After preparing and delivering a talk on Sunday to my ward members in Arizona, I have felt like this is a space that would fortune such thoughts on Hope.
Hope is hard to have when circumstances surrounding are difficult. My family and I have struggled a lot more than anticipated as we have moved to Arizona and tried our best to adjust to our new area. Restrictions, closures, schooling limitations, job loss, emotional eating, depression, no sports to participate in, etc have loomed their dark clouds over our socially active family.
Yet as I prepared for my talk, I realized that I had more hope than I thought. I hope my messages and thoughts inspire you!
Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity.
- As a personal trainer, my goals for my clients are to help them focus on proper balance, form and alignment before focusing on losing weight or becoming stronger. With those as their ‘physical stool’, the foundation for growth is strengthened and progress can be achieved at a greater chance. This is also true of our ‘spiritual stool’. If we focus to much on all that we want to accomplish without having the three legs to our stools balanced, then anything we place on top falls. Setting our family roots here has been something we are aggressively seeking after, as if God told us that we needed to do it within the first few months we were here.
The Opposite of Hope is Despair
The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.
-Me and my family are quite competitive by nature, okay we’ve might have shown by example this gift. I’m the one almost getting thrown out of my kids basketball games, knocking people over in a bounce house relay race or grunting during a game of Ticket to Ride when someone takes my route. I don’t like the feeling of defeat or despair. I immediately dig into finding out what I can do better to win, not just against others in hopefully what they see as playful bander, but with myself. Striving to be my best and ‘win’ according to me. Our despair has been the endless job searching, waiting for promises to be fulfilled by ‘man’, school challenges, finding opportunities to express and share our talents, and keeping our house somewhat comfortable and making dinner without paying $500/month. In all seriousness, it has been painful! My husband and I have spent hours talking and acting towards what we think is the right path for our family here. We have agonized over not growing like we thought we should be.
Truly when hope is gone, what we have left is the flame of the inferno raging on every side.
-On the days that we’ve wanted to give up and spend all day crying and moaning about our purpose in moving, the flames have engulfed us. We have been less patient with each other, more blaming of lost opportunities or angry with open-ended job offers. This has only led us to seeking for more light. I don’t like the feeling of despair, defeat. I don’t want to get thrown out of the journey called life.
It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light.
-Moving to Arizona has been the biggest financial blessing we could have received. If we were still in the same situation in Utah, we would be struggling without the consistent income. The light is ever so dim as opportunities have presented themselves, although ever so dim, to remind us that He is there.
Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.
-Blessings that have come to are family are far beyond what we would have expected, remember I said I have high expectations??? Meeting so many wonderful people within our ward, and Arizona in general, has brought so many smiles to our faces when days seemed to drain us of such expressions of hope and happiness.
“I know with certainty: her faith overcame her fear, and her hope overcame her despair. She was not a woman who would sit and bemoan tragedy. She moved. She put her faith and hope into action.”
-Our family has infused ourselves in all things good. We have mingled with so many wonderful people, my husband has given out a Book of Mormon and shared with one of his clients the First Vision. We have chosen to wake up each day with a resolve to make it better than yesterday. We continue to press forward (or push if we must) to show our true dedication to Hope. We’re not giving up, no matter how tiring it may be at times.
It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance.
-God knows me. He knows I have very high expectations for myself. He knows that I expect Him to keep His end of the deal, although I’m still trying to figure out what that deal is. Jeremy is a wonderful example of optimism. I tend to be more of a ‘realist’; yet his strength and obedience makes me look for more patient perseverance.
“Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future.”-Holland
- We have grown everywhere we are planted. Some of it was through a lot of weeding and pruning, some of it was simpler growth, but nonetheless, growth was expected. Moving to Arizona was no different for us. Yet this has been a little more challenging trying to figure out how we’re supposed to grow. Similar to searing the meat on the outside and then slowly cooking it to give it flavor and juiciness.
In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will “work together for [our] good” as we follow the counsel of God’s prophets. This type of hope in God, His goodness, and His power refreshes us with courage during difficult challenges and gives strength to those who feel threatened by enclosing walls of fear, doubt, and despair.
-Our life is a puzzle, with one piece added at a time. Some of the pieces are small, some are big. Some pieces we know exactly where they go. Some have to be put to the side until the picture becomes a little clearer. And sometimes our life is simply puzzling. We have no idea what our purpose is, what we should be doing, how we should be serving, etc. Yet God promises us that all things will work together for our good! There is where the hope lies that even the ugly puzzle pieces still contribute to the beautiful picture.
When the assignment was given to me and Gracie, we were together. It came to us earlier this week while riding in the car together with Jeremy. We both shared how hard this was going to be for us. While we have been independently thinking and compiling our thoughts, I was surprised at some of my feelings. I thought I was failing all this time by lacking hope. But I have been lifted to see that God has carried me each and every day. Choosing to get up everyday and do something is a display of my hope. Every time I pray, I’m displaying hope. Every time I talk with others about my Savior, I’m sharing my hope. I’m grateful for the opportunity to say out loud that I have more hope than I thought I did. Truly the timing for this talk couldn’t have been more of an appropriate way for the Savior and Heavenly Father to show our family that He cares and loves us. That He will be there for us as He always has been and that He will not allow us to go through more than we can handle as we continually seek for his guidance and strive to live the commandments and covenants we have made.
When we have conquered this —and we will!!!!-Elder Holland