Life Is Much Like Mutton Busting

My daughter is serving a mission for our church. I write her a letter every week, and as I was thinking about and composing my letter to her, it dawned on me that I was also writing a letter to myself. Below I’ve included some excerpts from that letter . . .


I know being a missionary can be hard.  It can be challenging. It can be fatiguing.  It can be scary.  It can be monotonous.  

But, it is also the most amazing time of learning about yourself, about people, about relationships, about God and the Plan of Salvation.  It is the time you learn to walk with angels.  It is the time that you learn what you are made of.  You learn that there is dramatically more to yourself than you were ever led to believe.  

You learn about what really makes you tick.  You experience new cultures, new ideas, and new ways to look at life. 

Just like a muscle, growth only occurs in the failure and/or in the stretching of those fibers. And, it isn’t always fun. 

The size of your success is actually measured by the size of the boulders that are thrown at you.

I hope that as you approach this week, that you are able to picture who you want to be in your mind.  Envision who you would be if you were perfect in every way, and strive every day to be 1-2% more like that person. 

In my perspective, that’s what the Lord was commanding his disciples when he said, “Be ye therefore perfect. . . ”  (Matthew 5:48).

He knows we are not perfect.  He knows that just being here on the earth will cause us to make mistakes, fail, miss the mark and not reach our potential on some days, some weeks and even some months. 

That’s actually OK.  It’s part of the plan. He knows that in some aspects we are not even close.  

However, I’m quite sure that the Lord knows you hit what you aim at.  So, aim at perfection. 

As you are very well aware from our years in archery, it takes stringing, pulling, aiming, focusing and firing 1000 arrows every day to improve form and accuracy.  It is the same in life.  You must string yourself, pull, aim and fire, knowing that the repetitive motion and action is where the learning is occurring and not in the outcome itself.  Because, eventually the outcome will result from perfection of form, you can do it in your sleep.  You can do it when you are distracted by other things in your peripheral vision. 

Heraclitus, the philosopher from 500 BC, said, “Day by day, what you do is who you become.”

Everyone, every individual, needs three things on the road to perfection, becoming like God: 

  1. Belonging
  2. Identity
  3. Continuity

It used to be that these three qualities came from interaction within the community.   However, communities and relationships have changed in the last 50 years such that we expect all three from ourselves and/or our companion or spouse.  This is actually IMPOSSIBLE.  These needs cannot be met alone and cannot be met by spouse or companion (though when we’re deeply in love we’d often like to think they can).

As Gordon B. Hinckley said, “With the ever-increasing number of [Church] converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with “the good word of God.”

The need for belonging is met by friendship.

The need for identity is met by a responsibility.

The need for continuity is met by continued learning about our capacity to become like God (nurturing with the good word of God), slowly working toward perfection (Matthew 5:48).

Satan, Lucifer, the Adversary, or whatever name by which you call him and his minions, will try to convince you and I that perfection, if not completed by the end of the day, is futile – so we should just give up. He works against us in reverse order.  Destroying the striving for goodness and perfection, implying we aren’t responsible for things around us (the victim mentality), and then lastly, turning us against friends, thinking that we, alone, have the power to perfect ourselves through the next best self-help book or program. 

Satan’s approach has effect upon us because we are creatures of meaning.  Yet, what we forget is that it is what we represent for others creates that meaning.  You create meaning in the lives of your friends and those whom you serve.  You gain meaning from your friends and from allowing others to serve you. 

As the great philosopher, Heraclitus said, “Good character is not formed in a week or a month.  It is formed little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is essential in the formation of character.”  

He is, also, the same philosopher that said, “There is nothing permanent except change.”  (This is probably my favorite quote of all time. )

Additionally, he said, “No man steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.”

“The content of your character is your choice. What you think, what you choose, and what you do is who you become.”

“Big results require Big Ambitions.”

And, one of my additional favorites, “If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not recognize it when it arrives.”

So, be bold. Expect the unexpected. Find security in the fact that life is always changing.  

That person who wishes to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details. Knowledge is not intelligence. They are not the same.  Intelligence is the application of knowledge through trial and experience.  Wisdom is speaking and acting the truth.

In searching for the truth, be ready for the unexpected. Change alone is unchanging to the soul.  Change when learned from, becomes intelligence.  

Many people do not comprehend what we can learn by traveling on the same road that goes both up and down. The beginning of a circle is also its end. The world says, “all is one.”  And yet, everything comes in its season.

So, this week, remember, a person is most nearly himself or herself when he or she achieves the seriousness of a child at play.  Those who approach life like a child playing a game, moving and pushing the pieces around the board, possess the power of kings and queens. The hidden connection is stronger than the obvious one.  This is why Jesus likened the kingdom of God unto little children (Luke 18:16-17; 3 Nephi 11:37-38)

Enjoy your day.  Work hard and play hard. Expect change, and expect the unexpected.  Smile at change when it arrives, and shake it’s hand when you meet it. 

“Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed… Cool things become warm, the warm grows cool; the moist dries, the parched becomes moist… It is in changing that things find repose.”  – Heraclitus  

Find beauty in the change. Find beauty in the movement.  Tranquility comes from finding stability on the river of change. 

I decided that life is a great deal like mutton busting . . . Mom and I went to the Payson Rodeo over the weekend.  I’ve attached a video clip of some mutton busting. 

Life is a great deal like this little clip below.  Life can start out a bit slow. People may cheer us on for a short time.  Either way, you gotta’ just hang on for dear life for at least part of the ride.  And, you may face-plant during the course of a wild ride.  Remember to wear your helmet.  Shake off the dirt and greet those that come to meet you with a high five. 

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