For Thanksgiving, I was invited by my two Arizona children’s families to go with them to Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, on the Mexican coast south of Phoenix. I can’t tell you what a lovely sunny beach, strewn for miles with seashells — nearly empty except for brown pelicans flying low over the water — did for my spirits.
We bought roast chicken and guacamole from Pollos Lucas for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a delight to be with my admirable offspring and their entertaining young ones. We invited my late husband’s sister, Wendy, to join me and Sharon, my daughter Carrie’s mother-in-law, in the Grandma condo. It was where my children sent their misbehaving young ones, so we could grandmother them into submission. The conclusion was that it is wisdom to take grandmothers on vacations.
We drank Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate for breakfast, appropriately. It was all very pleasant — well, maybe not me leaving my passport in a drawer. (They overnighted it to Idaho.) We wore masks in the little Mexican shops and in the airport, but otherwise you wouldn’t know a pandemic was ruling the greater world.
It isn’t until you get back from warm and sunny vacations that real life crowds in, and you are sorry you can’t live in a condo on the beach in Mexico forever. Even during a pandemic, with people dear to us are sick and even dying, and the lockdowns go on forever, we can still communicate with each other instantly. Trucks still make deliveries to grocery stores. We travel in ways our grandparents only dreamed of. We find it easy to not do more than is necessary because, well, it takes effort. I notice this in myself. I find it increasingly easy to make excuses, to do less than usual.
President Russell M. Nelson taught, “As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths… Daily immersion in the word of God is crucial for spiritual survival, especially in these days of increasing upheaval. As we feast on the words of Christ daily, the words of Christ will tell us how to respond to difficulties we never thought we would face.” (“Hear Him,” April 2020 General Conference).
To become like the Savior, then, is our purpose in life, a challenge worth living for. “Paul told the Ephesians that our goal is ‘attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13)… Even in this life, we ‘are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.’ (2 Corinthians 3:18)” (Grace Communion International)
“Everything to do with becoming more like the Savior is difficult,” Russell M. Nelson was quoted in answer to a child’s question. “For example, when God wanted to give the Ten Commandments to Moses, where did He tell Moses to go? Up on top of a mountain, on the top of Mount Sinai. So Moses had to walk all the way up to the top of that mountain to get the Ten Commandments.
“Now, Heavenly Father could have said, ‘Moses, you start there, and I’ll start here, and I’ll meet you halfway.’ No, the Lord loves effort, because effort brings rewards that can’t come without it.” (“An Especially Noble Calling,” April 2020 General Conference)
Becoming like the Savior is not an easy path, nor should it be. Life is a mortal probation, “that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.” (Exodus 16:4) To follow the doctrine of Christ brings not ease and leisure, but something much better: true peace of mind, even during days of increasing upheaval. His invitation to “take my yoke upon you…” is worth the effort, for, as He says, “I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt 11:29) .