Spiritual Lightening (M. Catherine Thomas) pdf, epub, doc

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I just finished Chapter 6, Enduring Marriage. (interesting choice of words for chapter title - either we endure an unsatisfactory marriage - or we work to create an eternal, enduring marriage.)

Some things that stood out to me:

A great many divorces today do not arise from the gross unrighteousness of the partners; rather, they happen because one or the other fails to understand, or comes to reject, the nature and purpose of true marriage. What follows is to be understood in the context of two good people, not in the context of an abusive marriage. The initial love that prompts us to marry is a bit self-serving. This immature love may tend to wear off as the challenges of life assail the marriage. At some point in nearly every marriage, one or the other partner may think that he or she is falling out of love. Perhaps the other one is not meeting his expectations anymore; perhaps little obnoxious traits overshadow the once highly valued traits of the spouse. Perhaps she married in the first place looking for someone who would cherish her deeply and anticipate her every need. Whatever the mistaken notion, a spouse may start looking for someone who will better fill his or her expectations.

But the hope of making a better match is an illusion because, unless the other spouse is guilty of serious sin, the real problem is in the dissatisfied partner. His search for something better reveals a mistaken approach to marriage. He is focusing on what he wants out of the marriage (over which he may have little control), rather than what he has failed to put into it. He may think he has lost the "feeling" of love, but true love is not governed by feeling. The person who truly loves does so because he or she chooses to love. True love is a decision.

The Lord commands - in true marriage- that two people, imperfect, quite different from each other (no matter how much they may have in common), learn to triumph over their differences through tolerance and kindness, and learn, struggling together with spiritual principles, what it means to be one. Oneness, by the way, doesn't mean thinking and feeling the same way about everything; rather, it has to do with being dedicated to encouraging one another's spiritual growth, having reverence for one another's individuality, and coming together into oneness of heart with the Lord's purposes. True marriage is spiritually based.

What we need when we marry is to develop along lines we may not yet foresee. Thus instead of marrying a soulmate we marry a unique person and embark on learning to become a soulmate.

On physical relationship; sex can be a lonely experience when there are no other facets of oneness in the marriage. Instead, it is devotion to God's will that finally teaches the couple oneness; then all other aspects can come into harmony.

A successful marriage in the Lord's definition, that marriage which merits sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise, is never a casual achievement or stroke of luck. It is always a triumph of spiritual principles, a product of selfless, sustained effort on behalf of both partners, a victory arising out of the will to love: the will to extend oneself to encourage one's own or another's spiritual growth. This victory comes often with the sacrifice of one's own convenience or desires.

God designed marriage as a refuge - two people tenderly caring for each other through life's experiences - but also as a tutorial in love. Each has something to teach the other, and the learning is usually not easy. If marriage is not seen as a tutorial in love, a preparation for living in eternity, Satan can rend the marriage by causing the partners to focus on what is unimportant and on the ever-dangerous goal of self-fulfillment. From a small seed of self-seeking— diabolical discontent - an otherwise promising marriage can end in sorrow or limp along in misery for years. The misery is unnecessary, because, with right understanding, it is easy just to love and to bless. Our spouse was not given to us necessarily to satisfy us, but for us to love.

Chapter 7 notes.
Parenting - Love & Fear
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
In author's words... "I came from a family of wonderful people who nevertheless struggled with how to be happy. There were many things we didn't know about living in peace. We mixed our love with fear. What I experienced in my childhood family seemed to color my life with confusion. I joined the Church at nineteen. Though my conversion was real, many of my emotions continued to be out of harmony with gospel teachings, and I didn't know what to do about them. I was not at rest. As a young mother I felt that I was only barely keeping my distress from leaking out. But it did leak out. I struggled to be cheerful at home. I was too often tense with my children, especially as their behavior reflected negatively on me. I was perfectionistic. I was irritable and controlling. But I was also loving, patient, appreciative, happy; I frequently felt the Spirit of the Lord, and I did many parenting things well, but so inconsistently."
Sooner or later the crisis comes for good people who live in ignorance and neglect of spiritual law. The old ways don't work anymore, and it may feel as though the foundations of life are giving way.
If we don't learn consistent, mature love in our childhood homes we often struggle to learn it when we become marriage partners and parents. It doesn't matter what the manifest problem was in our childhood family. In a home where a child is emotionally deprived for one reason or another that child will take some personal emotional confusion into his or her adult life. We may spin our spiritual wheels in trying to make up for childhood's personal losses, looking for compensation in the wrong places and despairing that we can't find it. But the significance of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ is that we can mature spiritually under His parenting and receive healing compensation for these childhood deprivations.
Three emotions that often grow all out of proportion in the emotionally deprived child are fear, guilt, and anger. The fear grows out of the child's awareness of the uncontrollable nature of her fearful environment, of overwhelming negative forces around her. Her guilt, her profound feelings of inadequacy, intensify when she is unable to put right what is wrong, either in the environment or in another person, no matter how hard she tries to be good. If only she could try harder or be better, she could correct what is wrong, she thinks. She may carry this guilt all her life, not knowing where it comes from, but just always feeling guilty. She often feels too sorry for something she has done that was really not all that serious. Her anger comes from her frustration, perceived deprivation, and the resultant self-pity. She has picked up an anger habit and doesn't know how much trouble it is causing her.
A fourth problem often follows in the wake of the big three: the need to control others and manipulate events in order to feel secure in her own world, to hold her world together- to make happen what she wants to happen. She thinks she has to run everything. She may enter adulthood with an illusion of power and a sense of authority to put other people right, though she has had little success with it. She thinks that all she has to do is try harder, be worthier, and then she can change, perfect, and save other people. But she is in the dark about what really needs changing.
Author said... "I thought I would drown in guilt and wanted to fix all the people that I had affected so negatively. But I learned that I had to focus on getting well and leave off trying to cure anyone around me." Many of those around - might indeed get better too, since we seldom see how much we are a key part of a negative relationship pattern. I have learned it is a true principle that I need to fix myself before I can begin to be truly helpful to anyone else.
I used to think that if I were worthy enough and worked hard enough, and exercised enough anxiety (which is not the same thing as faith), I could change anything. My power and my control are illusions. To survive emotionally, I have to turn my life over to the care of that tender Heavenly Father who was really in charge. It is my own spiritual superficiality that makes me sick, and that only profound repentance, that real change of heart, would ultimately heal me. My Savior is much closer than I imagine and is willing to take over the direction of my life: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me, ye can do nothing." (John 15:5).
As old foundations crumble, we feel terribly vulnerable. Humility, prayer and flexibility are the keys to passing through this corridor of healthy change while we experiment with truer ways of dealing with life. Godly knowledge, lovingly imparted, begins deep healing, gives tools to live by and new ways to understand the gospel.

