by Kari Diane Pike
There are way too many squirrels in my life! You know what I mean. I'm not talking about those adorable, intelligent, mischievous, destructive creatures with the beautiful bushy tails. I'm talking about distractions...the "I've set a goal and I'm driving toward it, but wait. Look over there! What's that? I have to check it out. That looks like so much fun"... kind of distractions.
Distractions take my attention away from the road and sometimes that means I miss a curve and go plummeting off the edge of the cliff. Distractions keep me from focusing on the best things and from achieving important goals. Distractions get me lost in uncharted waters without a sail or a paddle. Distractions can kill!
But distractions have a unique ability to become part of the solution. [Stick with me here as I struggle putting my thoughts into words.] As I've approached middle-age (which I consider to be about 60 - because I plan on making it to 120), I've looked back to see all the squirrels I've chased. It wasn't hard. All I had to do was open the closet and see all the unfinished craft projects as the boxes fell out and disgorged their contents across the floor. I felt like a total failure. I was going to accomplish great things! Where did I go wrong?
Days of pondering and praying and studying have given me a new perspective. In the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, we read "O how great is the nothingness of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God" (Helaman 12:7-8). Verses 9- 19 continue on how the hills and mountains, the waters and the very earth itself obey God's every command. Verses 20-26 describe the need for mankind to repent and to "hearken to the voice of the Lord [our] God; for these are they that shall be saved" (Helaman 12:23).
Okay - back to those distractions. Every single one of my experiences has brought me to the place I am today. Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. Would I make them again? Not on purpose. The point is recognizing the lessons I learned along the way. What really counts is my effort to be obedient, to keep my covenants and to love and serve others. That scripture tells me that despite the fact that those rocks in my yard never achieved fame or fortune, they are greater than me because they are more obedient than I am. Fortunately, I have access to the greatest gift ever given - the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, my Savior.
The older I get, the greater appreciation I have for what the Savior did for me. As I walk life's path, He walks with me. When I see a squirrel and want to chase it, He watches over me. The squirrels are there to teach me how to choose. The paths they take me along, aren't always distractions from right or wrong, but experiences to help me grow. Squirrels can bless my life! When I make a poor choice and get lost and call out to the Savior, He guides me back. He allows me to experience the pain of mortality and the beauty of His creations. All He asks in return is that I remember Him and "hearken unto His voice" by keeping His commandments.
The Thursday before the Savior hung on the cross, He washed the feet of His disciples. He served them to the very end. Today is the Thursday before Easter - the day we celebrate His resurrection and life. I think I need to follow His example and go out and find someone to serve today.