Sister Burton: Keep an Eternal Perspective

Contributed By Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president

  • 17 February 2016

Choosing to act positively when times are trying rather than reacting emotionally can lift, bless, and brighten ourselves and others.

Article Highlights

  • Beware of comparisons.
  • Change can challenge resiliency.
  • Deal with depression.
  • Keep an eternal perspective.
  • Remember your infinite worth.

“One of the best things we can do to keep an eternal perspective is to increase our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, remembering how much we are valued and loved by Them.” —Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president

I recently had the privilege to visit a Relief Society whose members are all elderly sisters in their 80s and 90s. Because it is winter in this part of the world, it is a time that can be challenging for those who are shut in or have difficulty getting around.

In an attempt to cheer up these older sisters who have their fair share of health challenges, aches, pains, and other trials, one sweet sister shared something she remembered to have heard an insightful little girl say. Apparently she had heard someone was feeling sad and “blue.” The little girl had innocently suggested, “If it makes you sad to be ‘blue,’ paint yourself a different color!”

Sometimes this sunny approach is all that is needed. Simply squaring our shoulders and choosing to look on the bright side of things can often turn the tide of our feeling “blue.” Choosing to act positively when times are trying rather than reacting emotionally can lift, bless, and brighten ourselves and others.

Beware of comparisons

Another challenge to our emotional well-being might be slipping into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We might be tempted to wonder why we are not as healthy or creative or cute or smart or … or … or. You name it and we can easily slide down that slippery slope of comparison if we are not careful.

As we strive to keep an eternal perspective, seeing the “big picture” rather than focusing on mortal challenges that sometimes blur our vision, we can better manage both our emotional and mental well-being.

Simply squaring our shoulders and choosing to look on the bright side of things can often turn the tide of our feeling “blue.”

I love Sister Rosemary Wixom’s wise counsel to look vertically to the Lord for our validation rather than looking “horizontally to the world around us or from those on Facebook or Instagram” (“Discovering the Divinity Within,” Oct. 2015 general conference).

Even valiant disciples in the scriptures such as Martha fell prey to comparison. She asked, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” (Luke 10:40). This brought forth the gentle rebuke of the Savior, who surely in great love responded, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part” (Luke 10:41–42).

The Savior’s response to Peter, who also looked “horizontally,” asking, “And what shall this man do?” (John 21:21) comparing his own assignment to that of John’s, warns against comparisons. Jesus responded, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me” (John 21:22).

Change can challenge resiliency

Sometimes changes or adversities that we face—such as illness, aging, death, or divorce—can be devastating and exact a toll on our emotional, mental, and physical well-being. In a recent council, discussing the issue of emotional and mental health, we were taught by some mental health-care professionals how essential the characteristic of “resiliency” is to our emotional and mental well-being. They taught us that some of the attributes of resiliency include:

  • How well we adapt to or accept change.
  • Our commitment to tasks and relationships.
  • The ability to work on changing things we are able to control while having the ability to let go of things we cannot control.

We might each ask ourselves the question, “How resilient am I?” As parents we might ask, “How am I helping my children to become more resilient?”

Dealing with depression

In an inspiring talk where he addressed the difficult challenge of depression, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked, “How do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?” He then pleaded with those who suffer from major depressive disorder or depression: “Above all, never lose faith in your Father in heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” Oct. 2013 general conference). He then offered six recommendations:

  • Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit into your life.
  • Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being.
  • Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings.
  • Take the sacrament every week.
  • Hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • Believe in miracles.

Keep an eternal perspective

Our purpose in Relief Society is to help sisters prepare for the blessings of eternal life. As we strive to keep an eternal perspective, seeing the “big picture” rather than focusing on mortal challenges that sometimes blur our vision, we can better manage both our emotional and mental well-being.

For many years, I have loved a quote shared by President Gordon B. Hinckley. It helps me keep things in their proper perspective when I get a little out of balance. “Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride” (quoted in a talk given at a BYU Devotional on Sept. 25, 1993, titled “God Shall Give unto You Knowledge by His Holy Spirit”).

Remember your infinite worth

One of the best things we can do to keep an eternal perspective is to increase our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, remembering how much we are valued and loved by Them.

One of the best things we can do to keep an eternal perspective is to increase our faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, remembering how much we are valued and loved by Them. The Savior invited us to “remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). That applies to all of God’s children, including you and me. Our imperfection does not change how we are valued and loved. How often do we read the verses immediately following that describe just how much we are valued? “For behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh” (D&C 18:11), “which suffering caused myself … to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore” (D&C 19:18). That is how much we are loved by Him! Like Alma, I ask, “Would not this increase your faith?” (Alma 32:29).

May we resist the urge to look horizontally for validation and seek the Lord instead in our quest to be emotionally and mentally resilient to meet life’s challenges and changes. I know He will reassure us of His love and value to Him as we do so in faith.