Then it hits me---the thought--do you ever feel like life is like that? I mean, we are just going along, everyday, doing what we do every day, trying to do what we are suppose to be doing but feeling like we are just wandering around with no purpose or specific direction? Just going through the motions, or trying to survive, or just doing it because someone else told us it is what we are suppose to be doing??
|copyright: Karen Larsen photography|
Once in a while, I find myself there---going through the motions just to survive, to keep everyone eating, breathing, and clean. Those days are farther behind me than they used to be, but even with mostly teenagers, it happens once in a while. Is that OK?? To live just to survive?
I think sometimes it is just fine. Sometimes survival is all you can do and that is alright if that is where you are and what you need to be doing. I did that after my parents' divorce. I just went through the motions of living. I was denying my grief and sadness (because I had no idea when I would 'get over it,' which I don't know that I ever will because it still breaks my heart and I still see the consequences, every day). But I just got up every morning, went to school, came home, did my homework, went to work, talked to my friends---until I left for college.
Leaving for college was another huge adjustment for me. It was scary. I didn't know anyone. I didn't have any financial support or back up. If I failed, I was going home---somewhere. But I didn't think about failure. I couldn't focus on it. If I did, I would have been overwhelmed by my fear and it would have thwarted my success. I simply put my head in the sand (emotionally speaking), rolled up my sleeves, and went to work. I had a job. It paid for my expenses. There were things that came up, trials, difficulties, that needed managing along the way. But I again just moved forward, enjoying the moments, but I'm pretty sure I was just in survival mode.
As I began to live in a more healthy emotional environment (away from my family and the pain of its demise), I began to grow, even though my emotions were deeply buried away. I learned about the atonement, of Christ's sacrifice for me, and the significance that plays in my life. I had grown up in the church, and attended regularly, but I don't think the doctrines ever sunk into my heart until I about three quarters of the way through the first semester.
I had been speaking, regularly, with one of my psychology professors (Dr. Budge). At first we just talked about my family and my sorrow there, mostly my angry feelings toward my father, and our turbulent relationship. It was in a meeting with Dr. Budge that he first suggested to me that maybe I wasn't living the way I believed. WHAT??!! What are you talking about? But as I left his office and pondered on our conversation, I realized what he was saying. I say 'I believe these things,' but my behavior does not reflect that belief. For instance, if I said I believed going to church was important and necessary to learn about God, and learning about God is important, but then I do not go to church, I am creating an incongurency within myself. I obviously do not believe both statements, unless I am also willing to admit that I am willfully rebelling. Can you see how that works?? And who wants to admit that? No one wants to believe they are willfully rebelling. It is easier to change their beliefs about God or going to church or its importance.
We have thoughts, behaviors, and words. When two or more of those things are not in harmony with each other, that causes an internal conflict. We are beings that need to be in harmony with ourselves. That brings us peace and happiness. When our thoughts, behaviors, or words are not in harmony with each other, we seek to bring them into harmony by changing something. Most of us know that changing behavior is hard, so we kind of avoid that. The easier road is to change our beliefs or how we think about things, even though those changes may not be true. Lucifer is a master at helping us to change our thinking and justify our wrong behaviors.
Essentially what Dr. Budge was telling me, was that I needed the atonement in my life. I needed to take the more difficult road and change my behavior. It wasn't anything major, mind you, but I still needed the atonement. I needed its healing power in my life, and I still do. I didn't understand, at the time, enough of how it worked to apply it. First, I had to get down on my knees and admit to my Father in Heaven that my life wasn't in harmony with my beliefs and the things I had been taught. I had to tell Him that I was sorry. That I desired to change. My heart was ready, but I would need His help because I didn't know how.
|copyright: Karen Larsen photography|
I would like to tell you that that was all I needed to do and then it was fixed. That would be a lot easier. It wasn't. It took me time. Prayer ever day, asking for help to change things---to read my scriptures, to say my prayers, to attend church with my ward (not my boyfriend's ward), to do my homework, essentially to change my heart and keep the change, to not listen to Lucifer's reasons for justifying my bad behavior. As I did those things, an amazing miracle occurred!
My heart opened up. No enough to let out all of those negative emotions, but enough to begin to let the doctrines penetrate it. I felt better about myself! Why?! Because my behavior was more in line with my beliefs.
Here is the scriptural backing for what I am telling you: Alma 36 and 37
Alma testifies to his son of his conversion process, his bad behavior before, the visit from the angel (who instructs him to remember the captivity of his fathers and to acknowledge his bad behavior), the memory of his bad behavior and how it affects others, and then how he changed and what he now asks of his son, specifically Helaman.
Read it! Over and over again!
Then ask yourself, where in my life are my behaviors not in line with my beliefs and understandings of the doctrines of Jesus Christ? I guarantee you that God will answer that prayer! And if you act on that seed, and do not cast it out by your unbelief, but plant it in your heart and give it space to grow and begin to nourish that seed, you will find greater happiness and peace because you will have just moved your life more in harmony with your beliefs!!
As you do so, your heart will open up and though it may not be fixed today or tomorrow, through continued diligence and effort, over time, you can get out of survival mode and begin to live with purpose. Have a great Sabbath day!!