity--the Truth. Likewise we eliminate a great deal of pain--all the Unnecessary Pain--from our lives when we stop letting the Should Sharks prey on us and instead deal with the simple Truth.

Albert Einstein once said, 
"A man should look for what is, 
and not for what he thinks should be" 
That is great advice.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sabbath Scripture

But I say unto you,
That every idle word that men shall speak, 
they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 
For by thy words thou shalt be justified,
and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. 
Matthew 12:36-37

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Pit of Illusion



As we've talked about the last few days, Living in Truth means living with what is, what was or what will be, or in other words accepting the verities of life. The opposite is living in Illusion which is living with what is not, or in other words expecting life to be different than what it is. When we live in Illusion it always feels like we’ve falled into a Pit and thus I call it the Pit of Illusion. That deep, dark Pit has some symptoms that we should all be aware of because recognizing them helps us know we are inflicting Unnecessary Pain upon ourselves. Remember, it is always possible to get out of the Pit and out of the pain. Falling into the Pit is a choice and therefore climbing out is also a choice. Therefore, the symptoms of the Pit are like a fever, they warn us that something needs to be done to cure the symptoms and change the course we are on.
Here are the symptoms:
(     1) When in the Pit of Illusion there is no light. I’m not talking about visible light, but we feel darkness and all the negative, vexing feelings that go along with heavy, depressing darkness.
(     2) When we are in the Pit we feel alone and separate from everyone around us. We feel friendless and unloved.
(     3) When we are in the Pit negative emotions overwhelm us so that we feel helpless. It seems that nothing we do will help.
(     4) When we are in the Pit we feel like God has abandoned us. The truth is that God always dwells and is found in Truth, therefore we are the ones who have removed ourselves from God. He is the God of Truth and so when we are in the Pit it makes it very difficult to hear and feel the promptings of His Spirit.
When we feel any or all of these symptoms it is time to examine what we are thinking and ask ourselves, "Is this true?" If the answer to that question is yes then we have two choices, "Fix it, or Live with it." If the answer is no, then all we have to do to eliminate the Unnecessary Pain is drop the thought. Remember, there is always a way out of the Pit of Illusion!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Before we can discuss how to avoid Unnecessary Pain we need to discuss Truth.

When we read the word Truth in scripture most of us think it is referring to the principles and doctrines taught in the scriptures. But the definition of Truth we find in the scriptures is,
“Truth is knowledge of things as they are, 
and as they were, 
and as they are to come” 
(D&C 93:24). 
This is similar to the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary which defines Truth as:
(1) The state of being the case. 
(2) The body of real things, events, and facts.
 (3) A transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality. 
Synonyms are: fact, verity, actuality, reality. 

Certainly the principles of the gospel fit this definition; they are what is, was and will be. They are the “body of real things, events, and facts.” But “the state of being the case” in this mortal world also means that war, accidents, death, disease, disappointment, distress, fear, natural disasters and so many other negative things are the truth. They are reality.

Living in Truth, then, means living the principles of the gospel and accepting the fact that in this telestial world there are going to be thorns, thistles, and weeds. Death, disease, accidents, and wars, are going to occur. People are going to say and do things you don’t like. Things are going to happen to you that hurt. That is what is. That is the Truth.

Whenever we are faced with Truth, we have two choices. We can fix it or live with it. If there is something we can do to fix it, we should. We can pull up the weeds or cut off the thorns or we can live with them. If we start to feel victimized because there are weeds in our lives, if we start to think that those weeds shouldn’t be there, we are fighting against Truth and when you fight against Truth you always lose. Thus whenever you find yourself saying things like, “She shouldn’t have said that to me,” or “He should be more considerate of my feelings,” you have left the realm of Truth. When we think about what has happened—the Truth—in terms of should or shouldn’t have we are no longer dealing in Truth--we are dealing with illusion. Remember the truth is what happened—the verity or reality. That reality is what we have to deal with, not what should have happened, and when we stick to the Truth amazing changes happen in our lives.

