“It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances…whatever they may be.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf… My old Young Women president, Cristie Carter, texted me this quote on a Sunday morning. Cristie is always so thoughtful and is constantly thinking of how she can help others. I didn’t think much of the quote, in fact I didn’t even read the whole thing until after sacrament meeting.
The speaker in sacrament meeting posed the question: “how are we supposed to be grateful when life sucks?” In my head I started thinking “I have no idea dude.” The young man went on to discuss why we are here on Earth. We aren’t here on Earth to have the best clothes, the biggest house, or the most followers. We are here on Earth to PREPARE. Sorry to quote Uchtdorf again (He’s the MAN) but during this past Women’s Conference he said “God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine.” We as human beings cannot comprehend what our Heavenly Father has in store for his children. God knows All things. So yes, that means he knows things we don’t.
In several of my recent church meetings the parable of the ten virgins has been brought up mostly because of Linda K. Burton’s analysis of it during women’s conference. Here is a link to her talk in case you missed it.
The parable comes from Matthew 25
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
“And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. …
“[They that were] wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
“Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
“But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
“But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not.”
When I heard this parable as a kid I can remember thinking to myself “why didn’t the others share their oil?” and “why did they have to have a lamp?” This parable really confused me so, like many things I don’t understand, I shrugged it off. However, I was happy to learn I wasn’t the only one who was perplexed by this story. Sister Burton helped me understand it so much better. She likens the story to temple preparation. She said ‘consider the words of a latter-day prophet who taught that “the oil of spiritual preparedness cannot be shared.” President Spencer W. Kimball.’ It is up to YOU as an individual to prepare yourself drop by drop.
So that begs the question… “How can we better prepare ourselves drop by drop?” I leave that question open ended, because we can prepare for many things whether it be for the temple, marriage, baptism, eternal life, a mission, etc. Anyway, back to the point. How can we better prepare ourselves? You guessed it the basic primary answers we have been saying for years.
- Church Attendance – Fasting – Tithing – Personal & Family Prayer – Scripture Study – Service – Family Home Evening – Following the Commandments – ETC.
Nobody can do this for you. Nor can you do it for anyone else. Often times I think I wonder if I can just ride on Chris’ coattails to the celestial kingdom. No one is gonna make sure you are actually paying attention to the sacrament. Nobody is going to check if you made it all the way to dinner to break your fast. It is up to you to determine your own salvation.
My goal is to be like Moroni in my preparation. Alma 49:8 ” they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known…“
But, here is the kicker… Remember what feels like forever ago when I mentioned Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s quote.. Let’s revisit it.
“It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances…whatever they may be.”
How easy is it to be grateful and do the right thing when life seems to be going our way? EASY AS PIE. Okay, maybe not that easy, but it comes more natural that’s for sure. So what happens when your life gets thrown a curve ball? Do we head in the other direction and let our light grow dim? NO! FILL THOSE LANTERNS TILL THEY ARE OVERFLOWING!
First, we MUST take a step back and have faith in the fact that Heavenly Father is a loving and all knowing God, he has a plan.
Second, we MUST fall back on and become more diligent in what we have been doing to prepare for this curve ball. Do all those basic primary things. Turn towards your scriptures not away! Fall on your knees not your pillow!
Third, be grateful for a loving family! Spend time with them, serve them, and let them serve you.
Fourth, attend the Temple, in any capacity that you are able. Whether it be baptisms, an Endowment session, or just being outside and near a Temple. The temple is where I have the best spiritual insights and where I can go to feel calm.
Fifth, (last the best of all the game) use the atonement and your Savior as much as you can. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins but He also has felt everything you PERSONALLY have ever felt. Christ is there for you in everything…The happy easy times and the curve ball, life sucks times.
God has given us this recipe for happiness in both the hard times and the good times. The instructions are there for us and we must make the choice. Life is hard but it can be oh so joyful if we take the time to spiritually prepare ourselves for life’s surprises. Fill up your Lamp with oil drop by drop and let it BURN!