65: Getting It Right

Mon Dec 21 18:20:08 EST 2020
Episode 65

Stories in this episode: A new Christmas tradition challenges Matt to put into writing all the things he has trouble saying; Gracie, Cescily, Paul, & Sheradon call the pitchline with stories of what "getting it right" looks like for them; Leslie's attempt to skip the holidays is thwarted by a wise dad with three poinsettias and a plan.

Show Notes

Christmas Day in the Morning

Celebrate the Christmas season with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square as they are joined by Kelli O'Hara, acclaimed Broadway star and frequent performer at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas. The musical selections include charming American folk carols, selections from timeless Broadway productions by Rodgers & Hammerstein, and a breathtaking original composition entitled "Tree of Life," by Mack Wilberg, with a striking stage display. The production features the unparalleled 360-voice choir exulting in the "Hallelujah Chorus," by George Frideric Handel. Richard Thomas also narrates the heartwarming story "Christmas Day in the Morning," by Pearl S. Buck.

Matt with his family that started a Christmas tradition of writing letters to each other:
Matt with his family that started a Christmas tradition of writing letters to each other.

Violinist Gracie who shared her musical gifts and brought warmth and light to an older gentleman in her ward:
Violinist Gracie who shared her musical gifts and brought warmth and light to an older gentleman in her ward.

While on her mission in New York, Cescily faced pretty dismal Christmas celebrations until a group of missionaries decided to go caroling on the subway.
While on her mission in New York, Cescily faced pretty dismal Christmas celebrations until a group of missionaries decided to go caroling on the subway.

Paul was on a hike listening to general conference when he found a moment of quiet reflection and gratitude for our Savior:

Paul winter

Sheradon and her family on a trip to Jerusalem where a stranger's act of kindness made all the difference on Christmas day.

Sheradon and her family.

Sheradon and family in Jerusalem.

Family in Jerusalem.

Leslie was experiencing a difficult Thanksgiving holiday when her father's quiet example changed how she would spend every holiday that would follow:

Leslie and her father.

KaRyn 0:03

Welcome to "This Is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay.

Don't even say it. I already know that today's theme is a little bit controversial because what does it even mean to get it right? If we take the philosophical route, we'd probably determine that absolute rightness is a construct that it doesn't actually exist because of the sheer number of relative interpretations, depending on our lived experiences, belief systems, cultural norms, and more. And we might determine that it's impossible to ever actually get anything truly, and purely right.

And now that we've collectively had an existential crisis together, maybe we can decide to be a little more generous with the imperfections and inaccuracies of the English language, a little more poetic, maybe, as we tackle this idea of getting it right.

I think if we look at it through the lens of the restored gospel, we might be reminded that our God is eternally interested in us getting it right. And he's been really generous with us as we play the long game of perfection. I mean, that's the whole purpose of the plan of salvation and the Atonement. We do our best with faith and humility and he makes it right.

And of course, when we apply getting it right to this beautiful season of Christmas, that's a celebration of that perfect act of selflessness. I don't think it takes a PhD in philosophy to recognize our own efforts towards true discipleship, and the efforts of others. Christmas is the perfect time to internalize this truth: that we are all on different paths that lead to the same place when our hearts are turned in the right direction.

And today, we've got six really short stories about holiday hearts turned right. These right turns might look a little bit different than your right turns, but that's what's so exciting about storytelling: we get to witness one another's uniquely drawn paths and celebrate both the heartaches and the wins together.

Our first short story comes from Matt, a father who found himself wondering if he could be the change he saw his family needed at the holidays. Here's Matt.

Matt 2:14

I don't remember exactly what year it was how it started. It was a while ago, the kids were teenagers. And I remember, though, that we were kind of getting to that point where you're in the arms race of Christmas, as your kids get older. And so you kind of have to, you know, up it each year to try and make sure that they're excited as they get older because the things that they they need kind of get more and more expensive.

