Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Inspirations February 7, 2010

This has been, over the past year or so, a familiar refrain of mine: I've been feeling a bit off track. Fortunately for me, with age comes a smidge of retrospection, and I am better able to understand where it is I've gone off track.

During the last several months I've been dipping my hand into a few different creative outlets. I've been crocheting, beading jewelry, making bookmarks and scrunchies, etc. It's all in the hopes of being able to make a bit of money to help out around the house. The funny thing is, whenever I try to focus my energies on something to try and make some extra money, I end up getting a bit lost along the way.

Elder L. Tom Perry talked of what it can mean to find ourselves even one small degree off our charted course. "While traveling, I have had the opportunity of visiting with many airline pilots, and I am always amazed, as I look into the cockpit, at how many switches, lights, displays, and controls are necessary to fly the plane. I entered into a discussion with one pilot regarding what could happen if he deviated from his flight plan. I proposed deviating just one degree from the charted course. His reply astonished me.

"He said that for every one-degree variance from the plan, you would miss your charted destination by one mile for every 60 miles you were flying. This means that in a flight from Salt Lake [City] to Denver, you would land in downtown Denver rather than at the airport. On a flight from Salt Lake to Chicago, you would miss the airport and land in Lake Michigan. Going from Salt Lake to New York, you would miss Kennedy Airport and land in the Hudson River. Going to London, you wouldn't even make England - you would land somewhere in France.

"A deviation from a flight plan of several degrees would take you totally off course. The pilot explained to me that, obviously, the faster the error is discovered, the easier it is to return to the flight plan. If the correction is delayed for a long time, it is very difficult to find the way back because of flight traffic, poor weather conditions, decreased visibility, and other limiting factors. The charted course would be so far away that it might be almost impossible to reach the intended destination. My visit with the pilot gave me no comfort, but it did cause me to think of how a flight plan parallels the direction we chart for our life's experience" (L. Tom Perry, "Learning to Serve," Ensign, Aug 1996).

Totally off course. Can you imagine what it might feel like, to be totally off course? Perhaps for many of you it's not a matter of imagining at all. Instead it could be a state of being, a feeling you are experiencing right at this moment. Are you, like me, feeling off course?

Too often these days I hear friends and family commenting on how sad they are, how depressed they feel, and how things are not turning out the way they'd expected. Too often their harsh experiences leave them doubting whether or not God is truly by their side, if He honestly loves them, and how He can allow such things to happen.

We are living in a time of desperation for many. Several of us have never known such insecurity: will I still have a job tomorrow? What will happen to my children? What if I can't make the next rent payment? Is there anyone out there who could take me in? While fighting the anxieties of life we can't help feeling lost, frightened, and uncertain. Does God really exist in a world where anything bad can happen?

The answer is simple: yes. Problems arise when we allow these trials to put us even a little off course. We may not even realize what's happening until we find ourselves trying to land in Kennedy Airport and wind up in France.

Ponder upon your own struggles. What are your "poor weather conditions?" What factors are decreasing your visibility? What is keeping you off course?

About a year and a half ago I received a very direct answer to a special prayer I'd offered. During that time I felt very off course. I couldn't seem to find a focus, something to throw myself into - and I am one who needs something to consume my attention. The answers were a little unexpected, but filled me with excitement. The first was to start up this blog in an effort to strengthen my writing, to help my voice be heard. It was meant to be a place where I could share not only the silly day-to-day happenings in the life of a Mormon mother, but to be a starting off point for me to share the inspirations my Heavenly Father and Brother place in my mind and heart. I truly believe it has been a step towards recognizing Their influence in my life.

The second answer was to focus on my children. They needed me as never before. I needed to spend less effort trying to find an hour or to for myself, and more in giving love, guidance, and attention to the four precious spirits entrusted by Heavenly Father into my care.

Seeing as how those answers came to me a year and a half ago it might not be too surprising I'd forgotten my directive, my charted course. Around that same time I felt inspired to take a class on starting a Scripture Journal, in which I'd write down any sort of questions or insights that came to me as I studied scripture or sat in a class. One of my first entries contained the answer to this important prayer of mine.

I honestly believe God knew I'd come to this point. He certainly knows me well enough. I'd gotten a few degrees off course. My writing has suffered terribly the last several months, and less of my time has been spent with my darling children. I too have been concerned, like so many, about how we'll make it from paycheck to paycheck. We've never had a lot, and most of our "fancy stuff" has been gifted to us by loving family members. So when the chance to try and make some extra money right before Christmas came, I rushed right in...and my family suffered.

So I'm righting my course. Of course I still want to play with beading and crocheting and making jewelry, but it can no longer be my main focus. Perhaps a better thing would be to say I won't be doing it with the focus of monetary gain. I am learning a lesson of where my talents need to be given, and it's not so we can live a bit more comfortably. Perhaps one day it will be so, but now is simply not the time.

With this decision has come peace I haven't known for a while. I can't begin to express to you how much the weight has lifted from my shoulders as I think about doing things to benefit my children. It's as though the fog has lifted, I can see my destination once more, and I am back on course.

Turning away from those things that bring us off course may not be so easy. I listened to the testimony of a young man today who told us of the offers he was getting from football scouts, the money being promised, the fame being enticingly waved in front of his face. When he went to his bishop to tell him all about it, he did not expect the rection he received. His bishop asked, "What would you think about serving the Lord?" He promised to think about it. As he pondered on the bishop's question, he began to realize how the thought of fame and wealth had taken him off course from the true happiness the gospel and serving the Lord could provide.

I want to close this with the words of another man who bore his testimony today. In it he said, "We all have hardships. I know I do. Life isn't easy, in fact several things are going really badly right now. But I'm happy. I'm so the gospel." If you, like me, have been feeling a bit lost, it's time to take stock of where your focus is. Where does the Lord want you to chart your course? I can promise you, if the desire to get back on His course prompts you to make the proper changes, you will find that even on the roughest days, you too can be happy.


Team Jensen said...

Oh my goodness, Laurie! Was that not the best Testimony meetings in a LONG time!? I was so touched by what everyone shared as well as what you're sharing here. Thank you.

Missy AKA Little Messy Missy said...

What a wonderful place we live in and wonderful people we surround ourselves in to take this epic journey. Without detours and road blocks we would be stagnant.

Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Keep posting, you have ears listening.