Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Am Determined

Just like I knew it would be, stake conference was so uplifting and full of the Spirit. I can actually say that I came away from it changed. I was able to go to the stake temple session, the Saturday night adult session, the youth morningside along with my two oldest children, and the general session which was a regional conference by satellite. They were all great. Since my children are at their father’s this weekend, except for the two sessions today that Alex and Elisa attended with me, I have been able to ponder and be still. There are many things I would love to share, but today I will concentrate on one.

I was so glad to have the excuse of my children to get to attend the morningside and hear the speakers. The first speaker was Stephanie from our ward. She did a great job with the topic that all 3 speakers had—How to make this the best year of your life by using President Hinckley’s 9 Bs. (Originally, there were 6 from his talk , but in his book Way to Be!, Pres. Hinckley added 3 more.) As Stephanie spoke about what she will do this year at school in her teenage life, I was thinking of things I could talk to my children about for their school year. Then as the second youth speaker addressed the same topic, I still was thinking the same thing. Then President Hiskey, a very new counselor in the stake presidency, spoke. Of course, he directed his remarks to the youth, but suddenly I felt that this message was also for me. I can make this year the best year of my life.

Okay, you may be thinking I’m going a bit crazy now to choose the year I get a divorce to be the best year of my life. I can tell you that so far, it has been the worst without a doubt and I have just been hoping to get through it. I have felt out of control over many of the things that have been happening to me. I have seen my eternal hopes and dreams crumble. But even through this, I know that “the atonement makes all things that are wrong, right” (quote from Pres. Wright, first counselor in our stake) if we use the atonement. While I can’t take away agency from others, I can choose how I will act and think. I can find a way to be happy in my circumstances. How? As the talks said, we can use the 9 Bs. It’s not just a trite collection of Bs, but a way to become closer to our Father in Heaven and be more like our Savior. I have a long way to go, but I want to be going in the right direction.

1. Be grateful. I really do have so much to be grateful for. Even through this trial, I have seen miracles and blessings which have left me again in awe at the love and mercy of my Father. I have been even more grateful for my children and my bond with them, as well as my other family members. I am so grateful for my wonderful friends who have also helped me. I am grateful to be able to go to school and study something I enjoy to someday be able to get a job that pays well enough to support my children. Of course, I am more grateful than at any other time in my life for Jesus Christ, for his willingness to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane that he can succor me, sustain me, lift me and each of us, and for his sacrifice and atonement that we can repent and change. As one of my recent posts mentioned, I can even be grateful for the adversity I have and for how I can progress because of it if I chose to walk in the light during the trials. 2. Be smart. I have a lot of ways to work on this one. I get to be smart with my budget and with my time. I need to learn as much as possible at school, not only to get through a class, but to help me in my profession for the rest of my life. I need to be smart with how I teach my children about the gospel and life.

3. Be clean. This is not a B that is solely for the youth. Unfortunately, there are many adults that are not clean with what they watch or listen to, how they dress, what they think or their actions. I have heard several single people recently say that they didn’t stay clean because they finally had someone meeting their need to be loved and appreciated who didn’t have it as a priority to be clean. So how do you stay clean? We’ve learned it from a young age, decide now what you will do. Don’t wait until that time comes.
4. Be true. “Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right, and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. You know when you are giving strength to the right cause. Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true, my beloved associates in this great kingdom.”
I need to be a disciple of Christ in everything I do. I do not have to lower my standards in order to make friends or (someday) get a date. But also, I need to be true to my personality. I can reach outside of my comfort zone and try new things, but I don’t have to try to be someone I am not. I found a connection with Sis. Patricia Holland in a quote I read from her before:

“Our Father in Heaven needs us as we are, as we are growing to become. He has intentionally made us different from one another so that even with our imperfections we can fulfill his purposes. My greatest misery comes when I feel I have to fit what others are doing, or what I think others expect of me. I am most happy when I am comfortable being me and trying to do what my Father in Heaven and I expect me to be.

For many years I tried to measure the oft times quiet, reflective, thoughtful Pat Holland against the robust, bubbly, talkative, and energetic Jeff Holland and others with like qualities. I have learned through several fatiguing failures that you can’t have joy in being bubbly if you are not a bubbly person. It is a contradiction in terms. I have given up seeing myself as a flawed person because my energy level is lower than Jeff’s, and I don’t talk as much as he does, nor as fast. Giving this up has freed me to embrace and rejoice in my own manner and personality in the measure of my creation. Ironically, that has allowed me to admire and enjoy Jeff’s ebullience even more.

Somewhere, somehow the Lord 'blipped the message onto my screen' that my personality was created to fit precisely the mission and talents he gave me. For example, the quieter, calmer talent of playing the piano reveals much about the real Pat Holland. I would never have learned to play the piano if I hadn’t enjoyed the long hours of solitude required for its development. This same principle applies to my love of writing, reading, meditation, and especially teaching and talking with my children. Miraculously, I have found that I have untold abundant sources of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream. When we frustrate God’s plan for us, we deprive this world and God’s kingdom of our unique contributions and a serious schism settles in our soul. God never gave us any task beyond our ability to accomplish it. We just have to be willing to do it our own way. We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become.”
(Portraits of Eve: God’s Promises of Personal Identity, Patricia T. Holland, LDS Women’s Treasury: Insights and Inspiration for Today’s Woman {Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997}, 97-98.)

I often wish to be bubbly and outgoing like many other people. I can work to improve myself and be my best self, but I don’t have to feel bad that I am not like others.

