Anda di halaman 1dari 38

Learning to Change, And Writing to Learn

Journals inspired by C.S. Lewis

Mark Johnson

Table of Contents Too Busy For Christ The Illness of False Humility Modesty Teaching Not to Judge Become Someone Knowing Of Good and Evil Young and Vulnerable Trying to be Like Jesus, Is not Enough Bookshelf Lessons Words There is Direction in Counsel Doing my Part To Forsake God Shouts out my Pain to Remind me He has not Given Up Be an Individual, not Original My Own Grief Observed 4 6 9 12 14 16 19 21 23 26 28 30 32 34 37

Preface
In thinking of how to preface my journals I am under pressure to live up to greater way I have come to think about my life as a result of writing it out. How will I not fall back to some of my older ways of thinking, which required less from me? I am calling myself to walk higher, stand taller, and reach farther for the good I am capable of. The purpose of this assignment was to learn in our writing, but I worry about not retaining all my learnings. Therefore as a preface I wish to honestly declare my dedication to live up to the insights I have written in this journal. The insights I was blessed with through C.S. Lewis works will not be contained or forgotten, but will be cherished. Revisiting this journal will be a part of my progression. For I hope that this journal can continue to lead me to greater knowledge, until that day when I can come to the perfect knowledge of God. I now know that God loves me enough to remind me although painful at times of the areas of my life that need to be worked on. I have become more aware of my need for a Savior. Christ and God hold a new role in my mind in how and why they love me. God may mold me into whatever He desires, and I will learn to not struggle against His efforts. All the following journals have helped me to grow, and I do mean grow, changing from a lesser or smaller to a greater being. I grew in knowledge, desire, and conviction. Because of the journal entries, I see myself better when I look in the mirror. I hope to grow to the point where I can see myself as God, the Father, sees me: to see myself with potential to be glorious. I am grateful for the opportunities to study the works of C.S. Lewis which caused the new thinking and the growth. His works have helped me more than I had contemplated they could when the class began. So here is to C.S. Lewis and Brother Ward for helping me to write to learn. As I wrote and learned I came unto the true source of light and knowledge, Jesus Christ. Now through Christ comes the changes I need to return to my Father in Heaven, leaving behind any souvenirs of Hell that would keep me from Him. My journals have helped me learn for myself how to prepare to meet God.

Too Busy For Christ


I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam, or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam, or putting Him in your debt. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

ollege life is hard. I do nt know how my friends at other schools find the time to party and get plastered, because I struggle with only balancing my studies and my part time work. I am sure the last year has been the busiest time of my whole life. I think up until recently I have failed in my ways of truly balancing my life. No joke trying to balance life at school feels like trying to stand on a bowling ball: I feel balanced for a bit and then it starts to roll and I have to readjust. This process of readjustment seems to be constant. To explain what I mean, while attending school here at BYU- Idaho I have either worked one to two jobs. Also I have either been the elders quorum president or a Sunday school teacher. All of this time I have been taking enough credits to qualify for my scholarship. I have little sleep and it has been a stressful time. Needless to say, I needed to be on the top of my game to make time for it all. I think I have been justifying my priorities because of my busy life. I would do so by saying I needed to be working hard in order to prepare for the future, which was true, but all of a sudden I was not making time for other important things. I stopped attending the temple regularly. My scripture studies became shorter and shorter, and I would put home teaching off until the end of the month. What was happening to me, where were my priorities. Most likely I assumed my doing some good, going to church, home teaching, all be it late, and praying, would somehow be enough. It was my assumption that hopefully through my small effort I would do enough to have Gods help in my life. I believed I was doing enough for now and I would do more in the future to qualify for life with Heavenly Father: for eternal life. I caught myself thinking, one day I will have enough time to be Christlike. How could I believe that? If I am too busy now what will when I am in graduate school, when I have a larger calling, or when I have a wife and kids. There will never be a convenient time. With that thought in my memory I am being deceived by the idea that time is my problem. Truthfully the problem is not time, is that God should never be put to the back burner and left for later. Elder Oaks talked about that last general conference, about how our priorities can become more worshiped by us than God. He said, We who know Gods plan for His children we who have made covenants to participate in it have a clear responsibility. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life. We must never dilute our first priorityto have no other gods and to serve no other priorities ahead of God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ (No Other Gods, Oct 2013). I had thought I could do enough

and coast by until a later time to put God as my top priority, but if I put off God and Jesus Christ I might not come back. What surety do I have to do so later if I am comfortable not putting God in the right order now. I began to feel that my tendencies to put God and Christ farther down on my to do list may me similar to the Israelites, worshipping other gods and forgetting the Father. How is it that I could I have forgotten God and made Him of less worth than homework? Whatever the reason, I needed to come to an understanding of how to make Heavenly Father my highest priority and god of Worship. However, do I understand what it means to worship God above all others? Would that not mean that I need to worship him in the way He would want? God, the Great Iconoclast, as Lewis calls Him in A Grief Observed wants to break down any thought, paradigm, image, passion, or wealth that would keep me from coming to His son Jesus Christ. Lewis describes how even communion could take one away from the Savior if the wafer is more the focus than the meaning behind it. He states, I need Christ, not something that resembles Him (A Grief Observed 684). For me, that means I need to allow my notions that I can do good enough later on, or even the idea of doing good enough to leave me: to die. I cannot be good enough for God no matter what good I do if I do not come unto Christ. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do not have a standard of how good I need to be to make it into heaven. They need my reverence for the covenants I have made with them. They need my best effort as if life could gain greater meaning by my doing, but it really depends on what Christ has done for me. President Hinckley said, I dont know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work (Ensign, Nov. 1997). I feel this means we will never be able to put God second and expect to do enough, for He blesses us with help with what He askes, which is all He requires. My life needs to be centered in Christ to best worship God. If my works are in efforts to bring me closer to Christ I will be moving toward His Father, and my Father. I now better understand that so much of our church and temple activities are meant to turn us to Christ: which in truth is repentance. Repentance to not only become penitent again, but the Hebrew translation better states as a turning away from sin. Repentance is a means of truly coming to Christ and not something like Him. I had never quite seen true repentance and true worship of God as one in the same, turning away from all and turning toward my Savior, Jesus Christ. This is, of course, not going to happen simply because I desire it to be so. Now that I know I was becoming too busy for Christ, by not doing those things that lead me to Him, I can make time for Him. I can remember He is to be first priority for He will lead me to God the Father. The great Iconoclast destroyed my thought that I did not have time for God. In the future as life gets busy, I will make time for the important things first, like scripture study and temple attendance. I am sure that as I do so I will be blessed with help to accomplish the work I am responsible for at this time. Life is about learning to balance and you cannot truly balance a life of unevenness without the steady hand of Christ. Praying and coming unto God that through His grace I will have the ability to complete the other tasks He would have me do.

The Illness of False Humility


or much of my almost twenty three years of life I have struggled with the reality of who I am. However, in truth until maybe a few weeks ago I would not have known exactly what I struggled with. This unknown struggle would devour the good from thoughts about me and feed the devil therein. The battle that raged within my mind of whether or not I was a good person took place at all moments, from seeing myself in the mirror to hearing myself speak in class. To best describe my struggle I should point out its symptoms. Like sickness can destroy its victim, this internal struggle did destroy my soul. In fact, it ate away at it for a long time. Any compliments given to me caused me feelings of discomfort. Discomfort, like an upset stomach hurting due to acidic movement within painful, yes, but a victim can hide his or her suffering from others. The discomforting thoughts would come in and say the opposite of the complement given. You are such a nice guy, comes back as You know you are not nice at all. You are quite judgmental in your thoughts, is that what a nice guy would do . Even slightly flirting with the idea of giving myself a compliment caused ill thoughts to flow into my mind: thoughts that seemed to shout my imperfections. The symptoms of my struggle left me unsure of whom I was and definitely left me believing I was no good. C.S. Lewis disagrees with my struggle. In fact, figuratively he slapped me in the face for allowing this struggle to exist, much the same way women in movies slap men: not to cause pain, but to forcibly reveal to the man that what he has just said was stupid. Lewis slapped me through his character Screwtape. Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood about pride and the need for demons to create false avenues for men to overcome that pride. What Screwtape writes was the figurative slap. He shows the results of forming a false humility: Thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the impossible. (Screwtape Letters 14, p. 225) I was at first angry with this false interpretation of humility. I had been cheated into believing its falsehood, and I have believed it for so long. Never did I feel better about myself while I struggled, I only ever hurt. Inklings of ideas had come to my mind that I created my own struggle, but I never had seen it in the way stated by Lewis. He described my exact struggle; a struggle against believing I was good. The struggle he describes fictitiously comes through a demon. In my life it comes from demons maybe or maybe it comes from me. I feel this false interpretation came into my life as I heard good men say they were not. I must have assumed their words were not said in an effort to create equality amongst those who were praising them, but true beliefs. Why else would I create that belief? Unless, maybe I do have a demon.

