Work of the Soul–Family First Friday #10

In our fast paced and busy world where almost every waking moment is or can be filled with distraction and noise, it is tempting to believe that is how life should be.  The truth be told, however, most of us cannot function at that pace for very long before we are burned out and none of us should be running at that speed very often.  However, as the adversary has nothing better to do with his time than to distract us from eternal pursuits and entrench us in sin and misery, we are constantly bombarded with the temptation to join the rat race and run until our hearts give out.  So how do we refocus and make the eternal work of the soul a priority?

copyright Karen Larsen photography

What even is the work of the soul??  Well, to be honest, it is learning how to change negative thoughts, actions, behavior patterns, and beliefs into positive thoughts, actions, behavior patterns and beliefs.  It requires changes of heart and attitude and repentance.  Many times, the things that are holding us back from getting the peace and happiness we want in life are beliefs or understandings that we don’t even acknowledge on a conscious level.  It takes a lot of time and help from the Spirit to uncover those things so we can then change them.

The first thing to do is to make time every day.  It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be quiet and as free as possible from distractions.  Being a mother of many children, I know that is easier said than done.  For me, I try to get up early every morning before the people in my house do.  That is when I say my prayers, read my scriptures, write in my journal, and prepare my agenda for the day.  I personally need about an hour to get out of bed, hit the bathroom, pray, read and ponder.  Obviously, some days I am more successful than others.  It is important to recognize there is an ebb and flow to your process.  It is alright that it doesn’t always look the same.  For instance, if the baby is up all night teething or because he is ill, you may not be able to get up at 5 a.m. having just finally gone to sleep at 3.  Give yourself permission to have an ebb and flow to the work.  As you participate in the process, it will become easier to you. 

copyright Karen Larsen photography

Opening the process with prayer is vital.  As you pray, ask your Father in Heaven to what He would have you do that day or who He would like you to help or what He would like you to focus on.  Then as you read your scriptures with pen and paper by your side, be prepared to write down the specific thoughts, feelings, or impressions you have.  Some of them will make sense immediately, others will need time to incubate.  One morning during my scripture study, I received the phrase ‘girls’ camp’.  Well that’s nice.  What is that all about?  I haven’t been to girls’ camp in more than three years.  I love camp but I don’t think there are any plans for me to attend this year, at least I don’t know of any.  I didn’t have any idea what that meant, just ‘girls’ camp’.  Hmmmmh.   So on went my day.  Later in the day I was looking for something.  I came across my girls’ camp folders, looked through one, found some thank you notes and remembered my earlier prompting.  So I looked for other girls’ camp folders.  I found another one.  Underneath it were some files I didn’t recognize.  I pulled them out and looked through them.  They were and old family home evening lesson, five copies, all with cardstock in them.  I had needed cardstock for one of my primary activities that day, but thought I didn’t have any and would have to purchase some.  Since I had five copies of the lesson, I knew I didn’t need that many and was able to use the cardstock from one of the lessons, print what I needed on the back and use that.  My ‘girls’ camp’ phrase that didn’t mean anything at the time, came in quite handy in finding something I did need later in the day.

More than just finding things and getting help with the little daily decisions, opening with prayer can open your mind and heart and unlock patterns of behavior or negative thoughts that have kept you bound in mortality.  What are your personal beliefs and thoughts about motherhood or fatherhood?  How about that lady in the ward who drives you crazy?  Do you hate your calling?  Or a child?  Or your spouse?  Is there a doctrinal subject you are struggling with?  How is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  Or are you too mad at God to think about that relationship?  We are all just mortal, just people, normal people with personal struggles, every day.  The question is what are we doing with that struggle?  How are we managing it?  Are we learning and growing?  Or letting it fester and bother us and destroy our faith and hope?  We can be the captains of our own journey, which can be positive and healing when we allow the Holy Ghost and our Father in Heaven to help us through the atonement of Jesus Christ.  Yes, it can be scary.  We can learn things about ourselves that we didn’t want to know.  But we can also learn how to change things so that our lives can be beautiful and fulfilling and in the process, we clean out the old emotional baggage and free ourselves from emotional, spiritual, and psychological bondage.  Isn’t that what life is all about—change, for the better?  Out with the unhealthy and emotionally damaging, in with freedom and happiness.  You can have it too, but you have to be willing to do the work.

Think about it like cleaning out the garage.  In order to use the space more effectively, like to store the car, have a game room, or exercise room, or just to be able to find everything, you have to clean out all of the garbage and junk that has accumulated.  Your soul or spirit is similar.  Sometimes the thoughts or beliefs you hold there are not necessary or are organized improperly or are no longer helpful or useful to your life.  They bog you down.  It is important to periodically take a look at those things and clean them out so your life can be more fulfilling and you can use that spiritual space more effectively.

Recently, I have learned that some thoughts and attitudes I have about one of my parents isn’t true.  My wrong thoughts and attitudes have led to a lifetime relationship that causes me problems, grief and sorrow.  Because I have been able to understand these previously held beliefs aren’t true, I am able to change my behavior in certain circumstances so the outcomes of our relationship are more validating of my feelings and person.  Previously, I have been a victim of these beliefs.  I fall into the negative cycle of our relationship and do not know how to get out of it.  But as I recognize those beliefs are not true, I can then become an agent in the interaction and not feel like every time I interact with my parent, it ‘turns out like this’.  Does that make sense?  I can’t exactly give you details because that would be unkind.  But the idea is that when I changed my beliefs about what was happening, and see the interactions in a different light, I am then able to change the cycle of our relationship.  In the process of validating my feelings and honestly interacting kindly in the relationship, I do not leave our interactions feelings victimized.  I leave them feeling empowered. 

copyright Karen Larsen photography

This is a lot to take in.  So think about what I have said so far.  Is there something in your life you would like to change—–a belief, a relationship, a behavior???  Deeply think about what your thoughts and beliefs are regarding the subject.  Ask Heavenly Father through prayer to help you identify something in your thought process that is inaccurate.  Take some serious time to ponder and pray about it.  If you don’t have enough time in one day, take little chunks to time over many days.  Make sure your thinking time is quiet so you can really focus and have a conversation with yourself and hear what the Spirit has to say to you.  We’ll talk about what to do with that information another day.

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