We're going around fighting the battle to try and get presents and I asked the kids about what they had gotten the previous year. And they didn't even remember. And so I was sitting here in the middle of this battle, trying to get all the presents and go into the different stores and they don't have what you want and whatnot. And then to hear that they didn't really remember what they got the year before. It kind of hit me like, "Well, then what's the point? What are we doing this for?"

This is nothing on the kids. They're great kids. But I had, even myself, tried to think back to what gifts I had got the year before. And you just you don't really remember those things, you remember experiences. And so I thought, "Well, maybe this is something that that needs to change."

And to understand, I'm not a very empathetic person. I'm not very good at you know, I mean, I try and understand people's feelings, but I'm not, I'm not very good at it. And I'm especially not good at expressing any feelings. And my wife is very good at pointing that out to me as something that I need to improve on. And she had mentioned before, that – I don't know if it was for a birthday or anniversary but – she said, "You know, you don't need to get me a present, I just want to letter. I just want to know how you feel."

So with that background, in the midst of this Christmas time and the hecticness and not remembering the presents and my wife saying that, I thought maybe this is a good thing that we can do, is to cut back on the presents, the monetary, actual physical gifts, and we can give letters about how we feel for each other.

There was no pushback from the kids, and we didn't cut out presents at all, because it was kind of fun, so what we did is we said – so there's five of us, you know, the parents and three kids – and we said, you know, "Give each other a gift but keep it less than $20." So we still went and found something but because we set that $20 limit, you kind of had to think a little bit about you know, "I don't want to just give him some junk." So I actually got some really thoughtful gifts, and so still kind of fun because we had things to open, but the focus was the letters.

So I'd like to say that, you know, I prepared the whole year and took notes and wrote in my journal about all the wonderful things they did, but I wasn't that good. So it would kind of come down to December. And I knew as it was looming, then you start thinking about, okay, what are some of the things that have maybe gone on this year that I can talk about in that letter? And what are some things that I can say that are meaningful, that maybe I didn't say last year? So that it does doesn't become repetitive, you know, saying the same thing each year. And truly, what is it about them that I love and appreciate?

As I started to think about my family, it took that focus off of me and onto them, and I start to feel maybe even just a teeny little bit, that true meaning of Christmas, which is the gift that our Savior gave us. And it allowed me to then focus on giving a little bit of myself, to them.

You know, each Christmas we hear about, you know, at Christmas, we are the people that we should be all year. Well, I don't even think at Christmas I was the person I should have been all year round, because of this, you know, not being able to express my feelings or not taking the chance. It's something that was always really tough for me to express those feelings. But because it was written, it was easier for me.

And the surprising thing was that once we started doing it, how awkward it wasn't. Knowing that it was expected, and that they were expecting this letter from me, helped me to kind of overcome that. And so I guess the surprising thing to me was how easy it was to get into it. And to be able to write those letters, which before felt like such a difficult, awkward, embarrassing thing that I didn't want to do.

Hopefully, it's been able to help my kids get better at expressing themselves, to do that. I know it's helped me, and I know that now – I actually, not that I didn't look forward to Christmas before, but I look forward to it with a new – I just I look forward to those letters, and I have them all my journal.

I don't know if my kids keep all of their letters, I'm assuming they do. But I know my wife and I keep ours. And it's kind of nice to actually get out and read them sometimes, especially when you're, you know, we all have struggles. And there's times when you feel like you're kind of – "Ah, I made the wrong decisions. And I'm kind of feeling beat down." And you can pull those letters out. And you can look at them and say, "Well, at least there's four people in the world who appreciate me. And I've got proof in these letters."

This isn't something that has turned our family into some super holy family that's ready to be translated or anything like that. We still have arguments as a family, it's just something that's helped us to take some of that negative and commercialism of Christmas out of our house and to make it more peaceful, and it's helped us to get closer to each other and I think in that respect, closer to our Savior.

KaRyn 8:29

That was Matt. I first learned about his adventure and Christmas letter writing from his daughter our story producer Erika. We were talking about the story from Pearl S. Buck that they retold at last year's Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert called, "Christmas Day in the Morning," and it's a story all about getting it right.

