As a senior citizen, I sometimes find myself asking the same question children ask on vacation, “Are we there yet?” I try very hard to be a good disciple of Christ, but am I really? I feel like I’m progressing, but taking baby steps. At this point in my life, I should be almost perfected, right? I mean, I’ve lived long enough to have learned most of the lessons God has to teach me, right? Why do I feel like I’m still five years old? When am I going to get to a place where I would be comfortable kneeling at the feet of Christ? When am I going to get there?
We went to an AAA baseball game last summer, and I was watching the small children who were sitting in our section of the ballpark. They didn’t have a care in the world other than enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and the people around them.
I was almost envious of these little ones, as they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to figure it all out. I hope by the time they are my age they have a better grip on things than I do. I feel like I’m playing catch up all the time—making up for wasted time.
Since that baseball game, I’ve thought a lot about my anticipated destination and how to get there. I made some short-term goals and some long-term goals, and I wrote them down. The ink was barely dry before it all began to fall apart. I was faced with one challenge after another that seemed to thwart the whole plan. Eventually, I put the list of goals away for another day. Things began to calm down a bit.
Out of the blue one day, I realized that I had done exactly what Satan wanted me to do. I put the list of goals away because dealing with conflict and life’s irritations were just too hard. Did I think my goals were going to be easy?
Did I not know that Satan would try to thwart my plan to live a more righteous life? I had good intentions, but I quit when the going got tough. I didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing. Quitting was just so easy.
Righteous goals are not easy; they are just plain hard. I have to learn to toughen my skin and live with the thorns. It’s better to walk through a thorny path to a destination of gold than to walk on marshmallows to a destination of quicksand. Obviously, I’m not there yet. I’m still trying out the white fluffy stuff to see how it feels.
In a class at Church recently, we were talking about the sacrament. Someone pointed out that if Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ thought we would be perfect, we would only have been directed to take the sacrament once; not once a week. The sacrament is to remind us that we are forgiven, the price of our mistakes has been paid, and we can try again. As long as we continue to try, we will be fine. All is not lost unless we give up.
That puts a whole new light on the question, “Are we there yet?” Maybe we are there because we have broken hearts and contrite spirits as we partake of the sacrament every Sunday anticipating that we will do our best. Maybe we are there because our hearts are in the right place in that we haven’t given up and are still trying.
I’ve been asking myself the question “Are we there yet?” for far too long. It is self-defeating. I’m never going to be comfortable sitting at the feet of Jesus until I allow myself to be human. All that Jesus and Heavenly Father require of me is that I stay on the thorny path and toughen up.
As long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, I will reach the golden destination of eternal life and exaltation. As long as my footprints can be seen on that path, there will be a salve to heal my thorn pricked feet.
This time of the year inspires many of us to look forward to new challenges and goals. We strive to put away any and all failures from the ending year and look with fresh eyes to a brand new one. I was thinking about what 2018 should look like for me. I thought about how the Christmas season should bring lasting positive attitudes. How can I keep the Christmas spirit with me all year?
For many years, my family did the Twelve Days of Christmas anonymously for someone special. The children nominated recipients, and then we voted as a family on who would receive our little handmade gifts and home-baked goodies. It was always a favorite Christmas tradition which brought the spirit of Christmas into our home. I wonder if I could expand this idea and do Twelve Months of Christmas? If we were to do something special for someone once a month for an entire year, wouldn’t that be great?
I don’t think that doing Twelve Months of Christmas will miraculously give me the power to say, “Yes, I’m there.” A year from now, I’m pretty sure I’ll still be asking myself, “Am I there, yet?” That’s okay. Every step I take on the path to being more Christlike is a step in the right direction. It doesn’t matter what my goals are for 2018 as long as I have goals and I’m moving forward on the path. Will I succeed every month?
Maybe; maybe not. If I succeed in doing only five months of Christmas cheer, that’s five steps on the path to helping me remember Christ throughout the year. That’s five times I can make someone happy. That’s five times I can bring the Christmas spirit into my home in a month other than December. Twelve Months of Christmas may just be a good goal for 2018. No, I’m not there yet, but I’m still trying—and that’s all that is required.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents#.UYPhA6K.