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The early Settlers came as groups knitted together in faith and love, and in desire to follow Christ. Theirs was a slow and difficult journey. Most held on their way, and tediously moved forward, a little at the time – together. They were meek people – humble and submissive to the trials of the journey. Rather than rail against the dark winds blowing in their direction – or at others traveling with them – these brave folks mostly put the Lord first while they humbly put one foot in front of the other. Their meekness – their compliance to do what was required – granted them the mindset and the heart to put others first, to put the task at hand as their focus, and to make no demands.
That is wonderful and amazing to me. There was nothing of the, “What about me?” the “Me first,” mentality. The well-being of the Whole Group was more important than their personal desires or demands. Foremost, their yearning to serve the Savior was stronger than their need to put themselves first.
Have You Felt Too Picked On?
Have there been times in your life when you’ve wanted to stomp about, crying out to God, “Why me?”, “What about the things I want?” “Can’t I just have a reprieve?”, “This isn’t fair!” or “How can I do this?!”
This may be because:
- A relationship has gone south
- Our health is taken from us
- Our expectations have been dashed
- We feel lonely and alone
- A loved one is going through dark, harsh times and it hurts our heart
- Things seem so unfair in our world
- Our needs seem to continually be set aside because someone else needs something ‘more’ or events come up to continually shove our desires into a distant future
- Neighbors or friends don’t have to deal ‘with all the problems’ we do.
The list could go on and on. Each of us is more susceptible to some issues than others. The Adversary has a handy-dandy novel full of ways to trip us up; to seek to focus our attention on what we do not have. Especially when we begin comparing our life to someone else’s. Particularly when we are centering all our attention on SELF. In noting the list above, almost every one is “me” based.
Therefore, we seem to focus less on what we do have or what wonderful thing may come down the pike. If you want to call it the Pollyanna complex, feel free. Some poke fun at those who always try to see the upside. But, I imagine the chiders wish they could do that, themselves!
I write all of this to say that it is human and normal, when things affect us “in our extremities” to feel overcome, temporarily. Sometimes we may wonder – whether we officially ask the question of Heavenly Father or not – why we must go through another “tough journey” or face another dark trial.
Choices Make All The Difference – Really!
We have choices to make when we feel like life has blitzed on us. We may choose to look up and follow the example of meekness of those who have come before us; be they the pioneers, the first settlers of America – or whatever country you call home, or persons we’ve read about whose actions were exemplary. A note here- To ACT rather than to REACT is a recurring thought when we learn about spirituality. It focuses on how to solve a problem, not wallow in the harshness of it.
To act – especially in a positive, trusting-in-the-Lord manner is a great tool in our spiritual survival kit! Meekly, we set aside our anger, upset or frustrations. Then we can go with more clear minds and more spiritually open hearts to our Father.
The meekness can come in and overtake any of those feelings or expectations that lead us down an ugly path. We become more like Christ.
The Attributes of Meekness
Here is beautiful instruction from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Meekness is one of the attributes of Deity. Instructively, Jesus, our Lord and Exemplar, called attention to Himself as being “meek and lowly in heart.” (Matt. 11:29.) Paul extolled the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:1.) The Greek rendition of the word meek in the New Testament, by the way, is “gentle and humble.”” (BYU Fireside Sept. 1982)
The norm in today’s society is to be impatient- to think “Me first”, to cut corners, to be self-absorbed, to do it “our way”. It seems an impatient generation, and one that may easily set aside discipleship and patience. Yet, scripture warns us that “none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.” (Moro. 7:43–44.) While worldliness is taking many of us down a path of “Me! Me!” the Lord tenderly taught – over and over again – that if we are focused on substantial things, the insignificant will diminish until it has disappeared from our mind and heart!
Meekness is that beautiful virtue that helps bind together all the other Godly attributes – chiefly faith, hope and charity. It is the glue-magnet in our soul that keeps us pulling toward Christ. It is the binding celestial string that ties together all the good things in us, and allows them to grow. Why? Because we are willing to follow the Perfect One. And helps us realize we can keep trying.
