02 June 2015

Being of Good Cheer

Inspired by a post I originally published on “A Prayer of Faith” in 2006.

Nine years ago this month, my father passed away peacefully just eighteen days short of his hundredth birthday. Even as his physical capacities gradually diminished during the last few years, he continued to live by himself, fixing his own meals, and using his own recipe to bake his super-nutritious bread. Both he and my mother, who had died seven years previously, impressed all who knew them with their positive, cheerful outlook on life, even in the midst of their challenges.

I have sometimes wondered if my own basically cheerful nature was inherited, or more a result of seeing and following my parents’ example. Both genetics and observation no doubt come into play, but shortly after my father’s passing I found evidence that they were actively trying to teach me the value of being cheerful when I was very young.

In going through boxes of my parents’ papers, I came across a note my father had written to me when I was not yet four years old. He wrote it on a small piece of paper, folded it in half, addressed it to me personally, and enclosed it with a letter mailed to my mother when we were both away from home visiting her side of the family in another state. It reads in part:

“I hope you enjoyed your very long ride and that you were a very happy and obedient girl all of the time. It is so very easy to be cheerful some of the time that a little bit of cheerfulness is hardly worth a thimbleful of sand, but it is so very, very difficult to be cheerful all of the time that if you can accomplish it the value to you will be greater than a hundred tea sets or forty-seven [dolls] or thirty-nine doll houses with real wooden chairs and tables and pianos that make music. So try very hard, won’t you?”

As I read that note, I thought of the Savior’s admonitions to “be of good cheer,” which are usually accompanied by very good reasons why such cheer is possible even when in the midst of sore trials.

 When bowed down with remorse for our sins, we can remember that Jesus said to the man sick of the palsy, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.” (Matt. 9:2)

When we feel forsaken, we can be heartened by the Savior’s words in D&C 68:6: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you. . . .”

When we are discouraged by our weaknesses and failures, we can ponder D&C 78:18: “And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “I come to you with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we try to ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still the voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” (from Ensign, Apr. 1986, 2–4)

As we forget ourselves and reach out to others in friendship and love, we can more fully feel Heavenly Father’s love for us.  Happiness fills our souls as we act as instruments in God’s hands to bring to pass good in the world around us.

President Hinckley also taught: “The Gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice.” (from Ensign, Nov. 1984, 91–92).

In the eight months since my husband passed away, I have had countless opportunities to see my pain turn into peace as I have placed my trust in the Lord, and allowed his grace to calm my troubled heart. Whenever I have chosen to lay my burdens at His feet, I have been reassured that although I am now separated from my dearest love, that separation is temporary, and I have many, many reasons to rejoice.

My earthly father, Arthur B. Erekson, did me a great service, both in writing me that note when I was a little girl, and in teaching me the value of being cheerful by his life-long personal example.  At this time in my life, I am even more sure I can continue to follow his advice to “try very hard” to “be cheerful all of the time,” because I have learned that I don’t need to do it on my own.
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“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)


Katie said...

Thanks so much Aunt Rosalie for the beautiful post. What a great note from grandfather. You are a great example of faith and hope and I love you! Xoxo

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

Thanks, Katie. I’m so glad I found that note.

Darlene said...

Rosalie, thanks so much for this post! I was thinking about you last night and remembered seeing you had a post from several days ago so made a mental note to go back and read it. I'm sitting in the waiting room as Wayne is having knee replacement surgery so I had a little time to read it this morning and I love it! First, that you have a letter your father wrote to you when you were four years old and what a beautiful message for a four year old. Second, that your message is both timeless and timely. (I have a feeling we're going to need a good does of cheer in the coming days!) Thank you for sharing a beautiful message!

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

You are very kind, Darlene. I do hope Wayne’s surgery goes well, and he has a rapid recovery! My prayers are with your family.