If you haven't seen the concert or read this story, I'll give you a really quick synopsis. It's all about an empty nester named Robert who is grappling with the changes in his life at Christmas time. Now that there are no little children to surprise and delight, it seems like the spark of Christmas has gone out for both him and his wife, and he's not really sure how to get it back.

So he remembers a Christmas as a youth when he surprised his father by getting up before him and milking the cows so that his dad wouldn't have to work on Christmas Day. He remembered that that work wasn't a chore anymore, because he loved his father and his father loved him, it was the most joyful cow milking he'd ever done. And that memory awakens in him this truth about getting it right. That when we harness the love that's already been given to us by our Savior, whatever we offer to others with that love will be a joyful, joyful gift. The right gift.

And so, Robert is reawakened to the joy of Christmas and he decides to write a letter of love and gratitude to his wife as a gift to her. It seems almost ridiculous how relevant that 80 year old story is right now in the middle of Christmas 2020.

Change, grief, disruption, those might define our Christmas season this year, and that's hard. And it's worth grieving. But Pearl's fictional story and Matt's real story remind us that even in the midst of all of these hard things, the right gifts will do more than show love to those who receive them. They're going to transform the giver through the atoning power of Jesus Christ. Those gifts given in His pure love will re-animate the light in us that shines in every direction.

Next, we've got four stories straight from the pitch-line from four different storytellers, a high schooler, a missionary, a hiker, and a mom. All with one big thing in common, a desire to get it right at Christmas.

Gracie 10:43

My name is Gracie and I am 17 years old. Christmas time for me is usually very busy. And I remember last year that it was especially busy.

I'm a musician. And so I'm involved in a lot of orchestras in my community, as well as just different music groups with friends and family, and I actually teach private music students. So at the time, I had about 20 private music students that I was trying to teach on top of school and everything else. It seemed like I had a performance for Christmas about every single night.

And so towards the end of the season last year, I was feeling really pretty burnt out. And I just really wanted a break. And at the same time, I kept having a prompting that I needed to go play music for a man in my ward who was suffering from some pretty severe health problems at the time, and I just kind of pushed it aside because I felt like I was too busy. But I have a really good connection with this man, we actually share the exact same birthday, and I just felt like I needed to.

So I talked to my mom about it and we chose one of the only nights that I didn't have anything else going on, it seemed like to go over and played the couple songs for him. And we got there. And the very first song that I played was Jingle Bells. And I remember as soon as I started playing, I looked over at him and he had tears streaming down his face.

I thought, why is he crying? You know, this is Jingle Bells. It's not even like a spiritual, pretty song. But by the end of the night, we all were in tears, because we realized how much this simple little concert meant to him, and it really made me reflect on the Savior. Because when I picture the birth of the Savior, I don't picture a town of busy streets full of people and commotion, I picture a sacred, silent night when a King was born.

And that's really what I felt that night as I played for this man, because it made me realize that during a season that's meant to celebrate the Savior, I should be focusing on these still peaceful moments made while serving others, instead of everything else that I had going on in my life at the time.

And I am especially grateful that I followed this prompting to play for this man that night because it actually ended up being his last Christmas. And so ever since this experience, I really tried to take time out of my busy schedule, to do just simple things, to try to improve the lives of those around me even if they're just really small, because you never know the impact that they will have. And I found that this has brought me so much closer to my Savior than I ever thought that it could, because it's helped me to really forget about myself and my own problems and help those around me and really find out what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Thank you.

Cescily 13:40

Hello, my name is Cescily. And my story is on Christmas 3 years ago. I was six months into my mission in New York City, and I felt like I was thriving. I had the best companion, I have the best district, I was in an area that I was close to the members and I was close to the people that we were teaching. And it was just such a happy time of my life.

