February 18, 2009

Be of Good Cheer

I was driving with my oldest son a few years ago and asked him:

"If I die before you have children, what will you tell them about me?"

He told me that was a strange question but he'd give it some thought. Later on he said to me, "I know what I'd tell them. I'd tell them you were funny."

YES!!!!!!!!!! That's perfect.

Last year I also asked my 11yr old son the same question. He said “I’d tell them that you THINK you’re funny.”

I LOVE a good laugh. I enjoy making others laugh and be happy.

Many years ago when I was a young adult, we were up in Redcliffe for a young adult conference. It was early morning...maybe 1am. There was a bunch of people already down at the beach so my sister and I along with our friends, walked down to the beach.

The group was there alright. They were sitting on the cement steps that lead down to the beach. I thought it would be so funny if I was to leap over the stairs, right onto the beach in front of everyone and go "BOO"....or something like that. It was going to be soooo funny. I took a little run off and as I hit the top step to jump to the sand, my feet didn't move. Instead of jumping to the sand I fell SMACK onto the cement steps. Hitting each one on the way down. I was on the beach with everyone around me. I decided that was the funniest thing EVER!!! Although I was in pain I saw the funny side of it and to this day I WISH it was on video so I could see it. I joked about the 'beached whale'. I could hardly breathe. It turned out I had broken a few ribs but it was still FUNNY.

The topic of this evening has been "Be of good cheer".

I'd like to think that I am 'of good cheer' altho my daughter would say that I find the negative and make fun of it. For example:

People tell me there's a light at the end of the tunnel. In my life it has turned out that the light was a TRAIN!!!!!

Life isn't passing me by.....it's trying to RUN ME OVER!!!!!!!!!!!

People have put their arm around me and said "This too shall pass"....I say "So do kidney stones and they're not much fun either!!!!!!!!!"

So I will accept the negative comment from my daughter. I 'embrace' it.

Three years ago I injured my back and ended up in the ER. They told me I had to stay on my back for a week. I couldn't go downstairs. I couldn't sit up. It was awful. The next week I had a little skin cancer removed from my nose one day, that night my husband and I rolled over in bed at the same time and I got head butted right in the stitches. Blood everywhere. He couldn't drive me because he had no licence, (which is a whole other story!!!!!!) so I drove myself up to the ER. Got home at 3am then got up to teach seminary. Another morning I was walking up to the gate at the chapel to unlock it for seminary and fell over scraping my knee really badly and injuring my foot. By the end of the lesson I could barely walk so it was back up to the ER I went. This was all in the space of TWO WEEK!!!!!!!!! I figured there were three options. 1. I was earning Frequent Flyer Miles. 2. One more visit and I’d get a set of steak knives. 3. Legally change my name to Job. Sure I tried to make light of the situation. I tried to crack jokes but I was sick of it.

There was another time that I came home from teaching seminary and on the way upstairs to my bedroom I said to my husband I QUIT!! I quit being a mother, I quit being a wife, I quit the papers (I help one of my brothers with his paper delivery every week for the past 8 years), I quit...I just quit".

Now nothing had happened in seminary that morning or anything that I can even pinpoint to make me really feel that way or lose it. I had just had it. Of course I couldn't quit. I still had to go down and make sure that the lunches were actually done and that they'd leave the house.

Have ya ever had one of those days?

Sister Hinckley had a delightful sense of humor. She said: "The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache" (Virginia H. Pearce, ed., Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999], 107)

There are many things in this life that cause us to feel stress.

Those of us who have children and are racing around doing lunches and chasing kids to get dressed in the morning and then have a child say "MUM!! What about my cooking??!" (For their home Ec. class) or "MUM! I need the deposit for camp today" or "MUM!! Where are the cookies you said you would cook for our class today?" Sometimes happening ALL in the ONE morning.

