Stop and Smell the Roses

The other night was kind of stressful. Coming on the end of the school year, the kids who do the online charter school have their major projects due soon. It is becoming apparent that two of them have not been keeping on schedule with their assigned tasks. My daughter was cramming, throwing together this last minute paper that she should have been working on for over a month now.

At this time, I take the opportunity to grab out this church publication “Eternal Marriage” and read with my wife from where we left off the previous night. In it, it talks about how we can have our relationships continue into eternity if we do the right things. That is when my wife starts getting teary eyed and starts to lose it. We go into our bedroom and shut the door so she can vent properly.

“I don’t know if I would want to have children for eternity,” she says. “I am struggling here with six”. She then goes on to list all the shortcomings and failures of each of our kids, the house, and all other stresses in her life. “God must feel like an abject failure”, she continues. “He does everything perfectly, and look how messed up the world is. His children are self-centered brats. I don’t think I would want that kind of weight on my shoulders for eternity.”

My Response

While she is venting, I am struggling to find the right thing to say. I was tempted to “one-up” her and go into the crap I have to deal with at work, or fixing stuff around the house, or a number of other things that I could whine about. Instead, I go a different route.

“Do you remember back when you were a missionary, was there anyone you were working with that you saw success with?” I ask her. Her countenance changes. “Yes, there was such and such”, she replies. “Did you see any changes they made in their lives?” She replies with some specifics of how certain people improved.

I go on to explain, “Our kids are the same, think of the how they are basically honest people” I continue with the strong virtues of each of our kids, and how we are doing as a family, compared to the majority of society.

Like Watching the Grass Grow

Except for milestones, the day to day improvements in our lives are imperceptible. We go to work, money gets spent, kids learn a few things, we get a little older. Day after day, it is usually about the same. Like watching the grass grow, you cannot see the change. Then comes the day the back window on your car is busted because the kids were throwing rocks, leaving you something else to fix. Effectively, it is the day you mow your lawn and cut down all that growth. That day is noticeable because it is an event, unlike the day-to-day improvements.

If you were anal, I suppose you could get yourself a measuring stick, and measure the height of grass at various locations in your yard and average it out. Do that on a day to day basis and you would better notice the growth the grass makes. Similarly, we can make a mental note of where our lot in life is. Look at the improvements around us. Look at the state of our 401K, how much we have our house paid off, what we have learned, how we are doing with any hobbies, with our family, et cetera. I have not as well as I should, but my wife usually keeps a journal in which she writes the blessings that happen in her life. It helps her stay out of the depressing funk.

Since taking that financial class, we have been tracking our investments, loan status, and our savings. Doing so has helped me realize how we are doing. Really, you can apply this to other areas in life. How are you doing on that G to F minor chord transition? Did your daughter figure out how to thread a needle? Maybe a full inventory of all facets of life would be tedious and unnecessary, but it does pay to think of how you are doing.


Stopping to smell the roses can be a good thing to do from time to time. Take the time to appreciate your handiwork. Life is tough, but it is rewarding if we acknowledge the good we do.

Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).