Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Character of Christ

In the last few blog posts we've talked about General vs. Specific goals AND General vs Specific Causes.  There are also General and Specific Processes.  The General Process is the process to obtain Joy.  Everyone has their own ideas about this.  People who believe in the same General Process to obtain Joy unite in groups (#Religion).  If we have obtained a measure of Joy in our own lives, it's our responsibility to share that.  And if we're looking for greater insight on that General Process, it's our responsibility to search for it by reading what other people have found to be true in their journey.

Specific Processes are tied to specific Goals.  For example, if we want to become a nutritionist, then we need to engage in Specific Processes to achieve that goal.  Other nutritionists who also understand how to instruct and train serve as Specific Causes in this goal (see Goal Achievement:  The Journey for more about Specific Processes).

Our General Cause is the best source for the General Process to obtain Joy (3 Nephi 9:14).  Accessing him directly may be difficult for many of us but it is our responsibility to strive to do that (Matthew 11:28).  When we pay attention to our Effects, the puzzle pieces begin to come together.

For the past 9 years, I have been on a quest to identify the General Process to obtain Joy.  The following model is my best attempt to describe what I have found.  Since my General Cause is Jesus Christ, I believe that identifying his character IS identifying the General Process to obtain Joy.

So to start out we have us—I am here—and our Desire in Figure 1 (Matthew 7:7).

In Figure 2 we can see that our Desire can become skewed to the NW or to the NE.  When skewed to the NW, we have too much Desire.  I recently asked a group of people I was teaching to come up with some words to describe what "too much Desire" is.  We came up with Obsession, Demand, and Fanatical.

When skewed to the NE, we have too little Desire.  The synonyms we came up with were Complacency, Disinterest, and Apathy.  

In Figure 4 we see that our Desire is connected to the Processes of Receiving and Sacrificing.  Again we came up with some synonyms.  Receiving = Faith, Absorbing. Sacrificing = Giving, Serving.

In Figure 5 we see that we can become skewed to the NW in our receiving/sacrificing Process which will skew our Desire.  It is also true that  our NW Desire skews our receiving/sacrificing Process.  In the NW, we sacrifice too much for how little we are capable of receiving.  Running faster than we have strength (Mosiah 4:27). We need to train first and develop the ability to sacrifice at higher levels if that is our desire.

In Figure 6 we see that we can become skewed to the NE.  We can sacrifice too little for how much we have received. We take the Lord's name in vain.  He has blessed us with much, yet we are not passing the blessing forward (Proverbs 30:9).

In Figure 7, we see that Desire is concerned with the future. It focuses on our goals. Remembering focuses on the past—the goals we have already achieved (3 Nephi 18:7).  

In Figure 8, we see that Remembrance can be skewed to the SW or to the SE. When remembering a goal that has been achieved—a success—we can take too much credit for that success and not give enough to the other members of the team who contributed to the success (SE) (too much works) (Alma 38:11).  We can also take too little credit for that success, saying, “God did it all” or “I had nothing to do with it” (SW) (too much grace) (2 Nephi 25:23).  We can see that when we think in skewed remembrance, it affects our Desire Obtainment Process.  SE Remembering leads to NW Desires and Processes.  SW Remembering leads to NE Desires and Processes.

In Figure 9, we came up with some synonyms:  
Pride, Cocky, Arrogance 

Low self-esteem, Insecurity, Envy 

When we center up in the North we Remember in Confidence and Humility (D&C 121:45, D&C 104:79).  Taking Humility too far turns it into Envy. That is to say, it is no longer Humility.  Taking Confidence too far turns it into Pride.  That is to say, it is no longer Confidence.  Sometimes we try to avoid Pride by swinging to the other side of the imbalance but that will only set us up to eventually swing back to Pride to compensate or to have hidden Pride (Pride that is hidden to our own awareness by Envy).  It’s important to aim for the balance.

In figures 10, 11, and 12, Desire, the Processes of Receiving and Sacrificing, and Remembering are all combined in the Compass (which is Love btw).  

In figures 10 and 11 we can see the elements of Imbalance. If we continuously engage in these Processes and get stuck in these imbalances, Anxiety and Depression (states that we can’t get out of easily) become our Result.  

But because of Jesus Christ and his atonement, we can be free of such traps (Isaiah 49:24-25).  And it starts with striving for the balance, especially in the South, which will then affect our Northern Desire and Processes.

People usually equate Joy with Peace, but in my studies Peace is half of the Joy equation. Energy is the other half (see figure 13).  Energy is excitement, exhilaration, and empathy.  When we receive from our General Cause, we experience Peace (Effect). When we sacrifice, we experience Energy (Effect).  When we Receive/Sacrifice in Balance, we experience Joy (Effect).  When we Remember and Desire in Balance we experience Sustainable Joy.

Figure 14 shows a cool thing:  The straight and narrow pathway that the scriptures speak of is synonymous with the vertical Balance (Matthew 7:14).  We can also see that the Iron Rod is synonymous with the horizontal Balance (1 Nephi 8:24).  Loving (Desiring/Remembering X Sacrificing/Receiving) is what the scriptures speak of.  It is the Word of God in a nutshell (Matthew 22:37-40).

The compass describes the Character of Christ.  When we study Him, we see that He is both Confident and Humble. His Desire is full of Hope.  His Peace is not as the world gives unto us but it is His Balanced Peace (John 14:27).  He gives us that Peace through his sacrifice.  But he also received Peace from his Father AND from those who loved him.  At first glance, this Balance may seem like a simple thing or maybe it may seem like an impossible thing.  How can we be Confident and Humble at the same time?  How can we both engage in Desire Obtainment Processes and Remembrance Processes at the same time?  And how can we receive and sacrifice at the same time? It is a dynamic Balance and somehow Christ achieves it in his daily life.  It is what makes Him so utterly beautiful!  And it is what we can strive for to obtain Sustainable Joy in all of our relationships.

Happy Easter!