Sunday, May 29, 2016

In the disorder, you are the peace sign

May 17, 2016
Selfie with President Hall, he is so funny!

Cutural Hall in Nauvoo:

Having fun serving in the cultural hall (where the saints put on plays, and the senior missionaries still put on a play)

Are we inherently imperfect, or inherently perfect? What is…us? What consists of a human soul? We are more than merely the sum of our parts, but what are we? Are we our divine core? Our light of Christ? Or our mortality, this fallen state?

Maybe we’re an inherent contradiction? An inherent paradox? Maybe, to be truly agents, God didn’t make us to be inherently anything. He gave us the human soul: made up of a spirit that is pure, and a body that is jaded. He gave us choice, made possible by opposition. Maybe, God in a sense didn’t create us at all, but has entrusted us with the task of doing so ourselves. He has given us materials from which to build, instructions on how to do so, helpers along the way, and then allowed us to act freely.

There is no “true self”, because the ‘self’ is dynamic. Everything we do is what we are. Statements such as, “Sorry, I’m not myself when I’m hungry” are simply not valid. Acting is creating. “Fake people” do not exist, it is impossible to not act in accordance with “who we are.” With each thought, and action, we are creating ourselves.

Dinner with Sister Hardy and Sister Cluff!

Nauvoo Sunset

I met some Pugmire's in the Visitor's center and was sooo excited!
I had a conversation with someone this week who had two questions: Who am I, and how do I become happy? Those seem to be the questions, don’t they? The great irony is that these questions will never be answered until they become irrelevant. To lose your self (two separate words) is quite the concept—meaning that you can still be ‘you’ without the ‘self.’ The human soul, I think, is made up of what it lets in. If we merely let ourselves in, then we are quite limited. But if we open up and let others in, let every living thing in, we are so much more. (But it truly is a matter of letting things in, rather than tirelessly searching for them. When we let others in, it sounds to me like we intend to help them. But when we are searching for others, it sounds like we are expecting them to help us. There is a major and important difference between these two notions: one encourages happiness to find us, one does not.)

Luke 9:23-24                                                                                                                          “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up the cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
To me, there are two types of suffering: suffering due to desires for the self, and suffering due to desires outside the self. Selfish desires, and selfless desires. The first deals with our mortality, and our “human-ness.” The latter, with our spirits and divine core. Both are necessary, and in time should come together as one. Let me unpack this:                                                                                                                                      

When we come to earth, we receive a body. This body is not perfect, and its natural inclinations are destructive. If we merely act according to this, then all we desire is that we attain what we want.  We feel entitled to our expectations. Yet, of course, they are not met…and suffering follows. This kind of suffering is only important because it gives us a vital choice to make: Will I allow this suffering to enable me to empathize, or will I allow it to isolate and destroy my spirit? It is only when we allow our pain to produce empathy that we can truly move to the second type of suffering.                                                                                                  
A lie we often hear is that we can’t truly empathize with others because we can never have the same experiences as them. Well, pain is energy. The pain I might feel at the passing of my cat can be the same amount of “pain energy” that another feels when being denied the university they wished to attend. Yet, while trying to console this person, I might be told that I “just don’t understand.” I would argue that every single person has the capacity to understand (if they choose to go from selfish to selfless suffering).

The action of selfless suffering extinguishes selfish suffering. When I choose to allow my personal experiences with sorrow to give me the ability to love and help another soul, my “mortal state” dims. And thus we see, my imperfect state was necessary, but only for a time. I needed to know pain to know my neighbor, but once I knew my neighbor my selfish desire had no purpose.
When the suffering of others truly becomes our suffering, that is when our desires have a distinct and divine role to play. If we lose desire, we lose suffering. But if we lose suffering, we lose purpose. (While we do need to make sure our desires aren’t petty, and we aren’t suffering when it is not necessary, we do need to suffer.)

I know that Jesus Christ suffered for me. And when He did, He was enabled to understand me. And when I suffer, I am enabled to understand Him—that is how imperfection reaches perfection. Now, imagine what happens when I add the suffering of others? With each person I love (and in turn, suffer with), I become closer to Christ. I become closer to God. I become closer to perfection. 
I love you all so much! Tomorrow, I will have been on my mission for 14 months. It’s absolutely insane to think that in just 4 months this experience will be memory. But thankfully, it will be a memory that I can carry…and a memory that will carry me.

I want to leave you with a quote from Viktor Frankl: 
"This is the core of the human spirit...if we can find something to live for--if we can find some meaning to put at the center of our lives--even the worst kind of suffering becomes bearable."

Sister Pugmire


The Real Sister Pug and Sister Hall

p.s. Lyrics come from Peace Sign by Lights

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