Lewis stated exactly how I tried to be humble through putting myself down. Most of my life I allowed pain to occur within me in effort to be humble. That is not humility; not true humility anyways. Christ exemplified true humility. He never put himself down to avoid pride. Christ would not have attacked His own goodness, so why should I do so. I know I have many imperfections whereas He had none. Regardless I still should not remind myself of those imperfections in attempts to not be puffed up in my goodness. Truthfully a big fear of mine is becoming prideful. Becoming prideful was something I associated with becoming bad. However, ironically my striving to avoid becoming prideful through the falsehood of humility caused me to feel I was bad. Over time the way I started to view myself was bad. With the mindset that I was a bad person, slowly I began to fear being good. Fear, meaning unpleasant emotion caused by awareness of danger, best describes my worry about acting good. The danger I feared was that in believing I was a bad person I could not be good also. For, if I was good I should not settle for any of the bad or the imperfections that were in my life. Marianne Williamson said in A Return to Love. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a Child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you This quote has been said many times, but until I heard it in connection with C.S. Lewis I had never thought of it as applicable to me. In relation to the false interpretation of humility it is true that I feared being good. I truly did think, who am I to be brilliant, and who am I to be believe I am good when I have bad in my life. I was afraid. Why was I afraid of my potential for goodness? Could it be that I thought being good was beyond my reach. No. So what if I do make the world a better place, and not someone else who is better? It will be better still right. Was I wrong to fear that because sin has entered my life I could no longer be great? Yes. Yes I was wrong, and I would have been forever wrong if I allowed that mindset to lay hold of any portion of my soul. It was false and needed it to leave my mind. There is a great craving within me, no word can better represent it, because it is equal to the craving an addict has for his vice: a gnawing from within, forever restless. What I crave is a bad identity so I can go through life without needing to try for perfection. I could kill all chance for greatness by choosing to change only my small pointless mistakes. By living after this manner I can still hold onto my sins and imperfections. The truth however built up in my heart; if I do not believe I am good I also cannot believe I am good looking, good sounding, or good natured. I cannot be good in any form while I choose to allow evil and badness to become permanent tenants within the household of my soul. It is up to me to evict them and believe that I can lead a good life. Early on as I began this venture into what change has taken place in my heart I mentioned that the struggle I had once faced was truly about not knowing who I am. I do believe as Marianne Williamson said that I am a son of God. However, I cannot say I was living up to that birthright. If I am a son of God then it is impossible to say I am bad; for how could a perfect and glorious God, as I believe Him to be, create something inherently evil? He could not and would

not do so. He made me in His own image. I am a son of a Heavenly Father, required to grow up physically in a fallen world, and though I may have been born into a fallen body my spirit is that Fathers offspring. To continue this truth further if I believe I am a son of God, I also believe Gods only begotten son in the flesh, Jesus Christ, atoned for my sins. I was born again in the name of Christ; born out of that fallen state and made good. In truth I am not perfect and I will not be perfect in my mortal frame, but that does not make me bad. In reality the love of Christ mixed with my being good is the reason why I should not settle for the idea of being bad. God created me in His image, a good image. I now believe I am good. I must continue to believe I am good and then repent of my imperfections. It is my responsibility to work past the bad I sometimes do and not let it define me. No longer am I desirous to be bad, but to be a good an live up to my birthright as a son of God. The desire within me to live up to my birthright must not fail. I desire to allow, as Lewis calls God, the Great Iconoclast to purge from me that old and false humility I once held.. God wants His children, to be so free from bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbors talents- or in a sunrise, and elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things (Skrewtape Letters 14). He also taught us through His Son, Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as our self. Lewis discusses this teaching of our Savior in Mere Christianity while discussing forgiveness. He states, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself So apparently Love your neighbor does not mean feel fondness of him or find him attractive. I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. He continues about we love our selves because we are our selves. We see our imperfections and hate them but we never truly hate our self so much that we want our life to end. I need to better love myself and respect the life God gave me, because I was flirting with the line of hate toward ones self instead of ones mistakes. I will continue from now on to remember who I am and love that I come from Heavenly Father. Who am I truly? I am a son of the living God. I am a holder and a respecter of His Holy Priesthood, and I willingly take upon myself the name of His Son. I believe I can in the long run see myself as glorious and excellent through Christ. I feel so relieved to finally discover why I had such distaste for myself in turn come to the knowledge of who I am. The symptoms that once plagued me know longer live in this son of God. I am free to move forward, and I will do so as I strive to love myself, not my sins, and remember myself for who I truly am, a child of a glorious Heavenly Father.

Modesty Teaching Not to Judge

tandards, the kind we live by as members of the church, are important principles to learn and to live. At BYU-Idaho we have a higher standard than most. It is as if the old standards I lived by as a youth have been elevated to help me in this time of great decision and growth, as college students do make many big choices that cause them to grow. On campus modesty is held to a higher standard than the rest of the world, but in ways it is even higher than the general church. I definitely learned about modest growing up at standards nights and from girls I knew that choose to be modest when other girls were not. I am sure I had read the words found in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet that describe our bodies as sacred. Respect (your body) and do not d efile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is (6). I know that modesty is important and helps men and women show value for the bodies God has given us. On one occasion I noticed a girl from school running to the gym in clothing far too tight to have been comfortable. I thought to myself she is going to the gym to show off not to work out? I mean really, she had make up on like she was going to the movies and was making a statement though her appearance that she was in shape. Why would she dress like that, especially here at BYU-Idaho? How much of a jerk could I be? Why had I been so rude to this girl in my thoughts? I had made such harsh judgments. I was sinning. I had allowed pride to be within me: pride that was hateful towards others. I allowed my prideful self to look down on another for her sin. I had sinned against this girl who I am not likely to ever know. But was it even sin? I have been conditioned in life to look at immodesty distastefully. I might have mixed feeling about how bad it is because most church leaders talked about it to the girls more than us boys. I didnt see it when I was young as my conce rn but as a temptation for me. The news and media make it seem like immodesty is desirable to the point where if a woman is immodest she is asking for it, to be mistreated. Truly I have seen modesty and immodesty from many viewpoints in my life. And now that for whatever reason, probably pride for thinking I knew modesty better than the skimpy gym girl, I have come to realized that immodesty is not a sin. It would admittedly say I had probably put in on the same stand as chastity, but now I see Gods children men and women are not inherently sinning when they choose dress immodestly. They do disrespect their bodies, but then they are only guilty of being disrespectful. Honestly how much better could I do in showing my respect to God and His creations? Lewis in his wisdom puts it so clearly, The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of modesty ( Mere Christianity 83). That in fact, was what I was equating in my head. Now I see modesty as an action, just like any other, that with certain intentions can be sin, but is not necessarily so.

