4 Comments

Journey to the Center of…

If you were to be sitting directly in front of Christ (or anyone, for that matter) and you looked directly and deeply in His eyes – what would you see?

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Come with me, please.

I’d like to take a journey with you.  Well, not really with you.  Your journey will be your journey, and mine will be mine.  Nevertheless, I hope to show how we will both end up at the same place at the end of our journey – your journey and my journey – which will actually not be much of a journey, because we’re really both already there.

Close your eyes…please.

Pause for a minute with your eyes closed.  Gather yourself – forget the world around you.  This may take a long time, but the goal is to…just…be…you…for a minute.

Now, think about all the things that you have done in the past, long ago, and especially recently, about which you feel guilty.  You have failed to reach some standard of behavior or commitment or accomplishment, perhaps over and over again.  The possibilities – no, the realities – for us to feel guilt are endless, and we’re really, really good at creating guilt.  We seem to thrive on it.  I used to start right off when I prayed with, “Please forgive me, I know I’m unworthy…”…and start into a litany of things that I confessed my guilt over.  So, gather as many of these guilty thoughts as you can.

Now – stop it.

Stop feeling guilty.  Throw them out!  Bury them as if they were dead.  Reject them.  It’s all ok.  It’s in the past.  You cannot change it.  It need not be part of you unless you desire it.  Stop desiring guilt.  Stop taking comfort in confession…in guilt.  Just STOP IT.  Leave the guilt behind.  It is your own creation, it is not of Christ, and it will not save you.  It will certainly not bring you joy.

Now – just be you for a minute – without the guilt.

Ok, now – think about all the things you wish you were but you’re not.  Think about how you wish you were a better wife, or husband, or how you worked harder or more diligently, or smarter, or would accomplish more.  Think about how you wish you were less selfish, or less lazy, or more compassionate or patient or empathetic.  You have your own version of all of these shortcomings just like I do.  Nobody’s perfect, after all, right.  At least that’s what we’ve been told all our lives.  So, think about these things.  Gather them together.  Get them clear in your mind.  Heck – pray about them!  Ask the Lord to help you fix them; to fix yourself.

Now – stop it!  Throw them out!  Bury them as if they were dead.  Reject them.  Stop doubting.  It need not be part of you unless you desire it.  Stop desiring doubt.  Stop hoping that you’ll somehow be more perfect tomorrow.

Forget about what you’re not, and focus on what you are!  You are kind.  You are smart.  You are patient and compassionate and empathetic.  You work hard, and you play joyfully, and you are good. You may think yourself to be imperfect, but is that really true?  Is it possible that all the things that you “are not”, but wish you were, are – like the guilt – just your own creation?  Is it possible that these things are also not of Christ?  Is it possible that He loves you just the way you are (channeling Billy Joel?)

Now – just be you for a minute.  Without the guilt.  Without the shortcomings and doubt.  Just be you.  Just be good.

Next – think about your fear.  You’re safe right now, right, or you wouldn’t even be reading this.  You’re probably quite comfortable, maybe a little hungry, maybe a little too warm or cool, but you’re in a pretty safe state of existence.  What do you fear?  Tomorrow!  Well, tomorrow isn’t here, and it never will be.  There will always only be now.  And yesterday.  But we’ve already established that you cannot change yesterday, so all you have is now.  And there is nothing for you to fear now.

But, still, we fear.  It’s so, so subtle. But it’s there.  We fear car accidents, or house fires, or illness, or certain people.  We fear not being good enough.  We fear abandonment and loneliness.  We fear being hungry (food storage, anyone?) or poor or cold or wet.  We fear criticism.  Ultimately, we fear not being saved; not being exalted; or spending eternity in hell.

Puhleeeese!  Stop it.  Stop fearing.  Stop indulging fear.  Stop letting it inform, even control your thoughts. Stop letting it rob you of your joy!  Learn to recognize when fear is influencing your thoughts.  Learn to reject it.  Learn how poisonous it is, and how it prevents you from having peace.

Now, again – just be you for a minute.  Without the guilt. 

Without the shortcomings.  Without the fear.

Ok – what’s left?  What’s left that defines “You”.  Let’s focus on those things.

Desires.  That’s pretty much what’s left.  Your desires.  Only now there’s nothing standing in the way of recognizing and realizing those desires.

What are your desires, now that you can analyze them without the cloud of fear and doubt and guilt.

We’ve already set aside any desires to be forgiven, to become better, and to feel safe. You’re already all those things, and the idea that you’re not is unreal anyway, right?  So, you’re free to focus on the true desires.

And I’m positive that one of those desires is love.  Not just to be loved, but to love.  Do you seek to care about and for others?  Yep – I’ll bet that is one of your desires.

How about a desire for intimacy?  By intimacy I mean the desire to be able to just open yourself up and share your most intimate thoughts and feelings with anybody and everybody.  In other words, it’s the desire to have nothing to hide! Maybe start with your spouse and your closest friends.  But then, maybe there’s the desire to share ALL of you with ALL the world – to feel free of the fear of judgment (fear has already been jettisoned) or ridicule.