Well a week before Christmas, transfer calls came in. And I found out I was the only one in the district that was leaving, and my heart broke. And when I found out where I was going my heart broke even more because I was going to an area with a companion who was also new to the area – we were getting blinded in – neither of us had had been there ever, and I learned the history of the area to know that the members and the missionaries didn't have the best of relationships and there was nobody in the teaching pool – I could sense trial ahead of me, for sure.

Well fast forward, I get to the area, it was about as hard as I expected, if not more. And Christmas Eve comes and we had nowhere to go for Christmas, because like I said the members and the missionaries didn't have the best of relationships and we could just – we only had like five days to mend that and we couldn't do it.

And so we're sitting on our, on our kitchen floor because we didn't have a table at the time. We just had our study desk. And so we're sitting on our kitchen floor, I'm eating mac and cheese, my companions eating tuna fish out of a bowl, because we didn't have time to go to get groceries and I was just feeling so sorry for myself, eating my mac and cheese and just crying.

And then after we were done eating, we were just like, "You know what? Let's make this day better. Let's go and do something about it." And so we went and we got on the train, and we just subway surfed. We got our district together and we just sat on the train and we decided to sing hymns.

We – it was Christmas Eve and we're just all standing together as missionaries, just standing and just singing, singing Christmas hymns. While we're doing that, I pulled out my little tablet and played the "Light the World" Christ just illuminated the screen. And I could just feel the Spirit so strongly in that subway car. I could feel that people in New York City in the subway car, who looked as if – that Christmas had only ever been a getting a gift for them, and as we all sat in that subway and sing Hymns I could feel the lives of them being touched, and that was the moment that Christmas changed for me. It didn't matter that I was 2000 miles away from my family, it didn't matter that I didn't have a place to go for Christmas. What mattered was that the Savior was born, and other people were learning that too.

Paul 16:41

Hi, my name is Paul. In late 2018 after a snowy day, I decided to go for a hike up a local Canyon. I was listening to conference – had been listening to conference on my hikes before and so I started, I was listening to the about the middle of the morning session, Sunday morning session.

The trail up the canyon ends after about two and a half miles. And I didn't want to go back down that same trail. And so I decided to hike up the slope to another trail that came along the ridge. It was a very difficult hike, but I knew that if I got up there by the time of sundown, that there would probably be enough light for me to make my way down that easier ridge trail and make it home.

As I was following that ridge trail, conference was concluding, and President Nelson was talking about temples and I thought about how much I love the temple. And as I did this, he announced locations. There was cheering. And it was as if I was one of those people in those, in those places. And my heart just melted. I felt such love and gratitude for my Heavenly Father.

So I continued to hike along, reveling in those feelings. The lights of the city indeed began to illuminate my snowy, snowy path. And then I noticed that not only were those normal lights, but there were the many colored Christmas lights.

I thought about the shepherd's going to see the Christ child and about the gratitude that they would feel for him. And so I did that, and I was thinking about all of this and looking down this beautiful scene, peaceful scene below me, I realized that this was Christmas Eve. And my heart just burst with love and gratitude and peace and all the blessings of the gospel. And I found a little bare spot under a cedar tree and knelt and gave my Heavenly Father heartfelt thanks for His son and His birth. And then I heard hurried home. Thanks.

Sheradon 19:04

Hi, my name is Sheradon. And a few years ago we had just moved to Dubai and our first Christmas here we decided to take a trip to Jerusalem. We had planned to stay outside of Jerusalem and then over Christmas Eve into Christmas we were going to spend a night in Jerusalem and kind of check out all of the Old City. And so we get into Jerusalem on the 24th. We see – you know – the Old City, we see the Wailing Wall, and the Temple Mount and then we head over to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Now it was kind of a shock to me because there were so many people there. So many. And it was just right by this busy road, and honking and driving and it was quite sad to me. I wanted to have this place by myself and have my kids experience this. You know have their own testimony building or I don't even know – just something, but it just was so crowded and loud and, and I was kind of disappointed.

