I often envy people who say they read the scriptures and find exactly the inspiration and counsel they need for the day ahead of them. That type of specific, timely advice doesn’t often come to me, at least not as often as I’m sure it comes to others. But one day it did!
Not long ago, my sister, Paulette, and I were talking in the morning as we always do before we begin our days. We are both womenwho are busy with jobs, church callings, friends and family. Usually we share with each other the challenges of the day ahead of us. That day we were talking about all the plates we were spinning in the air, and it seemed like all of them were getting ready to fall and needed immediate attention.
For me, I had to work, then prepare my home for grown children and grandchildren coming to visit for the Memorial Day weekend with all the clean sheets and towels, dusting and vacuuming, planning of meals and a trip for groceries to the black vortex that is Walmart. Her time faced its own demands as she faced her tasks as head of our local humane society and her calling as stake Relief Society president.
We hung up, comforted in our mutual misery, and I turned to my daily scripture reading. I found myself in the 28th and 29th chapters of Mosiah and, lo and behold, Mosiah’s plates were all falling too.
First he had his four sons, who had recently and miraculously turned their lives around and had been out preaching to the church in Zarahemla, trying to repair the wrongs they had previously done. But then they came back to their father and “desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might . . . impart the work of God to their brethren, the Lamanites.” (Mosiah 28:1) Letting them go was probably not on the list of what Mosiah had planned since in verse 5, we read that “they did plead with their father many days.”
Besides his sons worrying him to death, we read further on that his people had “great anxiety” and “were desirous beyond measure” that Mosiah translate the ancient gold plates the people of Limhi had found. It seems his people were also putting demands on him at the same time he was faced with his sons leaving to go to the land of the dangerous Lamanites.
At the beginning of the next chapter, Mosiah had still another problem-he wanted to give someone else the privilege to be the king, and no one wanted to accept that responsibility.
Poor Mosiah-all of his plates seem to be falling at once and with a lot more serious matters than what he was going to feed everyone for the weekend.
As I read on and considered how Mosiah handled his three situations, I was struck by the different ways he chose to resolve his challenges all differently and how those approaches could be used in my life.
First of all, he realized that the problems with his sons were beyond his ability to solve and sought the counsel from the Lord through prayer. As a loving father who had just recently regained his sons through his own faithful prayers, he wanted them safe and close, but knew that maybe that wasn’t what the Lord wanted and certainly not what his sons wanted. So he “went and inquired of the Lord” if he should let his sons go. The Lord answered his prayer and told him to “let them go up.” The Lord also promised to keep them safe and “deliver [them] out of the hands of the Lamanites.” (Ibid, verses 6-7)
Don’t we have that same channel to the Lord when we have problems that are beyond our expertise and require a divine vision? Like Mosiah, we can seek the counsel of the Lord with problems with our children, marriages, friendships, careers, and whatever else troubles us. When the decision is beyond us and peace evades us, turning to the Lord can give us wisdom and quiet within as He leads us in the path He would have us take, even if it is nothing like the answer we naturally want.
As far as Mosiah’s demanding people and the records that awaited the attention only he could give them, Mosiah just did what had to be done. He didn’t need to pray about it or postpone it or give excuses-he just took the time and translated the plates and checked that off his list of projects to do.
It doesn’t take much searching to find things like that on our plates-preparing a lesson, calling a friend in need, finishing our home or visiting teaching, reading a book to a child. Sometimes it’s just needful and best to drop all other items on our endless lists and do the one we have been postponing.
In my own life, I hate vacuuming my downstairs family room and bedrooms. It means dragging the vacuum downstairs, changing plugs a couple of times, and pushing that heavy machine all over, then vacuuming 14 stairs. One night, however, when I had to vacuum before company came, I actually timed how long it took. I wondered how many hours it would require until my despicable task was finished. To my surprise, it took 12 minutes. Twelve minutes! I had wasted many more minutes than that worrying and complaining about it. When I tackled it, it got done much more easily than I had imagined.
Finally, as far as finding someone to relieve him of the kingship, Mosiah punted. He faced the fact that no one else wanted to be king, accepted the position for the rest of his life, but he delegated some of his responsibilities to lighten his load and organized for the future.
In our lives, do we really have to do everything ourselves, accepting the mantle of martyrdom, or can we sometimes delegate and give others the chance to serve and develop their own talents, even if the task might not be done as we would do it? Do the children’s beds have to be perfectly made or the grass perfectly mowed, or can our children be enlisted to help and learn? Can a cake-mix cake be baked by a humble sister with the desire to serve instead of the gourmet cake we could grumblingly bake?
I learned during a recent tenure as compassionate service leader that I couldn’t do it all myself. I started out freezing dinners and loaves of breads and being the first one on the doorstep with a meal. Then we went through a bad winter and a month where 31 compassionate service meals were needed in our ward. I wasn’t Super-Woman after all, but I found that a simple, quick phone call was usually met with a positive response and willingness to make a meal. Maybe I wasn’t the one being thanked in the testimony meeting, but I had done my job and lightened my load while giving someone else the opportunity to serve.
Mosiah also set in place a system for the future with judges. A little bit of planning went a long way for him and his people. I also find that as I take a few minutes at the end of my work day to clean off my desk and make a list of what I need to do the next day that I can more quickly get to work the next day on what is important.
I don’t lead as many people as Mosiah did, but I have been grateful for the insights his life gives me into how I may more efficiently, patiently, and with less complaining, manage the many plates I am juggling at one time.