Eternal Shelf Life

At this point, I can’t really remember what I was reading, but I do remember that it was one of the education lessons for the 12-13 year-old Sunday School class. I had been asked to sub that day.

I was excited to be teaching about the value of learning — there’s not much more that can bring out all of the passion in a teacher! I prayed, I prepared, and I found one of the greatest gems that I can think of lately!

One of the “extra” readings was an article that Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Kristen, wrote together in 2009, “Learning and Latter-day Saints.”  The concept I found is that education is vital, because it has “an eternal shelf life.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, certain phrases tend to stick with me and roll around in my brain. “Eternal shelf life” is one of those phrases.


I had been looking for a way to define how I should prioritize my life and make sure that my standard and goals are in line with the gospel. Somehow, this phrase made it all make sense.

For instance, my job can be demanding, and if I let it, it could become the only focus of my life. That’s not who I am. But, I also am a Latter-day Saint who believes in giving an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Where do I draw the line? The answer is in “eternal shelf life.”

  • Touching other’s lives has eternal shelf life, and I need to be attentive to each person with whom I have contact. I need to give the children in my classroom the best education I can possibly give, for learning is also eternal. However, putting pressure on myself to be perfect actually decreases my effectiveness and my ability to focus on the children that come into my classroom. I have to balance.
  • My marriage has eternal shelf life. My husband and I were sealed in a holy temple of the Lord. If we want to claim those blessings, however, we have to live up to the covenants that we made. I also need to spend time letting him know how much I love him and need him in my life, even if that means setting my job aside for a while.
  • The character I build while I am in mortality has eternal shelf life. Whoever I am when I die is who I will be when I am resurrected to stand before the Lord’s judgement bar.  Striving to live up to the Lord’s standards, turning to the Lord for help and strength, and trusting in the promptings of the Holy Spirit are essential.

Most everything else that I can think of has a limited shelf life. Sure, enough money to be comfortable is nice, but the Lord isn’t going to ask me how big my savings account was when we review how I spent my time on the earth. The same thing goes for clothes, houses, cars, etc. While it feels good to have the trappings of mortal success, none of that carries over into the eternities. Instead, what we did with our money, cars, houses, boats, and other things will matter.

“Eternal shelf life” has changed my perspective.