We live in a beautiful place here in Southeast Alaska. From the top of a mountain on a sunny day, we can see for miles around, other mountain peaks, streams and glaciers. From sea level we look up and see snowcapped mountains and tall trees and eagles soaring. Two perspectives: one from above and one from below. Both are beautiful scenery. On rainy days we can be at the top of the mountain and look down and see clouds and fog. From sea level we can look up and see rain drops fall and clouds cover the mountain tops. Same scenery, we just can’t see it. How often do we let the clouds obscure our view and perspective?
A friend told a story once of a family car trip across a desert state. Unfortunately they ran out of gas miles from an open gas station. Eventually the family flagged down some help, got some gas and continued on their trip. What was interesting was that several weeks after the family returned home the father asked the family members about the desert experience. One child said it was awful, hot and sticky, stuck for several hours along the road side.
Another child enthused about the rocks and toads and creatures he explored while waiting for help and gas to arrive. A teenager grumped about how anyone could actually run out of gas and in the desert no less and it was the worst vacation ever. The father remembered being worried about his family and then the beautiful sunset they experienced after they had gotten gas and were continuing on their trip. The mother said it was a wonderful time. She had been able to talk with her children during the trip and valued the time she got to spend together with each member of the family while waiting for help. The family members all experienced the same trip, on the same road, in the same car, for the same several hours waiting for gas, yet each had a different perspective and memory of the trip.
As we experience trials and challenges in our daily lives, what is our perspective? Do we see the sticky heat, poor choices, or the amazing animals and scenery and love of God in our lives? The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11 says “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Dieter Uchtdorf an apostle in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints said the following in a talk entitled Grateful in Any Circumstance: “Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious. We can be grateful!” As Disciples of Christ, we are commanded to “thank the Lord [our] God in all things,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) to “sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,” (Psalm 147:7) and to “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God.” (Book of Mormon Alma 37:7)
As the holidays approach and our time schedules often get frantic and we attend events and visit with family, let us evaluate our perspective. Is it a time of commercialism, cold weather, time lines and stress? Or is it an opportunity to serve and to share, a chance to spend time with loved ones, give thoughtful gifts and be grateful for our blessings from God. As mentioned in a previous article, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a Christmas initiative this year with the hashtag #share goodness. What is our goodness perspective and how can we share that goodness? May we each have God’s goodness and perspective in our lives and may we share goodness with each other.
• Donna Leigh is member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.