Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waymarks on my spiritual quest

I am curently taking an advanced writing class at BYU called "Writing: Waymarks on the Spiritual Quest." It's a sweet class and we got to do a lot of cool and enlightening projects and activities. For our final, we are supposed to present to the class the progress we've made on our own spiritual and intellectual quests.

While pondering my spiritual quest (because, quite frankly, my intellectual quest is all over the place), there were a lot of seemingly unconnected ideas that kept running through my mind. Rather than let them remain in their state of chaos and distract me from accomplishing anything else, I decided to start writing what came to mind and see what happened.

First off, something I believe very strongly and see examples of daily – happiness is a choice. Our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy, and He has set up a glorious and perfect plan for us to do so. While He has laid out the framework, however, it is up to us to take advantage of that and do what is necessary.

Another thing I have a huge testimony of is free agency. We make our own choices and are made to endure the consequences of said choices – good or bad. They say blessings are brought to pass through others. President Kimball told us, “The Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” I think the same holds true with tribulation. One person’s personal tests in life result in another’s joy or heartbreak - depending on if the first person passes or fails. The example that comes to my mind is rape – it isn’t that God is punishing the victim, it’s that one person made a horrible choice and another person is made to suffer the consequences. While this may seem unfair, it is the only way that agency can work. In order to make good choices, there must be an option to make bad ones.

Next, the subject of service has been on my mind a lot lately. Every time I feel unproductive, unhappy, or frustrated with the way my life is going, I always seem to realize that, if I did more service, I would be happier. This logic is twofold – first, we are told that blessings come from service, and second, when we focus on others rather than ourselves, we always seem to find that we are more upbeat, have a better attitude and perspective, and feel better about ourselves. The result: service equals happiness.

After looking over the written manifestation of the workings of my brain, my initial thought was, “wow, back to square one, this is just a bunch of random concepts, not material for a presentation.” After a little more reflection, however, I began to see the connection – and the connection suddenly made perfect sense with the progress I have made this semester.

Here we go. Try to stay with me.

The Lord has given us all individual talents and abilities. Each of us has the ability to help people in different ways, and there are things we can do for others that no one else can do. Often we find that the ways in which Christ strengthened us are the ways in which we can help others. Based on our experiences, knowledge, natures, and blessings from the Lord, we are more sensitive and in-tune with those needs in other people, and we have the desire to do our part to fill that need.

It’s like a triangle, with “God”, “me/you,” and “others” as the vertices, with whatever our talent is filling in the center. Christ strengthens us in whatever area we need, and we, in turn, can help others in the same way.

I've been trying to fill my triangle with empathy. The Lord has been so kind, loving, and understanding to me throughout my life, especially in a few particularly memorable situations. Because of this, I feel like I have a heightened desire to relate and empathize with friends and acquaintances that are having a hard time. I have been blessed with the ability to recognize many problems that people are having and figure out subtle ways to provide assistance.

As I have recognized this extra sense that I seem to possess, my next step is to put this blessing into action. It is one thing to recognize a need but quite another to actually do something about it. However, where much is given, much is required, and I am starting to realize that, if I let this God-given talent go to waste, I will be rejecting Christ and what He has done to strengthen me in this area. It’s my job to uncover these talents and build upon them – asking the Lord for help, exerting effort, and putting them into practice.

I guess that’s the point, really. Christ helps us in ways that we don’t even recognize. But when we do recognize His hand in our lives, we learn from it and are grateful. That gratitude and newly acquired knowledge inspire us to improve ourselves and help others in the process. Because of the assistance that we are given, we are able to pass that assistance on to others… and the Lord’s love, empathy, and mercy are spread to all His children.

No comments:

Post a Comment