Saturday, February 13, 2016

What If?

by Jewel Leann Williams

On my 40 minute drive home the other (early) morning, I had some weird “stream-of-consciousness” thoughts.  Somewhere in all of it, I had the thought that, even with the way I beat up my body; with bad food, no sleep, too much soda, no sleep... I am still pretty healthy. I have no heart problems, I generally don’t get sick, and when I do, I get better relatively quickly. Then the question popped up, 

“Yeah, but what if you actually took care of yourself?”

Imagine what I could do? How great I would feel, instead of "okay." 

That led to some other “what if’s” :

I’m doing okay spiritually. I go to church when I can (night shift Saturdays make it brutally hard to make it another 5 hours with our church hours as they are), I pray, read scriptures, do my visiting teaching, with a reasonable degree of dedication. I have a testimony and support my Prophet.

But, what if? What if I really strived to go to church? What if I really made prayers, scripture study, and magnifying my callings and my covenants a priority?

I’m doing okay with my writing. I have my biweekly blog for Mormon Mommy Writers, I have some story ideas that I tinker on when I can, and I feel like I am doing okay creatively. I am told that I write well, that people like to read my “stuff,” that I’m entertaining and eloquent.

But, what if? What if I got myself organized and really worked on writing? What if I made time to sit and dedicate myself to my craft? What if I took a class to hone my skills? What if, instead of “tinkering” I sat and WROTE?

All of these thoughts made me think about potential, or more specifically, wasted potential. 

I’m reminded of a story that President Dieter Uchtdorf told in 2011, about a man on a ship:

There once was a man whose lifelong dream was to board a cruise ship and sail the Mediterranean Sea. He dreamed of walking the streets of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul. He saved every penny until he had enough for his passage. Since money was tight, he brought an extra suitcase filled with cans of beans, boxes of crackers, and bags of powdered lemonade, and that is what he lived on every day.
He would have loved to take part in the many activities offered on the ship—working out in the gym, playing miniature golf, and swimming in the pool. He envied those who went to movies, shows, and cultural presentations. And, oh, how he yearned for only a taste of the amazing food he saw on the ship—every meal appeared to be a feast! But the man wanted to spend so very little money that he didn’t participate in any of these. He was able to see the cities he had longed to visit, but for the most part of the journey, he stayed in his cabin and ate only his humble food.
On the last day of the cruise, a crew member asked him which of the farewell parties he would be attending. It was then that the man learned that not only the farewell party but almost everything on board the cruise ship—the food, the entertainment, all the activities—had been included in the price of his ticket. Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges.

How often am I riding along on a fabulous cruise, and for whatever reason, living beneath my privileges?

Obviously no one is perfect, and that's the point of this life--trial and error, learning and growing. 

I also know that the Atonement is here for that same purpose, to make everything work in our favor--even our stumbles and tumbles. 

But, maybe with just a skoch more effort, more conscientious decision making, more willpower, I could find myself progressing more than I dreamed possible? 

It's the human condition--we all could do more, be more, than we ever dreamed possible because we are children of the Almighty God. 

Are we remembering that as we look around and see the wonders of the world and think, "That's not for little old me." ?

Are you settling for canned beans and crackers?

What if?

Where could you be fulfilling your potential just a little better?

What steps will you take to maximize your potential? 

(Incidentally, here's a link to an amazing talk about our divine potential, by President Spencer W. Kimball:


  1. I love this post- I have been astonished at what I've accomplished so far this year since I set some big goals and got serious about accomplishing them (and made accountability charts for myself and stayed away from facebook & TV). I've finished 1 chapter a week in my novel (chapters that were in rough draft), submitted 1 article a week to various magazines, and read 2 different books on writing (which have had a huge impact on my novel and how I'm writing it). Plus, I've been reading 3 chapters a day in the Book of Mormon, keeping a daily gratitude journal and writing at least 1 entry for my regular journal each week. It's been awesome!

    I think the main thing is to determine what you need in order to accomplish your goals. For me, I need accountability (whether exterior via a friend or to myself using a chart) and I need a deadline. Those have been key to my success thus far.

    It is amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it!

  2. Thank you for a beautifully written reminder of the potential that lies in front of us! I needed a boost :)



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