“It’s only four-and-a-half months,” I repeated to myself as I walked down the hall of my obstetrician’s office. The last four months had passed quickly, filled with caring for our one-year-old son, my husband’s graduation from Brigham Young University, moving, a flurry of church activities, and the happy anticipation of a new baby. The prospect of the next four-and-a-half months in bed, however, suddenly overwhelmed me. I sank down on a bench in the lobby and cried.
“You’re being silly,” I told myself. “Lots of people spend years in bed!” But somehow, I didn’t feel very comforted. “Maybe the doctor is wrong,” I argued. “Maybe I won’t lose the baby if I …” But I knew he was right. And I knew I would do whatever I could to save the baby I carried.
I bowed my head and prayed, “Please, Heavenly Father, give me the strength I need to get through these months.” And quietly, the Spirit whispered, “just endure to the end of today.” My burden dissolved. I didn’t have to dread the future months of inactivity … I just had to endure this day.
During those months, I learned more and more about “enduring to the end.” One evening my mother (who traveled seventy-two miles each day to care for me and my little son, Markus) had to leave an hour early. Markus slept for fifteen minutes; then, forty-five minutes before his father would be home, he woke up crying. I called to him, but my voice from another room failed to calm him. I started to get up, but felt reassured that nothing was wrong and that we could both endure the next forty-five minutes. I lay back and began singing hymns. Inspired by an inner calmness, I continued to sing even though Markus did not stop crying immediately. Finally, he began babbling in his crib while I sang from my bed. My husband was home before we expected him. Humbly, I realized that I might have endangered my pregnancy if I had not been strengthened to endure even such a brief time.
When our beautiful, healthy little daughter was born, I forgot the principle of enduring to the end. After all, with the wait over, I didn’t need the principle any longer. Right? Wrong!
A few months later I learned that “enduring to the end” could apply not only to a serious crisis in my life, but also to my every-day activities. One Primary day as I maneuvered myself, my two little ones, and all my teaching aids into the ward house, our Primary president rushed up to me. In one breath she explained that neither of the other two Sunbeam teachers had been able to find substitutes, and the presidency were substituting for other classes. “So could you take all the Sunbeams?” She patted my shoulder and raced off without waiting for an answer. Thirty three-year-olds in one class? My mind went blank. How could I handle them? Then I smiled to myself, quiet at a voice within: “Endure to the end!”
I must admit to vaguely hoping that a few of our ever-faithful Sunbeams would stay home that day; but of course they all came. I wish I could report that my lesson was a complete, uninterrupted success, but at least I can say that with the inner assurance that I could and would endure, we got through Primary with everyone in their seats (most of the time) and no one in tears!
Since then, the idea of “enduring to the end” has become a real, working principle in my daily life. When all my children cry and demand attention while the macaroni boils dry, the telephone rings, and the neighbor’s dog digs up my petunias, I seem to have an automatic reminder that tells me I can endure just to the end of that five minutes—and most of the time I do!
I once shared my secret with a neighbor who asked how I managed to “keep my cool” when my children had pneumonia. She smiled and nodded—the principle had struck a familiar note. She explained her work in rehabilitating alcoholics. They are counseled, she said, not to think of a lifetime without alcohol, but rather to say each morning, “I will not drink today.”
Perhaps we could better deal with trials if we lived them a moment at a time; after all, in the eternal sense, no problem in this life is truly endless. As the Lord counseled the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail:
“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.” (D&C 121:7–8.)
“Enduring to the end” often brings to mind a picture of grimly “bearing up” through all sorts of difficulties. But the idea can also improve the good times.
I recall one particularly busy day. I felt happier and more organized than usual; even the children seemed more cheerful. In the middle of stirring up a cake for the ward banquet, I bowed my head and asked, “Heavenly Father, how can I live like this all the time?” The Spirit whispered the now-familiar counsel in a new context: “Just endure to the end of today!” I needn’t concern myself with “all the time,” but only with living today as successfully as possible.
We don’t live our lives in a single bound, but moment by moment and day by day. The moments come single file; we need only deal with them one at a time. Whether in good times or difficulties, our task is simply to live the present moment as successfully as we can, and “just endure to the end of today.”