Friday Minute: Life's grinding wheel need not wear us down

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

A layer of fog hovers over the Jordanelle Reservoir State Park with Mount Timpanogos in the background Tuesday morning, Nov. 22, 2011, in Wasatch County, Utah. We can fog our ability to see beyond present circumstance by engaging in diversions designed to imitate happiness.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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Most people want health, happiness, love and friendship. Sometimes life’s grinding wheel wears us down as poverty, natural and man-made calamity and sin, all take their toll.

Knowing that we are beloved sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father can ease the friction of life’s grinding wheel. When we embrace God we allow room for an eternal perspective. That pivot changes attitudes and eases burdens.

Shifting our perspective

Life-changing pivots often occur when we least expect them. One example from holy writ is Saul on the Road to Damascus. Saul saw a heavenly light and heard the Savior’s voice: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:4). That question was life-altering because Saul, who became the magnificent apostle Paul, was willing to change. He answered, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" (9:6).

Submission to God is not always easy, but when we submit, our perspective broadens.

Here is an example of how my limited perspective dulled my judgment: Some years ago I saw a man and a woman in a pick-up truck. Since I was driving a few cars behind them, my perspective was limited to their rear window. Sullied by the husband’s cigarette smoke, I witnessed his wife’s flowing red hair wilting in the fog billowing into their passenger compartment.

When my car caught up to the truck at the next stop light, I scowled at the man for ruining his wife’s beautiful red hair. Then his wife turned her head to look at me. In the passenger seat was an Irish setter!

Searching for happiness in the wrong places

Often we fog our ability to see beyond present circumstance by engaging in diversions designed to imitate happiness. When these faux-joys fade, we are left with bloodshot vision and very real spiritual hangovers. In other words, all behavior comes with a price.

If we choose to indulge the senses without the corresponding restraint of balance, we suffer the consequences of limited perspective and short-sighted vision. Ask any parent who indulges a child’s every demand: selfishness and sadness are sure to follow.

God desires our happiness

Like any loving parent, God desires our happiness, not by indulging our whims, but by sensing our real needs and responding to them on conditions of faith and repentance.

Looking toward heaven and away from Sodom’s raucous self-pleasing, we lift our eyes out of life’s dust to see our true potential, but the price is obedience to God. Jesus said, "Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Even when we draw toward God, sadness and sorrow can cloud our ability to see any character-enriching lessons. Yet, whatever our present circumstance, God allows us to experience both the joy and sorrow of mortality, not to cheapen its value, but to enrich our character in preparation for eternal life.

Gratitude eases the grinding wheel

Gratitude changes perspective and attitude. In modern revelation the Lord declared, "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious" (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19). Note that thankfulness is not selective as in some things or only good things, but "all things." That certainly includes our trials and troubles.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma declared that God will support us in "trials and troubles of every kind" (Alma 36:2) and "will raise (us) up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory" (Alma 36:3).

Our sacred charge

As Christians, our sacred charge is to ease the burdens of life’s grinding wheel for others. When we "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees" (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5), we become the Lord’s light and voice on someone else’s road to Damascus.

Though life’s grinding wheel is ever present, its friction need not limit our perspective nor wear down our eternal souls.

William Monahan graduated from BYU law school. An Air Force veteran and former Phoenix stake president, he teaches law and serves as a high councilor for Queen Creek Arizona Chandler Heights Stake. He begins service July 2012 as a mission president.

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