Thursday, July 28, 2011

7 Deadly Sins

I have been reading a book by Mary Ellen Edmunds called, 
"You Can Never Get Enough of What You Don't Need: The Quest For Contentment"
It has been a great book so far.  It gives you a good place to start on the quest for contentment in this life :)

The most recent chapter I read this morning was all about the 7 deadly sins. For each of the deadly sins she listed an antidote that she likes to call a "Heavenly Virtue." I will list them below:

1. Pride vs. Humility
2. Envy vs. Satisfaction
3. Gluttony vs. Abstinence, Moderation
4. Lust vs. Chastity, Purity
5. Anger vs. Patience
6. Greed vs. Generosity
7. Sloth vs. Work

Afterward she shared a Native American legend about an elderly man teaching his grandchildren about life. He said:

"A fight is going on inside of me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves
One represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The Other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person too."

The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old man replied simply, "The one you feed."

I couldn't have said it any better than the Native American Grandpa.  I have seen this in myself and everyone around me.  Some feed the first wolf more while others are striving to feed the second. I fluctuate between the two.  The place where I was able to see this the clearest was while I was on my mission.  

As a missionary, you are with your fellow missionaries a lot more than you would ever spend with some people you have known for your entire life.  You are with some of them 24/7 and you see or hear from others almost half as much as that.  Flaws and quirks become more apparent as time goes by and it can cause tension.  From there, some of the 7 deadly sins start to emanate and your relationships become weak. Others start to try and fill the emptiness by feeding on those deadly sins coming from within themselves, although not intentionally.  It comes from within you at the same time.  From the tension comes gossip, "hidden jabs" (statements with double meanings) and the desire to become more elite than certain missionaries. This causes difficulty for future relationships to grow that are ruined even before they start. Missionaries start to take "sides" even if the one missionary is constantly trying to apologize for misunderstandings.  I was sucked into it in different ways. In some cases I was even the victim, wondering why people were so rude to me even when I hadn't met them before. It was all around me. Even the people who claimed to be the victims themselves would partake in the gossip or belittlement of others.  I look at that experience and wonder why we didn't try to strengthen each other more.  Instead of taking offense, belittling others and then forming sides against people, why didn't we try to help each other see the good in others. We were, after all, trying to reach for the same purpose and bring souls unto Christ.  It's amazing how even when you think you are your most spiritual self, Satan can still get to you. He uses those 7 deadly sins because they are so easy to fall into!  We are only human.

*I have to say that even though I saw plenty of what is in the previous paragraph while on my mission, I would still go back in a heart beat if that was what the Lord wanted me to do. I will never regret going and I love the people I served with, even if there were plenty of misunderstandings.  You fight with the people you love, right?

Mary Ellen Edmunds helped me to see that if we focus on feeding the wolf in side ourselves that has the traits that are similar to the "7 Heavenly Virtues," it will be much easier to tame the bad wolf.  This is going to be a new focus of mine.  Mary said to start with one and focus on obtaining the good trait by working through the atonement, and then the deadly sin will subside.  (more or less)  I hope I can succeed just as I hope you will succeed as you try to "feed" the better "wolf."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pioneer Day

I wrote this on my personal blog and decided to share it with you:

A holiday that we celebrate in my faith is coming up in two days!  We call it Pioneer Day.  It's a day we take to celebrate by remembering our ancestors, and at the same time remember those who sacrificed so much for our faith in the earlier years of the church. This includes those who crossed the oceans to live with and practice their faith with the early saints, those who had to put up with the abuse from the mobs, putting up with death threats toward themselves and their prophet, those who gave up all they had to move to new states and eventually build temples, and crossed the plains between Illinois to Utah for our faith. There is plenty more they had to put up with, but those are just a few.
What a great day to have to remember our family roots, and also the people who sacrificed so much for their faith. The pioneer of my faith in my family is my grandma, but there are plenty of my ancestors and other family members who I have learned from and I am grateful for. Who are your pioneers?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'm Committed!

First I just have to say how much I LOVE the Ensign. It is such an amazing magazine filled with inspired words from the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My thoughts are driven by an article that I read this morning in the July Ensign titled, "Brother, I'm Committed."

Lately I have been in a bit of a weird funk. I love attending church meetings and partaking of the Sacrament. I love the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I have been feeling stuck. I have not been progressing the way I know I can over the past couple of weeks. This talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf helped me understand why I was "standing still" in my testimony.

He talks a lot about commitment to our covenants. I have not been nearly as faithful at reading my scriptures and saying my prayers as I know I should be. Often I make excuses as to why I haven't been as good at this lately, but in reality it is simply because I was not committed fully. President Uchtdorf says, "Those who are only sort of committed may expect to only sort of receive the blessings of testimony, joy, and peace. The windows of heaven might only be sort of open to them." This is what I have been feeling lately. Only a small part of the true joy and testimony that can be mine. "Being only sort of committed to the gospel can lead to frustration, unhappiness, and guilt."

