Tuesday, March 10, 2009

One More Shiny Nugget of Truth


I hope you won't mind my sharing one more shiny nugget of truth from ward conference. The following story was used to set the stage for a talk about adversity and perspective, topics I love separately but appreciate even more as a pair. There is no doubt that our point of view can make all the difference in the outlook we have on life. 



It's the story of a young girl who had taken her lamb to auction. As the bidding began, she looked pretty resigned to the situation, but when a $5.00 bid was received by the auctioneer, tears filled her eyes. As the bidding reached $10.00, a few of these tears spilled down the child's face, and her arm tightened reflexively around the lamb's neck. The bidding continued, passing $100.00 and ending rather definitively as a wealthy gentlemen announced his bid for $1,000.00 in a clear, decisive tone that closed the deal. As reality set in, the young girl's face crumpled, and she began sobbing. The buyer then walked over to the little girl, handed her his handkerchief, and told her that the lamb was a gift...to her. She would be taking her lamb home again.

A few years passed. In a neighboring town, an English professor who had been in attendance at the auction that day was surprised to come across a college essay that recounted the exact same story. Its writer had been in attendance at the auction and was, in fact, the very little girl who had raised the valuable lamb and taken it to be sold. Of course, the now fully-grown young woman recounted the story from her own perspective, and this is what she shared...

At the beginning of the auction, this girl had known exactly what to expect. Still, when a bid of $5.00 was offered, she couldn't help feeling proud and happy. Money had been tight that year, and she had been hoping to boost the family funds with the sale of her lamb. By the time $10.00 was bid, she gave in to her feelings and began crying a little. The bidding was going well, and clearly, her expectations were about to be realized. Her gratitude continued to mount as the price for her lamb rose. At the incredible final bid of $1,000.00 from a wealthy gentleman, she could no longer hold back her feelings and dissolved in tears of joy. Her heart, filled with happiness, appreciation, and relief at the sum she and her family would receive, simply flowed over.

The young woman finished her paper by explaining that the conclusion of her tale was a bit of a mystery. She went on to describe the bewilderment she had felt when the nice gentleman walked over and presented her with the lamb as a gift. More than once, she had asked herself what prompted him to do so.

Then, with a mental shrug of her shoulders that the reader could almost feel, the writer told the rest of the story. That evening, her family went home and celebrated their good fortune with a wonderful party. Turns out they were lucky to have the lamb because there were a lot of friends and neighbors there, and they needed it for the BBQ. She remembered, with gratitude, that no lamb had ever tasted better.

Perspective. Point of view. These do change things, don't they? The mental or physical place from which we observe can literally change night to day. This is a good lesson for us as we go through adversity, because changing our paradigm can indeed make all the difference.

What "place" are we in? What are we doing to make sure that we are viewing life from our best vantage point?

These excerpts from a talk given in 1993 to a group of young adults by a former leader of my church, President Howard W. Hunter, provide some wise counsel. His words are proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same..."Life has a fair number of challenges in it, and that’s true of life in the 1990s. Indeed, you may be feeling that you have more than your share of problems. These concerns may be global difficulties, such as the devastating famine we see in Somalia and other places in the world, or the incessant sounds of war in the former Yugoslavia, or the Middle East, or India, or Ireland, or so many other locations round the world.

"Unfortunately, some of these wars have religious or ethnic overtones, and that makes them even more tragic, if that is possible. These last few years, we have seen our fair share of economic difficulties and recession in every nation. Sometimes those economic challenges get translated into very immediate problems for college students and those trying to earn a living, and perhaps start a family, in their early adult years...

"I am just a couple of years older than most of you, and in those few extra months I have seen a bit more of life than you have. I want you to know that there have always been some difficulties in mortal life, and there always will be. But knowing what we know, and living as we are supposed to live, there really is no place, no excuse, for pessimism and despair.

"In my lifetime I have seen two world wars, plus Korea, plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the Depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy, and I have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which caused quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

"So I hope you won’t believe all the world’s difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do—especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ and give it a chance to flourish in our lives."

"Things have been worse, and they will always get better." My life experience tells me that this is true, and my spiritual experience tells me the reason...because the Lord is in charge and can be trusted.

That's my point of view, and I'm sticking by it.

5 comments:

Brad said...

Thanks for your enlightening last few posts. I really took your post yesterday to heart, counted how many gardenias I have blooming (15!), listened to a noisy flock of crows, took my little ones for a walk.
And today--this post is interesting to me, because I raised sheep as a little girl, and I never really cared that they were going to get slaughtered either. Just a cash cow (ewe).

jen said...

I always forget to log on as myself on Brad's computer. Just know it was from me and not some strange guy (he's actually quite great!)

Charmaine said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog today and offering the reassurance that I did make sense. It's something that I worry about! And I loved that story about the little girl and the lamb! Great insights from ward conference!

Natalie said...

I always love and appreciate your shiny nuggets of truth! This was a home run post! Thank you Sue!
Love you!

Heather Anderson said...

A story I have not heard and really like it. Perspective is everything.

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