This was the question that caught my attention most while reading Light in the Wilderness in preparation for Mentoring Mothers last week. M. Catherine Thomas writes, "On introspection, do we find that we act to shut down feelings of joy - that we can't endure them for very long? If that is so, then we must ask, Do I really want to be happier than I am now (p.96)."
Why is it that we hold onto grievances, past hurts, sins, the natural man? Why are we afraid of our own identity? Why do we hold back experiencing true joy? Reasons discussed last week were:
* This is the world we live in.
* Lack of self-confidence
* The false ideologies of man such as, "only a few are going to make it."
* The Atonement is not fully understood
Thomas continues, "An even greater freedom can come as [we] also give up the parts of [our] 'story' that are holding [us] back (p. 97)." I know I do this. I find fault with things of the past and hold onto those faults so as not to repeat them (my excuse). We find it so important to determine why we are the way we are, but to what purpose? There is merit in discovering how we became the person we are today, IF we are willing to use that knowledge for making even greater changes in our lives.
I love this phrase from the author, "Spiritual Practice," because that is what we are doing. "We are training ourselves before the Lord. Without recurring focus on the Lord's things, divinity will not arise (p.103)." So, how do we ensure that our spiritual practice is long-lasting? How do we more fully "put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19)?" Through this chapter we came up with two key strategies: Meditation and Selfless Love.
"Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord." - Spencer W. Kimball (quoted on p.104).
M. Catherine Thomas writes, "We realize of course that meditation is not something new to us. We are always meditating on something. But if we are not choosing our meditations deliberately, our thoughts will run in their ordinary channels, and we will experience more of what we don't want in our lives (p. 107)."
From this we can assume it is one of our greatest privileges to meditate, and yet it is one of our greatest challenges as well...especially as busy mothers. It is imperative for our own spiritual growth that we make the time to "Be still and know that [He] is God." One gal at the meeting recognized that, "There is nothing planned in the Celestial room. It is simply a place for meditation."
Likewise, our prayer and scripture study time must be a place where true meditation can be available. Rushed reading while doing other things just to "mark it off our list" is better than nothing, but if we want deeper spiritual growth we need to put time into what really matters most.
"The Law of the Spirit is selflessness...When [one's] acts are always motivated by impersonal, unselfish love...[the] mind will be peaceful, balanced, and healthy (p.93)."
Always?! Is that possible? There's got to be a way.
I recently posted about gratitude. Elder Bednar has said that "a grateful person is a content person (CR Oct. 2013). Gratitude is a huge key to becoming less selfish and more others-minded.
Seeing others as children of God, recognizing their divinity also helps us to be filled with selfless love. Letting go of "me" guides us to greater freedom because there's no longer anything to defend or protect.
"Turning our minds to the spiritual allows us to 'see' more...Our spiritual sense open and we touch the sacred many times a day (p. 109)."
"If we want a particular kind of experience out of life and a particular kind of relationship with the Lord, we have to be selective about how we furnish our mental space (p. 107)."