“Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence.”
How appropriate this talk is for the month of January – the time when most of us are reflective on the clean slate we have and the things we want to accomplish in the upcoming year. I know for myself that as I get to the end of the year and ponder over the things I wish I could have differently or changed outright all together I become more conscious and careful.
**Discussion of resolutions the sisters made for this year**
At the very beginning of his talk, Pres. Uchtdorf points out that:
Reader #1“We are all mortal. I hope this does not come as a surprise to anyone. None of us will be on earth very long. We have a number of precious years which, in the eternal perspective, barely amount to the blink of an eye. When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us. However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly.”
Discussion questions:How would we live differently if we knew our predetermined departure date?Are we living that way right now?Why not??
Regrets are born out of not achieving an expectation or final product output that we have predetermined due to our own ignorance, planning, or laziness. President Uchtdorf addresses this in his sharing the story of a nurse for the terminally ill asking people if they have regrets at the end of their life. Of the people she asked their responses could be summed up in 3 areas:
I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I LoveI Wish I Had Lived Up to My PotentialI Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier
“As I considered what they had said, it struck me how the foundational principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ can affect our life’s direction for good, if only we will apply them. There is nothing mysterious about the principles of the gospel. We have studied them in the scriptures, we have discussed them in Sunday school, and we have heard them from the pulpit many times. These divine principles and values are straightforward and clear; they are beautiful, profound, and powerful; and they can definitely help us to avoid future regrets.”
And he is right - We have all heard this before. Give the gift of time to your families and loved ones, get more in tune with yourself, and find joy in the journey. Simple messages based on the foundational principles of the gospel.
Discussion question: So why is it we aren’t following through and we are still experiencing regret?
In his talk, Pres. Uchtdorf mentions the following:“Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.”If we modify two letters in this sentence, the definition changes.
“Discipleship is the pursuit of Holiness and Happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.”That is, discipleship is the pursuit of Christ in the attainable path of his gospel, and Christ is indeed “the path to our best and happiest self.” There is a stark but usually overlooked distinction between pursuing “holiness and happiness,” and pursuing Christ, because the former is unattainable independent of Jesus (or even with his help), and the latter is attainable (faith, repentance, gospel ordinances, and enduring to the end).The key is the way we center our life on these three ideas.
First: I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love
Men in particular sang this universal lament: they “deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the [daily] treadmill of … work.”3 Many had lost out on choice memories that come from spending time with family and friends. They missed developing a deep connection with those who meant the most to them.Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life. Is it?
Reader #2I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished. I can’t see it. Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones.--
Reader #3My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.--
****Let us resolve to cherish those we love by spending meaningful time with them, doing things together, and cultivating treasured memories.****
Second: I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential
People expressed that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential.
Reader #4I am not speaking here of climbing the ladder of success in our various professions. That ladder, no matter how lofty it may appear on this earth, barely amounts to a single step in the great eternal journey awaiting us. Rather, I am speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be.Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence.--
Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient?
How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman.
Reader #5We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship. When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.Declaring our testimony of the gospel is good, but being a living example of the restored gospel is better. Wishing to be more faithful to our covenants is good; actually being faithful to sacred covenants…is much better. Announcing that we will dedicate more time for family prayer, scripture study, and wholesome family activities is good; but actually doing all these things steadily will bring heavenly blessings to our lives.--
How many of us sitting in this room have gone on pinterest for example and planned and pinned future events, houses, talks, parties. We live in such a disposable society, organized to the rafters – we forget that that happiness isn’t just in the imagining, but in the doing, being, participating – and it is through those experiences that we gain true and sure knowledge of joy. Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become.
Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.
***The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of Holiness and Happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.***
Third: I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier
This one is somewhat surprising. They wished they had let themselves be happier.
Reader #6So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial. The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness. We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.--
President Uchtdorf shares a story of he and his wife and their love of bicycling. He sometimes wants to race and she tells him “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey.” She is right. Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable. Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”
***Sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it. Sisters, with the bountiful blessings of our Heavenly Father, His generous plan of salvation, the supernal truths of the restored gospel, and the many beauties of this mortal journey, “have we not reason to rejoice?” Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.