Tonight, the three of us are snuggled on the couch reading our books. Well, Charlotte is alternating between eating an old Sunday School lesson of mine and sucking her thumb. I spent long hours painting this front sitting room and designing it with the intention of a quiet place for reading and pondering, so it's so nice to have my dreams coming to fruition.
Ryan reads from his favorite political series (The Uncle Eric books. Libertarianism, anyone? Amazing stuff) and I am reading Teachings of President Hinckley. I am finding this book to be so powerful. It's really putting my heart at peace and calling my spirit to be more devoted to Gospel things. I like being filled with this type of spirit. Last week, I got online and was immediately swamped with feeds of criticism towards a female leader in our church. From friends and other people that seemed respectable enough. I saw where they were coming from, only meaning that it wasn't beyond the realm of my understanding to see why they stood with dissatisfaction. But, it still made my heart sink, so I backed away slowly and moved on with my day.
Later that week, I was feeling pretty exhausted, both in body and mind, so I laid very still on my bed and reached for a meditation to take me away. But instead, I began bearing my testimony to myself; it just seemed comforting enough to try. I declared to myself truths that I know, and when I came to The Prophet and those called under him, my mind snagged, and I couldn't stop looping around the power and courage behind these people.
There is something that I don't take lightly, and I never have. Criticism of General Authorities and the female authorities of our church. That has never rested well with me. Just like I believe that prophets of old had face-to-face communions with God and angels, I believe that same communion occurs today with our prophets. Light is given to these people through revelatory experiences that would cause our souls to quake if we knew.
I know that myself, and others, hurt. And that pain can chide with other voices sharing testimony, or we can feel snuffed under new Gospel policy, or we can feel lonely and forgotten when our experiences are far, far away from the norm. But like my bishop once said: the entirety of this Gospel is like a big puzzle, and if you come across a piece that you can't find a place of belonging, do you throw the whole puzzle off the table, saying, "This is untrue!" No, you set the piece aside and continue working until you find that piece a home.
And I ask myself often: Does this thought, this criticism, this mood towards someone or something make me more loving, more full of the Spirit, more eager to understand? No? Is it making me cynical, distant, and hardened? Then there is something here I need to abandon, to loosen my grip of. Lay it down. And if this hardness returns, well then, I'll pray for more awakening when it does. And I'll keep laying it down until it returns to me, and I able to speak on it with light and love. I do a dis-service to my own spirit to clamp down on things that weaken me or provoke me or dim and depress me. And yet, unfortunately, I find myself doing it all the time. All the time. The more light and awareness I find in this Gospel, the more I realize how much my ego controls me. And I do say, to continue on in the dictations of my ego, the suffering is bearable mainly because of its familiarity. It is that of which we are all accustomed to, because we exist behind the perceptions of our egos minute-by-minute, which cause us to latch onto and glare down the "sources" of our pain. "That is the cause of my suffering." "You are the cause of my suffering." And we, I, exist in co-dependence with everything around me. We suffer because we hold such scorn and pride.
Until, one unveils their ego and lays it down. Then one finds that "in here, is the cause of my suffering." I am the production of my suffering. You change the patterns of your mind, and you change your life.
And that is many of the Alma 5 transformations I have been experiencing recently, especially since having a baby. And that vulnerability and exposure is painful beyond compare to the suffering behind the ego shield. However, I am actually able to overcome the binds that once held me. The perpetual suffering is no more. The light and awakening to my soul and my awareness is beyond worthy of the surrender. I am not yet my own Master, living without my ego, but I am awakening and rising above it. So, basically what I am trying to say is, the more I encounter others' egos reigning their eyes and their minds, the more I withdraw. I am not going to participate in that, nor surround myself with it. Fingers will continually point more firmly outward, causing a more and more co-dependent nature of people slinging their pain at anyone and anything, being critical and cynical. And unfortunately, our prophets and leaders are going to take increasing hits. The very people who are communing with our Savior.
But like I always, always say, I cannot push on the side of a ship and make it turn, but I can choose to row my boat in my chosen direction. And I will continually work on unveiling my ego and letting my co-dependent fingers fall, along with my pride, my pains, my follies. I will sink into my Master, my faith, the prophets, my husband, and I will let myself be transformed. My deepest desire is to be fully awakened and filled with light. This process will continue until I am well beyond the grave, and in that time, you will never hear me discredit the people on the watchtower. Even if their words jolt my ego and unravel me in pain and weakness. They are people that I believe are more awakened than I, and I would rather trust in their light and let my own ego be proved fallible.
Now, back to our peaceful evening reading :) Upward and onward,When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: "Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve." -Gordon B. Hinckley