I was asked to give a talk at church Sunday. My assignment was to speak about THIS talk given in General Conference October 18, 2018. This was my talk:
Organizing storage recently, I ran across this book. It is a gift that was given to me when I was 9 years old, from my Great Aunt Dot (she is from the East so it is “aunt” not “ant”). The inscription says,
“A…diary-or place to write little stories of things that happen-or for autographs of your friends”
As I looked at the cover, I was flooded with memories of brilliant fictional stories that I had written through its pages. I loved writing then, even into my teen years. I wanted to be a writer. I remember loving this book with my stories, and the feedback others gave me.
Opening the book after many years of it being stored in a box, I was surprised by what I actually found. Instead of the brilliance I remembered, there were:
- shallow storylines
- grammatical errors
As a child, as shy as I was, I would share my stories with anyone who would listen…NOW only the flaws in my work stand out to me.
In her book GRIT, Angela Duckworth reminds her readers,
“infants and toddlers spend most of their time trying to do things they can’t, again and again—and yet they don’t seem especially embarrassed or anxious. No pain, no gain is a rule that doesn’t seem to apply to the preschool set…Watch a baby struggle to sit up, or a toddler learn to walk; you’ll see one error after another, failure after failure, a lot of challenge exceeding skill.”
What if as we age…we decide that is still noble to do something…just because we don’t know how, or it’s fun, or we want the experience. Just think of how we would grow…and really how much fun we would have.
Elder Richard G Scott said,
“Attempt to be creative even if the results are modest…creativity can engender a spirit of gratitude for life and for what the Lord has woven into your being” –
“attempting to be creative, even if the results are modest…” requires a childlike spirit…
A spirit that…
- -finds joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
- -takes pleasure in the simple joys of life
And especially a spirit that…
- -trusts our Lord and Savior
Elder Gong shared an experience this last General Conference. Elder Richard G Scott, an apostle and an artist, invited him to watercolor with him. Elder Scott was experienced and Elder Gong was a novice. Although he describes feeling apprehensive, he focused on what he could learn instead of what he lacked. Elder Gong found joy in trying something new, in fact, he was really touched by the opportunity, enough to base his general conference talk around the experience.
What can finding joy in creativity…without concern for ability or outcome change for you in your life?
A childlike spirit finds it easy to take pleasure in the simple joys of life.
Last weekend my youngest daughter, Sophie had a friend over. They decided to play hide & seek. The rules were laid down:
outside + garages were a no hide zone,
Ellie’s room too (her oldest sister)
everything else was free game.
After one round…Kate, my 14 year old, asked if she could play too. As I stood at the sink, doing dishes, I knew exactly where I would hide if I were playing. I was thrilled that my 9th grader was playing, as social stress & teenage-hood had been weighing on her lately. Their laughter and joy lightened the whole atmosphere of our home. I loved it.
So that night before bed, as we gathered for prayer and scriptures, Sophie asked if WE wanted to play HIDE & SEEK, I quickly said YES….and the rest of the family agreed. So 4 of us hid in crevices, closets, and bathtubs while one searched.
Now before you get the wrong idea, that I am a fun mom, let me confess that In the almost 17 years that I have been a parent…this week was the first time I had played HIDE & SEEK with my children…or at all. And now this week we have played several nights before bed. And guess what! Every time I hid I was the last one found. Who knew I would be so good at hide & seek!?
I had forgotten a lot about the game since I played as a child…
- -the thrill and anticipation of trying not to be found
- -the strategy required to play the game
- -the suspense of searching
(it’s SO scary to pull back a curtain, unsure if someone will jump out at you!)
As an adult, I realize that I have let the distractions of the world pull me from some of the JOYS of the simple things in life and the gospel.
Yesterday, I was privileged to attend the Stake Activity Day meeting. To begin the activity, we sang in unison, I AM A CHILD OF GOD. Those beautiful primary girls filled the chapel with faith as we sang. When was the last time I really appreciated the JOY of knowing that I am a child of a divine, all knowing, all loving, eternal Father…that knows me, that loves me? And that pleads with us,
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
A childlike spirit allows our hearts to be filled with more trust in our Father in Heaven and our Savior.
Elder Gong teaches,
“There is joy in imagining, learning, and doing worthwhile new things. This is especially true as we deepen faith and trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We cannot love ourselves enough to save ourselves. But Heavenly Father loves us more and knows us better than we love or know ourselves. We can trust the Lord and lean not unto our own understanding.”
One of my very favorite scripture stories teaches this principle in a beautiful way. In Matthew 14 we read,
“…when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
…when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
This story causes me to reflect each time I read or hear it- Where is my focus…? Is it on the boisterous wind? On my fears? Or is my focus on the invitation of our Savior, “Come…”
It is my hope that as children of God…we will remember, regardless of our age…we are children, we are ALL children. We are all children of a Father in Heaven…and that is a gift. Especially when we take time and effort to soften our hearts and:
- find joy in creativity, regardless of the outcome
- take pleasure in the simple joys of life & the gospel
- And especially, trust our Lord and Savior with our focus on Him