Several months ago a friend of ours gave my wife a tile plaque that reads, “If it doesn’t matter Eternally, does it really matter?” It now hangs in our kitchen and has become a daily reminder to us of trying to achieve an eternal perspective.
That one word “perspective” can determine to a large degree our level of happiness or misery in this life. So here’s the choice: top floor or basement? Which will we choose to reside in, and for how long?
Let us examine the basement perspective for a minute. We’ve ALL been there. You know the routine: feelings such as, “It will never work out”; “I’m stuck and there’s no way out of this problem”; “I’m so depressed, I don’t want to get out of bed”; or even more dire, pleading with God “Please take me home, I’m done with this life!” All of these are human emotions that everyone will encounter at some point in their lives.
The circumstances could be the loss of a loved one, when the pain is so intense that we feel like we truly cannot bear it. It could be a broken relationship or a divorce that causes us to feel like the entire world has come crashing down around us. It could be a financial setback that threatens our survival. It could be one of our beloved children going astray, making poor choices and breaking our hearts.
There are so many reasons why we end up in the basement. Let’s us not beat ourselves up, but rather make a conscious choice to become “visitors” as opposed to permanent residents.
The basement perspective is one that’s filled with fear, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, helplessness and, ultimately, faithlessness. Like I said before, we’ve all been visitors at least.
But let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum. What’s the view from the top floor? Some might say expansive, beautiful, full of light, hope and optimism!
Clearly the higher up we go, the more positive the response to events that might even feel overwhelming. In the scriptures we read that “…this too shall pass.”
What are the requirements to becoming “permanent residents” and not merely visitors to the top floor? It all starts with an abiding testimony of the gospel and the plan of salvation. I know who I am, why I’m here and, most importantly, where I’m going. I know that God loves me with ALL my imperfections and has created a path for me to return home to him.
Faith coupled with hope brings us closer to our preferred residence. The goal in life is not just to endure to the end but to endure to the end well, with gratitude in our hearts for all of our many blessings. With thankfulness in our souls for even the adversities in life, because they make us who we are and help us to cultivate empathy for those around us.
A helpful reminder that we are not alone can go a long way toward finding peace, happiness and even joy in this lifetime. May we strive to be brief visitors to the basement and quickly return to being permanent residents of the very top floor — the one closest to God.
If it doesn’t really matter eternally, perhaps we can choose to let it go sooner. If it does matter eternally, then we should choose to embrace it with all our hearts.
Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.