Anxiously Engaged

I have been weighed down today by all the things that I want to be doing in the near future, and more specifically with how many of those things conflict (time-wise) with each other. As I pondered this little frustration I thought of the doctrine:

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-27)

As I look at my life and my schedule I start to wonder at that because it feels sometimes like I am being commanded in all things, or more accurately like I am not given any time to do any things of my own free will. Sundays are scheduled with church, but also the commandment to avoid secular work on that day, Monday through Friday are filled all day with earning a living for my family and the evenings are:

  • Monday – reserved for family night
  • Tuesday – reserved for the scouts (my calling, thus a command)
  • Wednesday – I try to go to the temple monthly so I now have 3 evenings per month to do things of my own free will
  • Thursday – monthly meeting for scouts leaves 3 more evenings per month
  • Friday – I should spend some time cultivating my marriage by taking time alone with my wife but that conflicts with irregular camping trips with the scouts so that adds up to -1 evening per month.

Saturdays would appear to be my golden free time but that is often booked with the morning after a scout camp, or a Saturday church meeting. The end result is that in any given month I have possibly 5 evenings and 3 days per month do do things of my own free will – so long as I take care of my house and family, do my home teaching, and make sure I do not neglect any of my own needs (like the occasional haircut or some Elder’s Quorum project) during those same 3 days and 5 evenings.

I would begin to despair over the situation if I did not suspect that part of my problem is the stage my family is in with four young children which is a naturally time-consuming, and draining situation. Thankfully I also look up the doctrinal reference that I quoted earlier and find that there is another verse to complete the second sentence and add a third, very hopeful, sentence:

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.(Doctrine and Covenants 58:28)

I’m counting on the “nowise [losing my] reward” because I am sure that I am doing good with the time I have, even if I wish there were more available.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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3 Responses to Anxiously Engaged

  1. Jason Black says:

    I dream of the day when Denise and I have as many free nights! I don’t say that to make you feel like you shouldn’t be complaining about a busy schedule. The fact is, there are many around me that have much busier schedules than I do, and yet they don’t seem to struggle with it as I do.

    The reason I throw that out there is that I’m sometimes troubled by scriptures like the ones above. I feel like I’ll never be able to do everything the Lord expects of me. But I find comfort with other scriptures; scriptures that help give me hope and help me look at things from a different perspective.

    Mosiah 4:27 – “it is not requisite (required) that a man should run faster than he has strength.” Thank goodness! I’m only expected to do what I can. I need to stretch myself; seek to do more today than I did yesterday, etc., but I don’t have to do everything. Just what I can.

    Ecclesiastes 3 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” When we were in college, we made it a point to attend the temple each week. We could do that, since we were close, and we had no children. Now we struggle to make it monthly, since it requires a full day and coordinating with someone willing to watch our kids. My parents go to the temple every week, and spend an entire day there. In the eyes of the Lord, are we doing our duty any less than before? Than my parents? I don’t think so. This is the time for us to be nurturing and teaching our children, as a top priority. My parents, on the other hand, don’t have kids at home. They can spend more time at the temple.

    Though we don’t have the ability these days to do what we did in the past (or what we’ll do in the future), it’s not expected of us. It may be someday. When we look at the present and consider what the Lord would have us do now, we can focus on that, and worry about those causes about which we want to be anxiously engaged when the time comes that we are able.

    Figure out what is needed now, do it, and don’t lament over the rest. Try to expand your abilities; don’t stagnate, but don’t let the things you’re not doing weigh you down. Consider the good you’re already doing, especially in shaping the character of your children, and take comfort in knowing that you’re doing a great job.

  2. David says:

    Thank you for the encouragement. I had actually thought about Mosiah 4:27 while I was mulling over all of this. Truthfully, I consider myself to be not very busy when I think of some others around me – that’s what makes me all the more amazed at how much we pile upon ourselves. I fear that too much of it is more busywork than good. I guess that I just need to be careful that my own life is filled with more good than busywork.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
    It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
    Every morning a lion wakes up.
    It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
    It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle:
    when the sun comes up,

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