______________

Chapter 10
Spiritual Discouragement

I am not talking about the spiritual discouragement that comes from overt sinning but the kind that comes to the person who is aspiring to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of one's real condition, one's deeply fallen and lost state, is slowly unveiled to the person who is trying to become a true disciple.

As our discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ deepens and our true condition becomes more apparent to us, our susceptibility to a particular kind of discouragement may increase. (Note: Our condition is not our "true nature", but a condition of living in a telestial environment - world.) The true disciple may be, in some ways, more subject to crushing feelings of discouragement and worthlessness than the natural man is. It may be that the harder the aspiring true disciple tries, the more discouraged he or she will become. Yet each of us knows that we cannot stop trying with all our might, mind, and strength, even while we feel so inadequate.
How patient we have to be at the slowness of our progress! The making of mistakes and the failing to measure up just seem to be beyond our ability to avoid. And the hardest thing about many of our mistakes is that they happen when we are trying our very best to do well the things that matter the very most: our family relationships, our other relationships, our Church work, our jobs, our schoolwork.
Maybe the hardest part of earth life for spiritually sensitive people is their very imperfection. Joseph F. Smith wrote: "I think that the spirit, before and after this probation, possesses greater facilities, aye, manifold greater, for the acquisition of knowledge, than while manacled and shut up in the prison-house of mortality" (Gospel Doctrine, p. 13).
Not only our fallenness causes us trouble, but Satan too gets involved. He and his cohorts are always combing the earth for people to trouble. He finds someone who is giving his or her all. Satan's name in Greek is dia'bolos, which means "hurler of accusations." He hurls accusations at us and gets us to beat on ourselves. He stirs around in our miserable feelings and seeks to shut us right down - that is, if we can get discouraged enough, if we just stop trying, if we come to a dead standstill on the path and say, "I've had enough"- he has us where he wants us.
Part of enduring to the end may have to do with just keeping on trying against feelings of overwhelming inadequacy - knowing they are part of discipleship (of motherhood).
A person may think that his feelings of hopelessness reflect his true condition, but they do not. These feelings are a smoke screen, or maybe mists of darkness, generated by a true sense of one's fallenness - but with which Satan has connected. With our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can kick Satan out.
Nephi cried out, "O wretched man that I am! yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me." (2 Nephi 4:17-18.)
In the middle of that psalm, apparently, Nephi figured out that Satan, the enemy of his soul, was making trouble for him. He said: "Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?… Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul." (2 Nephi 4:27-28.)
It helps me to know that the greatest spirits among us fight discouragement - today, right now.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball is an example of one who never seemed to feel adequate in his calling, at least in the early days of his apostleship. He seemed always to feel that he wasn't measuring up. After his first General Conference address after being made an apostle, "As I took my seat I felt I had failed and continued to tell myself that I had failed." Soon thereafter, in his journal one day he wrote: "I have been depressed all day - I feel so inadequate. It seems that I am not succeeding with my work as I should like. It has been a hectic day. Everything seems to have been disturbing and disappointing. Received a long letter of severe criticism from one of my friends - and everything seemed to be at cross-purposes. Maybe I need further humbling."

Then he wrote four days later:

"Oh! I am so happy today. To see just a little fruit of our labors is encouraging." (Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977]

Clearly discouragement is the means by which Satan tries to get us to stop trying. He knows that if we keep trying we're going to connect with the Spirit of the Lord, which takes us out of our narrow self-preoccupation and unveils a rich resource of power and capacity.
Our reaction to our heightened feelings of fallenness is important. One thing that seems to help is humility. It is a paradox that, when we feel so everlastingly valueless, the thing that could bring relief is humility. But discouragement may reveal a weakened connection with the Savior, a blurred focus. We can sharpen our focus by humbling ourselves to the depths before Him. Then He offers us a sip out of the cup of His Spirit and our perspective changes, and we know that in His strength we can go on and even feel a measure of success.
The depth of our self-doubt is the beginning of the measure of our need for the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately our woeful feelings will be displaced forever with His sublime love. Until then we must press on.
President Howard Hunter illustrated the model for us:
As special witnesses of our Savior…. it is required of us that despite age, infirmity, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy, we do the work He has given us to do, to the last breath of our lives. ("To the Women of the Church," Ensign, November 1992.)

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  • Publisher:Bookcraft Pubs
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  • Ganre: Religion
  • Release: 01.11.2002
  • ISBN: 9781570085185
  • Pages 160
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