We can learn from pioneers’ examples as they made their way into unknown territory. In July, Utah honors pioneers not only for their difficult trek here, but for their hard work and devotion to establish a new way of life, which opened up many possibilities for all who live here. We appreciate what they built, shaped and created in this beautiful state.
As we are innovators and developers of our own lives, we are like the pioneers of the past. Circumstances often force us to break new ground, hopefully leading the way to a better life. Sometimes we’re unprepared to meet our challenges, but as we initiate faith and courage we discover new frontiers. In this sense, we are modern-day pioneers forming and constructing, with anticipation, something good from a hard or bad situation.
When I reflect on how the pioneers made their trek west, I see wisdom and foresight in their method. I’ve listed five of their practices that could benefit our own journey.
1) Gather in groups. The pioneers organized themselves in companies and leaders were assigned to each group. They rallied around each other, helping one another. They needed and depended on each other for survival. They mourned and rejoiced together. It’s hard to imagine a pioneer making the trek on their own. Likewise, I can’t imagine making my journey without the advice, love and support of others. Just as the pioneers circled their wagons for protection at night, we should encircle ourselves by embracing those around us who are willing and wanting to help.
2) Consider advice from a scout or forerunner. Usually, a couple of men rode on horses ahead of the group to explore the best possible route and to help prepare for obstacles that might be in their way. I think of doctors, nurses, therapists and other caregivers who have knowledge or experiences similar to mine as mentors, guides and/or pathfinders. Their advice is valuable when navigating on foreign ground.
3) Allow for respite time. The pioneers walked or rode many miles every day except on Sunday for months. Logically, if they would have traveled on Sunday they may have reached their destination sooner, but they revered the Sabbath Day. I see the wisdom in taking time to rest from our everyday routine, yet it can be hard sometimes to stop and take a break because our eyes are set on the goal and we don’t feel like we have the time to stop. Whether we realize it’s needed or not, we feel refreshed and renewed after respite.
4) Develop courage, faith and hope. I think pioneers had to have these three traits, but did they always have them? Reason tells me no. They were regular human beings, just like you and I, with hardships. I feel fortunate that my difficulties are not like theirs and I appreciate their example of perseverance. I’m encouraged by their dedication as they worked daily developing courage, faith and hope. Hopefully some days were easier than others, when these traits came more naturally.Their endurance developed them into the strong pioneers they were. Likewise we become stronger as we develop courage, faith and hope on the days when it doesn’t come naturally.
5) Your best is good enough. The handcart plan was for seventeen miles a day for sixty days, but none of the ten companies could reach that goal. They must have felt despair and frustration from the slow journey of seven to fifteen miles on a good day, making the trip tedious and wearisome. Giving their best was good enough, so it must be the same for us. It may take longer and be harder than we expected, but if we are persistent in doing and/or giving our best, it will be good enough.
The pioneers didn’t know how or when their journey would end. Similarly, we don’t know how or when ours will either, but if we follow their example, we can also forge new frontiers.
What have you learned from the pioneers’ examples?