Monday, May 16, 2016

OF BEAMS AND MOTES

As a part of the healing journey that I began discussing in my last entry, I found myself drawn strongly to the scripture in the New Testament about beams and motes. 

Before I get into that, let me point out a principle I learned from the Doctrine and Covenants, which over time and with much experimenting I have found to be true. It states in section nine, verse nine—as part of the guidelines of correct decision making—that if something is not right you will have a “stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” A light bulb went off in my head one day that made me realize that the opposite is also true, specifically, if something sticks in your head and you CANNOT forget it, then you need to pay attention to the thought and follow where it leads. This concept has never failed me.

So . . . I couldn’t stop thinking about beams and motes. And since I’d been praying for guidance on how to overcome all of my emotional baggage and become my best self, I had to follow up on my thinking, doing some studying and pondering and praying, and see what I might learn. A powerful lesson followed that did not disappoint me, but it has been difficult to apply in my life. The scripture to which I refer is found in Matthew chapter seven. After Jesus states one of his most famous edicts: “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” He asks this powerful question: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” 

Okay. I love it when scripture is so full of depth about the human condition, and it is completely in alignment with accurate psychology of appropriate human behavior. The analogy is impossible to NOT understand. We all know what a beam is. As far as a piece of wood goes, even a small beam is pretty enormous when you imagine it sticking out of your eye. To metaphorically state that a beam is blocking your vision doesn’t leave any dispute over the meaning. A mote, on the other hand, is a speck, a tiny sliver at most. The comparison between a beam and a mote is huge. It’s like the difference between a leaf and a tree, a breeze and a tornado, a sticky note and a library. But does this not describe human nature so well? Are we not all guilty of being so preoccupied with the faults and imperfections of the OTHER person that we are oblivious to our own idiocies? And Jesus’s use of the word “hypocrite” is sobering. In all of my studying of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus, I’ve always been fascinated with the fact that He never speaks unkindly or without love to the sinners or the beggars or the diseased. Even to the woman taken in adultery, and the woman at the well who was living in sin, He was kind and loving and He taught them with respect and humility. The only people that Jesus openly rebuked were the hypocrites and the self-righteous. In acknowledging wholeheartedly that Jesus is my greatest and best exemplar, the last thing I want is to be in THAT category. Which is why I began asking in prayer to be shown the beams in my eyes, so that I could do as the scriptures were teaching here and remove them so that I could see myself clearly before I started thinking I knew what was wrong in my relationships, or the people with whom I shared them. 

I’m not going to get personal enough here on the World Wide Web to go into detail about what I discovered. My beams are mine, and some of them definitely tie into that “wound” I discussed in my last entry. The point is that I know what my beams are, and I have worked very hard to remove them from my vision, to overcome them, and to be a better person, and more accurately self-aware. I’ve found that a truly accurate self-awareness is key to finding true joy in this life, and it’s essential to having any kind of truly healthy relationship in any aspect of life. This concept is further expounded on in Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon. Whether you’re a Mormon or not, the powerful teaching here is undeniable. “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and 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.” 

To summarize my view of this concept: If we humbly and with faith ask God for His help, He will show us our weaknesses and help us turn them into strengths. Hence, He will show us the beams and every little mote in our eyes and help remove them so that we can see ourselves and our lives clearly in order to make them better. 

So, after diligently assessing my beams and motes and working hard to remove them in order to improve my vision, I was confronted with the next part of the equation. Jesus said that we could then see clearly to cast out the mote from the eyes of our brother (obviously meant to imply any person, male or female, with whom we share relationships). Okay . . . well . . . it didn’t take much thought to realize that most people have no interest in having you tell them about the mote in their eye. Even if you have complete confidence that you are seeing the situation clearly, that doesn’t mean the other person believes that you do, or that they even care. I’m still struggling over this part of the equation, especially in light of what I wrote about previously—the fact that I have trouble using my voice to appropriately express what my deepest instincts are telling me. 

While I’m still working to iron out my own enormous imperfections, I’m also trying to find my footing in my foundling discoveries of being able to apply all I’m learning to make my life and my relationships better. Many people have gradually slipped out of my life (even before I made these discoveries) and I’m actually glad for it. In looking back I can now see how many friendships I had were not based in emotionally healthy dynamics, and friendship should be based in truth and absolute trust or it isn’t truly friendship. Many relationship are for life (or forever) and it’s difficult to feel myself changing dramatically while people around me remain the same and it’s clearly evident they’re not interested in the ways I’ve changed and the reasons for it. In fact, I’ve found that by learning to communicate in a more forthright and appropriate way, some people respect me more and relationships have improved; with others it’s the opposite, and some people are clearly uncomfortable with the new me. Overall my life is still the same; I’m still me, and the most important characteristic of me is that I have a sincere desire to be loving and charitable toward others, and to live my life in a way that would be pleasing to God. The biggest change that’s taken place inside of me is that I know I need to be more loving and charitable toward myself. The charge to “love thy neighbor as thyself” is a two-edged morsel of wisdom. Some people love themselves at the expense of others (usually unaware that they’re even doing it) and other people love others at the expense of themselves (also unaware). In order to achieve balance, we must be charitable toward others and ourselves and genuinely see that we are all children of God, all struggling, all weak, all with varying degrees of beams and motes that block our vision. It’s my hope that with some effort we can all learn to see more clearly, and learn to live our lives accordingly. It’s certainly an ongoing process. 

2 comments:

Robyn Roberts said...

Anita,

I am so glad that you are finding your voice! I love you!

Robyn

Amanda Wilhelm said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! While I find it hard to say in total honesty that I look forward to learning of the beams in my eye, it being so painful to see myself as I truly am with all my warts and weakness, I want to know. I would never want to live blissful in ignorance. That has not been my way. Show me the hard thing. Let me approach it with courage.

But I have no faith in my pointing out the flaws in my brother. I truly don't know. I know if it feels like a flaw in relationship to me, but is it truly a flaw? How can I know? Is it there to teach him . . . or me? Is that a flaw? What if in a year it will look like a gift in retrospect - how will we know. I know to express what I need to protect myself, and that I must do in love and faith, but beyond that I am unsure.

Thank you for sharing your journey which prompts me to find courage to take my own. I love you.