The last five weeks have been interesting, challenging, fun, and frustrating all at once. One of the things I’ve learned through it all is that I may or may not be able to change the things I want to change, and fix the things that need fixing—but that’s okay. All that is required of me is that I give my time and my talents. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up that all I expected of them was to do their best. Lately, I’ve told myself the same thing: “Just do your best, Tudie. That’s all you can do.”
We all want to be successful when it comes to the really important things in our lives. We understand that there will be failures along the way, but we hope they will be small failures having to do with the little things that don’t really matter. None of us wants to admit that it’s possible to fail at the big things as well. Our Heavenly Father knows our capabilities. He knows our weaknesses. All He expects is that we do the best with what we have. So why is it that we feel we must be perfect?
I had the perfect stay-at-home Sabbath day planned. The first two pandemic stay-at-home Sabbath days had gone pretty well, so I thought by the third week, I’d be able to work out all the bugs and have it perfect. Well, it didn’t exactly work out that way. By 2:30 p.m. I had cancelled the FaceTime appointment with the missionaries for a spiritual thought, and was in the fetal position on my bed sobbing. So much for the perfect Sabbath. In an effort to compose myself, I grabbed my laptop and began watching general conference talks from last October’s conference—by myself—alone in my bedroom. It took a couple of hours, but I was able to salvage some of the sacred feelings of the Sabbath. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the faith-promoting family experience I had hoped for and planned, but I can honestly say it was the best I could do.
Elder Terence M. Vinson, speaking of Oliver Granger, who had been left in Nauvoo, Illinois to do the impossible task of selling property for the Saints—and then had been commended by the Savior for his failed efforts—said:
“That may be true of all of us—it’s not our successes but rather our sacrifice and efforts that matter to the Lord” (Elder Terence M. Vinson, “True Disciples of the Savior,” Oct. 2019 General Conference).
Elder Vinson goes on to explain that we should be fair dinkum (or all in) when it comes to the gospel. We can’t be half-hearted in our efforts to live our covenants. If we are all in, or fair dinkum, as Elder Vinson says, in living our covenants, Heavenly Father will forgive us of our shortcomings—the Savior has already made up the difference. All that is required of us is that we do our best.
I’ve had a multitude of challenges over the last five weeks, and for the most part, I feel good about the successes. The little failures along the way can be tools to learn from, or they can be stumbling blocks to future success, depending on my attitude and how I deal with them. The power to control my life, my successes, and my failures lies within me. I can learn from my failures. I can also learn to accept that the choices of others sometimes contribute to both my successes and my failures. I can have an attitude of gratitude, learn, and move forward. I can choose to forgive myself and others for shortcomings. I can choose to learn from my mistakes and theirs to make things better. Obviously, I also have the opposite choices I could make, but I care to concentrate on the positive.
By locking myself in my bedroom with my laptop Sunday, I learned that I can choose to have the Spirit with me, even in difficult times.
“Regardless of your circumstances, you can make your home the center of gospel learning and living. It simply means taking personal responsibility for your conversion and spiritual growth. It means following President Nelson’s counsel “to [remodel your] home into a sanctuary of faith” (Stephen W. Owen, “Be Faithful, Not Faithless,” Oct. 2019 General Conference).
In the privacy of my bedroom, I took personal responsibility for my own spiritual growth. I didn’t completely throw in the towel—even though that’s exactly what I wanted to do. While it was not immediately possible for me to remodel my home into that sanctuary of faith, it was possible to remodel my bedroom. Baby steps—just one baby step at a time. What is the phrase we’ve heard so many times? Start where you’re planted? Something like that.
I also learned that I can feel joy in all circumstances—even after a good cry on my bed.
When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy! (President Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” (Oct. 2016 General Conference.)
It is up to me to focus on the Savior, do my best, feel gratitude, take responsibility for my own spiritual growth, and be joyful. Heavenly Father will be satisfied with that because the Savior has already paid the price of my shortcomings. Just do your best, Tudie, just do your best.
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.