Cristie Carter and Carol Salmon: Adaptability and flexibility — Rx for stress relief

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Brigham Young University graduate Cristie Carter has certainly had her share of stress throughout life as the mother of eight children and now grandmother of 18 grandchildren.

In a Thursday session of Brigham Young University’s 2013 Women’s Conference, Carter shared the story of her daughter’s first pregnancy. After Carter’s daughter found out she had complications with low levels of amniotic fluid, she wisely concluded, “Everything was going to be fine. Even healthy babies grow up to be people who must face trials.”

Women's Conference volunteers pose for a picture. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
Women’s Conference volunteers pose for a picture. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

Carter taught that even though we cannot control our environment, we can control our thoughts and actions. She expanded with Maya Angelou’s quote, “You can tell a lot about a person by the way she handles three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

As women’s laughter filled the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom, Carter transitioned into the heart of her message. She defined flexibility as bending without breaking, which can be demonstrated through deciding, trusting Heavenly Father and choosing joy. Carter also advised being obedient, reading scriptures and knowing that Heavenly Father will send angels to help people through tough times.

Before leaving the podium, Carter counseled, “Stress is part of God’s curriculum for us. We have the agency to choose. Blessed are the hearts that can bend, for they shall never be broken.”

Canada native Carol Salmon followed Carter and began by showing three items she claimed help her with stress relief: chocolate, duct tape (with which, she teased, Canadians believe they can fix anything) and a “panic button” from which two frantic voices yelled, “Stay calm, stay calm!”

On a more serious note, Salmon quoted President Howard W. Hunter’s advice on coping with stress: “I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do, especially when we live and love the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

As she grew up, Salmon’s father taught her to look at this mortal experience with an eternal perspective, as well as with the “and it came to pass” principle. Salmon explained that people must understand that all experiences, no matter how hard they may be, are part of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan. The “and it came to pass” principle means that everything comes to pass, and people must be patient enough to let it get there.

Salmon then shared the story of her 80-year-old parents aging and deciding to move into an assisted living home, sell the car and find joy in their situation. They found joy through serving others in the assisted living home and choosing to be happy.

Wrapping up the importance of adapting to discover stress relief, Salmon said, “Our adaptability is based solely on the Savior’s help. … He will succor us. He will help us. … (When life gets stressful), don’t give up. Fall on your knees.”

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