Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So, what's the point?

My train of thought this afternoon started with a rueful commitment to stop avoiding the warm-ups in my self-defense class. I'd figured, I'm perfectly capable of the light jogging, and the shrimping exercises are just awkward and time-consuming; I'd usually sweat more during the warm up than during class! But on Monday of this week, I figured there was a reason behind what my teacher asked us to do.

Today is Tuesday; and I am majorly sore. Not the sorest nor in the most pain I've ever been, but sore enough to get a reminder every time I move. Monday we did some on-the-ground exercises - the most intense so far in the class. Bear-hugging each other, our all-girl class wrestled for about 40 nearly-solid minutes. I hadn't gotten enough sleep before (my good intentions fell flat when a friend came over for a surprise visit, and my roommate got a boyfriend), and after that workout, I was exhausted. I didn't feel the full impact right away Monday afternoon, but I sure felt it today. I resolved to not miss the warm-ups that might have loosened and stretched my muscles, minimizing the pain that I would have felt the day after. My teacher had a point to our "silly" or "tedious" warm-up routine.

That realization reminded me of a passage of scripture in 2 Nephi chapter 2 (in the Book of Mormon):
Verse 11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
Verse 12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
Verse 13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
This all said, the next 2 verses in the chapter state the affirmative conclusion of the argument:
Verse 14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
Verse 15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
This section (the whole chapter, really) is often used to teach why there is "opposition in all things". That is probably one of the primary lessons in this chapter, but there's something else I pulled from it. Verses 12 and 15 show us that God does all He does for a purpose (read Moses 1:39, in the Pearl of Great Price, for a description of what His purpose is). We are given commandments to guide the way we live for a purpose. We go through the trials and experiences we have for a purpose. If God were to do something without a purpose, it would "destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God." That's a lot to destroy... So I think it's safe to assume that since none of those have been destroyed (and God is "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever" [1 Nephi 10:18]), God isn't ever going to do something without a purpose. From personal experience, observing the examples of others, and reading the scriptures (such as Alma 5:40), I know that all good things come from Christ. I know that He loves me, and that His purposes are to maximize my opportunity for happiness to the fullest extent possible (and He's God, so all things are possible). God's purposes are for our individual happiness, in both the short- and long-term.

That raises a couple questions. When we're going through a trial, life just doesn't seem fair, and we can't understand, we can ask, "Why is God asking me to do this? What is the point? What am I to learn or gain from the experience?" It is contrary to the nature of God for Him to ask us to do something we can't do (1 Corinthians 10:13, in the New Testament), or something that will make us miserable. As we come to know and love Christ, we learn that we can trust Him, wholly and completely. It becomes easier for me to have patience and let stress melt away when I realize that I don't need to always be in control, and when I know that Christ is. Another series of questions that I considered was this: What are my purposes? If my goal in life is to become more like God, then what does that mean if I am idling away my time? Are my purposes in the things I do Godlike? How can I improve them?

This is what really struck me as I was pondering this morning, ruing the loss of my comfort because I didn't listen to someone who had a purpose that I tried to ignore (going back to the sore muscles and warm-ups). God has a purpose to everything He does; there is a purpose to everything in my life; if I want to become more Godlike, I need to have a good purpose for everything I do. Improvement really is a process, so I'm not expecting any big change overnight. But I want to start living my life that way, with less wasted time, and more of my time spent deliberately serving others, taking care of myself, or otherwise furthering the work of the Lord. I'm working on becoming like God, because that's His purpose in sending me here to earth, in this life He's blessed me with :)

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