Rob gave me the topic of Christ's teachings. Considering the breadth and depth of this topic, you''re all going to have to sit here til oh---next year. Don't blame me, talk to Rob Harrill.
For those of you who don't know me, I'm Pamela Kinnaird, wife to the amazing and wonderful Lance Kinnaird and mother to his four children. We were in this ward for ….12 years? When we made the flawed decision to sell our home and move to Puyallup, against the counsel of then Bishop Geddes. Once we did that, locusts descended, boils erupted and the three horseman of the apocalypse took up residence in our back yard there until we repented and moved back here. My husband works for Boeing, I work for the Shoreline school district as a Spanish teacher and a Spanish interpreter and in my spare time I dabble in freelance writing and world domination.
Because the topic given to me was so broad, it took me a while to narrow down what it was that I wanted to talk about. Then I realized that there was one topic that was very close to my heart lately. It relates to what Christ said about being of good cheer, of laying down your burdens and taking up his yoke. Christ often said 'be of good cheer'. He said it in Matthew 9 when the man with palsy was brought before him and he healed him. In 3rd Nephi the Savior told the nephites to lift up their heads and to be of good cheer because the sign of his coming was to come that night and on the morrow he would come into the world.
Christ said it John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world”
Perhaps I'm talking about this because it's what I need to hear the most. Being happy. Making the best of situations that come to us in life. I admit, I've not always been able to do that. To be of good cheer no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Our youngest daughter has been having some health issues for the past few months. The other morning she said to me:
“Mom? I feel like I'm going to throw up. And not in a good way”
I asked her if there WAS a good way to throw up.
She thought for a moment and then replied “You can throw up candy”
We all know that being sick to to our tummies and throwing up is not the greatest of feelings---but Ashley looked at it in a different light and thought she knew how to make an unpleasant experience better. Mom, you can throw up candy.
We are often told that we need to be happy---that because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives that we ought to be the happiest people on earth---and we should be. But are we always? Of course we're not. We have bills to pay, diapers to change, bad traffic to get through, socks to match and dishes to wash. For many of us our 401k's have tanked, some of us have lost jobs or are awaiting that dreaded layoff notice and the economy isn't what we'd like it to be.
Many years ago I began to write professionally and it was usually about my family. As many of you know, we like many other families, have had our ups and downs. We've had job losses, we've had severe health issues with our children, we've had a son put his hand into a blender and we've lost loved ones. None of these things were happy events but somehow I managed to write humorous pieces on some of these circumstances we were experiencing. I'm not saying that I had good cheer oozing out my pores 24/7, but it helped to make fun of the trials and tribulations we were going through. Instead of moaning and groaning, I chose to laugh.
A few months ago I was having a great deal of difficulty being of good cheer. There were painful circumstances going on in my life that were causing me an enormous amunt of grief and sorrow. I found it hard to be happy. In fact I found it impossible. These were not events that I felt I could laugh at. In fact I spent a great deal of time so sad that I felt my heart was broken and would never ever be mended again.
I came to sacrament meeting in this building one morning---with a depth of sorrow in my soul that is difficult to express. I was praying mightitly to the Lord. I knew I should be happy---I knew that I was here on this earth to have joy. I so wanted to be happy. I knew I had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ....and yet I was filled to overflowing with sadness. I felt my eyes welling up with tears as the announcments were made that day. I silently prayed to be happy. To let go of what was killing me. I was praying so hard....how can I be happy Lord? Please...help me to be happy.
As I opened my hymnal to sing the opening song for the meeting, I knew the song was meant for me to hear that morning.
Oh no. Not this song. The tears came fast and furious from my eyes, wrung out from my wounded heart.
I was really crying at this point. I wasn't able to sing or even see the words on the page.
The world is our foe...but happy are we. Happy are we.
Later, sitting in the church parking lot and again, I was crying, I told Heavenly Father that I could no longer carry this burden. I could not do this one moment longer. I had done all I could and it was not enough and there was no joy in my heart or in my life. And I hurt. I hurt more than I had ever hurt in my entire life. So I did what I had not ever done before in my life up to that point. When we were told our daughter had had a stroke and had cerebral palsy, I didn't do this. When my husband lost his job three times during our marriage---I didn't do this. When I was serving a mission in Venezuela, I did not do this. When I lost a baby, I didn't do this. When my mother was dying of cancer, I still did not do this.
What did I do that day, sitting out in the parking lot? I prayed and cried and then I laid my burden at the Lord's feet, I handed it to Him and I found joy.
I felt a physical lifting of weight from my heart, from my shoulders, from my very soul.
I wasn't in this alone. I had help. Often in my prayers I'd asked my Father in Heaven to bless my children, to bless me to be a better mother, to feel of His spirit more abundantly in my life but I had never ever LAID MY BURDENS at His feet in such a manner.
Our prophet, in his closing remarks in Church conference a few weeks ago, spoke on this very subject.
He said, “How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? Again from the scriptures: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”
Be of good cheer. Despite our circumstances, despite our pain and our sorrow. Be of good cheer. The Lord has promsied to stand by us no matter what. We are not alone in our trials.
In that same talk, President Monson gave specific examples of people who faced dire circumstances in their lives and over came them. He spoke of a woman who lost all of her children on a trek from Prussia in the cold of winter. She had to dig each child's grave into the frozen ground with a spoon. When her last baby died, she did not even have the spoon and dug that grave with her bare hands. Years later she was asked how she could be happy---after all she had endured. She replied that she had the gospel of Jesus Christ and was never alone in her trials. None of us are forced to leave our homes and go out into the cold and unforgiving world with our little ones, only to see them die one after the other. We face different challenges and trials.
Further from President Monson's talk:
“From the holy scriptures we read, “Behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in [Him], they who have endured the crosses of the world, . . . they shall inherit the kingdom of God, . . . and their joy shall be full forever.
I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”
Brothers and sisters, I testify to you that we have a loving Father in Heaven. That He does indeed desire that we be happy. He is real. He loves us and He is there for us. I love what President Monson said, that the future is as bright as our faith.
Be of good cheer brothers and sisters. Hold fast to the iron rod, hold fast to your faith and to your joy. Be of good cheer.
And remember....you can always throw up candy.
I bear my testimony of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen