I love to study and so it would seem that at my age I would know a lot more than I do, yet invariably, each day I learn something new. A dear friend of mine shared some very soul-searching insight. In some small way I would like to share this deeply felt information with you.
Reading the scriptures brings peace, insight, and relevance to our lives. One story I would like to share is so very pertinent to our lives today.
Alma Chapter 5
To gain salvation, men must repent and keep the commandments, be born again, cleanse their garments through the blood of Christ, be humble and strip themselves from pride and envy, and do the works of righteousness.
Alma 5:26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if you have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
Wow! Great words of wisdom! In order for us to achieve our greatest gifts we must be humble and strip ourselves of pride.
A little of the background of this scripture is a story about a father named Alma. He was a very righteous man and taught his children well. It must have been a lot like us, we teach, and teach, and teach yet to no avail. Our children have also been given the right to make choices. They have their agency and they also need to find their destiny. Alma did like most parents; he continued to pray for him and continued to teach his son hoping that he would start making better choices. Not only did his son make degrading choices but he made choices that were in deliberate defiance of his God and his father. Invariably, Alma the Younger lived a riotous life. He seemed to be involved with the popular “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” ideology. In spite of his choices his dad still loved him. He knew that his son had great potential and a mission to do. So why was he choosing to ignore his destiny? Alma continued to pray day after day for his son. After a time, Alma’s prayers were answered and his son (Alma the Younger) received a visitation. We more than likely will not be touched in such a manner, yet for Alma the Younger, this must have been a necessity. Maybe we need to loose a job, be betrayed by a loved one, or have some catastrophe before we realize that we need to make different choices. Can we take a good look at ourselves from the inside out and really see what direction our choices are leading us? Do we have the character to not only be self-aware but to make the needed change? Are we stuck and feeling we can’t go in any direction. Do we feel stale and unproductive? Are we able to provide for ourselves and loved ones in all areas of our lives? Do we make choices that affect our health negatively in all eight areas, for our families and ourselves? Do we need to completely step outside our comfort zone in order to start moving in the right direction?
Alma the Younger was stopped dead in his tracts by an angel and for days he was unable to speak or move. It was during this time he was taught about the end results of his choices. After he could see what he was doing to others, and only then, was he allowed to regain his health, to repent and to start moving forward. Only after this understanding or complete change of heart was he able to move forward and to achieve his destiny. At this point, he became a great healer for all with whom he came in contact. Are we here in this life just to be completely selfish, to only do whatever whim comes to us or is there a way to understand our sole purpose? Then with great soul-searching and character, change any or all habits and thoughts that prevent us from moving in a better direction. We CAN get out of our rut. We start with looking deep within and see what is really there.
I believe that we are made of two parts. Some may call it the soul, or the inner self, or our essence. Then there is the physical part of our being, our bodies. Scientists have done studies where they were trying to capture a person’s brainpower or essence right at the time of death, hoping and thinking that if they could capture some great thinker’s abilities and continue to use them, that we would be leaps ahead in the world. What they have found is that the body is rendered totally useless. The brain, soul, or essence is gone as soon as the body gives up life. There is a separation at this time. In order to find peace and progression while you are alive, these two parts need to work as one. Below is a diagram of a gingerbread person. On the outside there are spaces that have room to write in. This outside area or crust represents our ego or our thoughts on who we are outwardly. Take some time to write in each slot your thoughts on your life. For example you could write – I am a wife, or husband, a dancer, CEO, teacher, sister. Write any or all ideas of what you are involved in or the way you or others view you. Include your job, or status and most importantly your needs. Do you view your needs as having a huge mansion? Or do you view your needs as having just the amount needed to survive? How would you view yourself if you didn’t have this? What do you do and how do you live?
Write all this in the outside crust area on this gingerbread person.
I will call the outside of this person the Ego, and the inside the Essence.
Here are some feelings and emotions we feel in our ego:
There are many more but I think you get the picture.
Some feelings and emotions we feel in our essence –
3- Fruit of the Spirit
Our essence is our basic foundation from which we build everything we become, whether we choose to reach our purpose or choose to stay entirely with our ego. For instance, a child under 2 years of age shines in their essence until they start mimicking everyone around them. What are they mimicking? Is it how to use their essence or learning to hate, self indulge or just learning to be selfish?
How do we use our essence to make decisions? Deep down we know what is right or wrong. We have an idea of how our choices affect others. If the intent of our actions is to hurt others or if we are doing things just for our own well-being then maybe we are neglecting some inner direction.
If we were to drop our ego or the way we view ourselves, who would we be? If these things we wrote on the outside of this person were secondary in our lives instead of the only way we view ourselves, what would be the choices we make in our lives?
Lets say, for example, we had a choice to either hurry to get to work on time or to stop and help someone in need. Would we make our choice from our ego or our essence?
From this story about Alma it shows that he went through some hard times in order to have a total change of heart.
A challenge for us all is to again look at our ego side and then contemplate what is our true essence. The hard part might be to consider when making our daily choices — does it come from the essence or from the ego?
Our challenge in life is to find our purpose, then have the character to live it and share it.