“Too many of us seem to think that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations!”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell was speaking of how we handle – or don’t handle- obstacles.
It seems we have the opportunity’ during life to learn much needed lessons – many of them only after climbing rugged mountains with dark clouds and powerful storms.
On the other hand, once we begin to see that our lives may flow like a river – as we encounter experiences that are simple or complex, delightfully joyful or exceedingly difficult – we learn how to better go with the flow of our mortal journey.
Here are a few ideas that have been helpful to me:
- Utilize the water wings. There are some things I must do alone. Most things, though, may involve the help of those who love and care for me. On both sides of the veil. If I’m prideful and obstinate, the chances are slim that I’ll ask for the help I need. In the river of life, I’d best ask for the water wings of loving ministration if I don’t want to drown in the rapids. By asking my Heavenly Father for angels to come and assist, those water wings are fitted for me. I keep in mind that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that not all angels are from the other side of the veil!
- I need to stroke my arms and kick my own feet. The river is not a tiny, calm one wherein I can float my way through it! I certainly can’t expect to stay afloat if I make no effort – waiting for my SOS to reach the mighty life guards. Nope. I have to learn to swim…. And kick those legs while stroking through the occasional waves. It builds needed muscles for the next waterfall or rapids.
- Scriptures are like preservers of calm in the storm. Getting lost in the scriptures is a refuge from the storm, and a handy dandy blessing of goodness, practical advice, loving counsel, as well as the beginning point for pondering how to best navigate the river. It seems the scriptures bring hope while they allow me to keep on swimming, keep on swimming…. A life preserver!
- Look for – and connect with – others in the river of life. Christ’s way is one which celebrates our helping one another while we grow closer together and learn of Him. If someone is floating past me, so to speak, I’ve learned the value in shouting a hearty “Hello!” and beginning a friendship with my fellow swimmers. There is so much to learn together, as we seek to become more like the One who walks on the water.
- Seek a restful river bank. On occasion, we may be careless and run [or swim] faster than we have strength. The foliage and the tender grass on a verdant stream’s edge provide the rest we need. If others are able to hop back into the river, but I’m not yet ready to tread water, I’m wiser to wait for the next set of swimmers. The buddy system is wise. My swimming buddy is my husband. Sometimes there are children or friends and neighbors who swim with us. But the two of us? We are hooked at the hip… wearing, perhaps, one big life preserver!
It’s a joy to live this life, even with the ups and downs and the heartaches and the heavy dunking that sometimes take the air of our lungs. Every once in a while we need some relief. Gratefully, principles of eternal worth help us and guide us while granting assistance and rest. Our welfare is eternal. The Lord watches over and blesses us with the things we need.
We become better swimmers by virtue of practice. We learn to better watch for dangers in the water through experience. And we better understand the One who calms the seas and gathers us as a hen gathers her chickens by struggling- and overcoming- obstacles in our path. Life is more fluid- more peaceful- when we choose to get into the current and allow the Holy Ghost to take us along our moral river’s path.
Mountains to climb? I suppose it is much the same… But if there’s a river to swim down, instead of rugged terrain to navigate, all too close to the edge of a cliff? I will choose the waterway.
I somehow gain a bit more comfort when I think of my Savior who has taught that he is the Living Water. As I listen and obey, choose wisely and pray, the river of life has become easier to navigate and to enjoy!
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 happy little website at www.goodnessmatters.com She created this site, her latest venture, as a place to share goodness and offer hope.
Her favorite movie and favorite saying is: “It’s a Wonderful Life”, made more so by seasons of learning and understanding. She has taught Church youth & family programs for 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 and speaks for Inspire My Life programs around the country . Vickey loves the mountains, the ocean, going on drives with her husband, laughter, her kids and grandchildren, and eating brownies.