Sunday, March 14, 2010

it connects so many dots...

This is a rough draft of my efforts to connect some ideas... any input is welcome.

So in my reading of The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life I came across the following in Chapter VII: "the decisions of our will are often so directly opposed to the decisions of our emotions, that, if we are in the habit of considering our emotions as the test, we shall be very apt to feel like hypocrites in declaring those things to be real which our will alone has decided."

This connects with my earlier post about emotions being a bodily thing. Our emotions are not happening in "US" -- our inner self, or "will" -- but in our body, our "flesh." Me = me my body AND me my spirit (or inner self or "will")

C.S. Lewis said in The Ego and the Self that while our inner self is "God's creature" it is also "that one self of all others which is called I and me, and which on that ground puts forward an irrational claim to preference" and that this is Christian "war against the ego as ego"Elder F. Enzio Busche states in Truth Is the Issue that "during our mortal life our agency is tested through the inseparable connection of our spirit with the elements of this earth, “the flesh,” or the “natural man” (see D&C 88:15)."

He teaches that it is through our understanding of the gospel and the plan of salvation that we begin to "to see that our life means that the “real me,” or “the spiritual child of God,” created in innocence and beauty, is engaged in a fight for life or death with the elements of the earth, the “flesh,” which, in its present unredeemed state, is enticed and influenced by the enemy of God."

But that "flesh" is the ME and wouldn't that make ME the enemy?

Well yes it does, in a sense, because we have to fight against our present state of being -- which is what keeps us from seeing "the original “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential in contrast to the influence from the other part of me, “the flesh,” with its selfish desires and foolishness" (Busche).

C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity that "the battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other" and that there always comes a time when our "emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on [our] beliefs." This is when faith comes in -- choosing to believe; willing to hold on to "things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods." Substitute "will" or our inner selves for reason and you can see why it is so important for us to always be reminding ourselves what we know is true. Our inner self has been taught truth, and yet in the barrage of emotion i.e. doubt we can loose sight of what we once chose.

Busche says that "This war is a war that has to be fought by all of Heavenly Father’s children, whether they know about it or not. But without a keen knowledge of the plan of salvation, and without the influence of the divine Light of Christ to bring us awareness, this war is being fought subconsciously, and therefore its battlefronts are not even known to us, and we have no chance to win. Wars in the inner self that are fought subconsciously, with unknown battlefronts, lead to defeats which also hurt us subconsciously. These defeats are reflected in our conscious life as expressions of misery, such as a lack of self-confidence, lack of happiness and joy, lack of faith and testimony, or as overreactions of our subconscious self, which we see then as pride, arrogance, or in other forms of misbehavior—even as acts of cruelty and indecency...One of the great tragedies we see in our lives is that the adversary, through the influences of our “flesh,” can cheat us into establishing images of truth or perceptions of truth. Our brain, the great computer where all the facts of life’s memories are held together, can also be programmed by the “flesh,” with its self-centered ideas to deceive the spiritual self. Without the constant striving through prayer and contemplation to reach the ends of self-awareness and honesty, our so-called intellect can, therefore, based on look-alike truths, play many games of reason, to impress, to get gain, to intimidate, or even to manipulate truth with the vain results of deceit."

The "HOW" is an important question to consider.

C.S. Lewis also said in Mere Christianity that there is love that is just a feeling, what we call "being in love" and that it is "good for us." However, there is a second sense where love "is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other" (109).

I believe that all positive emotions are the same way. They exist as feelings and as something deeper in our selves that we CHOOSE and must work to maintain. We can feel hopeful or BE hopeful. Feel gratitude or BE a grateful person. Feel joy or BE joyful. etc. We also must work to overcome the negative ones which come our way. We have to stop giving so much time/energy/importance to negative emotions "for they are only the servants; and regard simply your will, which is the real king in your being" (H.W. Smith)

The important thing is that Christ has promised to help. All we have to do is put ourselves... our WILL in God's hands. This means, says H.W. Smith, you must do so "making up your mind that you will believe what He says because He says it, and tat you will ot pay any regard to the feelings that make it seem so unreal" You must say to God: "Until now my emotions have had the mastery; but now I put my will into thy hands, and give it up to thy working. I WILL NEVER AGAIN CONSENT IN MY WILL TO in me to will and do of thy good pleasure."

Bruce D. Porter said in Searching Inward that "man simply cannot perfect himself, by himself'" The only way to "self-knowledge" is through Christ. “… if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.… my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27.)

In that sense we truly place the only thing that is ours on the alter of the Lord. We turn our will, our SELVES over to Him. After all, "it is not the feelings of the man God wants, but the man himself: (H.W. Smith) And by doing so He promises us the help and power to CHOOSE. That our will is stronger than our emotions. That our real self is stronger than just the "me" we are. That our spirit is stronger than the flesh. Then we are truly endowed with power. Then we can actually begin to change and win the battle. When our will becomes His Will and overcomes the world.

p.s. I don't mean to make it seem like feelings are completely horrible things however. God communicates to our spirits through beautiful uplifting feelings.

President Boyd K. Packer reminds that "The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a “still small voice.” And while we speak of “listening” to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, “I had a feeling ….(

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; … those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 151)

The point is, that we must come to understand personal revelation in order to understand these feelings.

And we still have to be wary. In a church lesson from on recognizing revelation it teaches that sometimes Satan is able to give us strong feelings, which we may confuse with revelation from God. President Boyd K. Packer taught that “There can be counterfeit revelations, promptings from the devil. … As long as you live, in one way or another the adversary will try to lead you astray. … If ever you receive a prompting to do something that makes you feel uneasy, something you know in your mind to be wrong and contrary to the principles of righteousness, do not respond to it!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 78–79; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61; italics in original). In a situation like this, it is the feeling of uneasiness that is the actual revelation. This uneasiness is the Holy Ghost warning us that what we are considering is wrong.

A portion of that difficulty lies in our confusion about personal revelation; “How do I know if an impression is really from the Lord or if it is just my own emotions?” Elder Gerald N. Lund expands on this issue in his address Is it Revelation? by stating that "one of the most important challenges of our mortal probation is learning to hear, recognize, and then follow the voice of the Lord."

(This is a great article and I recommend it!! Elder Lund answers these three questions about personal revelation: 1. What is the voice of the Lord like? 2. How can I distinguish between true and counterfeit revelation? 3. What can I do to enhance my ability to hear, recognize, and follow the voice of the Lord?)

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