As I continue to mature, I realize what a difference goals, dreams, aspirations, and even attitudes make a tremendous and serious difference in how I perceive and live my life. Just recently, I made the connections that these are the “treasures” that the Savior referred to in Matthew 6 and repeated in 3 Nephi 13.
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
When my dreams, hopes, and aspirations slip and my sights are on things in the here and now, I struggle:
- I love to workout — especially run — but my goals become things like looking “right,” running faster, or even beating someone else’s time. Since I can only get the perfect body with the help of Photoshop, I set my goals higher as soon as my pace gets close to what I wanted, and there will always be someone faster than me, this is an extremely frustrating goal.
- I believe I have a duty to be the best that I can be, but when my goals are focused in the wrong place, I begin searching for the approval and validation of the people around me. My biggest struggle is when I feel I have been judged unfairly and treated poorly because I have been misjudged. I feel like I am definitely “better” than “those people,” and feel offended when they are given accolades and I am not.
I could continue the list, but I’m going to stop here!
Using those two ideas again, here’s how my life changes when I keep my eyes firmly focused on how marvelous the Atonement is, how grateful I am that I have not been given all that I truly deserve, and that this life is a temporary educational experience:
- I have had a couple of sacred (to me) experiences in which I know that God wants me to be sure to stay physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit. When I remember the true purpose of exercising and running, I am already meeting my goal. I am more healthy in my 40’s than I was in my 30’s. I can calm down about getting “better” and stop injuring myself, and I feel joy as I run, as I work to overcome my weaknesses and imperfections, and as I repent when I fail.
- When I am fixed on eternal things, the most important thing to me is to know that my Heavenly Father is happy with me. I don’t worry about how I measure up to anyone else on any other scale. While it will still take time and patience to overcome the sense of being offended when someone who has hurt me deeply is praised, I can hang on to the promise that the struggle is for my growth and benefit and that the power and grace found in the Atonement will help me overcome when it is God’s time. I live free from the worry of what others think or how they are doing, and I can usually be happy that someone else is getting the credit they deserve.
As I close, I feel like I need to share the idea that I believe there is a level of divine service and joy above working for treasures in heaven. There have been times in my life where I have truly risen above the “what’s in it for me” attitude and I have been able to go through my days choosing the best that I can and helping others as I can simply because I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I just want others to have the chance to feel it, too. Those are the times I have been most at peace, and my biggest goal is to get there again and stay there.
That’s what I treasure most.