This chunk or beautifully spiritual strength comes from Truman G. Madsen, in an address at BYU:
“We are taught that the opposite of humility is arrogance, and our prophet has recently alerted us against that. I suggest that the opposite of meekness is demanding-ness. “I demand mine.” Some in the world are apparently willing to do anything wrong in order to get our rights. But the teaching of Jesus turns that upside down. The meek will inherit the earth precisely because they understand the kind of caring that leads to sharing. And they demand, like the Christ, nothing. They pray as He prayed for deliverance and relief. But their blessings flow unto them without compulsory means because they submit to a higher and wiser will.”
Agency Is A Gift to Help Us Grow in Meekness
This is because agency is a gift we brought with us to mortal earth. How we use that agency will grant us deeper humility and more ability to be taught, or it will take us away into the fray of what is currently popular and easy to achieve. Self- consumption rather than care for the greater good.
As a mother of growing children, I wanted my children to WANT TO do the right thing. I hoped for them to “CHOOSE THE RIGHT” so that their spiritual development would strengthen. Then, when the tougher times of their own journey came, they would meekly (!) and wisely place their trust in God and in Jesus Christ. I wish it for my grandchildren. I pray for it to be so for my friends. I plead to keep and grow it myself.
Understanding Allows Us Freedom from Sadness And Ability to Improve Traits
With meekness, compliance to the Lord’s teachings is easier. Difficulties may be looked at as lessons – as experience – to have those “Ah Ha!” moments of spiritual clarity that bind us more tightly to the Lord.
Most interesting, as I survey life from my older age and with much ‘experience’ behind me – and, I’m pretty sure- much more to come- I rejoice in the lessons learned. I realize that all the hurtful parts disappear and the kernel of truth- the core of joy – remains! While there may be physical limitations, the spiritual and emotional ones grow more boundlessly!
Elder Maxwell said “Meekness, however, is more than self-restraint; it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness, reflecting certitude, strength, serenity, and a healthy self-esteem and self-control.”
Isn’t that what each of us truly, genuinely wants of ourselves? When we give over Everything to our Lord, there is a relaxation in our whole being. A first reaction to something new and hard – that splash of ice water in the face feeling – we may be scared or upset or “done” with all this earthly stuff. Yet, the more pure “us” – the one that Father sent here to gain experience, to aptly apply agency and practice policy –seeks for meekness to remember the Lord. In so doing, our needs are swallowed up in His. That allows us to better see that beautiful meekness working in our own life!
Just Keep Trying
The Savior said we should “take up [the] cross daily”—not just once or occasionally. (Luke 9:23.) All the time, fair weather and fierce storm, can we remember Elder Maxwell’s definition of meekness? What a great exercise it is to present ourselves in a manner pleasing to Jesus, with strength, serenity, healthy self- control and self-esteem. All of this while climbing the mountain of faith.
As I’ve learned from others, I see how they shift from negative to positive. I watch how they back away from the “me” or “I”, and practice patience and long-suffering. They look, with awe, to God and His love. They press forward to grow in personal possibilities. The meek may seem weak to some, yet they are merely self- confident enough and trusting enough in Diety that they care little what the world thinks. THAT’S a beautiful thing!
One more thought from Neal A. Maxwell, “Sometimes, …in our prayers we ask for the Lord to take the lead of our minds and hearts, but, as soon as we say “amen,” we go unmeekly in our predetermined directions.” (BYU Fireside,1982)
That’s worth a chuckle- until we realize how easy it is to do exactly what he warns us about!
There are so many more things for us to ‘talk about’ here. Sometimes some of you write to me with wonderful add-ons and practical, wonderful things I should have included. You’re right. I so appreciate your interest and your insights. I hope I can, in pure meekness, remember and learn from the notes you send. You are beautiful people, full of meekness.
One day, we will live together in a way that acknowledges the King of King in all things. Our personal system will give way to a more efficient and beautiful one based on Eternal Truth and Righteousness. Until then, let’s keep on practicing that quiet but oh-so important trait of meekness. It is, for sure, a beautiful one!
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergrad studies were in musical theater, and her Masters degree is in communications. She has taught for CES programs for 30 years. She began by speaking for the National Press Bureau speakers association. A Billboard award winning songwriter, her favorite use of music is as a tool to teach. In addition to three solo albums in the Christian market, she co-wrote Women at the Well with Kenneth Cope and My Beloved Christ with Randy Kartchner. Her Facebook page Goodness Matters and her website www.goodnessmatters.com is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ.
She and her husband have 8 children & 9 grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, brownies, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.