That's what Living in Truth is all about.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Unnecessary Pain

I had a neighbor once who left the Church because her father, who was in his 70's, died. She said to me one day, "How can I believe in a God who would take a father away from a daughter who needs him?" But more than just leaving her faith, this woman suffered measurably because of the death of her father. She was distraught. She suffered depression. She became bitter which estranged her from friends and others close to her. It was a terrible thing to watch happen especially when I could see how simple it would be for her to be out of the pain she was causing herself. She was suffering Unnecessary Pain.

Unnecessary Pain is self-inflicted and comes from four sources:
1.Misuse of agency.
        Our own hearts will tell us what we should do concerning right and wrong, and if we go against what our heart tells us our conscience is pricked and we will suffer guilt and usually much greater pain. As much as some people try, none of us can go against our own conscience is telling us to do and feel good.
2. Fighting against the truth of a telestial world.
        Whenever we fight against the reality or verity of a telestial world we experience Unnecessary Pain. This is what my neighbor experienced. Death is a part of a telestial world. Everyone will eventually experience it. Whether it comes early or late there is nothing we can do about it and so when we get angry or depressed or vexed in any way about it we only cause ourselves pain.  Anytime we find ourselves thinking things like: “This shouldn’t be happening to me. I shouldn't have fallen and broken my arm. He shouldn’t have done that to me. She should have said that to me. Why is God doing this or allowing this?” We are creating Unnecessary Pain.
3. Trying to avoid Necessary Pain.
         Whenever we try to avoid the Necessary Pain we will experience Unnecessary Pain. Learning to walk (or learning anything!) required a certain amount of Necessary Pain. But if we refuse to learn and continue to crawl around on all fours we are only going to create pain, but it is Unnecessary Pain because it could be avoided by simply passing through the Necessary Pain of learning. Spiritual growth, physical growth, intellectual growth all require a certain  amount of pain, but if we try to avoid it we cause ourselves more pain and this pain is unnecessary. There is a great irony here. We are in pain either way, but the Unnecessary Pain accomplishes nothing.
4. Denying Christ.
         How do we do that? By feeling like we have to do it all ourselves. By feeling like we can never be forgiven no matter how sincerely we have repented. By comparing ourselves to others and trying to be like them instead of discovering what God wants us to do and be. By thinking we’ll never be good enough. In short, by not trusting that Jesus Christ will do what He has said He will do for us. He has promised to recompense us for every and any injustice we have ever experienced and to pay the price for all our sins and mistakes. What more could we ask for?



All we have to do to get rid of Unnecessary Pain 
is to let go of it. 
It is that easy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Necessary Pain

I now have Mr. J's cold. Funny that while I"m blogging about Necessary Pain, I get to experience it.
I'm feeling the effects of a telestial world. I'll get back to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Necessary Pain

I made it through the day yesterday without cutting open any more fingers, but Mr. J is suffering from a cold. In the 45 years we have been married this is only about the fifth cold he has ever had so he isn't used to this sickness thing. But I'm proud of him, he is handling it like a man. I hope you suffered no pain yesterday, but if you did I hope you also endured it well because there are blessings that come from enduring Necessary Pain well.

Necessary Pain is caused by:
(1) Natural events that occur in a telestial world.
          In a telestial world there is disease, accidents, and all kinds of natural disasters and  conditions that cause pain. If you fall and break your leg there will be pain, and once it has happened there is nothing you can do about it  except endure the pain well.
(2) Spiritual growth always entails necessary pain.
          The process of spiritual growth is called in the scriptures being "born again." Birth entails pain.  In addition, as we grow spiritually, the Spirit often pushes us right out of our comfort zone and into situations that are uncomfortable and stressful. But all of this pain helps us to grow closer to our Father in Heaven.
(3) Often when others misuse their agency it causes us pain.
          We sorrow over loved ones who have strayed. Some people are hurt when a drunk driver hits them or some are hurt by attackers. In time of war, innocent people always suffer, but once the pain is inflicted there is nothing we can do but pass through it.
(4) Repentance requires pain.
          There is a certain amount of sorrow for our sins and heartfelt anguish that the scriptures describe as having a "broken heart and contrite spirit" that must be endured if we are going to repent.

