February 4, 2016 admin 2 comments

Blessings. What are they? Well, that’s an easy question to answer. All I need to do is check my list.

  1. Good . . . whoops, I mean, GREAT health
  2. Money
  3. Nice house
  4. Super job
  5. Beautiful car
  6. Outstanding talents
  7. Good looks
  8. Kids and grandkids all doing fantastic
  9. My marriage couldn’t be better
  10. BYU basketball team wins (Just kidding—sort of)
  11. _____________ (You fill in the blanks.)

Maybe another name for the list could be my itemized expectations—if I’m keeping the commandments. At least my version of the commandments. After all, how many times did the prophets in the Book of Mormon say if we obey, we will prosper in the land? 

Some decades ago and with this promise (and my list) in mind, I felt impressed by the Spirit to leave my good-paying job and become involved in a start-up company. Things went fine for about a year, maybe two, and then . . . . Well, I don’t know how it could have been worse financially. Or emotionally for that matter. The business tanked, we lost our savings, and I was unemployed—with a wife and five children to provide for.

But how could this happen? What about my list?! I was doing all the things that qualified me for a current temple recommend. I was serving in the Church (on the high council at the time). I was trying to be a good husband and father. And I sought spiritual guidance as I made my decision to leave my employment. I was certain that the Spirit directed me to do what I did.

What went wrong?

Actually, nothing went “wrong.” I just needed to make some adjustments in my perception of what constitutes blessings.

There are all kinds of reasons I need to read the scriptures every day. An important one is that I just might read something that gives me special insight; a revelation that will be of specific help to me that day. I’m a believer in that. It has happened to me countless times over the years. And that’s what happened this time as I read Luke 4:1-2:

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. (Emphasis mine.)

It would be difficult to exaggerate the impact this passage had on me then. While Joseph Smith’s translation of this scripture varies a little from this, my personal revelation came from this King James rendering.

The Spirit led the Savior into an extraordinarily difficult situation. He was led into a wilderness of deprivation where he would be directly assailed by Satan. That was what the Spirit did! Why? There are lots of answers, including, apparently, the needed growth and strengthening that took place in the Savior that helped prepare Him for his ultimate sacrifice and atonement. (See Doctrine & Covenants 93:11-14 for example.)

For me, this was a Eureka! moment.

Perhaps for the first time in my life, I began to seriously consider what constituted a blessing. Here’s what I determined. If I am seeking to keep my covenants, I will be blessed with every experience and wherewithal I need to help me come closer to the Savior and assist me in magnifying Him.

That’s what happened here.

Blessings. Hanson family 1974
Blessings. Steve & Joyce Hanson family Circa 1974!

As a result of this experience, I saw more clearly than ever before some aspects of my life that needed to change. I was more determined than ever to be a better and wiser father and husband. I was more compassionate for others who had failed. And certainly, at least momentarily, this very humbling experience gave me a leg-up on my ongoing personal struggle with pride.

There was nothing Pollyannaish about these realizations for me. I still needed to provide for my family and didn’t know how I was going to do it. But I had hope that doors would open so I could. Over time, that happened. But not without me receiving a hopper full of additional learning blessings; all of which pointed me to observations and understandings that helped me draw nearer the Savior.

Needless to say, my itemized expectations list was tossed. Over time, my prayers were simplified. Besides my thank-you list—that one seemed to expand—I began to ask only to have experiences that would help me know the Savior; to become more like Him; and, to have sufficient for my needs.

The standing promise of the Lord that I would prosper in the land if I were faithful, took on a whole new meaning for me. It really had little to do with temporal conditions that had been so important to me before, but that by definition were fleeting. It had everything to do with becoming who I could become through the grace of Jesus Christ.

And the blessing, the gift, the prospering in the land, I began to see, was any and every experience, no matter its hue and shape, that would help me in my quest to become one with Him.

Steve Dunn Hanson


2 Comments on “Blessings

  1. Thanks Steve for that thought-provoking…cogitation. It made clear to me something I had wondered about but dismissed and let faith fill the gaps.
    At 50, my husband wanted to start up his own business and do for himself what he’d done for the company he’d worked for for 35 yrs. After much prayer he received a firm answer to go ahead. Well, it looked good until the work contracts were put “on hold” for 5 months….oops…we were in a tough spot. We lost our home, our car… everything except what mattered most; the Gospel, our family and friends and the business… At this point, life looked pretty bleak..I would often ask, “Are you sure the Lord told you to go ahead with this?? Maybe it’s time to re think the decision. Maybe the Lord would direct you in another direction…” So, after my “suggestions”, he went to the Lord and petitioned once more. The answer he got from the Lord was swift, direct and felt sharp: “Why do you ask me, when I’ve already told you??” Do you think Roger would ever again question that response??? No. So he did everything he could to keep the business going.We moved into a 12′ x 40′ Mobile modular work office trailer..onto the last oil field in Huntington Beach. It was Spartan , but it turned out to be a most educational experience and rich in spiritual growth. There, we lived 2 years within a most affluent ward (HB 7th) of the most kindly and accepting folks. Our testimonies were strengthened!! There were many, many blessings; answered prayers, closer family associations, close member relationships that were comforting while living in that strange setting!
    Because of the struggles of that life and all that happened within our family during that time, we were blessed beyond measure in so many ways! Our bishop asked me one day, “Darla, how can you be so cheerful??” I told him “It’s the Lord’s blessing upon me..He’s put a bubble around me that sometimes gets thin, but it’s always there and I feel upheld and so grateful for it.”
    And, we got out of debt, moved to a “pretty place” (as my son Mike advised me) our children love us and each other and we’re happy serving in our ward out here in a desert community.
    Going through hardships…was growing through hardships and thank Goodness for them!
    Thank you, Steve, for the inspiration we find as we enjoy your contributions! God bless you!!

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