Friday, April 22, 2016

SEEKING TRUTH

Due to my ongoing health challenges, I have only been able to attend church a handful of times in the last few years. This has been a strange experience for me, since I’ve always been a church-going person, and it’s always meant something to me. These days I hear a lot of dispute over spirituality vs. religion, and many people speak out against the need to be part of a religious body in order to be spiritual, and religion sometimes gets a bad rap. I’ve certainly heard of many examples of how the structure and dictates of religion (many different religions referred to here) have caused damage in a person’s life, and these cases are valid. Of course, a person’s experiences and perspective are all relative. Some people use religion as a tyrannical tool in the lives of their family members; some religious leaders have certainly abused their power and have lost sight of their place in the big picture, hence causing damage when instead they should be about the business of saving souls. I could expound a great deal, but suffice to say that you can be a spiritual person without being religious, and you can certainly be religious without being spiritual. It’s my personal belief that a balance of both is the greatest key to happiness in this life, as long as you have the good sense to listen to your own conscience and instincts in regard to both, and achieve the correct balance. For me, the very fact of not being able to attend church meetings has not made me less religious, and I have certainly grown spiritually through this season of life. Both are still very important to me, and I continue to seek out truth and apply it to myself for the purpose of becoming closer to God in my own personal relationship with Him. I see spirituality as a oneness with God, and religion as being part of a community and belief system that helps achieve that goal. Unable to actively be a part of that community has not been easy, but it has not lessened my convictions. Sometimes the way that certain people distort religious beliefs can make being part of the community challenging. But we are all imperfect, and we are all on this journey together, and the most important thing is our own personal devotion to God.

In the absence of being able to leave my bedroom on Sundays, I have sought for ways to bring some form of inspiring messages and personal worship into my life—especially on the Sabbath. I’m often not very good at it due to the ongoing depression, which makes it difficult to engage in anything, but I still try to make Sunday different from other days. I don’t do anything related to business or finances, for one thing. I watch a lot of television in order to cope with my life stuck in this bed, but there are certain things I just don’t watch on Sundays, wanting to create a different atmosphere in my life as much as possible. What I’m really working up to is that I’ve been guided to some really amazing and inspiring things as a result of my search for something uplifting on my long, lonely Sundays. 

At this point I have to bring up the thirteenth article of faith. If you’re a Mormon like me, you have to be terribly familiar with it, but like many of our teachings, sometimes we only see the surface of it and we benefit greatly by looking deeper. Unfortunately, I know of many Mormons who choose not to embrace much of anything if it isn’t produced, created, or written by Mormons. This implies somehow that Mormons have the corner on all things good and inspiring, which is absolutely absurd. Of course there are many amazing and uplifting things I can find on lds.org at any time. But that is far from the only source of such things. To quote the profound article number thirteen, “...If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” Note the word ANYTHING. The world is full of truth and goodness and wonderfully inspired people who have great things to say. My life has been changed for the better more times than I can count by the words—whether written or spoken—of people who do not share my religious beliefs. And I would like to start sharing here on my blog some of the great things I’ve learned.

For starters, I have come to really enjoy the television program “Super Soul Sunday” on the OWN network. On this Sunday morning program, Oprah Winfrey interviews people who have written inspiring or spiritual books, or who have had life experiences that offer an uplifting message. There are some people she’s interviewed who hold no interest for me. I can watch five minutes and delete the recording because I don’t feel like they’re coming from a place of genuine humility in their experiences, or I simply can’t relate. But more often I’ve heard discussions with people who have great insight into the human experience and our connection to God—even if their definition of God and/or their beliefs vary greatly from my own. Truth is truth, and even if people don’t agree on the whole definition of truth, that doesn’t mean they don’t have truth to offer. And many of these truths have offered me great morsels of wisdom and light that have helped me put together the puzzle pieces of my scattered life. 

