Community Blog

Deciding How We Act

I was coming home late Sunday night using a bus service. The trip started off eventful, although a little behind schedule. We left downtown Salt Lake City about 10 to 15 minutes later than we were supposed to and picked up multiple passengers on our way up to Rexburg, ID. During our drive, I had a nice lady named Tammi sit in the seat next to me. She and a small group of others were on their way to Missoula, MT to start work as truckers. Their group had already suffered some travel difficulties, including a no-show bus driver that delayed them 12 hours in Las Vegas and then their second bus breaking down shortly outside of Ogden, UT.

The continuation of Tammi's group and their bad luck was only the beginning of ours. Just short of the Utah-Idaho border, it began raining. Shortly after crossing the border, our window wipers ceased to work. We were driving with limited visibility. Our driver pulled into a gas station to purchase a spray on chemical to help keep the water off the windshield so she could see. By this time, it was 9:45 pm and we were due in Rexburg at 10:30 pm. We were hours behind schedule. As we continued our journey, some people joked about the situation and the string of bad luck. Others began to use more colorful language and assign blame to everything about the situation. Then, 20 miles outside of Pocatello, we hit snow. It caked the windshield and we were forced to pull over. Our driver called in for a second bus and was told it would be several hours before one could arrive. It was around 10:15 pm. What happened next is something I've reflected on a great deal about people and how we act in difficult circumstances.

My neighbor, Tammi, sat back and said "These things happen for a reason. These things happen for a reason." Several people across the way started up with their complaining and laying blame in the limited, colorful spectrum of the English language. This went on for about 10 minutes. What else were we to do? It was late. Our bus had broken down. It was snowing. Most of us had one of these two mentalities.

Then, behind me and across the aisle, one of the passengers asked if anyone was interested in sharing a taxi van. It was slow going at first getting people, but I volunteered. Thirty minutes later we were loading our luggage onto a taxi van to go home to Rexburg.

During the ride and the next day, I thought about the situation and the way different people had reacted to the difficult situation. Some had allowed themselves to get angry and began venting. Others had become apathetic and passive, saying simply "These things happen for a reason." Only one person took control of the situation and made an effort to improve it. In so doing, she was helping herself and a small group of us get home.

When we are faced with difficult situations in life, how do we act? Do we become angry? Do we just sit back and let things happen around us? Or do we take action and move towards our goal however we can?

I think of Nephi as he and his brothers were commanded to get the brass plates. They had made several attempts, and despite their efforts, they were essentially broken down on the side of the road. Laman and Lemuel became angry at the situation. The scriptures don't say very much about Sam, but it isn't recorded that he offered any suggestions. Nephi, however, had faith and took action, moving towards his goal of securing the brass plates as he was commanded.

In life, we encounter difficult circumstances. We have and will face opposition as we move towards our goals. When we do, I would like to be more like the girl on my bus. More like Nephi. I will not complain or become angry or antagonistic. It doesn't change anything and, to quote Elder Holland, "There is no situation so bad that complaining won't make it worse." However, I also do not want to become passive and do nothing. There may be times we need to wait on the Lord. However, that does not usually mean we sit and do nothing while we wait. I want to be the person who will move towards their goal, even if it seems insurmountable.

I hope as we go through life, we can remember not only our instructor goals we make each semester, but our covenants we have made with our Heavenly Father. When we have an obstacle, let us actively choose how we will act in the situation.

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Tyler Beckstrom is a GS 120 instructor and online training coordinator for BYU-Idaho. He currently resides in Rexburg, ID with his wife and two children. He loves what he does and how the gospel has blessed him and his family's life.

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Comments

  • This is a great story! It made me stop and think about how I react to situations. What can I do better in times of trouble. Thank you for sharing!

  • Tyler,

    Thanks for the great reminder.  I loved all the analogies and pondering you did in regards to your not-so-fun situation.  I'd hope I'd be seen as a "Tammi" in life!  I love that you quoted Elder Holland.  Elder Holland has a way of speaking directly to my heart.  Like you quoted by Elder Holland, "There is no situation so bad that complaining won't make it worse."  What a great perspective and reminder to us all.

    Onward and Upward!

    Denise

  • I loved this post, Tyler. It sure is easy to complain and point out faults (like the people that seem to sit in back of me at every BYU football game I attend), but much more difficult to actually enact positive change or do something about our circumstances. I often wonder how I would react in a more emergency-type of situation. Am I a complainer or a worker? Thanks for the great comparison!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience Tyler.  It is good to reflect on how I would react and how I would hope I would react. It also reminded me of this quote:

    • How true!  I love that.

  • Brother Beckstrom, what a great story and analysis of the "lesson" learned during your trip!  I am currently reading the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor.  His research is quite revealing on the outcomes of our basic thoughts and outlook in times of stress (and non-stress).  Great read, by the way!

    To add to your wonderful examples from the scriptures, Sister Tiffany Webster talked of the Savior's response during such times in her article "The Perfect Lie" on the homepage of lds.org. She draws the analogy that when the Savior was confronted with the situation of not enough food to feed the multitude nor wine for the wedding feast, He didn't become upset, but used His power to turn the situation into "something miraculous."  

    Thank you for sharing your great story!  

    • I loved that post from Sister Webster, Sherry. It was a great reminder to me to put less trust in the "arm of the flesh" and more in my Savior.

    • Thanks for the suggestion.  I've never read that book before....I will have to check it out.   Sister Weber talk is a good one, I just listened to it and saw the article on LDS.org. 

    • I second reading "The Happiness Advantage". Fun read, plus it has some useful techniques like the Zorro circle among others.

      • Duke University adopted the "3 Grateful Things" concept and created a website to record them each day.  You can see other's posts of gratitude.  It is fun to read what other's are grateful for!  

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