Atascadero State Hospital: A half-mile of main hallway
Atascadero State Hospital: Group discussion
I suppose that I could look ahead and be discouraged. At age 65 I have a working retirement with 15 years to go before I qualify for full benefits. I’m a shift lead at a maximum security forensic psychiatric hospital, where I coordinate the efforts of 7-10 colleagues in caring for 32 high-acuity patients. Often patients harm themselves and other patients, and sometimes staff.
Yet I do not despair, rather I am grateful. First, I have been prompted that this is where Heavenly Father wants me to serve. Second, each day presents new challenges with interesting situations to confront and solve. Many times I have thought, “This can’t be done.” And almost always, by the end of the shift we have found successful closure and we return home unharmed.
Most important of all, I know we’ve been blessed beyond our own ability. I can say quite clearly, “We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness. We’ve proved him in days that are past.” So I find that I look forward to work, interested, intrigued, and delighted to see how Heavenly Father will see us through the predictably unforeseen and unexpected.
Without this overriding purpose each day and hope based on experience I could see myself lingering in bed, not sleeping to rest but sleeping to escape and never ever feeling rested. I could see myself dithering away my life as I allowed insignificant routines and rituals to fill the day and wonder why nothing of importance ever got done. My rheumatoid arthritis and allergies and depression, like so many weeds, would gradually take over, and ill health and lack of energy would become the focus of my life. I have allowed this to happen before.
Without my challenges and opportunity to work and serve I too easily could become like a character in one of my favorite books, the cautionary tale Dead Souls by Ukrainian novelist Nikolai Gogol.
Really, enduring to the end means serving to the end, not moping to the end. Consider this scripture that either happiness or unhappiness will be restored to us in the resurrection:
And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still. (Mormon 9:14) (Emphasis added)I appreciate President Monson’s comments today in General Conference, “Fear not, be of good cheer. Your future will be as bright as your faith.”