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March 17, 2015
Goodness Matters
Squash it Before it Squashes You
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

I love squash. Because I’m the only one in the household who does, I get to eat them all myself, or hide them in other foods. Sometimes I get caught. Other times — woohoo, no one notices that I mashed squash along with potatoes.

As I picked a couple of those veggies last summer, knowing we were just about to the end of the harvest, the notion of squashing things — thoughts, negativity, difficult times — began running through my head.  As we’re building ourselves, protecting ourselves and families from as much ugliness and harm as possible — progressing in positive ways — there are some things to be squashed.

A few things that may need to be squashed are:

1. Making assumptions. I won’t repeat the old adage about making them, but we all know that no good comes of it. I tend to squash things together. It’s never a smart idea, if we want to keep things simple and be of good cheer.

2.  Feeling like I should have done more.  I’m talking the negative self-talk that goes on and on about what I should have added to a lesson, what more I should have accomplished in my day, how many more folks I should have helped / been of service to, and so on. And so on. And so on. 

You probably get my drift.  It is associated with guilt. That makes it a foolish waste of time, for we know that guilt should only be utilized when we have committed sin. It leads us to repentance and forward progression. Therefore, these feelings of performance inadequacy don’t come from the correct source. End of sermon. But hopefully, if you do this once in a while, you can think on it and get rid of this nasty negative choice.

3.  Expectation of receiving praise from people.  This is one of those concepts that needs a true paradigm shift. In theory, everyone knows this is the opposite of ego and of glorifying God. Yet, in practice, some quietly expect something in return for their efforts: Fulfilling assignments, performing in some creative ways, doing the work we’re supposed to do as a woman, man, or child. In the myriad ways of living and interacting, pride can lead us to expect the praise of man. When “they love the praise of man more than the praise of God” (John 12:43), folks will spend a great deal of time feeling dissatisfied. If this one can be squashed, a more peaceful life is guaranteed.

4.  Just because I’m thinking something, it need not come out of my mouth. Self-explanatory, right? A whole new discipline for someone like me, with Italian blood, having grown up in a family (and built one of my own) where everyone share almost everything about almost everything.

That has translated, on sad occasion, to a horrific case of foot-in-mouth disease in other arenas besides the family.

I won’t go on about this one. But I have to remind myself to think, then think again, then think again before blurting out what I’m thinking. And sometimes, the words escape before I can shut my mouth. Sigh … something else to keep working on, right?

5.  Keep pushing when a time-out is needed.  Literally, there are times when I must do the Time Out thing.  My physical body, or my emotional/mental one needs the time to stop, to breathe, to focus and gain perspective. 

I have been an average student at this particular one, for a great deal of my life. “Keep going!” “You can do more!” “You can rest later!” 

For me, the wisdom has finally settled in enough to whisper differently. Or maybe I have begun to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings more than my own, “Get out of the way so I can do this!” mentality that for whatever reason had a hold on me.

I got sick. Really sick. And this last time, I didn’t bounce right back. I still haven’t, for that matter.  Things are different now. It changed my life. It has been almost two years since my personal shift.  I wish I could express, adequately, the blessing this has been in my mortal journey.  

The scriptures are clear that “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” (Mosiah 4:27) Just before these words, we learn that all things should be done in order. I’ve learned there is wisdom in pondering over certain words in the scriptures and applying them to myself in new ways.

“In order” is worth praying and studying about. Doing what we can, but not over-doing it, is important.

There are sweet lessons to learn as we shift gears, and in the process shift our mind and heart closer to our God. He may then fill us with more goodness. And, my dear friends, brothers, and sisters, goodness matters.

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