This has been my call to remembrance. Starting today I am re-committing to live the gospel to its' fullest. And I am going to follow the counsel of the Lord (through His apostle) to "search the scriptures and earnestly seek the guidance of [my] Father in Heaven,...accept and magnify [my] callings,...attend [church] meetings,...[and] do [my] visiting teaching."

Have any of you ever felt stuck in your progress? I used to think that would never happen to me, but now I know that it can and will happen to anyone who chooses to not fully commit. I know that after praying and studying my scriptures this morning I felt a tremendous amount of peace and joy. Now I just have to keep it up! Wish me luck.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Literature to real life: How the gospel applies to everything!

This is my first time posting, so if there are any other members of this blog who find this post pretty irrelevant to the main purpose of this blog feel free to let me know.

While my husband and I were traveling across the state of Idaho to his extended family reunion, I decided to use those hours to finish my most recent choice of literature to analyze: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly.  In the story it shows how difficult situations can affect the belief system and optimism of a creature.  At one point in the story, the creature created by Frankenstein starts to curse at his creator for the terrible life he has been given. He shouts, after multiple experiences where he tried showing kindness but was left alone in desolation because of being misunderstood, "Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live?" Later, because of experiencing the wonder and awe of one of the most glorious creations-- the earth, The monster felt "emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within..." After those emotions were quickly extinguished by another bad experience, he had decided to take vengeance and control of the life of his creator.

After reading the chapters that contain these narrations, my husband and I had a discussion.  It made us think: How often do we as mortals curse our God for unwanted predicaments?  I do it myself by not being grateful and forgetting to be prayerful at the moment where I am feeling overstressed or overworked.  I have met others who become offended or blame their hardships on God and later say things similar to the effect that they will return to God if He does something miraculous toward them first.  Naturally, we as humans want to blame someone else for our times when we fall short, and take full credit when we are blessed.  But, how can God help us if we aren't doing our part to draw closer to Him?  Those who curse God and become like the monster in the book, by deciding to create a relationship with Him on their own terms, will not progress.  God is constant.  He is the one who knows all things. He even knows us and our needs better than we know ourselves.  Throughout the scriptures Christ is constantly saying, "come." He never says, ok I guess I can change some of our Heavenly Father's laws around to better fit your opinions.  As I was remembering that everything can be in God's hands if we let them, and that God knows everything and has a better understanding than we do, the thought brought me comfort.

After discussing this we came to the subject on how little we know of the after life and how there are so many speculations on what could happen.  This brought us back to the truth that God is constant, He knows what He is doing, and although we don't know everything that will happen in the next life, He has told us what He wants us to know. We were also brought back to the truth that although we may not know the purpose for everything in this life, we need to trust Him and remember to only focus on what He has told us to focus on.  We have been told to trust him by obeying his commandments and continually progressing in this life.  He has told us to focus on what we can do now and to prepare ourselves, but not worry, about the future.

It is amazing how such truth can be portrayed in non-religious literature.  Everything can be tied to the gospel if we look :)

My request is that you, who have read my thoughts, reply by telling me about times when you may have come to "curse" your creator and how later you were able to come back to the Lord.  You don't have to write anything too personal, since we don't really know each other and all.  Just write something that you feel comfortable about.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Savior of the World

Here I go again, with another resolve to write on this blog.

In January, I was asked to direct a local production of {Savior of the World}. I had 12 weeks to put together the show; anyone who has been part of a production knows that’s not a lot of time. Plus, I broke my toe in the middle of production. I had plenty of opportunities to be frazzled and break down, however, every time I felt about to hit that point, I would feel a calm reassurance that everything would work out. I knew that was from the Lord. There were times that the only thing keeping me going was this blessing; because I only saw the big picture with my mortal eyes, He saw what our potential was and kept me moving.

From the beginning, my focus was meant to be on Jesus Christ, after all, it was a play about His Resurrection. So, every time, any one of us got together we’d say a prayer and have devotional. I can testify of the power of the Spirit in this production. I can’t begin to number the times where myself or someone else in the production felt the guidance of the Spirit. We came together, as a group, and became a family; a family one with our Lord and Savior. I know this came from inviting the Spirit through prayer and focusing our minds to who we were representing, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Another big decision was to take the performance area off the ‘stage’ and put it in the audience; it’s called ‘Intimate Theatre.’ I felt, and the Spirit confirmed, this was the best way for an audience to take the world away and focus completely on their feelings toward the Savior. And focusing on their feelings came from the characters in the play. Through the characters’ own personal journeys to the Savior, our audience was able to, hopefully, gain a deeper appreciation for these people who had a first-hand witness to the reality of the Savior’s resurrection and deepen their own. This was my goal… for all of us involved to REMEMBER HIM and I saw that in the audience reaction on performance nights.

Everyone involved worked tremendously hard on this performance and it was because of our individual connections to the Savior. I felt of His love and understanding for us; we wanted to invite others to come unto Him, so He was with us. He knew of our little production and what we were trying to accomplish. During production I kept repeating, ‘if one person involved (cast, crew, audience) draws closer to Christ because of the production, then we did our job.’ I know we did our job because I’ve drawn closer to Him (and I know others did too because they told me), and for that I’ll look back on this experience and be forever grateful.


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