So I tried to feel the Spirit as much as I could and teach my boys of the sacred spot. On our way back, we got to our Airbnb, and we were locked out. We couldn't get in the building. So we tried to go and talk to the tour manager that was down in front, and he had no idea what we were saying, no one spoke English, we were getting really worried and frustrated, my husband didn't have any way to contact the person that he rented from. And so we were kind of lost.

We finally were able to have someone let us in, we get to our room, and we couldn't get into our room. But it was kind of a fun experience, I was telling my kids that it was kind of like Jesus, not being let in the inn, and so we kind of had fun talking about that. That night, it was cold, the heating wasn't working, but we all kind of snuggled in our blankets and slept.

And in the morning, my husband and I had decided not to do any presents, but the kids woke up and they were so excited it was Christmas. We didn't have any decorations or anything, but they're like, "It's Christmas!" Finally, we headed over to the Garden Tomb.

We were so excited because it was Christmas, it was just a great time to go, perfect day, we get over there and it's closed, even though we had checked that it would be open. So we waited just a little bit, ringing the doorbell, and then people started coming out. And we we're asking them it, "Is this open? Can we come in?" And they said, "No, we're going to, you know, breakfast brunch, and it's not open today." And we were like, "Please. We came all this way. This was our big thing that we were going to do on Christmas." And they're just like, "No, no, no." Finally, this one guy, his name was Glenn, and he was from the Foursquare church in California. And he said, "Oh, I'll take them around." And they said, "Oh, but you won't be able to find where we're going to be, you'll be late, you'll miss out," trying to get him to come and not take us around. He said, "Oh no, it's fine. I can make it, I'll be there."

And so he went and took us around on a personal tour of the Garden Tomb. And it was beautiful. It was quiet and wonderful. And he didn't rush us at all, he walked us through and let us have our time. It was just such a wonderful gift and tender mercy that we were able to have this time as a family and to spend it alone in this beautiful, quiet garden. It just made the Christmas so much more meaningful, and all about what it's supposed to be, which is our Savior, Jesus Christ and His birth and His life and sacrifice. And I'm just so grateful for that opportunity, and it'll be a Christmas that I will never forget.

KaRyn 23:05

That was Gracie, Cescily, Paul and Sheradon. I love when we can feature so many stories in one episode, because it very quickly demonstrates both the depth and the breadth of the way that God is tailoring our individual spiritual curriculums, and what Gracie needs in order to get Christmas right is different than what Paul needs to get it right. And what getting it right look like for Sister Cecily, three years ago in New York City is going to be different than what it looks like for RM Cescily in December of 2020.

So here are some of the questions that I'm asking myself during this strange and beautiful season. How has getting it right changed for me over the years and what is unique to me and the ways that I'm being asked to stretch right now? I'm a little worried because I think that pondering and answering these questions might just be setting me up for some really lofty New Year's resolutions. We'll see. But I still think it's worth doing.

Our final short story comes from Leslie who's experience at Thanksgiving helped her to understand what getting it right could look like year round. Here's Leslie.

Leslie 24:10

Every time I come into a holiday season that's been challenging for me in some kind of way or for others, my heart and my mind go back to one of my most difficult holidays, and really what became the miracle of that holiday season in my life and in my heart.

I'm a single mom, I have three children and I've been divorced for about 15 years and this was the very first holiday after my separation from my ex-husband. And it was my first Thanksgiving without my kids. You know, you don't go into parenting and into thinking about holidays and seasons sort of planning, "What's going to be my strategy if I ever find myself going from one year were my whole world and holidays revolving around my family and my kids, to suddenly finding myself completely alone?"

And I had extended family who live really close, and of course, wanted me to come and invited me to be part of all of the normal holiday activities that our family would do typically on a Thanksgiving. But I just couldn't go. I couldn't join, I didn't want to be around reminders of family. I didn't know how to show up in a way that wouldn't be sad. Because I was just sad. I was depressed, I didn't want to have to pretend. I just didn't feel like I could put a smile on my face.