10

When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place (church standards included), if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break it defiantly in order to shock or embarrass others, they are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable (Lewis, Mere Christianity 83). I did not know the intentions of the girl as she went to the gym to work out that day. Maybe she was offending chastity. It is possible that this girl could fall into any category, unchaste actions, impolite actions, or even uncharitable actions from her choice of clothing that evening. All three reasons are offensive, especially on campus, because modesty is a standard held with high respect. I realize now that modesty, along with many standards, is a spirit of the law matter. In saying this I do not mean that by the letter or the spirit of the law someone can choose what of modesty to follow and what not follow. I meant rather the intentions behind someones dress could make that decision a sin or just a mistake. In response to Lewis writing and to my prideful sin of judging without true knowledge of intention I came to the knowledge that the side of modesty that many priesthood leaders talked with us boys about is the opposite side of a coin to the girls. A s a boy, as I mentioned earlier, the lessons we had on modesty were more told to the girls and then the boys got messages about controlling our thought when we see immodesty. Now I see that regardless the intentions of girls immodest dress men can still sin, whether in judgment or in lust. I would like to venture if a man were to see a woman in immodest dress and have inappropriate thoughts he is potentially in one of three areas of fault. The potential for error in women dressing immodestly does not lie solely with them. Men can easily fall into another sinful trap. For example, if I see an immodestly dressed woman there are also three offenses I could give in direct opposition to the three offenses of immodesty taught by Lewis in Mere Christianity. I could allow her dress to be an excuse for lustful thoughts to invade the mind, offending chastity. I could observe the women and feel discomfort, and avoid looking again, but because of having the acknowledged the fact that her attire was inappropriate would upset or embarrass her. My actions would be impolite to the woman, making me guilty of bad manners. Lastly I could look upon the woman and not indulge in lustful thoughts, but call and jeer drawing attention to her. I would not necessarily be acting unchaste but I would be acting uncharitably. Modesty when followed can help both men and women, whether they are the one seeing the immodesty or dressing immodestly, avoid the possibility for offense and sin. Judgment towards those who choose to dress immodestly is not right, it is wrong. I was at fault with the daughter of God who was heading to the gym to exercise. I now better understand the importance of the intentions behind the choices I make. It could be the difference between being unchaste or uncharitable.

11

I will now look at others with a more loving heart and strive not to judge, as I did, the intentions behind others choices, especially in how they dress. I will strive to look at each daughter of God as such and remember that their worth is great to my Father.

12

Become Someone
n a previous journal I came to a greater knowledge of a false form of humility I had created. Along with helping me to better understand myself I also was left with a new question. I know who I am, this was a forgotten aspect of my life I had to rediscovered, but now I have begun thinking about how I view my life. How do I view myself? Who do I see in the mirror? This idea is the question that has been left in my head. Looking into my life was not an easy thing to do, but I wanted a way to find my own mirror or tool to see into myself. I needed to answer my question: the question being, do I love myself? It is an interesting question that is similar to the question of why I put myself down that I discussed before, but it is slightly different and I needed to come to the realization of my thoughts. I would have to assume that this is not an original worry. Others in life must struggle with the idea of whether or not they truly love themselves. Two things brought this question into my mind that I needed to revisit to better understand. First, I had the great privilege last semester to take English 201 from Sister dEvengee. She caused me to want to be honest with myself in writing and I tried to examine into myself in a few papers I wrote fo r her class. Sister dEvengee, a great teacher for many reasons, but especially cause she reads papers from more reasons than to just grade them, looked at what I was trying to learn about my struggles and my life and tried to help. At the end of the semester she wrote me a note of feedback for my writing that I needed to learn to love myself. My writing said that about how I viewed myself to an experienced teacher, Why? Nothing I said specifically said this, but it felt true as I read her feedback. I wanted to discover for myself if that was truly how I felt, because I must have written in a way that gave that impression. Maybe I only liked myself not loved all that I am. The second experience occurred while trying to reason into my journal, The Illness of False Humility. It came through Lewis as he stated in Mere Christianity when describing loving our neighbor as ourself, Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society (99). Lewis, this wise Christian did not hold himself in highest regard, but later in the same chapter he talks about loving himself, but hating his own sins. I figured if Lewis, a great Christian, could be not always fond of himself perhaps I, a simple man, could actually dislike myself. My mind began to wonder, Is it possible that I do not love myself? T he scriptures teach, For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church (Eph. 5:29). I believe in the scriptures so I must not hated myself, but possibly I did not have a great love or a great feeling of fondness for myself. What did I think of myself. For a long time, I think I blamed myself, not just my fallen body, but my spirit that comes from God, for the mistakes I had made. Tearing down the ability I had to love myself. Becoming not only less loveable to my eyes, but less love-able. My soul was becoming less able to beloved because it was clouded in guilt.

13

I believe this view of myself, a view of being equal to the mistakes I had made, effected other relationships. I saw myself as not loveable to others: making me an unconfident date for example. My confidence was low due to the way I viewed myself without fondness, with no desirable qualities. I have given up on finding love many times in my life. I did not believe I was able to receive the right girls love. Thoughts of being unloveable, seemed to keep me from progressing, but that was stupid. By thinking I am not able to be loved was the exact hindrance keeping me from becoming better. If I was working to be better I could come to see myself through better eyes. In a devotional at Ricks College on March 27th of 1990, Sister Marie Hafen said, "Before becoming somebodys wife, before becoming somebodys mother, become somebody." Yes, I may not have been her intended audience with this statement, seeing as I never attended school before Ricks became BYU-Idaho and also she seemed to be speaking to t he women at Ricks at the time, but this comment spoke to me and made me desire to see myself as someone. I wanted to see someone special in the mirror. Before I become someones father, before I become someones husband, before I become someones boyfriend even, I must become someone: someone I see as desirable and loveable. C.S. Lewis also said, Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained" (Answers to Questions on Christianity). Why had I never seen loving someone and being loved by someone as helping one another to obtain the ultimate good? I will help the right girl to be better and she will help me, that is the point of a real relationship. My desire currently to become a someone: not meaning someone who is already perfectly loveable, but able to be loved enough to work with another person toward perfection. Being worthy that a girl may see me as imperfect but not as impossible to help. That is the someone who I must become: a someone willing to progress and able to love himself even with past regrets. In order to become that someone I need to trust in the repentance process and in my Savior who miraculously makes that possible. Jesus Christ has redeemed me therefore I have as great a chance as anyone to have a lasting eternal marriage. I want to do good because I love him. I am certain now that I will find a girl who will love me as I try to be a true disciple of the Savior Jesus. I still need to make a change in my life beyond my new realization. I can see myself as able to be someone loveable to the opposite sex, because I see myself as both loveable and love-able, but now I need to be confident in getting to know people. I need to be the someone I can become and show that to others I date that way I have a chance to find love in my life. I do love myself, and I will continually remember my potential that I can be a someone worth loving. Because once I am that someone who will seek to grow and progress with another, I can become someones boyfriend, husband, and so on. Until I see myself like that I have to try to see myself a little better each day. It is not that I do not love myself; it is that I lack confidence in my loveability: my ability to be loved. But I know it will not last long know that I understand.

14

Knowing Of Good and Evil


You find out more about God from the Moral Law than from the universe in general just as you find out more about a man by listening to his conversation than by looking at a house he has built C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

ave you ever been put in a situation where you have a clear right and wrong choice and you want to choose the wrong? I have, earlier this semester I was asked to go play racket ball, a sport I have recently discovered and gained a love for, when I had a big assignment due the next morning. I choose wrong, I played racket ball and ended up having to stay up through the night to finish the assignment in time. Yes, it was not a terrible sin that will keep me from God, but I have felt a small thought creep into my heart on occasion when I am faced with a temptation to sin. The little thought wishes it did not know right from wrong so I could innocently make the mistake without the consequences. This is such a bad thought to harbor in my heart when temptation comes, and it makes me sad that I do in fact fall to temptations in my life, as all people do. I wonder about my own choices and actions because I know good morals and want to follow what I know to be right. But wait, doesnt everyone know good morals. I mean kids know what is unfair, just take a toy or try and switch it for another without their consent and they know you have been unjust in your dealings with them. C.S. Lewis talks much of a Moral Law, a law from God that directs each person to know deep down what they ought and ought not to do. My understanding is just that do we not all have the Spirit of Christ that helps us know what is right as long as we listen to it, but as we go through life we can teach ourselves to shut it out. I believed it was that simple, if one was not to shut out Christ in their life by choosing wrong they would be guided to know the right choices to make. After all, Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. So we as their posterity are under the same curse to know of the knowledge therein. Why then did I view the world as not seeming to know morals, when I know they do? Lewis helped me understand the Moral Law as set and unchanging, but also that we do not know it in its entirety. He explains it like a piano, It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the right notes and the wrong ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts ( Mere Christianity 20-21). Wait, I do not know all of the Moral Law? Well I guess that is right, I do not know why sometimes God commanded His people to kill and utterly destroy but that does not sound right to me, so there must be a right time for everything, or else I that would make God a sinner, which would make Him not God. Did He not however cause Adam and Eve to know good and evil?

