Monday, September 8, 2008

In Defense of Cheerfulness

Christ commanded us to "be of good cheer". Elder Holland postulates that this may be a commandment we break more than almost any other. He offers a maxim I find to be very true for me: "No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse."

When I first heard those words, I thought they were quaint but made no effort to analyze how they could improve my life. There are negative things to face in life and I used to think that they could be improved by commiserating about them. Whenever something unfortunate happened in my life, I would immediately start brainstorming about who I could go complain to. If I could illicit a little sympathy, maybe I would feel better about myself. And when others came to tell me of their misfortunes, I thought to make them more comfortable by unburdening my own (or sometimes exaggerating them). When I worried about it, Scott told me that complaining is an inescapable fact of female communication. For awhile, this seemed an acceptable conclusion.

But I know that Elder Holland is a special witness of Christ, an apostle of God. I know that his words in general conference, and the words of the other prophets and apostles, are among the most pertinent words to me today. I had to ask myself, do I really believe that the prophet and the apostles speak for God? If so, then that particular counsel is from God to me. If so, then it is an immutable truth that no circumstance is improved by complaining. If so, I decided I must experiment upon those words.

I have found cheerfulness to be among God's most gentle commandments. In my life, I have found that there is no misfortune so bad that being cheerful won't make it better. Of course there are unfortunate circumstances that I must discuss with others to alleviate. But I am trying to think carefully before I lay my burdens at any feet but those of the Savior. Most of the time, I find there is no need to complain and great reason to rejoice, even in misfortunes. I believe that when we replace our negative communication with gratitude we invite the Holy Ghost to be with us. And He can comfort and uplift us.

1 comment:

Alisha Stamper said...

"But I am trying to think carefully before I lay my burdens at any feet but those of the Savior."
Boy oh boy, did I need to read that! I'm glad we got to talk a little bit today, and hopefully I'll find nice things to think about and talk about... so you won't be hearing THAT type of female communication from me anymore. :O)