5. Be humble. In order to learn what Heavenly Father wants me to learn from my afflictions and my blessings, I must be humble and admit that I have so much to learn and so far to go. I think that part of being humble is something I’ve been working on and still need to work on probably the rest of my life—being patient . We must trust the Lord and his timing. He knows everything and we know so very little. If we don’t get what we ask for and think would be good for us, there might be a very good reason.

6. Be prayerful. I am grateful to my parents for teaching me to pray at a young age. Prayer has always been a part of my life, with big decisions, problems, gratitude and even seemingly small things. But even with so many years of practice, I am still learning about how to use prayer better in my life. I will continue pouring my heart out to my Heavenly Father with my pleadings and my gratitude. I will linger longer after the prayer to listen and wait and listen and learn.

7. Be positive. This is not one that has been easy for me the last few months. “I’m never going to be able to trust someone else.” “There is no way I can get through this major because it’s too hard for me.” “I know I won’t be able to find a companion to love me.” “How am I going to be a good mom when I have to spend so much time and energy outside the home?” Just changing the way that I think has helped me to feel more peace and to be happier. Saying that I will find a way to be a good mom has helped me to feel like a better mom. Knowing with all my heart that with God all things are possible has given me strength I don’t have on my own. I have so many quotes that have helped me with this recently, but I’ll just share this one that I repeat to myself when I feel down.

"Every reversal can be turned to our benefit and blessing and can make us stronger, more corageous, more Godlike."
President Ezra Taft Benson

The way that we see things really can change how they turn out. We are never alone so there is no reason to feel negative about anything in our lives.

8. Be still. This is something I’ve been working on for a couple of years now. See? I’m not a fast learner! I do take time occasionally to sit in quiet and listen, to be still and enjoy nature, to try to be open to any promptings or messages. It will be a bigger challenge for me now that I am studying and want to spend all the time I don’t study with my children so they don’t feel neglected, but it’s better for all of us if I spend time being still. And how can I teach them to do it if I don’t? Peace always comes to me when I am still---at home, at the temple, sitting in the car looking at a beautiful view, sitting on a bench in a quiet park. There are some things that we will not be taught if we do not take the time to be still and unplug from the world.9. Be involved. Of course, this means different things to us in different times of our lives. It always means be involved in service and caring and be involved in your calling at church. I joined a club at school (even though I’ll be the mom of the group) and hope to learn and have fun with that. I have from time to time invited groups of women to my house for lunch or to teach each other how to cook something. I have started getting together with other single sisters for ladies’ nights out. I can have fun and still be a good student and do my most important work, be a good mother.

Although President Hinckley was talking to the youth during the talk, I hope that his prayer at the end is even for me since I need all of the same things:

“Please smile with favor upon them. Please listen to them as they lift their voices in prayer unto Thee. Please lead them gently by the hand in the direction they should follow.

“Please help them to walk in paths of truth and righteousness and keep them from the evils of the world. Bless them that they shall be happy at times and serious at times, that they may enjoy life and drink of its fulness. Bless them that they may walk acceptably before Thee as Thy cherished sons and daughters. Each is Thy child with capacity to do great and noble things. Keep them on the high road that leads to achievement. Save them from the mistakes that could destroy them. If they have erred, forgive their trespasses and lead them back to ways of peace and progress. For these blessings I humbly pray with gratitude for them and invoke Thy blessings upon them with love and affection, in the name of Him who carries the burdens of our sins, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”

I am grateful for the talks this morning which helped me to see that I can make this an amazing year. I want to “enjoy life and drink of its fulness”. I want to be happy and grow and learn and progress and serve. I’m glad to have this list of 9 things that I can use to keep me pointed in the right direction and use as a guide to see how I’m doing. I’m starting today. This will be (at least in ways that are under my control) the best year of my life!


  1. Those were some beautiful thoughts Valerie. Very uplifting and inspiring.
    You are right. The fireside wasn't just for the youth.

    Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Thank you for sharing what you learned this weekend. I don't know you personally, but I can honestly say that I am grateful for what you post on your blog and how it helps me to reflect on my own life and how I can be doing better in certain areas. Thank you!

  3. I love it Valerie, It is just what I needed to hear today too. Thank you for sharing! You are amazing.

  4. GREAT post! This made me think of that part in the Book of Mormon where the people were at war with the Lamanites, but there's a verse there that says, 'There never was a happier time among them.' Always helps me put perspective--even though everything externally is awful, we can still be happy.

    Hugs to you, sweetie.

  5. man, wish i'd been at your stake conference! sounds absolutely smashing. =)
    i loved the quote from sister holland. added it to my favorites. and the talk from president hinckley's is another favorite. you're right, not just for the youth. =)

  6. We're all Heavenly Father's children and youth is relative. It's wonderful when we gain insight, knowledge AND wisdom in words from our leaders. Hang in there. You're going to be OK!

  7. Even though my trials right now are completely different than yours, your inspired words have helped me. Thank you for that. And I admire your spirit and your persistance in the face of difficult times. You are awesome.

  8. I love that painting by Liz Lemon Swindle. It's one of my favorites.
    I wasn't able to attend Conference this weekend (I was sick), so thank you for sharing your thoughts and insight. As I was reading through your post, I was really impressed with the thought that there is much significance to the first "Be"...Be Grateful. Gratitude is very much a foundation principle of the Gospel.
    Thanks again for sharing!

  9. Valerie-you totally inspire and uplift and bring me back to realizing how totally blessed I am! You rock.
    You should be a motivational speaker!

  10. I needed to read this so much today! Thank you for pressing on and moving forward through your difficult time. You encourage and support me in my own difficult journey by sharing the moments of conviction that you have.



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