And I'm kind of by nature a positive person, and I, you know, like to try to bring joy and light to a room and a family and an experience and home setting, and I felt like I had nothing to give. And so I just really respectfully said, "I'm just not going to be able to join," and I turned out the lights – which is not like me to do this – and I crawled into bed, and I decided I'm going to sleep away this Thanksgiving Day.

Holidays, laughter, family, everything that revolves around that was a reminder of what I was missing, and the pain I was going through. And I remember that afternoon, after my dad had hosted our family dinner that day with my extended family, he came over to my house. And what I remember is him knocking at the door, and my not going down to get the door, and getting a text from him saying, "I'm here. I want you to come down and open the door." Which I did. And he said, "I want you to go get dressed. We're going to go get something to eat."

And he told me that he was going to pick up my sister who was also single at the time. And he said, "I'm going to take you guys to dinner. It'll be just the two of you. You need to get out and you need to be with somebody right now." My sister later told me that he had invited her to come so that you know, I wouldn't be completely alone, that I would have some sense of family, but that she also was single, and they could hold space for me.

And so he picked me up, we went and got my sister and we drove to a restaurant. I wasn't dressed up, I didn't have to have a smile on my face. I could grieve. We talked. What ended up with just sadness and no pressure for me to have to answer questions or say anything for things I couldn't yet process. And my dad was also a single dad and divorced at the time. And I think he just knew.

By the end of that dinner time, we were laughing and joking and eating and I was already feeling better. We left, and my dad drove to a grocery store. He left my sister and I in the car and he said had to go in and get something. So he went inside. And he came back out with three poinsettias. He didn't say anything yet, he just came back in.

I didn't know if the three poinsettias were for us or who they were for, and he drove from there to a rest home. I'd never been there, apparently he knew where it was because at one point we'd had a great aunt who had had a stay at the facility that he had visited. He told us to each get one of the poinsettias, so we did and the three of us walked in. And my dad went up to the front desk and he said, "Could we have the names of three people who haven't had any visitors today?"

At that point, I'm starting to realize what we're just about to do. And we went in and we visited with three residents who, on that Thanksgiving Day had had no family. And no one come to visit them. There was a woman and she was lying in bed, I don't know her circumstances, I don't know her condition, she didn't or couldn't sit up. But she was able to turn her head – and her smile. I think that's when something for me shifted, because I completely forgot about everything that I was going through.

I forgot about everything I had lost. And suddenly I was just wrapped up in the Spirit and wrapped up in the miracle of the moment of how happy she was to have you sit and visit with her for a few minutes and to set that beautiful vibrant poinsettia by her and to hold her hand and to just look into her eyes and have that moment of sweetness and Spirit and connection. And it was at that moment that I realized that this was so much less about what I was able to share and give to her and suddenly it was so much more about what I was receiving, and the feeling of hope, the love that was starting to flow inside of my heart.

As I thought and reflected back often on that experience, I'm so grateful that my dad first held space for the pain that I was in, and he held space for my grief. And he didn't make me show up in some certain way, he didn't force that or push that. He kind of honored the place that I was at, and that was really important. I needed to be listened to, and he was so good at listening. He was so good at caring.

I've often said that, you know, I came to know, my Father in Heaven because of how my dad serves. Ever since that moment, I have made sure that I build service into whatever the holiday looks like. Because there is always someone who hasn't had visitors that day. There's always someone who hasn't had a carol or hasn't received a gift or can't afford a Christmas tree. And there are so many ways that we can reach out and bless lives and take a poinsettia to visit someone.

I've often felt that I feel closest to Him when I am in His service. I know that the Lord on Christmas would be seeking to feed the hungry and lift the hands that hang low. You know, He would be putting coats on those who are cold. He doesn't ask questions, He doesn't ask why. He doesn't have to be fancy, He doesn't care what it's gift wrapped in, but He is just constantly seeking to love. And when I have moments where I can choose to go, "Okay Father who needs thy love?" You know, those are the moments I feel closest to Him, to my Savior. And I'm so grateful for the invitation during Christmas time to in fact, seek to be like Him, and for me is that great power and miracle of charity and love, that there literally is no limit to the endless ways in which we can share and give love and bless lives.