15

I must have been seeing good and evil as something I, or any person could know completely, but I do not think that is true anymore. Is it wrong to lie? We would all say yes. What if you were to lie as those who hid slaves escaping to the North in American history, or those who lied to protect Jews they were hiding from the Nazis, now is it right? Moral Law is hard if we believe there is always a right and wrong, but like Lewis said it just depends on the time, and upon the music, Gods ruling. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of insinuates not a full knowledge but enough, for example I know of electricity, but in truth I do not know how it all work. We are born into a fallen world through Adam and Eve knowing there is both good and evil; it is now up to us to learn to follow Gods Moral Law through faith, and a bit of trial and error. We know of good and evil so we can learn to follow God towards His perfect knowledge of good and evil.

16

Young and Vulnerable


To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. -C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 169 ating is like riding a wooden roller coaster. You start out slow and then get faster, the curves and turns are rickety at best and it hurts some while you go, but in the end the ride stops. You get out and walk away beat up and sick, but oddly remember the experience as somewhat fun. That has been most of the experiences that I have seen, the lucky ones pick a steel roller coaster and want to keep riding that ride again and again, those thrill seekers get married while the rest of us get queasy. Why is it that love needs to have the chance of pain, the chance of failure? I hate it. I feel like giving up with each new failure. Sure I have not tried as often as others, but I am ok with that. I do not want to be a BYU-Idaho hunter looking for any and every girl to take out and find out if things will work out. Instead I take girls out who I have gotten to know as friends first, and then if I start to fall, free falling hoping to be caught in the arms of love, I hit the pavement. Splat! Whatever, life goes on. I understand love and relationships take work and will not simply fall into someones lap if they wait. But, why does it hurt? Why the pain? Am I doing something wrong? I think I have been taught to think that one has to have several painful relationships in preparation for a good one. That is the message movies and music taught me throughout my youth. Taylor Swift sings as many break up songs as she does love songs. My favorite song, Angels, even teaches the lesson that someone will break me because I lack experience. The lyrics read, Now we all fall for the bad ones / Theyll just break us cause were so young, dumb and vulnerable / Young and vulnerable / Heres a toast to the lucky ones / To the girl that just broke my heart (Mayday Parade). I have fallen for bad ones, and if this logic is true it is only because I am young and vulnerable. Young can mean newly coming into being. It can also mean being unwise or inexperienced. And as for vulnerable that has always meant, at least to me, able to be hurt or touched. The dictionary calls that being susceptible to attack. Why am I so inexperienced in love that I am incapable of defending against an attack? You would think there would be a better way to learn. The old saying says learn from others mistakes so you do not have to make your own, yet I feel that is impossible when finding love because even if you avoid one reason for pain and separation, another finds its way past your defenses. I wanted to do as Lewis mentioned in the Four Loves, and wrap up my feelings hiding and cushioning them from the pain caused by love. I was completely content not even two weeks ago, giving up on trying hard finding love. I believed, although falsely in this context, those good things would come to those who wait: as long as I would did try to meet people. I did not want to

17

put my heart out on the chopping block known as dating at BYU-Idaho again. It was nice to see a girl I was getting to know as nothing more than a friend, because that means I am protected from her potential threat. Now I would have been ok with this process of thought until I spoke with my former mission president, President Bliesner. We were not even talking about love or dating, but he started talking about missionaries struggling through their missions. He asked me why I worked through my mission even when it was hard. Did it not hurt at times to be a missionary? Yet, that was still worth the result, correct? And the more he said the more I was sorry that I had given up on dating. Wait! Why could he persuade me so, without even knowing I might add? I tried to think of other things that cause pain that I could potentially be grateful for in the long run. Vaccinations hurt, but they kept me from getting terribly sick when leaving the country. But unlike love, vaccinations keep out bad with pain. Which I guess is like learning what types of attributes my future love will need to have from those attribute that were helpful and hurtful in past relationships. Next I thought that occasionally while I eat ice cream, it will be so cold that it hurts my teeth, but I havent given up on ice cream. Ice cream doesnt hurt me to that point of fearing that pain again though. Yet, I guess I will never have to fear again when the right match is made. I will need to force myself to continue to be vulnerable in dating even as I push past the cold and finish my bowl of ice cream. However, even after reasoning into President Bliesners wise advice, I still lacked comprehension as to why I need to be vulnerable in love. Even though pain is a great teacher and motivator, I did not see it as necessary to finding true love. Could I not, hypothetically, protect myself from pain by staying closed in dating and then open up when the dating promises lasting results. Again, I needed to think about what this meant. I thought of two turtles at a pet store. Imagine that turtles communicate as we do, and make friends as we do. If the two turtles stayed within their shells during their first encounter with one another at the pet store they could still in fact talk and get to know one another. Once they felt like they could trust one another they would naturally come out slowly getting better acquainted the safer and more comfortable they became. I do not believe the two would somehow come to the conclusion they were going to be friends and extend out of the shells and be friends forever. Also I do not believe that as the first said hello the two would come out to greet one another not knowing anything about the other. Therefore the idea of leaving the shell slowly as their trust grows makes the most sense. This idea of being vulnerable seems to me more of what Lewis meant by to love is to be vulnerable. I know better comprehend as love being synonymous with trust, it grows slowly and when it is broken it hurts. Over time if a love or a trust, if right, will be strengthened as it is tested. You need to be vulnerable in love for it to truly bloom into something beautiful, but that does not mean a person should rush into their vulnerability, they should open up more and more as time goes, as they come to trust (love) the other person.

18

It makes sense why I was hurt so much more often when I was younger, and, yes, more inexperienced. I would rush to trust and to love. I would then be less protected that the other and they would have less to lose, resulting in heartbreak. Young and vulnerable really do go hand in hand, but not as love and vulnerability do. I can learn from my youth and not be hurt as bad in the future, but if I give up on opening up to the potential of pain by attempting to trust and love others I will lose my chance at finding love. It will be worth the result, is what President Blisener would say if I mentioned this thought to him. I know that is what God wants for me, to be anxiously engaged in actions that would help me to find a spouse that would work with me in time and eternity to learn and grow. So I wont give up and I will try to be open with girls as I come to trust them, and I will work to resist against the fear that comes from the memory of past pain. All I can do is hopefully press forward until the day comes.

19

Trying to be Like Jesus, Is not Enough


Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out - as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.

y older sister has been married for just under three years, and is not expecting her first child, a little boy. My sister Katie has been my example for as long as I can remember. She was the one who would help Mom. Her life was full of goals to do well in school, in activities, and in callings. I believed her words and tried to be like her. It is funny now as I grow older there are things my sister has done that I do not desire to follow, and there are new role models I look to. I love the philosophies and work of Martin Luther King Jr. and of Abraham Lincoln. Lincolns career in law is a partial factor in why I want to go into law. Another reason is it was the occupation of D. Todd Christofferson, an apostle of Jesus Christ today, who I admire highly. Accordingly many of my life decisions and beliefs came through coming to know about these and other role models. I seek to resolve tension and ill treatment through my words and nonviolent action like Dr. King. I am studying writing to be a better speaker and writer like unto President Lincoln, who I feel spoke more eloquently than any president we have had in my lifetime. Also I want to grow my testimony to be firm like Elder Christofferson, who brings the spirit strongly to my heart as he testifies of the Savior. Speaking of my Savior, of course I want to be like Him. That was a song I have sung since primary, Im trying to be like Jesus. It would seem I had somehow thrown Christ into the same category as the other great men I looked up to, and still look up to. But I had compared him with Dr. King, a good teacher and leader. It is not that Christ is not a great leader or teacher, He is. Christs teachings are the greatest in the world, but that is problem I made, He is not just a teacher. He is the Son of God. Christ is not in the same category as the rest of the men I look up to, because He is not only a man but also a god. Yet when I thought the proverb, What would Jesus do? I foolishly assumed I could will myself to be like Him. When truth I need to come unto Him that way He can make me like His Father.

