Tackling Life One ‘Baby Step’ At A Time


A 1991 comedy film called “What About Bob?” centers on a multi-phobic psychiatric patient of a doctor who advises him to overcome his lifelong problems by taking “baby steps”. His advise is meant to help the patient slowly, with the emphasis on the word “slowly” being key in overcoming his phobias. Bob takes his advise and by the end of the movie he has overcome many phobias that have plagued him for years. While I find the film to be funny, the real life trials of such people are not so comical. Indeed, overcoming lifelong problems is something that all of us are faced with. A quick solutions to our problems would be nice, however, that is not realistic. Indeed, overcoming habits and problems by leaps and bounds is sometime of fairy tales. Dr. Leo Marvin’s charge to Bob of “baby steps” is a much more realistic approach to problems that have been with us for a long time. On occasion while serving as Bishop, someone would come into my office and want to talk about overcoming or finding solutions to different issues that troubled them. Those issues could be of a relationship nature, spiritual nature, financial nature, or a combination. Often they would want to leave my office, that day, with an answer or solutions to problems that had been ongoing for years. Somehow they thought there was a “magic bullet” that would slay all their demons, immediately! I was recently reading a talk given by D. Todd Christofferson pertinent to this subject. He had this to say:

“Some time before I was called as a General Authority, I faced a personal economic challenge that persisted for several years. It did not come about as a consequence of anyone’s wrongdoing or ill will; it was just one of those things that sometimes come into our lives. It ebbed and flowed in seriousness and urgency, but it never went away completely. At times this challenge threatened the welfare of my family and me, and I thought we might be facing financial ruin. I prayed for some miraculous intervention to deliver us. Although I offered that prayer many times with great sincerity and earnest desire, the answer in the end was “No.” Finally I learned to pray as the Savior did: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done”(Luke 22:42) I sought the Lord’s help with each tiny step along the way to a final resolution.

There were times when I had exhausted all my resources, when I had nowhere or no one to turn to at that moment, when there was simply no other human being I could call on to help meet the exigency before me. With no other recourse, more than once I fell down before my Heavenly Father begging in tears for His help. And He did help. Sometimes it was nothing more than a sense of peace, a feeling of assurance that things would work out. I might not see how or what the path would be, but He gave me to know that, directly or indirectly, He would open a way. Circumstances might change, a new and helpful idea might come to mind, some unanticipated income or other resource might appear at just the right time. Somehow there was a resolution.

Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity…I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day. Asking God for our daily bread, rather than our weekly, monthly, or yearly bread, is also a way to focus us on the smaller, more manageable bits of a problem. To deal with something very big, we may need to work at it in small, daily bites. Sometimes all we can handle is one day (or even just part of one day) at a time”. (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”, CES Fireside for Young Adults • January 9, 2011 • BYU)

All of us would like to overcome adversity with a “snap of the finger” We sometimes falsely hope that the Lord will miraculously wipe-out all our challenges, if we but ask. But, like any good doctor, our Father knows that by making us take “baby steps”, our recovery will not only be full, but the lessons learned in overcoming adversity a little at a time will have a long-lasting effect on our character. We can’t expect the Lord to solve our problems instantaneously when it took years to develop them. Let us be patience with ourselves and with the Lord in overcoming life’s challenges.


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