There have been several important days in the last week – Christmas of course, we moved into our house, my birthday and tomorrow is New Year’s Day. What a great time for me to reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. Because if feels like I am starting over in so many ways, I think I will take Spencer W. Kimball’s counsel “Substitute habits, change environment” and make it my New Year’s resolution. As I thought about substituting habits and changing my environment I realized that there are many small steps I need to take. For example, in order to have an orderly house, I need to have a place for everything. And that is just an example of my physical environment. Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote: “Some Christians carry their religion on their backs. It is a packet of beliefs and practices which they must bear. At times it grows heavy and they would willingly lay it down, but that would mean a break with old traditions, so they shoulder it again. But real Christians do not carry their religion, their religion carries them. It is not weight; it is wings. It lifts them up, it sees them over hard places, it makes the universe seem friendly, life purposeful, hope real, sacrifice worthwhile. It sets them free from fear, futility, discouragement, and sin—the great enslavers of men’s souls. You can know a real Christians when you see him, by his buoyancy” (Twelve Tests of Character , 87–88). And that is how I want to be.
John received an email from Nathan that I think shows that Nathan is a real Christian. “I have been really surprised at how there aren’t any real challenges for me with being away. I sure do miss you guys, and I was so excited to be able to call you last week, but even at the MTC I remember just thinking, ‘well, this is how life is now. Cool.’ I have seen many other missionaries that definitely don’t have that same feeling. I am really grateful that hasn’t been a challenge I have faced on my mission. I think my biggest challenge has been the question of ‘am I doing enough?’ And the further into my mission I go, the more I realize, the answer is yes. Sure I make a lot of mistakes – I say things I shouldn’t, or don’t say things I should but at the end of two years that isn’t what is going to define my mission. I have learned pretty recently that those powerful spiritual experiences come as often as you will let them and as often as you want to make them happen and those are what will stick out. I am trying to have that thought every day I leave the house, ‘alright, I am going to make something memorable happen today.’ And if I remember that throughout the day, things do happen. Anyways, I can honestly say that I love being out here. I don’t think I could say that at first.”
On a side note, Nathan used to love Calvin and Hobbs so when I saw this I thought of him.
I hope that we may look forward to a new year with faith, testimony, confidence, and determination to better ourselves – unless you are already perfect!