-CS Lewis Mere Christianity

20

Tad R. Callister gave a talk a few years ago in general conference about seeing the Book of Mormon for what it is, and mentioned we need to do the same with Christ. He quoted from C.S. Lewis who said, I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: Im ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I dont accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. In truth I did and do believe in Christs divinity, so my error was not quite what Lewis described. However, I feel if Lewis were here he would say that I had sinned by assuming that I could be like a god, Christ, in the same way as I could become like President Lincoln: by studying his words. There is more to becoming like Christ that applying what He taught and did. For we know in Christs life He did only that which He saw His Father do. My new sight, the plane of understanding this insight has brought me to, is that I do not want to be like Christ, but instead I want to live worthy of the Spirit, that I may live up to Christs name that I have taken upon myself. I want to come unto my friend Jesus Christ, who lives and not only exemplifying a good life, but still advocating my case to the Father that I may become perfected: a perfection that I need to allow Christ to make in my life over time that will allow me to return to the presence of my Father. No longer will I think what would Jesus do? but I will think, thy will be done. I know it will not be an easy process to become perfect, but it is more possible not that I see that Christ is not simply a good example, by a current means of help to achieve the perfection God wants, the only means of help.

21

Bookshelf Lessons
The mold in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it - made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain y fathers passion is carpentry, building fine tables, baby cradles, and such with wood. The few times of the year I get to go home he teaches me this trade. Wood can be difficult. It is hard and immovable, meaning it cannot change on its own. If there is a knot in the wood the work needs to be done around it as best as possible to still render a beautiful table. Among my siblings I am the only one who truly has wanted to learn my fathers skill. I really enjoy it. I am no expert carpenter, but I hope to become knowledgeable and to continue this hobby with my father whenever I get the chance. It is our thing together, and I am learning each time he has me help him with a project. Recently he has started giving me projects to do alone. I remember being left by father last summer to make a bookshelf for my mother while he worked on a baby cradle for my sister in law who was expecting her first child. We went to work in the cold garage. The bookshelf was laid out in plans made by my Father and I began to work knowing the dimensions he desired. I began to realize the word, which we had inherited second hand, was beautiful but hard to cut and adjust for making the bookshelf. Why couldnt the wood, although beautiful, be softer, more willing to be changed at my will. As time has gone by my mother has made comments of gratitude about her bookshelf. The one I cut, I puttied out its imperfections, strengthened with layers, and then primed and varnished to make its cherry wood shine, yes that one. I look back at that project and think of how much work goes into changing stubborn wood into a masterpiece, not that my work is at all comparable to the master work of my father. It is interesting that this semester studying C.S. Lewis has brought that memory into my mind often. When Lewis quoted George McDonald suggesting we imagine ourselves as a house, a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself (Mere Christianity 163).

22

I thought about how the wood in my hands must have been like me, never knowing what it would become. I thought I was pretty clever. But honestly did I think that on through to its conclusion. I was so frustrated with the wood, because it would not give an inch. Wood is dead Mark, I thought to myself. That means it does not want to be anything, it has no preference if it becomes a table or a bookshelf. I am living, I still breathe and feel, yes I still feel, and what did Lewis argue, that the work of God to build us to what he wants us to be will hurt. How I had missed the point, the wood I worked with should never frustrate me if indeed I try to compare it with how God seeks to build me into something grand. I cut the wood and yes it was hard but it was still and submissive. How often have I fought against God in His interventions into my life? Mosiah 3:19 states, the natural man is an enemy to God and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Imagine if the grand pianos, the grand tables in the dining rooms of palaces, or the grand doors of the Salt Lake temple were enemies to their makers, fighting against them as they work to make the struggling wood into the master pieces people will gaze upon and admire forever once finished. And here is me, a simple man, Mark Johnson, who my Father in Heaven wants to change into a heavenly being, and most times He enters my life I fight against His actions. Yielding to the spirit is not always as easy as choosing what shirt to wear. But for a long time I have held the idea that it is simpler than it truly can be. I think of the word yield and I think slowing down and seeing if the road is clear before continuing. Like driving a car, I do not change how I drive; I just change speed temporarily until the sign is passed. Yielding to God for me has been about making minor and temporary changes until the way was clear again. However, to yield actually means, to surrender, or to cease resistance or opposition. In truth the wood, I looked down on so much was not difficult, it was perfect. I did still need to work with it, just as God will need to work me into a glorious being over time, but it was willing to change. That second hand cherry wood did not complain as I cut it, because it trusted in the hope that after my cuts and nails it would be fastened into something and varnished into a beautiful product. I must therefore trust and hope that God will make me grand. I must trust that the place in heaven God has been helping me become ready to inherit will seem to be made for me and for me alone, only I could fit its mold because it is the mold He desired me to fill. I know it will not be easy to give up resisting, and lets face it I wont completely; I have always been a wiggle worm when it comes to resisting pain. But I will remember the cherry wood when I see God acting in my life and will strive to stay still as the cutting comes, closing my eyes to the pain trying to picture me as a beautiful bookshelf. The goal needs to be that each day I strive to yield to the Father the best that I can in those 24 hours. Maybe one day I can go 48 hours, or hopefully a week. I believe I can learn to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit that I can be furnished into a new creature, a new being worthy to live in the presence of my Father in Heaven. Hopefully Heavenly Father does not have to work in a cold garage like I did, but regardless I will trust Him to do a good job.

23

Words
And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. -Deuteronomy 8: 2-3 y apartment is fully of great guys, who all are very funny, I say very because they are exceptionally so. They have a way of turning words to make great jokes, and they know how to use clever sarcasm. Needless to say, the apartment is never a dull place to be. Recently, I did have to ask us all to take a second look at our sarcasm, cause on occasion we can be mean in our jokes. Luckily the guys understood of my statement that I thought we were becoming too sarcastic. I completely fall into the same fault when rude comments are spoken. But I began to notice the looks others that seemed to not enjoy the sarcastic comments we have fun making back and forth in our apartment. Honestly, I am not sure what caused me to start noticing a few friends that would spend time at our apartment that seemed to feel discomfort by sarcastic jokes. Maybe it was a look pleading me to put a stop to the jokes, maybe it was a fake laugh at a joke that hurt, I am not sure. I know that the effect of our joking became apparent to me and began to enter my thoughts uninvited helping me to realize something was wrong. Words hurt, heal, and help. That is what I heard quite often from overenthusiastic high school English teachers. At the time, I knew that words are important because they convey information, but I did not fully see words as powerful like they did. I had not yet felt someone speak with words that fit my heart, been moved to tears by the words of a song, or been changed by a teachers lecture. I came to better understand that meaning as I finished high school and moved away from home. I would say after missionary service and some time at college that I finally came to realize the power of words: that probably led me to my studying English at BYU-I. But what power do words truly have? I would have said, until recently, that words just transfer a meaning in communication and have greater power depending upon the emotion behind them. Until this thought of sarcasm being a means of causing others pain and discomfort, I had a different way of seeing the power of my words. I had assumed words when said more eloquently was best but depending on the audience. I love the way Shakespeare writes, but it may not be powerful to many of my generation. Why then are some ways of speaking more powerful than others, of even what makes some words better than others. Brother Ward said at the beginning of the semester, words do not convey meaning, they call them forth. I cannot remember if he was quoting another, but the quotes meaning was not missed on me. With this in mind I began to think as words not being powerful ever if they are

