Here’s a quiz that will reveal which decade you were born in (and also whether you were raised anywhere in the heart of Utah). Read the following song lyrics and see if you can guess the author:
“If you feel trapped inside a never-ending night
If you’ve forgotten how it feels to feel the light
If your half-crazy, thinking you’re the only one
Who’s afraid the light will never really come
Just hold on, hold on, the light will come”
If you guessed Michael McLean, then you were right! (Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.) I remember hearing this song performed by the BYU Young Ambassador’s way back when I was a teenager in the late 80’s. I loved the message of the song then, but I find it applicable more than ever in the world we live in today.
How incredibly important it is to have hope in our lives — to be able to hold on while we are waiting for the light. We don’t have to look very far (sometimes only as far as the mirror) to see “men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Luke 21:26). The time we live in is one of so much commotion and upheaval. (Click here to watch Russel M. Nelson’s video on men’s hearts failing them.) But we can work towards keeping the perspective that better times are ahead, and that if we hold on in faith, not simply enduring, but enduring “well,” then light will return once again into our lives.
Elder M. Russell Ballard posted the following on his FaceBook page just a few days ago:
“Occasionally I hear people say, ‘I am living righteously, but things are not working out for me. I am losing patience and I wonder, where are all the blessings?’
To any of you who feel this way, I would encourage you to change your perspective. We are eternal spirits! We must live our lives with the end in mind—not the middle. We must trust in the Lord. We must understand that some will be tested more than others. We should remember that no blessing will be denied if we continue to keep the commandments.
Turn to the plan of salvation—it can answer all of your questions. Take the sacrament each week. It will help you regain spiritual strength. Trust in the Lord and understand that all blessings will come at the right time.”
One thing I’ve learned through my trials in life is that in order to develop patience, you have to have something to be patient about…lots of things to be patient about…for a long time! And you have to be patient with yourself while you develop patience! But the wait is worth it. For me, those qualities that I wish I could perfect in weeks or months end up taking years or decades. But during those moments when I get to see progress in myself, it is worth every big of struggle to have gained additional wisdom and patience.
Romans 5:3-4 states, “we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience hope.” Indeed our tribulations do lead to hope! Only through having tribulations do we have the need to exercise patience. Only through exercising patience do we gain needed experience. And only through watching the thread of experiences weave across our lives are we able to have hope.
Hope is powerful stuff. Brain circuitry functions better under hope’s influence. Physical energy is higher, the immune system is more efficient, more possibilities are recognized, strengths are appreciated, and best of all, the Holy Ghost can dwell in an atmosphere of hope.
If you’re having a hard time accessing hope, try the following 11 tips (yes, 11… just to keep things interesting!):
1. Get on LDS.org and do a search for “hope.” You’ll find some great stuff there!
2. Also try looking up scriptures under the “hope” section of the topical guide. Pray for the Holy Ghost to guide your efforts.
3. Identify a person (or people) you know who seem hopeful. Spend time with them.
4. Ask an optimistic person what helps them remain hopeful in today’s world. Then, apply what you learn.
5. Watch an inspiring movie with a hopeful story. My newest favorite is “McFarland USA.”
6. Reconnect with simple joys in life. Think of things you used to do as a child and spend time doing those, such as drawing, roller-blading, singing along to a musical, or taking a walk in the rain. Simple joys breed gratitude and hope.
7. Ask for a priesthood blessing.
8. Apologize or make amends if you have something that needs fixing in your life. Learn what you can from the experience and then let it go, noticing that you are a stronger and better person. Remember,….experience worketh hope!
9. Set some goals for the future, both fun and serious. For example, set a goal to go on a trip (fun) and set another goal to finish a book on a topic that will help you improve at your job (serious). Seeing yourself grow and improve brings hope.
10. Notice when things go well. Anything at all. “Excellence draws no notice of itself” as the old saying goes. Switch things up by really noticing every time things go right. You may find yourself realizing that things are better than you’d thought, and that would feel very hopeful.
11. Look for someone….anyone…. who is struggling in life. Use your imagination because they are all around us. Do something small to brighten that person’s day, even if it is as simple as offering a prayer for their blessing. Serving others brings hope.
There you are. There’s all of my thoughts on hope tonight. I want all of you to know that I have hope for the future. I am grateful for the difficulties that we encounter on this earth, because this is our one and only chance to learn the things we have to learn here. We don’t get a repeat or a re-do of our lives. I hope you can all hold on in hope, knowing that light will come.