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Just dropping by ... 12 months to a better life

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 31 December 2020
2021

In the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am not sure how the feeble old man of 2020 staggered out and the chubby new babe of 2021 bounced into our lives.

The confetti, the whistles, the fireworks and the midnight kisses were banned in places as the fear of mingling tingled in the air. I am not sure how many “Auld Lang Syne” melodies wafted through the air but, celebrations or not, here we are in 2021. Thank heavens 2020 is gone. What a year! We hope 2021 will be filled with new hope and peace.

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Often, we lift a finger to see what way the political winds are blowing to see how the new year will go. We look to the news to plan our future, our purchases, our hopes of happiness and make our resolutions. I am not sure that is the best way. We cannot chart a stable course with the ocean of uncertainly churning below our ship. Like the mariners of old, we must pick a star and keep our eyes fixed firmly on the star. In modern language, we must set our instruments of navigation on our destination and ignore the clouds billowing around us.

Pilots have a “rule of thumb” known as the 1-in-60 rule. It states that for every 1 degree a plane veers off its course, it misses its target destination by 1 mile for every 60 miles you fly. This means the farther you travel, the farther you are from your destination. I’m not a mathematician but, by my calculations, if you are not careful when you are flying to Phoenix, you may end up in New York depending on how the political winds are blowing. We must set our course and anchor our lives on something that never changes. Then we must course-correct every day.

Many people chart their lives by considering only the expedient: the text messages, the phone calls, the TV guide or the stock market. Those things change every day and, if we are tied to those things, our lives are a roller coaster of emotion. The year of 2020 was a good example.

Every day, we were inundated with new COVID rules and regulations. Some pundits insisted that mask wearing and hunkering down in our homes was essential to our health and well-being. Others heralded mask wearing and hunkering in place as a bunch of political nonsense. Our lives were jerked from 1 degree to 100 degrees off course in one afternoon depending on what political news outlet we listened to. Sane people cannot live their lives like that. It’s like sailing a rowboat in a hurricane.

Mariners of ancient times looked to the North Star. It was a bright spot in the sky that was an absolute. It did not change from night to night. Perhaps the ship would deviate off course during the day, but at night they would once again point the ship to the North Star. We must find our North Star and course-correct when we veer off course.

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When I was in college, back around the turn of the Jurassic period, a professor said, “Don’t get too attached to your textbooks; they will be obsolete in 10 years. Information is changing constantly.” I have found that to be true. I purchased a set of encyclopedias – and seldom open them because the internet is so much faster. We cannot trust science to be constant, and conspiring men will try to change history. We are not even sure the information we hear on the news is correct.

There is one being who never changes. His life and teaching are the one constant in life. His name is Jesus Christ. His life and works are a sure foundation on which we can build. We can set the course of our lives on His principles and we will prosper in business, relationships, happiness and peace, no matter the seething unstable circumstances around us.

We can look to His life as a template of success and our North Star. It is all contained in the scriptures. Pope Gregory in 590 A.D. released a list of Seven Godly Virtues, or the attributes of Jesus we should incorporate in our lives to combat the evils of the world. Espousing these Godly virtues as New Year’s resolutions, coupled with pondering and prayer, will anchor our compass to Christ and will carry us over the troubled waters of the future to find peace, no matter how much adversity we face.

These virtues include: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. I would add obedience, meekness, gratitude, long-suffering and faith. These attributes can be found in abundance in the life of the Savior. It does not matter where we start, each attribute will bring us closer to Christ, to better relationships, better business practices and to success overall.

Instead of a massive list of resolutions we might post on the fridge to show our friends and neighbors, take one of these Godly virtues and focus on just that one for a month. It will change your life.

Obedience is the first law of Heaven. There are people who constantly push their limits against the rules. They watch for the boss at the door, the policeman around the corner and the tattletale in the workplace. They live by the philosophy: If I don’t get caught, it is not wrong. Sadly, sooner or later they will get caught and pay the price in a reprimand or the loss of a job. It is easy to see how the attribute of obedience is valuable and practical in our modern world. As we spend a month evaluating how well we obey the rules of the workplace and the commandments, and course-correct every time we are disobedient, you can imagine how our lives would change for the better … “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice …” (1 Samuel 15:22 KJV).

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Temperance is one of those Godly virtues that would make big changes in our lives. Think how many resolutions would fall by the wayside if we anchored our course on it. “Temperance shows humanity, justice, honor, restraint, temperance, justice. Temperance is constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings; practicing self-control, abstinence, moderation and deferred gratification.” Temperance embodies “prudence to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time; proper moderation between self-interest versus public-interest and against the rights and needs of others.”

If everyone practiced temperance, there would be no need for intricate diet plans, rehab centers or highway patrol cars hiding around the next bend. Of course, not everyone will practice temperance, but we can. We can set our mental instruments on being more temperate in our own lives. We won’t be perfect, but just thinking about temperance and recognizing where we fall short is a good start. We cannot course-correct if we do not recognize how many degrees we are off course.

Taking time to pray and ponder about which of the virtues we need most in our lives will make a huge difference. Each of these virtues are gifts the Lord will grant if we earnestly desire them. He said, “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

It would be well to ask the question of the ruler who came to Jesus to ask what he should do to obtain eternal life:

“Jesus answered: if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things I have kept from my youth up: What lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:17-21 KJV)

It is not likely the Lord will tell us to sell all our goods and give all to the poor, but He will give a specific answer tailored just for us. If we are willing to work on one Godly virtue a month, our lives will be transformed no matter what adversity 2021 brings.  end mark

Yevet Crandell Tenney is a Christian columnist who loves American values and traditions. She writes about faith, family and freedom.

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