Of course husbands and children are not the only causes of stress. There are stresses with work, cars, family relationships, drivers that don't use their blinker, telemarketers calling when you are already happy with your phone company etc. There are also those things "in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see" that many of us deal with ALONE.

I think we have all had worries or things that get us down in our lives but the key is not what this is but how we deal with it..

A lot of the time we may not be able to get rid of what causes us to be down or stressful....ie; the husband or the kids. But maybe we can find ways to help us cope with it.

I'm not talking about overcoming depression. That's a whole 'nother ballgame. I will say that if you feel like you are dealing with depression...GET HELP!!!! Medication has been a God send in my life on more than one occasion.

So the scripture goes: D&C 61:36 And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;

In the Savior's last discourse to His disciples the first thing He said to them was, "Let not your heart be troubled." (John 14:1) And His closing words were, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Let me tell you a story of someone who is an example of being of good cheer.

In 1993 Pres Hunter was giving a talk at BYU. His talk made the news that night. Not because it was unusual for a church leader to speak at BYU but because while he was giving his talk a guy came up to him at the pulpit and grabbed him. The guy was holding a briefcase and claimed there was a bomb in it. He tried to get Pres Hunter to read a letter he had typed but Pres Hunter refused. The 15 - 17 000 people in the congregation began to sing "We thank thee oh God for a prophet". Finally the man was overpowered and Pres Hunter again began his speech about 'challenges'.

He said: " Life has a fair number of challenges in it........ Indeed, you may be feeling that you have more than your share of problems.

"....... we must not walk on our lower lip every time a few difficult moments happen to confront us.

".......I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do--especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives."

HOW can we be of good cheer then? How can we do it when the world around us seems to be caving in?

I'm not talking about being a Pollyanna and acting like everything is wonderful or drawing a big happy face on as if that's going to take care of everything. There is no sin in being sad or crying when things go wrong. I think the problem comes when we dwell on those things and lose sight of the 'plan of happiness'.

Here's a few ideas. Some of them I have tried. Some of them you will roll your eyes at.....just like I did. But who knows...they just might work. What works for one may not work for another.

• Have realistic expectations for yourself—Heavenly Father doesn't expect you to be the perfect. Just that you are doing 'all you can do'.
• Learn to say "NO"
• Put on makeup.
• Paint your nails.
• Shave.
• Stop and look at a sunset
• Own an outfit that just makes you feel like you look good (a special friend of mine has a 'happy skirt'. It's a cheerful colour and she just feels happy when she wears it)
• Have a hobby (sewing, scrapbooking, blogging).
• Read the Ensign and scriptures.
• Attend the temple.
• Dance like no one is watching.
• Join a gym (I did that once but it didn't work. They didn't explain to me that I needed to actually GO and do stuff!!)
• Girls' overnight trip. (I did this with a group of friends last year. It was good for the soul. I hope to do it again soon.).
• Get online. Join Facebook. Add me as a friend!
• Laugh.
• A tub of chocolate double fudge brownie ice cream and two spoons
• Choose your battles.
* Talk it out with someone who can give you perspective, not just sympathy
* Count your blessings - really name them one by one
* Serve somone else - even in a very small way
* pray "When sore trials came upon you, did you think to pray?"

In spite everything which may be discouraging or frustrating, in spite of anything which causes you to feel lonely or overwhelmed .. . . there is hope smiling brightly before us, and angels WILL attend... help and comfort give us to our journeys end.

Many of you have read or heard about Anne Frank who hid from the Nazis with her family in a tiny space. They were in that cramped situation for over 2 years! They had to remain completely silent from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm every day! In her journal she described their hiding place as "a little piece of blue heaven, surrounded by heavy black rain clouds."

I suppose we can't imagine what her circumstances were like, just as I can't imagine your circumstances nor you mine. But I do know that attitude is a choice. We can create and enjoy "a little piece of blue heaven" even at times when we are "surrounded by heavy black rain clouds." So this year let's keep the 'plan of happiness' in focus which leads us to 'good cheer'.