Lifting Yoursef Up on the Difficult Days
I am often asked by people how I manage to remain postive in the midst of our difficulties. I have a little secret for you (well, not so secret now!): I used to be a pessimist. I always saw the bad in the situation. It has been this time of trial that has helped me to change, to see all of the many small blessings and miracles each day.
I still have my difficult days; the days where I feel sad and troubled, and I cry. And then, I get up and get moving. Here is what I have learned to do when life seems unbearable:
"Succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees"
Doctrine and Covenants 81:5-6
Instead of spending your time being sad for what you don't have, spend your time helping someone in need. There's always someone who has a more difficult situation than you do. We all have different struggles, and even during your times of difficulty, you can bless another. "You are not yet as Job," having lost all of your family, your health, your welfare and your home. You don't have to have money to help others. Find a way to serve someone today, be it a phone call, an email, a hug, or a prayer. Take the time to listen to your children. Hold them close.
There's nothing like creating something new to take your mind off of what you don't have. Perhaps you feel that you cannot make anything, because you don't have the money to get the supplies. Think about what you can create, using what you already have. Perhaps it means making a loaf of French bread, using only water, flour, yeast and salt. Perhaps it is sewing something new from something you already have, using old clothing, sheets, or fabric that you have on hand. Perhaps it is making a new recipe using beans or rice that you already have in your pantry. Perhaps it's simply a new way to style your hair.
Think you can't create? Watch this short video about creating.
There is something very important about getting some fresh air and sunshine each day. Perhaps it is overcast, or snowing, on the day when you read this, and you think that you have to stay inside. Go on out for a minute. Breathe in the cold air and rejoice in how alive it makes you feel.
If you have a garden, rejoice in the things that are growing, be it a tiny seedling, a rose, or a green leafy tree.
Take the time to get up early and watch the sun rise, or stop in the evening to watch the sun set. Take a moment in the middle of the day to watch the clouds go by. No matter how sad I might feel, getting outside and looking at the sky is always helpful in lifting my spirits.
You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control the environment around you. Clearing clutter, making things shine, and setting a beautiful table are all things that you can do to uplift yourself and others around you. Even if you don't have the money to buy cleaners, you can still scrub the toliet bowl with the brush, and wipe the outside with a wet rag. Water and rags can clean most of the dust and dirt around your home.
Count Your Blessings
"When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end."
Count Your Blessings, Hymn 241
During some of our lowest times, it was my 3-year-old son who taught me how to count my blessings better than I had before. When called on to pray at family prayer, for about a month he showed us all that we truly had. He prayed prayers of thanksgiving only, asking nothing of God, listing in his prayers the many things that we have. He was grateful that we had "couches to sit on, a counter to make food on, plates to eat off of, cups to drink out of, a rug on our floor, beds to sleep on," etc. Every time he prayed he thought of different things. Each time I heard him I thought of all those who do not have those things, and I realized how truly blessed we are.
After we'd been living from our food storage for two years, I had a chance to go to the store. Here's what I wrote about it the day after I went:
February 07, 2009
I emptied my husband's change jar and went to the store. I took $20--almost all of what was there. At the store, I tried adding in my head as I went, but I estimated wrong, and when the checker told me my total it was over $24. I was shocked--and embarrassed. I had to tell her to take four things off. I had to tell the bagger (who was not paying attention) to stop bagging my things three times. And then I had to pay with change, while an ever-growing line was behind me.
I went out to the car and sat there and cried. It was hard, even going to the store, and then trying to carefully count as I went along and only getting a few things (mostly I just got potatoes). It was hard to walk through the store and not cry because I couldn't get things like eggs, or apples.
I drove home and told my husband what had happened, and then I cried again.
Then, I went out to our garden to get some lettuce so that we could eat it for lunch. I felt so grateful that we had lettuce growing.
And as my husband said the blessing at lunch, I felt truly grateful for the food that we have been given by the Lord. I felt content.
"In the midst of affliction my table is spread.
With blessings unmeasured, my cup runneth o'er.
With perfume and oil thou annointest my head.
Oh, what shall I ask of thy providence more?"
The Lord is My Shepherd, Hymn 108
Spend Time in Prayer and God's word
The more time you spend growing closer to God, the more peace that will come to you. You will come to understand His will for your life. You will start to see how He is refining you in the fire of affliction. Times of trials are God's way of helping us grow to become more like Him.
"If you as one individual will accomplish God's will for you, your life will carry much more thrill and excitement than if you choose the path of least resistance when all the cards are stacked against you." Arnold Pent III, Ten P's in a Pod
"There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."
Washington Irving, The Sketch Book
"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content"
It's easy to want more than what we have. We can all find things that we desire. Being content with what we have can be difficult. However, being content with what we have brings great peace to our souls.
When we have just enough, it is a great blessing. When we have just enough to pay our bills, but not more for food, and yet we have food in our pantry, we have enough. This month we managed to just pay our bills, counting the pennies from my husband's change jar, and taking it all to the bank--just enough to pay our mortgage and bills, but not enough to buy food or anything else. And yet, it is enough. Truly, we have so much.
"For we brought nothing into this world,
and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
1 Timothy 6: 7-8
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."