24

not crafted with the idea of the receiver in mind. When I speak to a friend I know what words to say that my friend will understand and I know how they will take those words: whereas to another the same words could have completely different connotations. The sarcastic fun my roommates and I have with one another is taken in fun, but when others come into the scene and have new ways of understanding it may not be taken as fun. The words we use are more powerful than I thought, because they are not powerful solely because of who speaks them, but because of what meanings they carry. Words therefore can be powerful to some and not to others based on how they interpret the words. Is it any wonder that words are used so much in our communication with one another? It has been said that, the pen is mightier than the sword. Also the Book of Mormon says, And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was justyea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto themtherefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God (Alma 31:5). Words do have so much more potential for good than violence, have not all wars been ended in a treaty or a in a spoken agreement to stop fighting. Words, when understood and agreed upon, can change men and women. I remember being changed by a teacher, Dr. Thompson, when she taught us about the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. She caused me to think about why the book was, as she called it, important. The longer we learned about the book the more my meaning of the word important became similar to her meaning. I learned that the story of Atticus Finch is important, because the story teaches the need to do what is right and not let prejudices and public opinions keep one from doing the right thing. With this better comprehending of the power of words, I understand why Christ was called the Word in the gospel of John. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). He is called the Word because, like a word, Christs role can be seen and interpreted in many different ways. He fills many roles, but those roles are filled in each persons heart in their own way. But like my teacher helping me to come to a better understanding of important we should be coming unto Christ to know his true meaning. I believe this is done as we come to understand what Christ wants each of us to become: like Him. Lewis words helped me to gain a better understanding of how I tend to see myself, but what Christ actually wants for me. Lewis character Screwtape writes that humans are undulate by nature, meaning we rise and fall regularly, and that they, Screwtape and other demons, want humans to think the hard times are proof God hates them, instead of what Christ really desires. If we know Christ is perfect and he wants us to be perfect like Him, the difficulties we face must be meant to help perfect us: purify us. Screwtape writes, He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himselfcreatures, whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His (Sckewtape Letters 207).

25

Christ, in all His roles, has only one true purpose, or meaning, to be the means by which we learn to be swallowed up in our Father in Heavens will. To have the same will as the Father is to become like Christ. As we seek to be like Christ in this life we will help others, and we can help them best through the word of God. To make my words powerful, by knowing when to use words that will be received best by others. This will only occur as I seek to learn about others and I seek to have the Holy Ghost, my way to become like Christ, with me. It is beyond any persons reach to become like Christ or to speak powerfully without time and practice. Only time will help me learn to use my words well, for now I can just seek to know when to use my sarcasm and when to not use it.

26

There is Direction in Counsel


I know a few of the reasons why the Lord requires us to listen to mortal servants. One of the reasons is that you and I need a check on our own inspiration occasionally. We can be mistaken. At times, even with real intent and with faith and with careful prayer, we may come to wrong conclusions. Listening to others can provide correction. It can promote more careful consideration. I hope you will always remember that there is safety in counsel. -President Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer To God

he other day I felt an impression that I needed to go home, even though I had made many preparations for work and school next semester, but upon speaking with my father and mother I came to a conclusion that I needed to stay at school. I was almost in complete opposition to what I have felt before, and I was left confused about why.

It was such a strange experience. Frustrating is the word that I want to use. With all that has happened at the end of the semester, that feeling felt great. Going home could give me more time with my family, which is not something I get to do often. It seemed like a way for me to get away from school for a time and relax and take time I need. So why with every comment made by my parents the need to stay hear not only sounded right but felt like it was what God wanted for me. I know I am still young, but I have felt many promptings in my life. I would have bet that feeling I had was a prompting from God to go home, but then the need to stay felt the same. What happened? Looking back I saw the choice to stay was, without a doubt, the right choice to make. Could I have been deceived? If I had not talked with my father and mother I would have gone home at the end of the semester. I began to think I had been tricked by Satan. I was convinced that maybe the false prompting I received was from another source much like how Lewis describes demons deceiving us carefully in The Screwtape Letters. For example in the first letter Screwtape keeps his patient away from the Enemy by distracting him with thoughts of lunch, and that he did not have time for such thinking about what the Enemy wanted. I believe this is how I forced myself to see the supposed prompting I felt: only a deception form another power. I thought the feeling was a ploy from the devil to keep me from doing what my Father in Heaven wanted. But, I felt good when the prompting came. I actually felt at peace when I had the thought to go home the first time. I began to wonder, could the devil replicate such a feeling? He is powerful, but recreating something that feels peaceful, a feeling the devil wants me not to know, could not be of him. Satan has no power to recreate the feelings of heaven, true joy and peace. Therefore I was only deceived as I tried to give credit for a feeling to the devil which must have been from God. So moving past that idea lead me to the question, why would God prompt me to do the wrong thing? Elder Holland once told a story, which now is a Mormon Message video online called Wrong Roads, about how he and his father were traveling and they came to a fork in the road and they both prayed to know which way to go. The both felt they should go right.

27

After a time on the road it came to a dead end and they had to back track to the fork take the other road and they eventually got back to the highway. Elder Holland states that he asked his father about why God inspired them to go the wrong way. He father said in response that they were told to go down the wrong road so that when they took the right way later they would not have traveled the long road and wondered if they picked the wrong path, by taking the wrong path first and coming to the dead end it became certain the other path was right. In the story it was not that they were inspired to make the right choice, but they were inspired to act in a way that would cause them to discover, with a surety, the right path. I not realize this is the same as what had happened to me. My feeling to go home, because how logical it seemed, caused me to call my parents and talk with them. It help me feel sure that to stay here this next semester and to keep my jobs here is what I need to be doing now. Elder Eyring said, Listening to others can provide correction. It can promote more careful consideration. I hope you will always remember that there is safety in counsel ( To Draw Closer to God, 11). Sometimes I forget to counsel with my parents and leaders. They can help me make better decisions through counsel. The church makes its decisions after the brethren counsel together. And I command you to take it upon you to counsel with your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel (Alma 39: 10). The Lord wants us to counsel with others to best navigate our way through life. This life is not meant to be a solo act. I am meant to help others ab be helped by others, which is why God lead me to talk with my parents. God knows me so well. He knew I would go to my parents for help. I believe he also knew I would not stop there. I remember after talking with my parents praying in gratitude for help knowing what to do. Heavenly Father wants me to come unto Him also. I desire to feel like C.S. Lewis, I pray because I cant help myself. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesnt change God. It changes me (William Nicholson, Shadowlands, 103). Prayer is away to come to the Father in order to change. God wants us to pray to us not to change His will but to have our will become more like His own. In the Book of Mormon, Alma says to his son Helaman, Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good (Alma 37: 37). I am meant to do the same, counsel with God, above all, in all things that I can be directed for good. If God is directing my path I cannot go wrong, accept for a purpose of being made more aware of His power. The purpose of my writing, this lesser thinking that my wrong answer must have been from the devil, but truly it came from God to teach me, is to help me remember to counsel in the future with parents and leaders: as well as to counsel with God always. It is my hope to contact others more in my decisions. I will not be asking for guidance necessarily, but for counsel to help me make the right choice that I can then bring before the Lord to know if it is right. As I seek the help of others and of my Father in Heaven I can better be directed to the right place in life. I will do my best to counsel with others as a means of safety and direction. And it is my hope to grow to a need to pray that I may be changed of God.