Yeah – intimacy is a good thing.  Zion comes to mind.  Being of one heart and one mind.  But…I digress.

Maybe Peace, huh?  Maybe you have a desire for peace.  Well, if we have love, and intimacy, and if we reject fear and guilt and longing, what’s to stand in the way of feeling peaceful?

And JOY!  Yes, now we have joy!  Don’t we?  Is there any reason not to have joy?  After all, why do we have to keep thinking, “Yes, men are that the might have joy, and I’m sure I’ll be able to have joy tomorrow”?  I think I’ll have my joy today, thank you very much!

Once again, stop, pause, and just be you.  Without the guilt, and doubt, and fear. 

Focusing on the love, and freedom, and peace, and joy. 

Can you feel the calm?  Can you feel the…the…?

This, my friend, is you.  This is the “you” that was created as a joyous manifestation of a being of light and love.  This is the “you” that walked and talked with God before you “fell”, and embraced an existence in duality – trusting in the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – instead of just being love.

Now that you have rediscovered “you”, you have been redeemed from the fall, have you not?  You are free to “have joy”.  Hey, and guess what?  You’re free to share your heart with others, because you have nothing – absolutely nothing – to hide.

This is the real you.  This is the “you” that Christ knows.  He doesn’t know all that other stuff, the stuff you left behind, because it’s all an illusion anyway.  All He knows is the you that is defined by your righteous desires for love, intimacy, peace, and joy.  This is a beautiful you, and HE knows you.  And, guess what, YOU know HIM, because that’s also exactly who HE is.  Could this be what it means to “…know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent”?  (John 17:3)

If we (you and me – separately but together) can learn to commune with Christ without guilt, without fear, without focusing on our shortcomings, and just BE, we can commune with Him as the being that He knows, and we can become one with Him, because we are AS Him.  He can abide in us, and we in Him.  This is the promise of the atonement.  He awaits, offering wine and milk without money and without price.  There is none who are unworthy of His love.  No son, no matter how prodigal, will be rejected.  But we must strip ourselves of jealousies and fears (re: guilt, doubt, fear) if we are to truly know Him…as he knows us.

If you were to sit directly in front of Christ, and look deeply into His eyes, what would you see?  Well, obviously we would see ourselves.  Except the image in His eyes will have been transformed.  Rather than the “you” that you perceive in the mirror each day – burdened and blinded by guilt, and longing, and fear – you would see the “you” that is in Christ’s eyes.  This is the “you” that is a manifestation of your righteous desires – your desires for love, and intimacy, and peace, and joy.

We yearn for joy.  We yearn for salvation.  We yearn for the Second Coming, for redemption, for peace…for Zion.  Guess what. So did the Jews in Christ’s day.  And what happened when they found out He wasn’t going to give it to them?

We live in a fallen world.  The natural man is part of us. We will never be completely free of its influence as long as we are separated by a veil of guilt, doubt, and fear.  But if we can learn to, on a daily basis, rediscover that real “you”, perhaps we can walk each day in His presence.  Perhaps that veil, being constantly, repeatedly pierced, will eventually disintegrate and fade away.  Perhaps then, we might experience that perfect day.

As for me – I think I’ll take my joy now, if you please. 

4 comments on “Journey to the Center of…

  1. In my humble opinion It appears to me that you have correctly conveyed that JOY is a state of mind, just like happiness is a state of mind. Only you can create it and no one else owes or can make you joyful or happy, you have to CHOOSE it!

    • I guess that would be true, Greg. More like a state of existence. I think it is a state in which we were created. It is ours – our nature, the “measure of our creation.” However, we must learn to experience it as an “I AM” state. As long as we continue to rely on our knowledge (of good and evil) we can never realize our natural state.

  2. If you were to be sitting directly in front of Christ (or anyone, for that matter) and you looked directly and deeply in His eyes – what would you see?

    I saw light and felt love of a kind probably impossible in mortal existence. Actually he was much too bright to “see” so I have no idea if he even had a body but I suppose he did. Didn’t really need it I think. If he appears in glory it is “light” but he can disguise himself any way that is expedient.

    At any rate it calibrated my understanding of the judgement in that there isn’t one, not as humans typically imagine it. Scripture says God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; I take that one step further, he cannot look upon sin AT ALL and so in that room, there is no sin. What there was, projected on the wall behind me was like a collage of images, the noble, honorable or charitable things I have done in my life. That is it. I judge myself but it isn’t even a judgement; it is a decision to choose to live in that light and love, or flee from it. See D&C 88 for commentary on this principle. God won’t choose where you go, YOU choose where you go!

    By the way, your name triggered a memory. I argued with a high school student in North Carolina that called hersef August Stover but really that was the name of her grandfather. We had a good argument that abruptly ended.

    • Michael, thank you for sharing this. It is good to know that, while I haven’t had an experience like you have, we have learned the same things about Christ.

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