Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Best is Yet to Be (aka Nice Way to Start Off the New Year aka I Hope This is Not the Way This Year is Going to Go)

In today's Sacrament Meeting bulletin, I felt impressed to put a snippet from a talk given in 2009 by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  It was so appropriate for the new year.  I thought it would be perfect for folks who tend to look back at the prior year and not look forward - kind of like Lot's wife.  At the time that I put the article in the bulletin, little did I know that I would be one of those people that needed it today.

Everything just kind of hit me today - everything bad that's happened in the last couple of weeks.  Both Melon Man and I commented on how it seemed that something was just coming down on us.  We've both not really felt all that bad until today, but after we started taking stock of all that's occurred, the negative feelings just started to grow and soon I was sad.  And so my day has been. 

It seems that all of a sudden, we've had to put out a ton of money lately.  First, we had to have a bunch of work done on Melon Man's vehicle - $1,050 there.  Then, the actuator on my truck went out.  Luckily, we have an extended warranty on the truck or that would have been over $1,400.  Luckily, we only had to fork out $226.  We're going to need two new tires on the back of the truck soon to the tune of $500.  Of course, there was the annual truck registration - another $234 and a bloodwork test for Dog for $116, $1,300+ for dental work, and such.  Then, last night as we were driving home from Linda and Dave's, I noticed that the tire pressure light was on.  How could that be?  I'd just picked up the truck from the dealer on Thursday and they'd filled all the tires up as needed...with nitrogen too.  Score!  But, as I was driving, I started to notice that the truck was pulling to the right.  We'd just had an alignment done about 2 months ago (another $200), so this shouldn't be happening.  We got closer and closer to home and the pulling got worse and worse.  Just as I pulled around the corner, I heard thump, thump, thump and knew what the sound was.  Yep, flat tire.  I pulled into the driveway and sure enough, that's what it was.  Flat as flat can be.  No time for Melon Man to change it before going to work.  So, it had to wait until this morning.  He came home from work and worked on taking off the tire but there were all kinds of issues with that too and the spare, plus the tire place isn't open today to get it fixed.  So, tonight, I took him to work so he can take me to work in the morning so he can then get the tire either repaired or replaced and the spare problem fixed and whatever else needs to happen, which who knows how much all of that is going to cost.  Oh...and I failed to mention that in the midst of all of this stuff that the garage door opener is now not working and needs to be the tune of $300-400.  Lucky us.  :(

Melon Man has been the uplifter again though.  He keeps reminding me that we ARE lucky.  We are lucky to be in the financial position that we are.  Granted, we don't have millions in the bank.  We don't even have hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands in the bank.  But, we have enough to cover these issues.  And that is NOT something I could have said six years ago.  Although it all feels overwhelming at the moment, it's not the end of the world.  So, I just have to look forward and be grateful for what we do have and know that because we are doing what we're supposed to - living righteously, paying our tithing and a generous fast offering, and helping others - we will be okay.  This is just a little rough patch and it, too, will pass.

This is the snippet I put in the bulletin....

The start of a new year is the traditional time to take stock of our lives and see where we are going, measured against the backdrop of where we have been. I don’t want to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but I do want to talk about the past and the future, with an eye toward any time of transition and change in our lives—and those moments come virtually every day.

As a scriptural theme for this discussion, I have chosen Luke 17:32, where the Savior cautions, “Remember Lot’s wife.” With less than immediate obedience and more than a little negotiation, Lot and his family ultimately did leave town but just in the nick of time. My theme comes in the next verse. Surely, with the Lord’s counsel—“look not behind thee”—ringing clearly in her ears, Lot’s wife “looked back” and was turned into a pillar of salt.

As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.

There is something in many of us that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either our mistakes or the mistakes of others. I can’t tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window “pain” of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is that hope? Yes! Is that charity? Yes! Above all, it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, “Hey! Do you remember this?” Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, “Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?” Splat. And soon enough everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt.

Such dwelling on past lives, including past mistakes, is just not right! It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some ways it is worse than Lot’s wife because at least she destroyed only herself. In cases of marriage and family, wards and branches, apartments and neighborhoods, we can end up destroying so many others.

Perhaps at this beginning of a new year there is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does: “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year—and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. Such is the wonder of faith, repentance, and the miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some of you may wonder: Is there any future for me? What does a new year, a new job, or a new home hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future? Or would it be better to look back, to go back, to stay in the past? To all such of every generation, I call out, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Faith is for the future. Faith builds on the past but never longs to stay there. Faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).

Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep.

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