A Perfect Life

Actual track of a plane flight versus the plan

When we contemplate our lives, we often feel as though we are failing to hold to the plan. We’re early, we’re late, we’re not where we expected to be.

This dissonance between where we think we should be and where we are can cause pain.

But there are times when there is a reason our life isn’t following the standard track we have presumed is “right.”

The reason for the deviation from the initial plan

At the end of the day, it is not so much important that we hew to the predetermined track, but that we arrive safely at our destination.

The storm passed, en route to a safe landing

That, to me, is the perfect or completed life, to arrive at the destination intended, no matter what bumps and deviations may have occurred along the way.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

9 thoughts on “A Perfect Life

  1. When I did new road construction for logging work years ago, the line on the contract map was intended as a guideline, and deviations were allowed to allow for realities on the ground. Some deviations were allowed without having to get permission, and some deviations required prior permission.

  2. Thank you for the post. Nice complement to talks by President Uchtdorf (plane crashes into mountainside) and President Hinckley (luggage ends up in the wrong place due to a railroad switch). While their teachings are true, the catastrophic scenario only happens if there is no course correction. We have many opportunities for course corrections, as you point out.

    I recently listened to and read an excellent BYU devotional: “What Do You Expect?: A Key to Personal Happiness” (2009), by Jeffry Larson, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy. I recommend it. We all know people who need to hear it. Excerpts: “Perfectionism, or having unrealistic or irrational expectations about ourselves or about our relationships, is a chief cause of depression, anxiety, and obsessive-complusive disorders, as well as relationship problems. Perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads eventually to paralysis. We call these the three Ps.”
    Easy to remember: Perfectionism -> Procrastination -> Paralysis.
    Brother Larson also quotes John Bytheway: “Happy people do their part, do their best, then let go and let God do the rest. They do what they can within their circle of influence.” (How to Be Totally Miserable: A Self-Hinder Book).


  3. I really like this post. One thing I would like to add is that I think that our attitude towards our circumstances is even more important than our circumstances. I think that a big part of repentance and having the right attitude is accepting Jesus as our Savior.
    It’s easy to be disappointed in life, as this posts suggests. I think gratitude for what we go through is really important.

  4. I am 70, I am contented with my life. My marriage is in its 50th year, and apart from the early years when we were very poor, and obediently following the church teaching to not use birth control (until my wifes health changed that) our life has been very good. We have 4 wonderfull daughters, in their 40s.
    We live in a house we designed and built ourselves, of unconventional materials. I drive a car I rebuilt, I am in the process of converting my 07 merceds S500 to be a plug in hybrid. It is the most comfortable car I have owned, but was not very economical, it will be, and have lots of modern capabilities.
    We bought 4 other houses to help fund our retirement. We have 2 left.
    We live in a country that provides universal health care, and an age pension that we can live on.
    We helped each of our children build their first home, and some have more now.
    We have traveled to every continent except antartica. This year India, Jordan, and Ejypt, more yet.
    Served in bishoprics in 30,40, and 50s, have been on missions for total of 10 years, now have bishop in 30, who has told me I will not have a calling or give a talk. I said the new endowment was less sexist. You can not say the church is sexist.
    I am happy with my current life and most of the trajectory it has taken.
    If you can be happy with your life at 70 life is good.

  5. Hi GEOFF-AUS,

    Sorry local leadership has decided you can be relieved of service. My father-in-law is 85 and mentioned recently that he has similarly been relieved of any need to fill callings, though in his case I suspect it really is primarily venerable age combined with the reduced need for folks to fill non-ministering callings.

    As a member, one may always minister, even if no specific people have been assigned by the organizational Church.

    I remember a spate of years when I was relieved of any ability to provide comments in Sunday School, following a time when I had the temerity to explain the teacher was wrong in his speculation that the Mulekites had the Melchizedek priesthood prior to uniting with the Nephites (the folks exercising priesthood being descendants of Nephi, not Mulekites, as he had speculated and asserted). Me being me, I continued to raise my hand each time I had a comment, which was typically several times each lesson. A decade later that Brother was our home teacher, and he materially aided me in persevering to complete my Master’s thesis. So despite a notable episode of friction, we became great friends.

    May you (and all the rest of us) continue to live a life of which you can be proud!

  6. Interesting comments. Jared tells me is all about attitude while Geoff-Aus tells me how great his life has been. Which is it? Sorry, but having a 50 year marriage, plenty of money and children makes for a good life.

  7. “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”
    Mosiah 2:41.

    So, it is okay to “consider” or be grateful for our own or others’ “blessed and happy state”. If members of the church become too complacent and simply enjoy, say, financial security–or even abundance, the blessings of living the word of wisdom, stable offspring and grandchildren, they can get off track, forgetting the downtrodden in their community or somewhere else in the world.

    If you have a true testimony and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ this is not likely to happen, though. I have often thought that the church would have quickly withered if its young men and women were not asked or given the opportunity to sacrifice and serve humbly as full-time missionaries.

    Geoff-Aus, it sounds like you have served the Lord well and will still have opportunities to serve him. The way you wrote your comments makes it sound like your blessings came easily. We see athletes who have become so proficient in their sport that it looks “easy” for them to win, but nothing could be further from the truth. So you have had to “practice” happiness through service.

    I am sure that faith, hard work, compassion, setbacks and trials were involved. If you obtained these blessings easily and your callings in bishoprics involved no heartaches and tears, no divorces, no widows and orphans, no untimely deaths, no heartbreaking apostasies and church discipline councils, you would be a rare and puzzling exception.

    Many of us have ongoing trials of all intensity levels and could not honestly write comments about our lives the way you worded yours. When we get to a blissful blessed and happy state, we’ll post about it, but adding how the blisters eventually made our feet strong.

    We should enjoy the sunshine while we can. There is opposition in all things,  which does include good times and blessings. If things are going too well for too long, there’s a problem. You are not serving somebody who needs help and you have stopped caring.

    When the glass is half empty, serve. When the glass is half-full, serve. When the glass is full, serve. When the glass is empty, ask for help.

  8. Did not mean to convey that we achieved easily. Every house we have owned except the first we have built with our own labour, and from unconventional materials, so that it was worth much more than it cost. We live very frugally, my wife cooks from scratch, and only the last few years have we eaten out more than a couple of times a month. My wife cuts my hair.
    I do not believe in trials, mostly our trials are the consequence of our decisions. There are of course exceptions. Trials are difficult to deal with, consequences you just have to problem solve a solution.
    The car I am working on has cost me about $35,000 and 9 months work, but the equivalent new mercedes S500e, new in Aus costs $320,000, so I am looking like I drive a car that costs much more than I pay. The same applies with the houses.
    Two of my 3 brothers are as or more gospel centered, but because of the decisions they have made much less comfortable.
    15 years ago I was hp group leader, and saw a need for financial awareness, so wrote a little booklet for the group. At least a quarter of them are now millionaires. Choices and consequences.

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