Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lord, Is it I?

I never thought to describe this in earlier posts simply because to me it is so much a part of a habit of second nature that it never dawned on me to look at it objectively and share it.  But I do so now because upon contemplating a religious address with the above title rendered by one of my favorite international leaders, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, I see that there may in fact be some merit in describing what often happens automatically inside my head. His discourse was to draw our attention to the apostles during the last supper.  When informed that one would betray the Christ, there arose no accusations against others.  Importantly and beautifully in its humility, each of the apostles immediately took an inward inventory and instead of blaming someone else, responded with, "Is it I?"
I have always been interested in religion and more particularly, in striving to become a morally upstanding person.  I have long striven to improve my behavior and in high school I recall reading an address given by an LDS prophet, Harold B. Lee, which described the Beatitudes as a "constitution for a perfect life."  This pronouncement hit me like a ton of bricks and I proceeded to pull something of a Benjamin Franklin type of program for self improvement.  Every day I pored over the first few scriptures of Matthew chapter five, analyzing the Beatitudes, studying them, memorizing them and applying them to myself and my behavior.  I honestly evaluated myself and realized which of the "Blessed are the" statements proved my strong points and which were those aspects of my character that could stand improving.  I highly suggest this exercise, by the way, for anyone seeking to find spiritual knowledge, come nearer to the Lord, strengthen their testimony or improve themselves in any way at all.  It is one of the most powerful morally strengthening exercises I know.  Each day I would work on those that proved my weak points and each day report back in my scriptures as to how I did in improving them.  I remember the moral, spiritual sweat pouring down in droves as I sought to do better in those aspects that did not come as easily to me.  It took a tremendous amount of labor to conform my behavior and thoughts to the attributes outlined in the Beatitudes and I came to analyze my behavior more and more automatically. 
This labor proved one of the greatest things I think I have ever done to strengthen my spirit and also changed my habits of thinking.  When I hear a piece of advice given from a wise source, whatever that source may be I have an immediate habit of spinning my brain into analysis mode in an attempt to first decide if that assertion is true and reliable and then into a self analysis to determine if there is something in my moral code that needs to be changed or strengthened.  Each morning I also pray and ask what the Lord would have me do that day, every morning I receive an answer and frequently throughout the day I analyze how I am doing in relation to that inspiration.  I frequently ask the Lord, especially in times of frustration or difficulty, what I can do to serve Him better and what would He have me change about myself, my thinking or my behavior.  We may sometimes feel, perhaps, that we don't want to change, that we should have the ability to stay as we are and let everything else change around us but turning to the Lord and questioning ourselves can be one of the greatest things we can do for our own progression, happiness and peace.

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