I once read an analogy (sorry I can’t recall a reference to the person responsible; it was decades ago) that we live in a mortal world where many different tools are needed to fix problems. For instance, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can’t fix a broken car; you need a trained professional and the right tools. And even in regard to our dysfunctional lives and emotional problems, sometimes we need the same: trained professionals and the right tools. And then the Atonement can be more accessible to us as we sift through all of our personal garbage and find a way to bring ourselves closer to the light of Christ. Point being in my case, that I’ve read many books, heard many interviews on televisions, listened to many TED talks, etc. etc. that have had a profound influence on me and have helped me put the pieces together so that I can be more emotionally healthy and spiritually strong, and I have felt God’s hand in leading me to these things. I have enough common sense to be able to discern the line where other people’s beliefs are not the same as mine, but still be able to respect and accept where their wisdom and insight is exactly what I need at any particular time in my life. 

In the future I may be sharing some particular quotes or insights that I’ve found inspiring. For now, I would like to mention a few people who have altered my life for good through the sharing of their stories and experiences. Because I’ve gotten comments here on the blog and on Facebook that there are at least a few people out there reading this who are going through similar struggles, perhaps something in my suggestions might resonate with you and make a positive difference.

The book “Hungry” by Dr. Robin L. Smith is one of the best books I have ever read. It’s strongly Christian and deeply powerful in coming to understand the purpose of trials in life. This is one of THE best self-help books I’ve ever read! I feel like Dr. Robin is one of my best friends.


I also recommend the authors Brene Brown, Wayne W. Dyer, and Iyanla Vanzant. These are powerful and amazing people who have changed my life. All of them have multiple books. I would suggest that if you’re interested, go to amazon, look through book descriptions, and see what calls to you.

Now, I will leave you with a quote from the book “Hungry” which awakened something deeply aching in me, and it describes in essence a huge part of the journey I’m on.

“It’s a real challenge to find people in our lives who are willing to speak the truth. Not to overstep their bounds, but also not to collude by going along with situations that are destructive without compassionately reflecting what they see. Are you willing to speak the truth in that way—to yourself and those you love? Speaking truth with tenderness and compassion is the only real way to create genuine and intimate connections with ourselves and others. Unfortunately, most of us are not taught to responsibly or respectfully speak the truth. In fact, we are taught exact opposite. Most of us learn to nurse our lies the way you would an evening cocktail you’ve craved all day long. . . . 

“‘You shall know the truth and it shall set you free.’ I remind people that the promise of those words isn’t that the truth will make us happy (although sometimes it does). The promise is that truth will make us free. Truth is freedom. Truth is love. Truth allows us to grow and heal. Light and darkness are needed for growth. We need both day and night, waking and sleep, work and play, speaking and silence, giving and receiving. Truth abides in all.

“When we know ourselves, trust ourselves, and surround ourselves with loving, healthy, and honest support, we are able to create the life we are worthy of living. There is something almost intoxicating about being in the presence of compassionate truth-seeking and -speaking people. It’s an incubator for growth, healing, and wholeness.” 

As I copy down this little tidbit from Dr. Robin’s book, I feel renewed by it once again as it reminds me of something that has always been greatly lacking in my life, and the importance of working toward making it better. May we all keep moving closer to our own personal truth, and may it set us free.

God bless you all, Anita

1 comment:

Amanda Wilhelm said...

I was so hoping you had blogged when I reached for my phone today, and I think in part because I was craving truth. You are one of those voices of truth for me, Anita, like Dr. Robin or Brene Brown. When I read your blog, I have those wonderful, rare moments of feeling understood and not alone. And often, as I did today, uplifted.

If you'll forgive me for sharing, one of the things that kept my father from the church was something the missionaries said in our home 40 years ago. They sat at the piano in our front room and said - other religions may have some of the keys, but we are the only one with all of the keys. My father and his tender, humble, brilliant soul felt the billions of souls around the world praying faithfully to ancient religions and could not hear truth in that "just us" claim. He continued to see good in the church and in all people, but never joined. He is, has always been, one of the most spiritual people I have ever known.

His story is what came to my mind when you described how you understood those words. I have often missed having religion in my life, but the price for me is too high. I must seek my spirituality alone, and am so grateful for the inspiration you are to me. I am tearful as I say that - I am trully grateful for you Anita.