Hundreds of books have been written on why God let's us suffer pain, but they almost all boil down to two thoughts; pain can bring us closer to God, and it makes us grow stronger. But the most important thing to understand is that Jesus Christ has promised to help us through any and all Necessary Pain that we encounter in life. We never go through Necessary Pain alone unless we turn our back on God, and usually it is in those times of pain that we feel God's presence most powerfully in our lives.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pain!

Yesterday, while cleaning up after dinner, I grabbed the blade to my food processor to wash it and sliced my index finger open. It bled profusely and caused me pain. As a matter of fact with every key I type it throbs again.

I'm not alone in this. Pain is something every one of you can relate to because we've all experienced pain, sometimes small pains like a sliced finger and other times large pains like giving birth to a child or passing kidney stones. While we would all like to live pain free and in constant pleasure, because we live in a telestial world that is not going to happen. We are going to experience pain and there isn't much we can do about it. As Lehi explained to his son Jacob, "It must needs be that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11), and part of that opposition is pain.

But what most of us don't realize is that there are two kinds of pain, Necessary Pain because once we have cut our finger or broken our bone there is no alternative than to bear the pain until we heal, and  Unnecessary Pain which is completely avoidable. For the next few days we'll discuss Necessary Pain and give you more insights about Unnecessary Pain and how to avoid it. 

For now, as you go about your day and experience physical, emotional, or psychological pain--any kind of pain--stop and ask yourself if what you are experiencing is Necessary Pain or Unnecessary Pain. Tomorrow we'll see if you were able to identify the difference.

In the mean time, I really hope you have a pain free day!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sabbath Scripture - No Tears

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne 
shall feed them [the righteous],
 and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: 
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:17

Saturday, January 5, 2013

58 Years of Pain Gone!

Two years ago after I presented the last class of the Living in Truth seminar at the Brigham Young University Campus Education Week, several people came up to talk to me and as I spoke to them I could see a man who had been in the audience all week standing at his seat without making any indication that he was leaving. I finished talking to all the people, gathered up my notes and computer and started out of the classroom, but he was still there. I smiled as I passed him, but he didn't say a word. Instead he handed me a folded piece of paper.

I thanked him but still he didn't seem to want to talk so I moved on. Once out to my car, I opened the note. Across the top in big letters it said, "Thank you!" Below that is a little smaller script it said, "Fifty-eight years of pain gone!" There was no signature or any other words on the paper, but it brought tears to my eyes--tears of joy.

Awhile later I received an email from his wife telling me about the change the principles of Living in Truth had made in her husband and even later he wrote to tell me his story. It was a beautiful story of letting go of the past and moving on. I treasure that first note and his story. As a matter of fact it hangs on the wall over my desk at work where I can see it often. That isn't the only letter or life Living in Truth has changed for the better, but I often don't get to hear the whole story like I did that time. I just get notes thanking me or brief messages explaining the peace and happiness that has been found, but to hear the whole story made this experience stick out in my memory.

I know what a difference Living in Truth has made in my life and it was such a joy to find that someone else had been helped by the principles.

I've written off and on on Good News! about the principles of Living in Truth, but as 2013 begins I want to take a more systematic approach by starting at the beginning and explaining what it means to Live in Truth and give examples and stories of those whose lives have changed for the better by simply learning to take what comes and love it!

I hope you'll help me spread the Good News! by inviting others to drop in and learn what it means to Live in Truth!

This is the year to find peace and joy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Oh, The Mistakes I've Made!

