Repeat after me:
Every day is a good day. Some are just better than others. Today is a good day.
I mumbled those words (taught to me by my eternally optimistic father) for over two hours this morning in an effort to clear out a tormenting fog of impending doom. Have you ever run into a cobweb and tried to get rid of it, but you can't see it, and no matter what you do you can't get away from it, and you imagine the whole time that the spider that created the web may still be attached and crawling into your hair this very second?
Most of the time, writing out what I feel helps me process. But the static of anxiety wouldn't let me tune out the source of all the negative chatter going on in my head. I couldn't find any words. I felt the darkness of depression and discouragement crawling all over me. I started to make a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish today, only to hear in my mind, Why even try? What makes you think you are good enough to do that? Go back to bed. You're just going to fail anyway.
I marched myself up to the bedroom. What could I do today to move forward and stay sane? How could I lift and strengthen myself and then others? I grabbed my journal and the pages fell open to yesterday's entry. I had been reading in the Book of Mormon, Alma 43-44. I got out my scriptures and turned to where I left off. In those chapters, Captain Moroni arms the Nephites with defensive armor and turns to the prophet Alma to seek guidance from the Lord concerning how to defend their families, liberty, and religion. Through those efforts, they conquer an army more than twice their size and preserve the lives of their families.
I recognized a great pattern to defend myself against Satan's buffetings: 1) inquire of the Lord; 2) listen to and follow the prophets; 3)be obedient; 4) be unified with Christ; 5) be aware of Satan's intentions and gain knowledge and wisdom. Also, be uplifting in the things I say to others and be humble - always remember the true source of strength. Beware of pride. Remember that nothing and no one can take my faith from me. If I choose to be faithful, I will be protected and preserved. Oh. And be forgiving.
Then I remembered that in his last email home, our son Levi had referenced this scripture - Doctrine and Covenants 123:17:
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed.I love how the Spirit opens my eyes and clarifies scriptures that I have read dozens of times before. This time I broke the scripture down and pondered on every word:
- "dearly beloved" - Heavenly Father gives me direction because He loves me.
- "cheerfully do all things that lie in [my] power" - Be happy. Be humble. Do my best. There are many things that I don't have control over. Do all I can with a good attitude with no regrets and no whining. Just do it. And smile. Smile a lot.
- "Stand still with the utmost assurance" - There comes a time when I need to recognize that I've done all I can. I need to let go and let my body and mind rest. Then I can feel the truth of the doctrine of Christ and
- "see the salvation of God, and for His arm to be revealed." - No matter what happens, everything will work out because the Atonement is real. Jesus Christ lives. Through Him I can do all things - even (especially) when they are hard.
In the brief time it took to immerse myself in these verses and write a few simple words of gratitude, the darkness in my mind dissipated. Ah, yes. Gratitude completes the process - like frosting on the cake. My heart overflows with hope and joy. I feel empowered and grateful and excited to share this happiness with others.
And those optimistic words my dad taught me... apparently, it's genetic...passed on through a Scots-Irish family line by the name of Peebles. These emigrant ancestors sailed from Ulster to Boston in 1718 and eventually helped found the town of Pelham, Massachusetts. Back in Scotland in the 1500 and 1600s, the family crest said, "Increase by swimming against the flood." I had to laugh at our Renaissance version of "just keep swimming." Life is magnificent.
Today is a great day!