BOTTLED

  • One of the hardest things to teach a child is that the truth is more important than the consequences.” Dr. Suess

Friday, November 20, 2015

VOICES

Sometimes I think.

Just that.

I think about everything, and anything - even thinking - and I know I am thinking.

Other times I have thoughts.
Sometimes I wonder about such thoughts.

I recognize they are not inherently mine.

Some thoughts comfort and give hope, courage, and power to act or accomplish many good things.

Other thoughts cause despair. They bring hopeless feelings, or even a wish to cease to exist. I feel without value, purpose, or significance. These thoughts indicate I am without importance.

Recently, I avoided serious contention and conflict with a loved one. I was pleased. A calm stillness and quiet, akin to nothingness, lifted away unresolved cares and concerns.

Later on a thought came so strongly to my mind that I can only describe it as a voice. The voice stayed with me a long time, and berated every human fallibility I experienced.

When I stumbled I thought, “I’m so clumsy.”
When I dropped a spot of juice on my shirt I thought, “You're so sloppy.”

At lunch I spilled some salsa on a worksheet. I was shocked to hear, “You are such a pig, a disgusting pig!”

Suddenly, I recognized something important.
That voice was not me.
I never call anyone a pig, much less a disgusting pig.

I began to think – and ponder.
I began to think about my thoughts, and that voice.

Shudder.

It is the voice I hear when I am in despair.

I also recognized that this incident is not an isolated occurrence.
This is the same voice that fosters pride and fear, discouragement and addictions, but at the same instant condemns every such leaning.

There is opposition in all things. There are forces for light and good, and forces of darkness against good. The spirits that want to damage and destroy all, in every miserable way possible, would love to be welcomed into mind and heart and invited to stay. When peace supersedes contention; anytime conflict is avoided, dropped, or stopped so are those forces. 

I thought about the thoughts; those voices I hear.

Too often I have internalized and personalized a voice.

This time the voice was so foreign that I didn’t think “I am a pig.” I don’t call anyone a pig—especially not myself. (Then I recalled a few times recently when I had randomly ‘thought’ (and rejected) that about someone. How sneaky! That voice is downright sneaky!

Jeffery R. Holland humorously suggested, “Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! . . . Throw the rascals out!”

Many struggle with the type of “dark night of the mind and spirit” that Elder Jeffery R. Holland described in his October 2013 General Conference talk “Like a Broken Vessel.” These things can immobilize and debilitate if allowed to linger. Thankfully lingering is not necessary and the spirit can rule the flesh.

I choose what to think, what to say, and how to act.

Attitude is everything.

Thoughts that come to mind need to be filtered. Thoughts need a security screen the same way a computer requires an anti-virus program. Kindness—to self and others—is a security screen for thoughts.

Kindness immediately rejects and casts aside every intimation of every thought that is not kind.

Simple, sincere kindness to all around us always includes ourselves—much like being in an emergency in a plane and needing our own O2 mask before attempting to help anyone else. Without vital oxygen—as vital as kindness for self—breathing and living becomes increasingly difficult; an abundance of either increasingly simplifies breathing and living. 

There are things that help “move along” thoughts and prevent us from hurting self or others. The first and most significant is service. Spencer W. Kimball, twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that when we feel like there isn’t much of self to find, that we can immediately find more of the essence of our self in service.

Serving others also fosters connections to others. Being appropriately connected to others is one of the most influential ways to protect anyone from trials or abuse of all kinds, whether within or without the family and home. When we are connected lovingly to others we know they are concerned for us and we are more concerned for them.

Connections help foster kindness, patience, and a host of other virtues that help us think and focus on respecting needs of others as well as ourselves.

Elder Holland instructs, “Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there. If you are endowed, go to the temple as often as your circumstances allow."

 [And if you are not endowed you can go sit quietly near the temple and feel its influence and power.]

Elder Holland continues, "Remember that the temple arms you ‘with [God’s] power, … [puts His] glory … round about [you], and [gives His] angels … charge over [you]’ (D&C 109:22).  And when you leave the temple, remember the symbols you take with you, never to be set aside or forgotten” (Oct 2013, Like a Broken Vessel).