If you’ve ever done anything on a whim, you know how you might wonder – down the road – what came over you? The sudden urge to eat a strange new food or buy something you’d never ordinarily purchase?
I was wondering how much we might improve our lives if we determined to increase our spiritually in increments – on a whim, so to speak. As LDS Church members, the standard of righteous living is high. Since I joined the Church as a teenager, the standards of the world have diminished at a shocking rate. The standard of truth and righteousness has remained the same. (As we would expect, the Lord’s standards don’t shift and change, like those of the world.)
Here’s a real example. I’m not making this up: A new movie came out when I was about 15. People were talking about it but not many were going to see it. The film was rated X. To be honest, none of my friends would even think of seeing it. Or, if they did, they’d never admit it in front of the rest of us.
Back about a decade and a half ago I saw that old movie in a video rental store. It was rated PG-13. The content had not been edited. Nothing had changed. . . except the standards by which it was judged.
That was a wake-up call for me. Since then, we’ve only gone even more downhill, with permissiveness and debauchery. It’s hard to raise children with an understanding of goodness. They see and hear too much of the other stuff in school, on the radio, on the television. If we aren’t careful, our own standards will slip. You know… getting too comfortable with the easiness of the way.’ [1 Ne 17:41.] With the teachings of salvation right in front of us, we can forget and buy into the seemingly simpler, darker manner of living. Even in small, subtle ways.
Since it’s hard to fix everything at once, we can take the elephant approach: One bite at a time.
What if, on a whim, today we decided to:
1) Read scriptures prayerfully? And then, go grab them and start reading? We could determine to do this one little thing every day. If a habit takes only three weeks to become – a habit – then, we’ll be in the groove of reading sacred text daily in less than a month.
2) Actually stop by and see Brother Buddy Boy or Sister Sweetie Pie, to let them know we’re thinking of them? We’d enjoy it and realize it’s not that big a deal. Stronger friendships would be forged. Pleasant memories would be created. It turns out that we help ourselves more than we’ll ever help the brothers and sisters we decide to serve’ – and our quality of life would beautifully improve as we kept up this kind of experience on a regular basis.
3) Hop on YouTube to look for something uplifting and inspiring? There are so many options. There are new mormon.org posts going up all the time, and it takes only a couple of minutes to lift our mood by watching a video or listening to a hymn that is accompanied by a simple slide show.
I’m using three simple examples that I’ve tried before. I don’t always stay in the groove. So I have to start over. I think that’s perfectly okay… Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither am I. Sometimes a little do-over comes because I’ll, on a whim, choose “today” to start over once more on #3. Tomorrow, or next week, I can follow another whim, and build on another principle.
This way, we can perfect ourselves in simple obedience to holy principles – one little bit at a time. We may one day realize that our hearts are truly changing, and – at least in one or two or ten ways – we have “no more desire to do evil.” [Alma 19:33]
Anything that keeps us from God pre-empts us from His blessings. All that is required of us is to let go of the things of this world and, with full intent, follow Christ. We really can do this. Not partially, and not without whole soul. Not whimsically, but by building -sometimes on a good’ whim – the holy habits of righteousness.
The gospel really is simple. And life really is hard… and busy. The implementation of spiritual increments, especially when we think we’re doing something on a whim [but it’s actually the Spirit helping us along], is a simple and refreshing way to keep moving upward along this beautiful mortal path. That’s a good thing. And goodness matters.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who joined the LDS Church as a teenager.
She has worked for many years to share her testimony of Jesus Christ with other folks. Please visit her website at www.goodnessmatters.com. She began this venture as a place to share goodness and offer hope.
Her propensity for being the queen of embarrassing moments notwithstanding, she sums up her journey like this: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. She also writes for the website www.nauvootimes.com . Vickey loves the mountains, the ocean, going on drives with her husband, laughter, her kids and grandchildren, and eating brownies.
She teaches Gospel Doctrine in her ward and her husband, Dean, serves on the High Council.