How to adjust to life-altering changes

A few life-altering changes, such as getting married and becoming parents, are positive. But many, such as death of a loved one, ill health, divorce, wayward children and abuse, challenge us immensely. The following may serve as ways to cope:

Remember we are spirit children of God. He loves us and "will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13.)- Realize we were sent to earth to be tried and to prove ourselves worthy to live forever with Heavenly Father. No suffering we undergo will ultimately remain uncompensated.

Know that change is the essence of life. Keep a journal and record life's high spots, and review them when life becomes unbearable.

Be aware we need to change the difficult circumstances we can and accept the ones we cannot.

Realize we live according to the Lord's timetable. Learn to say with sincerity, "Thy will be done."

Live one day at a time. Avoid unnecessary anxiety and worry, which rob us of energy necessary to find solutions.

Remain active in the Church and magnify callings. We need to lose ourselves in service to others, both at Church and in the community. As we do so, our own problems tend to be seen in proper perspective.

Establish routines in life that give stability and purpose to our existence. Study the scriptures each day, pray at least morning and night, exercise regularly, sleep adequate amounts of time. Seek peace in the temple.

Cultivate a cheerful disposition. Feeling sorry for ourselves and blaming ourselves or others for our circumstances serve no useful purpose. Learn from the past, and then let go of it.

Lean on other people temporarily. Draw close to family, friends, home teachers and visiting teachers, and bishops. Learn to share feelings with those close to you.

Meditate often. Visualize success in becoming the kind of people we want to be.

Seek professional help sympathetic to Church standards if we find ourselves depressed or discouraged beyond our ability to withstand.

Pray mightily for the greater gifts of faith and hope. Heavenly Father will not leave us without comfort as we seek Him in righteous living. - Romney Burke, West Linn, Ore.

What we did:

Study it out

Several years ago, our business was destroyed by a terrible explosion. Happily, no one was hurt, but we were faced with having to rebuild when all our resources had literally gone up in smoke. As in all crises, the obvious problem is only the tip of the iceberg; a multitude of others lie below the surface.

Section 9 of the Doctrine & Covenants was a source of inspiration to me. "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right." (D&C 9:8.) - Pres. Ralph G. Degn, Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission

Asked for help

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with adult-onset temporal seizures. I have been unable to drive. I know life is supposed to begin at 50, but this almost stopped mine. I had to make big changes as I was doing a lot of volunteer work that involved traveling across town, so the bus schedules had to be studied.

Also, I relied on the generosity of friends and neighbors who called to see if I wanted to go with them somewhere or if I needed anything. I didn't think I would ever have to ask for help, but I learned that God has taught us all that it is OK to ask for help. I learned that I can go on with life by asking for help - and not being embarrassed to do so - and by using public transportation. - Judy McKinstry, Glendale, Ariz.

Welcome blessing

All my life I had been productively employed and thought of retirement as something still far in the future. Suddenly, I was afflicted with a disabling illness and my working days came to an abrupt halt. After several weeks of agony, a new medication bought welcome relief. I devoted my new freedom to a volunteer ambulance squad, delivered "meals on wheels" and was called to serve in the family history center. I now had time to get acquainted with my neighbors and enjoy several thick books. With a 600-mile round trip to the temple each month, my life is rich and full. The dreaded change turned out a welcome blessing. - Hilda Baldauf, Harpursville, N.Y.

God is near

Some life-altering changes come quite unexpectedly. Their effects are mainly upon the inner person, and no one knows how we feel within us but only our Father in Heaven.

God is always as near to us as our next prayer, and I have felt the strength that has entered into my soul as I read comforting passages of scripture along with my supplications. - Walter C. Yose Jr., Labarge, Wyo.

Maintain stability

We found that maintaining stability became the cornerstone to unity. Simple traditions such as family dinner, morning and evening prayers, family home evenings, responsibilities and attending Church were essential. Continual, positive communication helps address questions and upcoming trauma. Learning to separate hurt, anger and frustration from what is happening now is difficult but very useful. "Identify, define and resolve" is a helpful process in working through situations. - Ruthann Lay, Boston, Mass.

No reason to fear

After training my body for eight years in dance - specifically ballet - I was sure that, after all the time and energy I put into it, I would one day become a professional ballerina. My dream was beginning to blossom as I started dancing at a higher level and ended up in some minor roles with a professional company. I had my whole life worked out and everything seemed to be going my way.

One fateful day, I was dancing, and I came down from a jump. My knee dislocated slightly, but, luckily, not completely. From that point on, I knew that I could never dance again without having concerns for re-injury. Even today, my knee has minor pains, which are a reminder of my lost ballet career. But I learned one of the most valuable lessons from this dramatic change I experienced. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Prov. 3-5-6.) If we can live up to the commandments He gives us, there will be no reason to fear any change we may be challenged with. - Mylinda Barron, West Jordan, Utah

Don't make two problems

When struck with rheumatoid arthritis at age 36, I was devastated. My third son had just been born, and I saw no "good times" with him in the future. I became clinically depressed. My wife spoke with the bishop and I was referred to LDS Social Services where I received short-term professional help.

As I was just beginning to cope, we visited John and Anne Fosse and their family one day. She has been confined to a wheelchair for many years due to an automobile accident. I asked, "How can you be so up all the time with all your problems?" Her answer changed my life. She said, "I'm stuck with this chair, that's one problem. If I'm depressed about it, that's a second problem. I just decided I'd rather have one problem than two." - Clarence Dickson, Hawthorne, Calif.

How to checklist:

Remember you're a child of God; trust in Him, pray.

Realize change is part of life; live a day at a time.

Maintain some stability, routine in daily life; serve others.

Look for the positive in life-altering change; be cheerful.


July 13 "How to develop pioneering qualities, character."

July 20 "How to help children cope with the death of a loved one."

July 27 "How to ensure you are not worshipping 20th century false gods."

Aug. 3 "How to help yourself and your children support your bishop husband."

Aug. 10"How to find time in a busy schedule to keep a journal."

Aug. 17 "How to most wisely harvest and preserve produce from family garden."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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