Sunday, June 28, 2009

Master, the Tempest is Raging

This morning I feel a desire to be a little more candid than I usually am. After reflecting on experiences I have had the past several months, I am amazed and filled with wonder. Several significant events have given me new vision to see through the storms of life, not the least of these was being in a musical production about the Lord, Jesus Christ. While it was just a play, it created a personal meridian in time for me that will mark accelerated personal growth.

In the months leading up to the experience, I had experienced some physical limitations for about a year. I wondered if I would ever be the same again. I hoped, but I did not know what the outcome would be. When you have a difficult experience, it is natural to wonder if you will ever get back to normal. Then you start to question what normal is. Introspection begins and you can often find more questions than answers. Such was my experience, but that is a whole other story.

Just before we performed the musical production, I felt my life change and my physical limitations were removed. I was thankful that Father had heard my prayers and had granted the requested blessings, in His due time. Immense gratitude swelled in my heart. I can hardly think about the experience now without wanting to stop whatever I am doing to express my heartfelt thanks in prayer. I don’t know that I have ever felt so much gratitude for an answer to prayer before.

Another significant blessing that occurred prior to the play was my increased study on the topic of charity. I had been reading in the Book of Mormon in Moroni chapter 7 where Mormon explains that charity is so much more than giving of our excess to the poor. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and if you do not have charity, you are nothing. Mormon then invites us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this Love.” I took that counsel seriously and realized that I had never before prayed with that much effort to receive this specific gift. I knew what to do, but had never gone further.

Acting on the instruction I began to pray for charity. Again, I felt my life change as I felt and experienced the love of God greater than I ever had before. This time was different, however. I also felt that the increase was not for me, but was to be dispersed quickly. I was not the only intended recipient of that love. It was my task to help others to feel that love, so that they could feel and know the love of Father for them. I felt more like a conduit. The more I let it pass through me without obstacle, I witnessed greater blessings. Again this experience culminated with the performances of the play as I watched the thoughts, impressions, and feelings I had had portrayed on stage with others. I made many close friends and developed some cherished relationships.

In the weeks that followed the play, the two conditions I have described brought about a new range of experiences. I felt additional changes, socially, intellectually, and emotionally. Rapidly, and unpredictably, they were all tied together. Friendships deepened, as did my emotions. Inspired, I began to train for a marathon. Increased physical activity changed my metabolism and energy levels. Emotional ties motivated me to do more and be more. I found it easier to push harder towards my goals. However the highs I experienced were also followed by lows of uncertainty. Suddenly I realized that my very stable life was swaying up and down in a torrent of emotions. It was wonderful and terrible at the same time. Only recently have I recognized a few important lessons.

First of all, I have learned that when your cup runneth over, it can be a bit of a challenge to sort out the mess. I received a lot more than I ever asked for. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I have grown tremendously, and I have a new depth of experiences to reflect on. So much happened so quickly that I am still sorting the whole thing out.

Secondly, if you are aboard a small boat caught in the waves of a storm, you find yourself wondering what you are doing out in the water at a time like that. I fear that my ramblings about emotional mood swings would bore anyone to read. Yet I am hoping you can relate with the emotional tempests that each of us can have in our lives. They may not always be visible to the casual passerby, but they are real none the less.

Thirdly, I made a curious observation that my internal tempest had everything to do with my focus. When I was preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings, I couldn’t help but pay more attention to the highs and lows. When I made an effort to focus outward, by serving others and focusing on their needs, the internal storm would calm. It was much like when Jesus and the apostles were out in the Sea of Galilee and He “rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.” When I choose to follow Him, I tend to have more of those experiences.

Lastly, I have learned that there is a greater purpose for things that we experience. Joseph Smith taught, “the spirit and the body are the soul of man,” (D&C 88:15) so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one affects the other. Elder David A. Bednar recently taught that one purpose of the physical body is to amplify the spiritual experiences we can potentially have. He said, “Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained” otherwise.

While I am still trying to process the whole experience, I think the over all effect has been much deeper and richer. I may not understand everything, but I can see more purpose in the storm, and I can now see a little more through it.

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