KaRyn 32:36

That was Leslie. I learned two things about getting it right from this story. First from Leslie's dad, before we can offer our own life experiences to another person before they can truly feel the balm of our love, and our hope for them, we have to meet them where they are. He didn't lecture, he didn't give advice, even though he was uniquely qualified to do that as both her parent and someone who had experience with being a single parent.

Instead, he came to where she was – he literally came to where she was – and got her. And then he sat with her and her sister at that dinner and he let her cry, then and only then was he able to tend to her wounds by offering his example.

The second thing I learned is that I want to be more intentional about building meaningful service into my holiday plans. In the same way that I obsess over my Christmas baking spreadsheet and plan months in advance for some of the family experiences that we have. I really want the act of asking Heavenly Father where He wants and needs my heart and energy this season built into that initial planning. And I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do that, I have a few pieces of inspiration from today's stories, but I know that I felt the call to do better at this from listening to Leslie's story.

And that's not to say that how I've been doing Christmas all along is bad or wrong or not enough. I really think that it was exactly what it was supposed to be, and that choosing to make some turns in my discipleship journey when I feel that tug of the Spirit doesn't cancel out all the good that was happening before.

Listen, I'm going to sound like a total hippie right now. But it's the only way that I can describe what I mean. And I may have picked up this concept from Marie Kondo and "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up." As we figure out what getting it right looks like for us right now, and as we follow the Spirit into this new, stretching territory, it's not a terrible idea to take a little bit of time to reflect and to offer thanks and gratitude to the years before, in the same way that Mari might invite us to thank a worn out sock for keeping our feet warm before we send them off into the sock drawer in the sky.

We could spend some time honoring the work and the effort that brought us such joy and such movement before we got this new call. Celebrating what was, so that we can be fully engaged in what is, right before us – right now.

I don't know exactly what it's going to look like for you to get it right this Christmas. To bring it back to that PhD in philosophy, there are literally a million ways that rightness can be expressed in your family culture and your country and your discipleship experience. But I do know that making a right turn is required. And it's possible for us as we look toward the right source of all that is holy, and hopeful and good in this world.

As we focus on the Savior who was so much more than just a baby in a manger, we'll know what we need to do. And whether that's climbing a new mountain for some quiet reflection, or slowing down to play the violin for a friend and staying just a little bit longer than you plan to, or persisting at the door of the garden, until you find your way in. Whatever that next right thing is for your growth and the strengthening of your devotion to Him, you'll get it just right. If you let yourself be filled with His love.

That's it for this episode of This Is the Gospel. Thank you so much to all of our storytellers. We are so grateful for your willingness to share your hearts with us. We'll have more information including some links and pictures on our show notes at LDS living.com/Thisisthegospel. This is the last episode until the New Year. We're taking a tiny break so that we can try to catch up and be ahead of the game in the new year.

We'll be back with weekly episodes January 11, and in the meantime, you can find us on Instagram or Facebook at @ThisIstheGospel_podcast to get your fix during the holidays. And this is a great time for you to go back and catch up on old episodes you might have missed or revisit some favorites that you have been thinking about.

A huge thank you to everyone who shared your reviews of the podcast, we love to hear from you. You can leave a review on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen to. Reviews are super helpful in pushing us up in the recommended section of so many platforms, and that means more people can find us.

All of the stories in this episode are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. And as you saw today, we find lots of our stories through our pitch line. So if you have a story to share about a time in your life when you learned something new by practicing the gospel of Jesus Christ, we want to hear from you.

The best pitches will be short. They'll be focused on the story and not the takeaway, and they'll have a clear sense of focus. You'll have three minutes to pitch your story when you call 515-519-6179.

This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay with story production and editing from Erika free and Kelly Campbell. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios, and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find all of the past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDS Living.com/podcasts.

Merry Christmas.

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