Imagine yourself going through this doorway to a happier self.
Of all people, we as Latter-day Saints should be the most optimistic and the least pessimistic…Let us remember that the real source of our strength and happiness is beyond the reach of men and circumstances.Ezra Taft Benson
Ammon had been tied up, put in prison, spit on, beat up, kicked out of public places, badgered, taunted, and stones thrown at him. Yet he feels so much joy, his system literally overloads and he falls to the earth. Alma, who is at the scene, makes this observation:
“Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:18)
What Is Penitent Really?
Penitent is an uncommon word and refers to a person who repents of sin. Interestingly, it does NOT mean a perfect person, or one who has no sin to repent of. Rather, it describes someone who reforms as they progress. “Penitent” is kind of like a conscientious, ongoing resolve to do better. Truly penitent means improvement becomes a trait etched in one’s character.
To be penitent is easier than it sounds. With some effort, we can be truly penitent and bring a steady supply of well-being into our lives. Consider this stellar quote from General Conference (“What Lack I Yet“? – one of my favorite talks of all times):
“Years ago I read in a Church magazine the story of a girl who was living away from home and going to college. She was behind in her classes, her social life was not what she had hoped for, and she was generally unhappy. Finally one day she fell to her knees and cried out, “What can I do to improve my life?” The Holy Ghost whispered, “Get up and clean your room.” This prompting came as a complete surprise, but it was just the start she needed. After taking time to organize and put things in order, she felt the Spirit fill her room and lift her heart.”
“The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time, or as the Lord has taught, “line upon line, precept upon precept…” (Elder Larry R. Lawrence ~ Oct 2015)
The Heavens take their time with us…step by step. While perfection is out of reach during our lifetime, I love how stepping towards it brings peace and confidence.
One of the best, most effective questions I ask in heartfelt prayer is “what lack I yet”? The answer always comes. But thankfully not as the frightful, long list I deserve to see. Instead, a single thought or idea transcends – about a habit or circumstance to delete, to add or to modify. Admittedly, it does take some humility and effort to ask about our flaws and follow through. Amazingly, it is sweet bliss every time I conquer one more thing.
Timshel (Hebrew for “thou mayest” rise and accomplish anything).
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