Groundhog Day and the two great commandments

Published 6:00 am Friday, January 22, 2021

Just in case you thought the holidays were over, don’t forget that Groundhog Day will be here soon.

One of our cherished family traditions is watching the 1993 Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day.” Murray plays egotistical weatherman Phil Connors, who finds himself trapped in Punxsutawney, PA, reliving the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again.

We feel Phil’s despair when he laments: “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?”

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Sometimes, like Phil, we feel stuck in a rut, spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

As any self-help guru will remind you, in order to break the cycle, it is best to prioritize our goals and devote more energy to those that matter most. You don’t have to eat the entire elephant immediately, but you can do it if you break it down and take baby steps.

When asked about prioritizing commandments by the conniving lawyer, Jesus responded:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently taught: “If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal.”

Indeed, putting God first and prioritizing what He thinks over all other voices and ambitions tends to put things in proper perspective.

Jesus further taught regarding prioritized steps for breaking the cycle: “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

To fully break the Groundhog Day cycle, weatherman Phil Connors had to shake up his whole approach to life. Ultimately he learned to forget himself, instead focusing energies on helping others. He caught the child falling from the tree, helped the travelers with car trouble and performed the Heimlich to save the choking mayor.

He did these things not out of a desire for recognition, or to earn his escape, but rather out of pure love for his brothers and sisters.

This truly is a time for a “new normal.”

President Nelson offered several elements of a “new normal:” “Embrace your new normal by repenting daily. Seek to be increasingly pure in thought, word and deed. Minister to others. Keep an eternal perspective…And whatever your challenges, my dear brothers and sisters, live each day so that you are more prepared to meet your Maker.”

Regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else, we can minister to others, share grace, and lift others each day, wherever we are.

Like Phil, we can focus on serving others in the here and now, asking: “Is there anything I can do for you today?”

Happy Groundhog Day!

To learn more about the pure love of Jesus Christ, visit

DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at