This is a somewhat personal post but whatever, I’m putting it out there. If you judge me or don’t relate so be it.
As someone raised a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, and as a serious and consciencious person in general, I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling guilty. However, for several years my religious experience has, slowly but surely, become more and more healing and joyful. This process has happened pretty much as fast as I’ve been able to understand certain ideas.
In the restored church of Christ, each Sunday we eat bread and drink water in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. As we do it we commit to be a little better of a person this week than we were last week. We call this process “taking the Sacrament.” We are encouraged to ponder how we can improve well before we come to the meeting in order to be prepared to take the Sacrament.
So each week I try to remember to think of ways I can do better. I find it very easy to come up with waysto improve if I think in terms of the question, “How was I egotistical or prideful last week?” Then I usually think about how I wasn’t always the nicest to my husband and how I was petty and immature when we had conflicts. Sometimes I think of how I was caught up in comparisons with others about clothes, class and/or money. You get the idea. I also think of areas that I’m simply weak in and can ask for divine help with, such as with difficult tasks at work. Overall, I’d say that it is a positive process of introspection.
However, this week I came to a new level of understanding. Today is Sunday and this morning I was doing some last minute preparation for the Sacrament while getting ready for church. But I asked a new question to myself. I think it was something like, “What more can I do to increase joy for myself and my family?” I immediately started thinking of things: increase the quality of my one on one time with Colton, start a book club online with friends, get yoself into nature more already, keep one on one snuggly time with Clark every day, and the list kept going. You have to understand that this wasn’t just a list of possible nice activities I could do. These were answers that that question spontaneously generated, and they spoke to my heart as things of obvious most importance for me right now.
I realized that this was a proactive list of things to do, rather than my usual Sunday list of things not to do. Interesting, exciting. Like, it’s still important to realize that I’m a jerk to my husband and should be better. But how much is focusing on that and resolving to be better going to actually fix it in moments where I really really just want to be angry? Maybe if I’m busy doing all the best things, I’ll automatically start being nicer to Colton because I’ll be full of “joy and gladness” (this quote is a slightly sarcastic reference to a line in a church history movie, hehe). I guess I’ll see how this process starts panning out in my life.
Photos are from hiking in the foothills with my girlfriends (another thing on my list to do more of).
I thought I was done with this post but I actually have some more thoughts. If there are serious offenses in our lives that we need to stop, like abuse or adultery, doing “fun” things isn’t going to fix the situation. I realized what I said could be interpreted that way. I think the underlying principle I’m trying to get at is to keep in mind that the end goal of any improvement is to increase joy for us and others. When we focus solely on kicking bad out of our lives as an end in itself, we feel drudgery, boredom, failure and discouragement. When we focus on joy our souls light up with excitement and we feel involved in an empowering, redemptive process.
There. I think that is what I was trying to say, and I think that this post is now square with doctrine.