Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This has been previously broadcast and will be given again on Nov. 1, 2020.
Every life is different; the only predictable pattern is that all of us experience a mix of joy and sadness, happiness and heartache — usually occurring unpredictably. No matter how carefully we plan, setbacks — large and small — can disrupt our plans. We settle into a good job, a relationship, a neighborhood, and then life surprises us.
Some time ago an elderly man passed away, and as his friends and loved ones looked back on his life, they wondered why he often seemed so angry. Then, while sorting through his personal belongings, his family found one of his work pay stubs from long ago. Across the top of it he had written, “The end of a good job with good pay! The start of anger and ‘Why me?’” The handwritten outburst seemed to connect some dots for them. He had been laid off from that job, and apparently he never really rebounded from that disappointment. For more than 30 years, he carried bitterness in his heart. As a result, he closed himself off to others, shutting out their light and love.
Some might say that layoff defined this man’s life, but that’s not entirely true. He is far from the only person who has ever suffered a setback like that. What defined this man’s life was what he chose to do about his unexpected disappointment.
Now, while being laid off is never easy, think how his life could have been happier if he had been able to see his layoff differently. What if he had sought help and support and moved forward with his life? Instead of asking, “Why me?” what if he had asked, “What can I learn from this? How might this disappointment help me become a better person?” He still would have felt pain, but a hopeful, positive approach to the future would have helped him heal and move on. Instead of being “the start of anger,” the day he was laid off could have been the start of a new opportunity and a wiser, happier, more compassionate life.
Everyone’s heartache and disappointment is different, but we all have one thing in common: the power to choose our response. We can’t choose whether or not we will be hurt, but we can choose whether or not we will heal. In fact, we might say that life is a never-ending series of moments to choose — each and every day — how we will respond to life’s pleasant and unpleasant surprises.
Tuning in …
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.