Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thankful Thoughts...

What inspired me this week?

A couple of weeks ago my sister sent me this quote. It immediately became a favorite of mine. This week I tried to internalize it...

"Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe -- rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance."
Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, October 1980

What surprised me this week?

I was surprised this week when my mother called and told me she had been worried about me. She had noticed for the last month that I seemed "a little down" when I spoke to her. She asked, "Is everything alright?" 

I tend to cruise through life at warp speed, but occasionally something happens to slow me down. Her question prompted one of those times. The truth is I had been a little troubled and overwhelmed. Nothing specific was hovering over me, just the usual and demanding pressures of life combined with feelings of angst over the seemingly constant upheavals and unrest in the world. My feelings were causing me to be critical and anxious and a little depressed. Her question prompted me to ponder what I could do to put more joy and peace back into my life, and I was reminded of an experience I had ten years ago... 

On August 27, 2001 we saw our son Ian off at the airport. He had been called as a missionary for our church and would serve for the next two years in Quebec, Canada. A few days after arriving he wrote his first letter from his new home in Quebec City.

His companion and he had decided to proselyte on the streets in Old Quebec. As Mormon missionaries do, they were contacting people along the large boardwalk next to the river at the base of Castle Frontenac, now a large hotel. Both Ian and his companion were newly called missionaries, so they had little experience to draw on as they approached the busy people walking past them on the boardwalk.  In his letter he related the following experience...

"We were attempting to contact people, but since we were both timid about it we weren't being very effective. After a while a man (not a member of our church) came up to my companion and started talking to him. This man told my companion that he was a psychologist and that he had been watching us for a couple of minutes. He then reprimanded us for not being effective and "wasting time." To paraphrase the conversation, the psychologist said something to this effect. 'Don't waste time! You may have just arrived in Quebec, but why waste time? 99.9% of the people won't be mad at you for saying "hello." If someone rejects what you believe then that is his problem. You might feel bad for them, but pick yourself up and move on with enthusiasm to the next person. Go and do what you need to do and don't waste time in fear!' Ian went on to say, "That's what the man told us, and it was exactly what I needed to hear."

Good advice for a missionary, but the story doesn't end there. Our family received Ian's letter on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. His letter was a ray of sunshine on an otherwise bleak day. As I read his letter that day, his experience with the psychologist was especially interesting to me. The advice that the psychologist gave Ian and his companion was excellent for a missionary, but as I read it on September 11th the message made a powerful impression upon me. The psychologist said, “Go and do what you need to do and don’t waste time in fear.” That day was a day full of fear, so the advice was particularly timely. Later as I was talking to my mother about Ian’s experience, she mentioned that a week before she had been reading and a particular quote impressed her. She thought it was applicable for a new missionary, so she typed it at the top of the letter she sent him that week. The quote was:

Work in place of worry.
Faith in place of fear.

Back to the present... With political unrest, economic depression, and natural calamities happening throughout the world and with the difficult situations that occasionally occur in family life, there is much to make us feel unsettled and worried. However, since my mother's phone call I've been revisiting this experience we had ten years ago and, once again, attempting to take the advice I learned that day. I've tried to replace worry with constructive service and fear with faith in Jesus Christ. As a result many of my concerns have seemed to fade away and peace has settled in. Thank you for your surprise question, Mom, and for your love and concern. It led to me better place.

©2011- Please refer to my copyright policy on my sidebar. Thank you!