Monday, January 26, 2015

Checking Our Compass

For many of us the pathway to obtain the specific goals that we set is relatively unknown, at least to us.  We’re in the dark.  We don't have a map.  It’s somewhat of a mystery to us and we have to figure it out in order to reach our desired destination. 

We can picture ourselves taking a physical journey through a wilderness.  We don’t know the way.  We may not know east from west unless we have a compass.  If we had a compass and knew the general direction we needed to go was north, we could use this tool as a means of checking our progress.  The compass would serve as a standard.  It would provide us with feedback and validation so that we would know when we were on the right track, when we were deviating too far to the northwest, and when we were deviating too far to the northeast.  It would be important to know not just that we were deviating but to which side we were deviating so we could know how to correct our course.

A compass is like a Cause.  The Cause we have chosen to pattern our journey after, provide for us, teach us, and evaluate us is a standard measure.  He should give us feedback and validation so that we know when we’re on the right track and when we’re deviating too far to the northwest or to the northeast of our goal.

Because Causes do this, we can be aware of whether we're on the right track or not before we arrive at our destination.  This is helpful because journeys are usually pretty long.  We invest a lot of time, money, and energy into them.  Large investments make a destination more permanent and hard to get out of.  They are hard to undo both spiritually and physically.  If where we end up is desirable THEN THIS IS GOOD!  Desirable destinations become abilities, talents, good habits, sustainable joy, and beautifully fulfilling forever relationships.  If it is undesirable, this is bad.  Undesirable destinations become weaknesses, bad habits, virulent sorrow, and black-hole relationships.
President Gordan B. Hinckley
“Many years ago I worked for a railroad. I was in charge of what is called head-end traffic. One morning I received a call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey. He said, “Train number such-and-such has arrived, but it has no baggage car. Somewhere, 300 passengers have lost their baggage, and they are mad.
"I went immediately to work to find out where it may have gone. I found it had been properly loaded and properly trained in Oakland, California. It had been moved to St. Louis. But some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just three inches, a switch point, then pulled the lever to uncouple the car. We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, New Jersey, was in fact in New Orleans, Louisiana—1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three-inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track, and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically. That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. The movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but, if continued, that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go.
"It is the little things upon which life turns that make the big difference in our lives, my dear young friends" ("Words of the Prophet:  Seek Learning" by President Gordan B. Hinckley). 

A true Cause provides feedback along the journey to confirm when we’re on the pathway to obtaining our goal and warn when we deviate from it.  The name I use to describe this concept of feedback, validation, guidance, and direction is Effects.  Causes provide Effects to guide us on our journey.

Effect:  Dictionary Definition
a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause
an impression produced in the mind [or heart] of a person
cause something to happen; bring about

Effects make our journey more efficient.  We don't have to reach the end of every trail to know we took a wrong turn and still haven't found what we're looking for.  We can sense it in the beginning stages and make our course adjustments.

The Listener by James E. Christensen
Because there are a variety of Causes that conflict with each other in their prescribed pathways, their Effects will be conflicting.  Thus, it is crucial to have chosen our Cause before embarking on our journey.  Which Cause's Effects will we listen to?  If we don't make a solid, steadfast (non-loosey-goosey), firm choice, we experience Conflicting Effects, which confuse us and slow down our progress.

I have found the following questions to help me and my children when we’re trying to find our way through the wilderness of Effects we’re experiencing from our Cause and from Conflicting Causes.

Have you chosen a Cause?

When you engage in your journey, when do you experience his confirming Effects?  When do you experience his warning Effects?

Are you experiencing Conflicting Effects

Which other Causes are trying to influence you?  Who do you think about what he/she/they think about you and what you are doing or have done?

Which Causes are on the same team as your chosen Cause?

Which ones conflict with your chosen Cause?

Even if other Causes are on the same general team as your chosen Cause, do they know about your specific goal and have you chosen them to help you obtain it?  Do they have the hope in you that your Cause has?  Do they even know your potential like your chosen Cause knows it?