Look. Everything about this pandemic sucks. I don’t think I need to explain all the reasons why it does. But you know what else sucks? Everybody’s attitude! This has been a problem for much longer than the virus has been an issue, but it is certainly exacerbated by the current conditions.
This pandemic does not affect everybody equally. Everywhere you look, you see people suffering in different ways, whether it is economic, physical, emotional, or any combination of other maladies. There are numerous acts of service happening and people trying to make the best out of tough situations. But not everyone feels like these things are enough. A very loud faction of people are dead set on making sure we are not only aware of our privileges, but ashamed, remorseful, and disgusted with ourselves. They just love to focus on misery and darkness.
Can we knock it off? Good gracious, there is so much in life to look forward to. What many of these people don’t realize is that we are fully aware of our shortcomings. We know we are far from perfect, and were it not for Christ’s saving atonement, we would be as damned as anybody else.
We remain optimistic. Even when the whole world is on fire.
This, but unironically.
Why? Because we have Christ at the center of our hearts. We actively focus on the positive.
“…if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”Joseph Smith, Article of Faith 13
We, optimists, are not ignorant of the terrible things happening in the world, or even the bad habits we ourselves have. We are well aware of our faults and the suffering of others. Just because we aren’t demanding life to be easy for everyone does not mean we have no charity in our hearts for the downtrodden. Just because we ourselves are not yet perfect does not mean we are not striving to be better. Just because we don’t openly condemn every single bad thing we see does not mean we aren’t actively working to change the world.
In Elder Holland’s talk at the April 2020 General Conference, he stated that the world needs so much more than:
“a thin gruel of therapeutic deism,
cheap symbolic activism,
carefully couched heresy,
[or sometimes just] uninspiring nonsense.”
You see, we truly grasp that, though the world is not yet perfect and we have quite a long way to go, we can still press forward with a “perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” And that the trick to doing that is to “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end…” – 2 Nephi 31:20
I’ll share a personal story on being optimistic through hard times.
In winter last year, life was rough for my little family. My husband’s commission-based job was suddenly getting very few leads, and then corporate changed their method of giving paychecks. There were hiccups in the roll-out and we were not making enough to survive. On top of this, my health was awful. I had fevers daily due to a diseased colon that had previously been operated on and was developing abscesses. The abscesses pressed against muscles in my hip and I literally could not walk. I was bedridden. I had a semi-permanent ostomy and had painful ulcers on my skin around it. I was preparing to have my entire colon removed and a new, permanent ostomy placed. I was underweight and unable to be the mother I wanted to be. When I did have the surgery, I was not allowed adequate pain management due to the opioid crisis. Life was absolutely miserable.
But through it all, we CHOSE to find good things. We leaned heavily into prayer and prophetic counsel and faith. We paid our tithing, even though finances were scary. We knew that, through these trials, we would be strengthened. By humbling ourselves and accepting help, we knew we would be able to better help others in need with empathy and charity in the future. Though my health had been awful since 2014, we clung to the belief that I would one day be healthy again.
My surgery was in February. Major surgery, a total colectomy. Nine months later, I ran a 5K for Thanksgiving.
I never would have been able to do that if I focused heavily on my pain, on my permanent limitations, on how unfair things had been for us.
Things could be so much better already if we would simply change our tune from constant criticism and gloom to one of hope and optimism. The Lord has promised that when we follow Him, truly give our will to Him, and sacrifice our pains to Him, our lives will be blessed.
“…the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”Mosiah 24:15
Be cheerful. Through Christ, we are saved! He is risen! We will not suffer forever, as long as we prioritize faith over fear. Optimism over pessimism. Gratitude over envy. Hope over misery. Charity over pride.
Make it a great day every day. It is not always easy, but you will see your life improving when you start to keep your chin up.
- “A Perfect Brightness of Hope” -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2020
- “The Infinite Power of Hope” -President Dieter F. Uchtforf, October 2008
- “Brightness of Hope” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell, October 1994