28

Doing my Part

hange has never seemed to come easy for me. I struggle to change and to myself seem to make no progress. I feel like I catch myself saying the same stupid comments or upsetting others in the same way. It is not that I am not trying, it is that I am struggling to make changes in the little sins of speaking without thinking that I am so good at. I wish the change could be made easier. I know that I have been taught, and even taught others, that repentance is not possible without Christ. I know this is true, but at times I have felt that when I called upon God, to have the help of Christ to change my sinful self, He has not been there to listen. As if maybe He went out to the movies conveniently before I needed his help. In my life God has always outdone Himself in ways how He can touch my heart and teach me when I am not asking for help, so why when I need His help it is as if He doesnt care. When C.S. Lewis lost his wife Helen he had similar thoughts. He mentioned how I feel that this was not going to keep him from believing in God, but sadly it left new feelings, So this is what Gods really like. Deceive yourself no longer ( A Grief Observed, 658). That is a similar thought to some that I have felt before. Why does He not care to lend a hand when I am in need, but more than nosey when I am not asking? I have gone to sleep crying hoping God would hear my prayer that I want to change and I do not want to keep repeating the same old sins. Any sin keeps someone from returning to Gods presence, because He is perfect. So it hurts me that I can desire to change so much but not have any luck on my own, and what seems like no help from the other side. Is it my fault, did I do something to cause Heavenly Father to take a fishing trip on the weekend of my failure? A lot of my life feels like the lyrics of the popular hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing which reads, Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above (Verse 3). I feel as though I sway to and fro with every wind of temptation, and want so much form my God to bind me to Him that I do not wonder and lose my potential for life with Him. But is seems as though He will not bind me to Him and I struggle doing so alone. But is not that the role of the Savior. Just last Saturday at a funeral I attended it was said that Christ is our mediator with the Father. A mediator is someone who helps settle an argument, right? I do not see myself as fighting with God, but maybe I need help to come unto Him because my actions speak louder than words. I do promise to change often and yet I fall again and again. I know I am not in a fight with God, I feel He is just teaching me to call upon Him to receive the help of the Savior in my repentance, I need to do more than call upon Him. I need to exercise faith. Lewis puts exercising faith and resisting temptation as in the same category. He states,

29

You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means. (Mere Christianity, 117-118) I have to do more to work with Christ. I cannot expect Him or God to change me alone. I have to work for it. It is true, it is impossible for me to do it alone, but God did not put us here on the earth to help us through life without trouble, but He wants us to be tested and learn to seek Him in our struggles. My only avenue now is to walk into the wind and hold on as long as I can, while asking for hope. I will have to do my best to think before I act and seek the help of my Savior in the moment, when real change actually takes place. I can change with help, but I need to do my part and acknowledge that I can only make the change permanent with the help of Christ.

30

To Forsake
No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it - no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather. -George MacDonald

n the previous journal entry I talked a great deal about changing: changing to become a better person with the help of Christ. That I have to do work to change but as I work the Lord can make the change complete. In truth I can become a new man in Christ, but I must come unto Him. True change requires the help of the Savior. Change is a process that takes place over time and renders something different than it was formerly. With regards to my turning away from sins, I was under the impression that my changing may come in the form of no longer wanting to sin, as mentioned a few times in the Book of Mormon. It was my assumption that by some miracle through focusing on good things I would lose my desire to do bad things. The desire to bad mouth another who was rude to me would somehow, overtime of learning to resist, depart from me. Would that not be grand? I am seeing within myself that this is not true. What would cause a base desire to leave by simply ignoring it? It would not. I know that on occasion I have heard the story of Alma the younger and have thought change was so simple. He being knocked out for days racked with the torment of his guilt calls upon Christ and it is as if his problems cease and he is never tempted to do evil again. I know that that is not true. Alma surely was tempted the rest of his days, but he let Christ kill or out an end to the evil he had been participating in. It is not until we truly turn away from our sins that we can be forgiven and come unto God. This means we must work to change, but along with resisting temptation comes a time to forsake the sin and never turn unto it more. C.S. Lewis describes this beautifully with the lustful ghost who has with him a red lizard. This ghost is being held back from God by this lizard, a lustful sin if you will, but when, after much struggle, he allows the lizard to be killed, he is able to move toward God. The lizard, or sin, once killed no longer got in the way, but enabled him to move quicker toward God. Lewis says, What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs (The Great Divorce, 524-525). Much like the lustful ghost allowing a sin to be forsake will give us Christs grace, an enabling power to do more. Brigham Young taught similarly, saying Until we can subdue our own passions, and bring every human feeling and aspiration into subjection to the will of God,

31

we are not really capable of guiding and dictating others to the full possession of victory in the Kingdom of God. (Teachings of the President of the Church: Brigham Young, 206). As I can learn to not only change but to forsake and turn away from the sins I am leaving I can receive help to return to my Father in Heaven. More help than I can get by any source of this world. Christ and His grace are sufficient. I must seek only to accept His help, through choosing allowing the sin to leave my life and never return. To forsake sin is my aim through the help of Christ.

32

God Shouts out my Pain to Remind Me He has not Given Up


heard a great speech in my public speaking class. My classmate talked about charismatic leadership, and used Adolf Hitler as the example. His speech depicted some of the things about Hitler that made him into one of the greatest leaders of all time, not to do good however. My classmate said he did not applaud, support, or sympathize with Hitler, but he envied his ability to get others to follow. Hitler was in fact great at doing just that, gaining followers and getting them to do things they would have never done without his involvement.

While this speech was being given, I have a small feeling inside me that seemed to whisper, you can lead others for good in with what is being taught, pay attention for the future. It was the spirit telling me that charismatic leadership, believing you will succeed, involving others in a cause, and developing one to be a leader people want, could help me in the future. What is Gods plan for me as a leader? I have held many callings of leadership, but in truth I never felt I had made a difference or done a great job. I feel I am ok in leadership, but not a leader that could lead others to greatness. I wondered why God wanted me to pay attention to this speech on charismatic leadership. I am even currently in leadership in the church and feel inadequate in comparison to the other members of my elders quorum. This is actually a thought that hurts me. I look back at my leadership service as not a complete failure but still lacking. It hurts when I think of how others I was asked to lead did not see my actions to help them as genuine, but turned away from my kindness. C.S. Lewis writes, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world (The Problem of Pain, 604). God seems to chase me down and shout at me the memories of my failures. I believed my Heavenly Father wanted to beyond humble me as I would get feelings like that one. Yes I know that He sees my potential, but by telling me He sees me doing more leadership when I feel I do not do a good job hurts. It is like being told by a coach that we are going to run the same drill again and again until Mark can finally get it right: everyone suffers not only me. Sitting in my priesthood meeting this Sunday, I had a younger elder come ask me for help with his roommates. And it was as if God, through the spirit gave me what to say. This caused me to feel that God is the real leader and that with his help I probably helped someone in each quorum I have lead. Only with God can I do good, and as long as he believes in me than I can know I have done good. It is like Lewis said, Christianity will do you goodand a great deal more good than you ever wanted or expected. And the first bit of good it will do you is to hammer into your head (you wont enjoy that!) the fact that what you have hitherto called goodall that about leading a decent life and being kindisnt quite the magnificent and all-important affair you supposed. It will teach you that in fact you cant be good (not for twenty-four hours) on your own moral efforts (Man or Rabbit? in God in the Dock, 112).

33

God is only helping me to not be settling thinking I am doing enough, using a pain at remembering my shortcomings to keep me out of the illusion that I could do it alone. I know if I work on becoming a better leader I could better be used by my Father in Heaven. I guess I will let Him continue to yell out my pain, cause even if he makes me work to get it right, it is comforting to know He wont quit on me. I have been reviewing my notes from my classmates speech and I know ways to improve. Now I must continue to walk forward and be ready to help in whatever way God asks, because without him I really cannot make twenty four hours on my own efforts. I thank God for His interfering help in my life. I need Him.

