Thursday, October 3, 2013

True To My Heart

There seems to be a continuous controversy among all mankind about feelings.  Some say we shouldn’t trust our feelings.  They discount them and say they are the “effect[s] of a frenzied mind” (Alma 30:16).  They say feelings bamboozle, fool, trick, or dupe us.

Others say the reason we exist is to have joy, which is defined as "a feeling of great pleasure and happiness" (2 Nephi 2:25).

"True To Your Heart"
Still others use the word feelings to describe a sensual immoral technique used to satisfy inherent desires and passions without regard to the happiness of others or to our own end result. (1 Nephi 8:31; The Guide to the Scriptures).

It has been a study of mine to differentiate between joy and immoral sensuality in the feelings I experience.
Since I am training my body to eat a balanced diet of whole foods, eating a large piece of chocolate cake with ganache filling on a daily basis does not fit within that program.  Yet sometimes I am still tempted to eat chocolate cake or other such treats in excess.  The cake makes me happy in the moment.  However, after a few bites I begin to feel sick because my body is not used to so much cream and fast-uptake carbs.  When the moment of consumption has passed, any pleasurable feelings I had are gone and I am left only with the sick feeling. 

So then I stay away from chocolate cake for a while.  I forget all those sick feelings.  Time goes by and another piece of chocolate cake is presented to me.  For some reason I want it.  I am tempted by it.  If I continuously yield to these feelings, I am allowing myself to be governed by immoral sensuality.  I identify it as such because it makes me feel rotten in the end and also results in undesirable consequences.  If I ignore the sick feelings and continuously yield to the immediate sensuality of eating the cake, eventually my body will adjust itself to that high dose of cream and sugar.  I won’t feel the sick feeling as quickly anymore.  I cease being satisfied with my healthy food choices.  They taste bland to me.  I now need the cake to obtain even the smallest and most fleeting sense of satisfaction.  My body increases its fat stores to inordinate degrees.  My ability to respond in balance to conflict both physically and spiritually decreases.  My emotional balance begins to swing with greater force to the right and then to the left.  Other people totally annoy me.  Maybe even the employees at the store that provides the ingredients for the cake, not to mention the store owner, annoy me.  In the end I’m trapped in a black hole, a blood sucking state.

Because I have experienced immoral sensuality to some degree in this example and also in other relationships I’ve had, I know what it feels like.  I can differentiate between that feeling and joy.

This is joy:  Through study and experimentation I figure out what my body needs to eat in order to obtain and maintain physical and spiritual balance.  I write my daily menu down.  I follow it.  When chocolate cake comes around, I have to avoid it entirely if I can’t control myself enough to eat the portion size that is appropriate for my spirit/body.  If I have gained the discipline, I eat the appropriate portion size and that is all.  I return to my prescribed diet and I don’t feel deprived or like I've overdosed.  Over time I become more and more satisfied with my healthy food choices.  A peach or Honeycrisp apple taste amazing!  I can have them everyday and they don’t interfere with my ability to sense joy.  Instead, they facilitate it.  When I eat both a physical and spiritual diet full of whole fresh foods, my joy is continuous.   

Sinéad O'Connor:  "Nothing Compares 2 U"

I have tried; I have tested and there is NOTHING that compares to this feeling.  

I feel the most Joy when my body’s fat stores are more closely balanced with my height and structure.  In Joy my ability to respond in balance to conflict both physically and spiritually increases.  My emotional balance centers up and increases in depth.  “It can not be anymore beautiful!”  
Imogen Heap “Can’t Take It In”
Moreover, in Joy I see and appreciate the talents of my children and other people.  It is a total pleasure to associate with them.  I can take the hits of the annoying behaviors that I know will always be there.  I take time with my New Parent to recover from the ones that hurt me the most.  Recovery always occurs.  I thank God for the whole foods he provides for me.   

I ask him to help me obtain ALL of my inherent desires within his boundaries.  I don’t want the black hole—blood sucking state.  In the end I am sealed in a state of sustainability—a relationship full of life, love, joy.

Because I’ve felt this joy at least to a degree, I know it.  It is the feeling I have chosen to be governed by (John 10:27).  It is solid.  It is a sure foundation (Matt 7:24-27).  It is always there to light my pathway.  If I’m not feeling it to the intensity I desire, that’s an indication that I need to grow, train for a higher state of Paradoxical Parenthood.  It usually includes sacrifice.  But I do not sacrifice best things for good.  That is immoral.  I sacrifice good for better and best. 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks:  "Good, Better, Best"

If I discount the feelings of Joy that I experience and think they are only the “effect[s] of a frenzied mind” (Alma 30:16), I starve myself from healthy spiritual food.  The fact is that I can’t live without Joy any more than I can live without healthy food.  That feeling sustains my spirit in my daily life.  If I’m discounting it or if I’m not living my life in such a way that allows for it to flow through me continuously, then the consequences of a starved soul will take over.  I am forced to get it in deviant ways.  I will have to eat the chocolate cake and deal with the black hole consequences.

President Boyd K. Packer
The following video by President Boyd K. Packer addresses the specific concept of controlling thoughts but when I watch it, I also apply it to the feelings that must continue to flow through my heart in the right direction.  

Joy is when the water flows freely down the trench towards its desired destination.  When weeds and other debris clog it up, it will deviate from its course.  I must feel joy.  It is inherent to my being.  If it cannot flow in balance within me—receiving it and then imparting of it to others--then I will deviate to alternative pathways.

"For Your Eyes Only"
Chocolate cake with ganache filling is okay; it's just okay compared to the real joy that is possible in a relationship with God and in an appropriate relationships between a man and a woman. Those kinds of relationships take work to establish and maintain.  The foundation of that work is taking care of body and spirit.  Sometimes it's easier to eat the cake.  But in no way do the end results compare to the everlasting joy that is possible to obtain with God's help between a man and a woman legally and lawfully balanced in marriage.