“Look Unto Me in Every Thought; Doubt Not, Fear Not”
Today’s entry from a seventh-month Mormon Missionary…
This week was transfer week! I have a new companion, (hmmm…I haven’t been able to keep a companion more than one transfer straight…very odd), who is super-awesome. For some reason I’ve been able to open up more around him than I previously have, and from the start the change has been evident. On the train ride back to Brasov on Wednesday, one of the Sisters commented that I was talking more than I had the entire transfer before, and that my entire countenance had changed (“countenance” is such a cool word). So yeah, now I’m acting more like I do around my family and less like I did around general people, which is weird to think about.
We had district meeting on Thursday, and I was asked to talk about “following the Spirit” (particularly in the context of teaching lessons). I ended up focusing on the paralyzing effect of fear, which has been a huge obstacle to following the Spirit for me. A little while ago, I shared a story about repelling. While that story is applicable to this situation, I’d rather share another story my childhood, this time about skiing.
When I was younger, I’d go skiing with my dad, older sister, and (when he got old enough) younger brother. In order to learn to shift their weight so that they can turn, kids are taught “the V” position (or at least that’s what we called it, to everyone else it’s the Snowplow). In this position, you turn your skis towards each other, forming a “V”. This allows you to push off on one leg while not forcing you to face downhill with both skis pointed straight down. Normally, this is unlearned once you get better at turning and shifting weight.
Well, I’m not the best with heights. I knew, intellectually, how to do a ski turn, but I have always been overwhelmed by the innate instinct of fear when facing anything steeper than the bunny hill. Logically, if I didn’t turn properly and ended up going downhill too fast, I could easily fall over to the side and stop myself. But the brain isn’t always the most logical entity. Instead of growing out of it, whenever I’d face something steep, I’d “freeze-up with fear” and go down the hill in “the V” position (much to my dad’s frustration). As in…straight down. Let me tell you, that HURTS to do. Really all it would’ve taken is for me to have lifted one of the skis. I knew what I had been told. I also knew it hurt a lot to keep on doing what I was doing. But fear paralyzes. In the battle between the intellectual mind / trusting others’ instruction vs. the instinct of fear, fear always won, despite the pain.
All fear, in my mind, is essentially the same. When we sin, the fear of the repentance process bids us to “freeze up”, to stop and endure sin’s burden, even when a short bit of repentance, however tough to get through, would bring light to our souls and lasting relief. When we are teaching lessons, we know we have been told to “follow the Spirit” and we read this in Doctrine and Covenants 33:8-10:
Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you. Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;
We know that we won’t get utterance without first trusting the Spirit enough to start talking. Yet I struggle in the moment with actually doing this. I’m very much a person who likes to have everything planned out beforehand. It’s hard for me to talk without a set part, but you have to be very flexible when teaching. I’ve had many lessons where I’ve frozen up and let my companion dominate the discussion because I didn’t have enough trust to just start saying something. It wasn’t so much blatant fear, as much as it was that I didn’t know what to say, or where to lead the discussion, and I didn’t want to mess it up. Overcoming that thought of implied fear, that the Spirit wouldn’t lead me when I tried, is something I hope to master, though it will probably take some time. I believe this will require a LOT of faith (at least for me), but that’s all the more reason to be excited for the day when I will have that much faith. Faith is indeed the most powerful tool in our arsenal for facing life; it’s something I hope everyone can develop; it’s certainly something we all need.
I also made zucchini bread the other day…yup.