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."