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There is a life equation that works as sure as the sun rises each day; as surely as we rotate around that sun.  Somehow, it was vaguely ‘within me’ as a child, and I sought for that equation (without realizing it) because I believed in God, and I believed in the “more” that had to be part of each individual as well as part of some huge ongoing plan.

As it turned out, I began to learn more of an Eternal plan as a teenager, and eventually came to understand that when we first ‘seek…the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, all these things shall be added unto you.” Not that I mastered it, and did everything right, and sat smilingly upon my Happy Chair as the bad times rolled. Not at all. But through those harder times, I came to ‘get it.’ I began to ingest the ways that I could receive some of the wonderful offerings that awaited me if I would remain pure in intent.

That shouldn’t be mistaken for ‘pure’ and above all sin. Not at all. Only One is sinless. But I had a quiet measuring stick for when I was falling off the bandwagon, or veering off course. I felt strength when I knew I was doing my best, whether or not others believed or knew it.  They came from a Better Place, from which God’s best and sweetest gifts are given. What a grand discovery!

All of ‘these things’ are the things of God. The best, happiest, clearest, most loving, most comforting, and strength-giving things to be discovered in mortality are the ones that money can’t buy and earthly prestige or honor can’t offer. The key is for us to recognize what is within our grasp, and to live up to our privileges as followers of Him who wants to bless us. We need to live up to our privileges!

Does this mean He grants us a life that is easy, that is carefree, or void of difficulty? Many times, it seems just the opposite. We are all in the Hard Times club. Eventually, there is a wall to hit, a heartbreaking season, a painful loss.

There will be devastations, crime and hurt, loss and pain in life. The sorrow is that during those times we allow the current or past hard times to sully our spirit, or give up on rising to the occasion and gaining the added oomph we need to keep moving along with a hopeful heart.

The adding-on comes when we shift attitude and look UP. It seeps in when we continue forward in the right direction. As President Thomas S. Monson recently said, we need to “choose the hard right instead of the easy wrong.” This comes easier for some than others. It takes stamina! It takes vision. It takes faith and hope. It takes courage.

Because we all, even in trying our best, fall flat at times, here are a few suggestions from very good sources that may help us all in our process of accepting “all things to be added upon” us:

  1. David O. McKay taught: “The purpose of the church is to change people, to make bad men good and good men better. The most important things that ever happen in our world are those changes that lift us upward toward God and our destiny.”

Here, we see with our mortal eyes, and miss things as they really are. Helen Keller said that the most important things in life are not seen with the eyes, but felt in the heart. We ‘feel’ the Holy Spirit in our heart, most often. That whispering comes not only to our minds, but seems to waft through our heart. It is quiet and quick. Only when we’re still enough may we feel, or hear, or recognize it.  Those promptings are the gifts that lift us and keep us moving along in the right direction. And blessings come.

  1. William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that you can change your circumstances by changing your attitudes of mind.”

We need to change ourselves. It is hard work to shift position, to recognize and do away with foolishness or sin or misconception or negative concepts. Like Elder Sterling W. Sill said, “ there are a whole lot more people who want to get into church than who want to get the church into them.” (Thy Kingdom Come, Deseret Book, 1975.)

If we removed ‘the church’ and focus on God’s love and blessings, we see the correlation. There is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us. But there are a number of things we can do to stop Him from blessing us. Not because He doesn’t want to bless us, but because we need to do our part. A paycheck generally requires working steadily at a job. We recognize his blessings when we’re doing our part!

  1. Sir Francis Bacon wrote in a way that may be enjoyably and simply learned:
    “It is not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong.
    It is not what we earn but what we save that makes us rich.
    It is not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned.
    It is not what we think but what we do that makes us successful.
    It is not what we preach but what we practice that makes us Christians.

I would add – it makes us good people, regardless of the faith we practice. It’s also important to remember that what we do begins in our minds, so it is formulated in our thoughts before we become ‘doers.’ And blessings may flow.

  1. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance….”

To work on ourselves so that we have this abundance of add-ons is wonderful beyond measure!

  1. Build character first, for the real ‘things’ to be added.
  • The world would tempt us to
  • Put work,
  • Make money,
  • Climb the success ladder (in whatever field is chosen. There are tons from which to choose),
  • Become adored by a few or many,
  • Seek out pleasures
  • Be better than so-and-so
  • Envy and be jealous of so-and-so (sometimes to the extent that folks sabotage fellow workers in order to watch them fall.)

To expect the prize without putting in the effort will bring disappointment. When we are about to pass away, points A through H above will have little or no importance. What will matter? The good things. The blessing we’ve been to others. The obedient heart we’ve cultivated. The things from a loving God who wants us to know true happiness—not a cheap and temporary counterfeit. How right we feel within our selves regarding God and our fellowmen.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught of “the ultimate expression of agency and divine justice” we understand in Jeremiah 11:20: “I the Lord search the heart. I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways.”  This gives us a heads up to lean on the ample arm of the Lord, never succumbing to the decadence of the world to the point of being “past feeling.” (Mor 9:20)  Nor does it allow room for putting the’ things’ of this world ahead of the things of the Lord.

I have chosen the ‘easy wrong’ before, and hard times have come from it. I have tried to dismiss, in my mind and heart, what the Spirit has whispered to me about certain persons; and I have made them a part of my life. Disaster ensued. I have listened to counsel and followed it without knowing HOW to know for myself.  I have worked in a field where a few people quietly conceived ways to get others out of their path so they could ‘come out on top.’ It still makes me shiver to think of it.

But such is life. We have a plan that allows us to gain experience and go through times of intense learning. It has allowed me experience to figure it out.

I can now tell you with conviction and conversion, that we must know- for ourselves- whether to go left or right, whether to choose this way or that. There are many highways in the world. But there is a Higher Way to travel when we are trying to be Godly people. To know things are they really are, we must rely on the One who can reveal them to us. We have to put first things first. We may open our mind and our heart so that we may, through our works and intent of heart, receive all that He wants to offer us. We can, with joy in us, contribute to the joy of others.

What a grand way to work toward the kind of life that we want, filled with the best of ‘things’ even in hard times, and filled with hope even when the storms are raging. Trusting all the while that the Higher Things are ours as we live up to the privileges offered us!

Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, professional speaker, author, and songwriter/singer.  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. 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 website is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ.  

She & her husband have 8 children & 8 grandchildren. She is 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.