34

Be an Individual, not Original


Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another. -Voltaire

orking on my first power point presentation and speech for my public speaking class was very difficult. I wanted to make the presentation original. I began working, then deleted file and started again. I stared again, and then erased it. This process cycled through at least six times. It was so hard to come up with an original idea. I am sure someone has used a picture like that before, or has given a similar speech. Creating an original work is so hard. Trying to come up with something that no one has ever done before is like attempting to eat pizza through a straw: though, most likely, that is not even an original idea. Why is there such pressure to create something new? It could be the prestige of being the first, or the joy of starting a new trend. The difficult part is truly coming up with something that no one, not one of the seven billion people on the earth, has thought up before you. That is a lot of pressure to put on a college student. Be prepare d next week to give an original speech to the class. Those were that last things Sister S choles said to our class before we were to give the speech. Maybe other students did not think about what she said, but instantly I was struck with fear. How was I going to come up with an original speech and would not bore my classmates. The thought of giving an original speech appeared to be my Everest to climb, possible yes, but it would take a lot of work and time. Also the high chance of failure, but I tried not to dwell on that thought. My ideas felt blocked, so I did what any sensible college student does when they need to come up with an original idea. I asked my roommate. He had a great thought, to do something similar to another assignment I had completed. He knew I had just finished a research paper on preparing for employment in law. He said it may have been done before, but if you use your research, its yours and not anothers. The comment made by my roommate caused me to wonder about the truth of originality. How many sculptures have sculpted David? How many songs are there about breaking up? Yet I would say each of these examples is an original: unless one was an exact copy of another. Using another work of art, of another composed piece as inspiration for another work is how many works I know as classics came to be. I wonder if we would have half the movies we do without the influence of Shakespeare and good books. So how much from another work can you take with your work still remaining original? I assume the general ideas are up for grabs when making an original work, but the specifics are off limits. I was under the impression that for an idea to be original it needed to come from me. I

35

began wondering if I have ever had an original thought by that definition, because more of what I think has been influenced by others in my life. I think Abraham Lincoln said it perfectly when he stated, Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all. So much of what I think is original has been thought or done before. I cannot be completely original, and more people I feel would know that if they read more widely or studied a bit more history. I know I have been caught up in the idea of trying to be an individual, completely original. That in the old definition I held is impossible. How could I dress and act in a way that has never been done before? That is preposterous to even fathom that I would be the first to do so: the grand idea of a hipster, I did it before it was cool. Originality therefore is doing something in your own way regardless of whether it has been done similarly in the past by another or not. Trying to do first is very difficult, but it is fairly simple to do something in my own way. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis stated about being original, The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man [or woman] who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom (176-177). Lewis taught such a true principle that to say the truth, in your own non-altered voice, is original. That will be true in writing, singing, and even in speaking. A speech will be original if it is truthful. That is a much less difficult definition to live with: stress free I might add. I can be original even if the story I tell has been told before or my speech has been given by another. I need only to honestly make it my own. The clich states that honesty is the best policy, but I want to say that honesty is the only original. You can fabricate a lie making for good entertainment, yet if real original entertainment is desired all that is needed is an honest story. I know that is true by asking friends to tell of an embarrassing story. Those are the funniest stories, and they are ones I want to remember because they are true. My seeking to be original in life must spring forth from a desire to be honest. Honest is being true. Meaning if I am true to myself, I will give original accounts, original insights, and original experiences. I will be able to give an original speech in class that should not be boring to class mates: I guess I still need to talk enthusiastically; I may bore them if I only use a monotone voice. The faithful last resort of asking a roommate for help on homework worked again, but instead of finding an answer for one assignment I received a better understanding of what it means to be original. I would say that I feel that definition to me is to be honest and to not worry about being original, or about myself. In truth the idea is not to be original for me, but to be original to lift others. Maybe to not bore others is equally true. The overarching point is that we

36

are meant to be ourselves, not by being a never before seen idea, but by honestly living the life you are meant to have. In the end my speech was about preparing for a law career, and it was received well by my peers. I gave an original speech that might not have been a first pick for anyone else in the room, but it was honest and about my hope. I enjoyed it and I felt original. The speech gave me a chance to honestly share what my hope for the future are. It was a fun experience to give a speech to teach others and only needing to worry about being honest with myself.

37

My Own Grief Observed


In Memory of Trevor Hollingsworth April 1st, 2014

pon hearing the news of my roommate and good friend Trevors death this morning I was filled with several emotions. I was angry because he was gone and my love for him felt like it had no home to return to. I was sad because my friends weekend trip turned into a trip of no return. I was empty, or felt empty like I was robbed of my friend by the burglar named Death. He had stolen my friend and left no note, no clues, and no chance for retrieval. Trevor is gone. I felt similar to Lewis when he lost his wife, Helen. Trying to put Lewis words as my own I wanted to say, It was too fun to last. I am tempted to say of the friendship in my apartment for the last four semesters. I might have been truly pessimistic this morning, but seeing all of us down and crying, I felt justified in thinking as if that was how God thought about our apartment family. Maybe he thought we were having to grand a time and that we should be stopped, like elementary students in study hall beginning to laugh in whispers being forced to sit on opposite sides of the room. Or maybe we reached the perfection of what God wanted us to learn, as if the same teacher as before notices her students understanding their times tables and says ok we are not moving on to division, and thus leaving behind the work students felt comfortable with. It is so, easy, to be angry with Father in Heaven when He throws an unexpected pitch in your game of life. Suddenly the next inning starts and one teammate is off the team, not playing with you anymore. The game is not as easy to enjoy, the object thrown into a haze and its hard to focus on the game. Trevor always lifted our apartment. He would make others happy with his baking. And he could make anyone smile with his cheery remarks, and his sarcastic humor, not to mention his fun songs. He was a great team player. Why?!! is the forceful question that rang out from the bell which is my heart in each prayer to my Heavenly Father. I knew I should not have been angry with Him, but I did not understand, to be honest I still do not understand why and I may never know. All through the morning I could only cry and think about what had happened and wonder in a jumble of emotion swelling within me. Lewis opened A Grief Observed by saying, No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing (657). I get it, the feeling of fear, is to me as if a mix of anger, sadness, and emptiness, because it causes your pulse to hasten, your head to hurt, and your stomach to flutter as Lewis described. I now see that my feelings were reminders that I am weak. I know that we are blessed from trials and that they are meant to build us up to the level God wants us to be at, after all Christ did say, Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4). But honestly I was not feeling too comforted, even as friends came by to say they were here for my other roommates and me. It is hard to feel comfort in a moment so full of bitter emotion.

38

That example only proves my weakness, that as others try to comfort me I would not be comforted. God isnt punishing me to force a lesson down my spiritual throat. Instead He has called one of His children on to another work, pulled out of the minor league we were playing and thrown into the major leagues if you will. And all those who loved that child, or who played with him, need to grow from what he left behind and try to do our best in the lives we are left to live. With every trial I seem to become aware again of the vastness of the Atonement. Christ can even help me in my pain that comes from a grieving soul at the loss of a friend. Christ knows my feelings at this time. Yes, even that strange jumble of feelings and emotions I tried to explain earlier. He knows that I am weak, but He looks on my weakness with mercy: with a mercy and love that I cannot physically comprehend in my state, perhaps Trevor understands more of it now. I am so grateful that Christ even acknowledges and understands my feelings of struggle with grief. I believe it is ok to grieve, but it is hard when the chips fall to you and all of a sudden you are the soul missing a friend. Jesus Christ stands with his hand outstretched in my current state of grief, and I do not feel rushed to move past it. I feel like I am ok to weep even as tears were shed by my Savior for His friend Lazarus. I have come to the idea that our Father in Heaven wants us to grieve. He wants us to come unto Him in times of loss so that He can show forth His love and teach us of His grand plan. I also believe God is okay with us coming to Him in anger at first as long as we humble ourselves to be taught at His feet. For who would better listen to our frustrations and our grievings than a loving father, the Father of us all. Meaning it was ok that I was angry with Him in order to get my frustration out, as a means to be taught, not as an excuse to leave my God. My Father in Heaven had much to teach me on this hard day, and I am so glad He did, even though it began with me being angry with Him. I now am able to see that because of Gods omniscience, knowing all from the beginning to the end, He is able to take us anyway we come to Him when He knows we will change once we are before Him. Our Father in Heaven wants us to be honest, even when we need to be honest about our frustrations with Him. But, He loves us still and works on us so that we may be able to become more like Him. Gratefully we have the Atonement and a perfect Savior that help individuals like me come unto god in hard times. Because of them, I was able to look into my grief and see potential for growth. I feel better writing out this observation even though I know my grieving will continue for a time. I am happy that it is ok to grieve, and that God will help me as I come unto Him and His Son in this time of grief. I will make it through this struggle. With help I will be comforted.