Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I Would Answer

The latest edition of the New Era reached my mailbox yesterday.  After reading the comics with my kids, I flipped through a couple pages seeing what the different articles were about.  A call for responses in the Questions and Answers section caught my eye.

The Questions and Answers sections asks youth how they would answer a question from a friend and shares varied views on how to approach a topic.  The upcoming question is, "I'm trying to control  my thoughts, but there are so many temptations.  How can I have cleaner thoughts?"

The addict's wife in me wanted to jump up to my computer and write.  I wanted to compose a beautiful answer to these youth with real, meaningful answers from someone who has really had to live this (personally and vicariously with Edmond...)  But I have long passed any semblance of "young womanhood."  So I'll tell you what I would write and hope that will suffice.

Dear Concerned Teen,
Tempting and inappropriate thoughts are normal.  I'll say it again and even spell it out for you.  Temptations are N-O-R-M-A-L.  Everyone has them.  Even grown ups.  So what do you do when one pops into the mind.

Popular anecdotes suggest, running from the temptation (think Joseph in Egypt) and willing a positive/spiritual thought to take the tempting thought's place (think sing a hymn or reciting a scripture).  This may work for a while, but when and if they fail, they leave the helpless soul feeling frustrated, disillusioned, heartbroken and sorrowful.

The real lesson to be learned is this:Control is an illusion.  Control is futile.  Control is the way of the adversary-- remember how Satan tried to take away agency and force everyone to return to heaven. The Savior's way has never been to control or force the mind or will to obey.  If He won't use force, we shouldn't force us either.  Force, control and fleeing all lead down the wrong path (read about Edmond's experience).  The hymn teaches that the Savior will,, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

The task given to us as mortals is to learn to guide, direct, lead and influence in love our thoughts so as to allow our minds to become one with the Savior- as He is one with the Father.  Thus we comprehend the magnitude of the covenant to remember Him always.  Much of the choice or power we have with our thoughts is the attention we give them. (Edmond wrote beautifully about this.)

One of my favorite books teaches, "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle can not grow."  Giving attention to the rose means we we dig about it, prune it, dung it, nourish it.  In caring for the rose, no thistle has a chance to take root.  Filling your mind with who you are, who you represent, whose you are, the love you have received from the Savior, loving others around, the beauty of the world's creations and all the other positives of mortal life will not leave room for the negative or destructive thoughts.

Let me repeat, lest you misunderstand.  In a moment of temptation, you can not force clean thoughts;  you can not fight that demon.  Only one can--  and He already has.  You must fill your life with good before the temptation comes, so when it does come there won't be a place for it to stay.  The temptation can fade away gently from before your mind's eye and you can continue on in Love and Life.

What do you do when a temptation crosses your mind.  If you have filled your life with things of Christ, you can let it go with confidence, knowing that you can rely on the Savior.  Now get back to pruning that rose.

Much love and Many Prayers for You,
Haydee Dantes

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful response Haydee! I am going to write some of this down. I teach the YW in my ward and will definitely need some of these thoughts in my arsenal of responses.