I have made and continue to make a lot of mistakes in my life. The older I grow the more it seems that the things I have done wrong in my life come back to haunt me. The other day while working in the kitchen the thought suddenly came into my head of a time when I was in high school when I snubbed a girl. At this point I can't even remember why, but it probably had something to do with fearing my own reputation. As the experience came back to me, it hurt. I wished with all my heart I hadn't avoided the girl who needed a friend; and now--fifty years later--there isn't a thing I can do about it. But there is Someone who can make it up to the girl and heal me.

Living in Truth has taught me that this kind of sorrow is not a negative experience, even if it is painful. Instead it is a healing process and an important one to pass through if we are going to grow closer to our Father in Heaven.

Coming to the point where we realize that we NEED a Savior to make amends for all our mistakes is essential. The important thing is that we pass through the sorrow without becoming depressed and dismayed. The adversary will try to divert us into a path of self-pity with thoughts such as, "I am so terrible! I am never going to make it. I've done so many horrible things. I am awful." You can recognize this kind of misguided thinking because of the preponderance of "I's" in the statements. It is unnecessary pain and is actually selfish thinking.

But sorrow that is part of Living in Truth and spiritual progression is all about the others we have hurt. We sorrow for them, not for ourselves, and wish we had never hurt them. This kind of sorrow is necessary pain that leads us to Christ. It happens when we remember that one of the most beautiful aspects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that we have the privilege of learning from our mistakes without being condemned by them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"I Choose!"

As 2013 begins and many of us recommit to do better and be better a Lehi's words to his son Jacob come to mind: "And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:2, emphasis added).

What this says to me is that because we have a Messiah, someone who has saved us from the consequences of evil if we will just let Him, we have the ability to act or to choose what we will do, say, and feel in any given situation. Situations and circumstances do not have the power to act upon us. We have the power to act upon them. Remembering that simple fact is empowering.

So when tempted to be less than you can be, shout out, "I choose good!" and then envision yourself doing whatever good you are contemplating and watch what happens. You have the power to Live in Truth every moment of every day!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

There Is Help

I don't know if it's the mother in me or the subject I teach or if all teachers feel this way, but I get so attached to my students and when the semester ends I hate to see them go. It honestly hurts. It is especially bad because I know I will never see most of them again and won't even know what happens to them. Will they apply the things we talked about all semester and have successful, happy lives or will they reject the message of the gospel and suffer?

I love these students, and being older I've watched people grow and know what happens when they reject the message of the gospel or become prideful and think they have a better, easier way. It never works. I want so much for all of my students to be happy. But even as the semester ends I watch a few of them make wrong choices and it breaks my heart.

There are always a few who are more concerned with their grade point average than they are their eternal salvation. These students will lie, cheat, and harass me in attempts to get more points than they deserve. I'm thankful these students are a very, small minority, but it still hurts me to watch them throw out everything we have talked about during the semester in an attempt to change a grade.

But their subtle tactics and methods also make me look at my life more carefully to see if I am being honest and upright. The adversary works in very sneaky ways. I can tell by talking to some of these students that they have convinced themselves of their own lies. They blame me for their grades and refuse to be accountable for their own lack of performance. Are there any areas of my life that I do that? It is a crucial question for all of us to ask because it is impossible to repent and take advantage of the Atonement if we deny there is a problem.

But there is one more important thing I've learned from this experience. Perhaps this hurt I feel for my students who try to cheat their way to good grades is a taste of what the Savior feels when we refuse to take responsibility for our own actions and feelings and blame others for our mistakes. I can almost hear Him saying, "All you have to do is repent and I'll take care of it. Don't try to cover it or justify it or deny what you have done. Just repent. I gave my live so that I could help you. Please let me."

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 2013 Word

Happy, happy 2013 to all of you! 
I hope this will be your best year ever.

I hope you have all chosen your 2013 word. There weren't many guesses as to what my word would be, but Wendy guessed it! My word for 2013 is Salted. That won't make sense to you if you haven't read what I've written about my research on salt. If you missed it go here and read about the significance of salt and what it has to do with being a covenant person.


Whatever I do this year I'll be thinking about doing it with salt. I'm excited! 
It's going to be a wonderful year.

Have a fun New Year's Day!