Monday, June 29, 2015

You Can Lead a Horse to Water But You Can’t Make Her Drink

Causes can’t make us “drink the water” they provide for us.  We have to actually engage in a process to receive it.  And it takes muscle.  It takes work to internalize it just as it does for an infant to be nourished by her mother.  This is faith.

In the last blog post we talked about the Dynamic Balance of our Causes and how that affects us.  In this blog post, we’ll look at our own balance.  Even if we have a dynamically balanced Cause, our own response process in our Goal Achievement Journey can be balanced or imbalanced.

I use the word Child to represent someone who has a goal and is on a journey to obtain it.  A Child is a beneficiary, student, candidate, admirer, trainee, disciple, follower, apprentice, intern.  She is someone with a desire, a purpose, a mission.  Even though a Child can be male or female, I use the female pronoun for simplicity's sake.  Also, when I use the pronouns we and us in this blog post, I'm referring to our role as Child in our Goal Achievement Journey (Matt 18:4, Mosiah 3:19).

So if a Cause is a Provider, a Child would then be his Beneficiary.  If he is a Teacher, then she is his Student. 

A Beneficiary is the role of a recipient, an heir, an inheritor.  It’s not about receiving from everyone and their dog.  It’s about receiving from our chosen Cause.  As a Child, we recognize we are in need of being provided for and so engage in a receiving Process (#Faith).

This Beneficiary role comes pretty naturally for most of us.  The most difficult part of it is to NOT receive from everyone and their dog (Mosiah 1:13).  It is to remain allegiant to our chosen Cause (D&C 6:13).  In fact, if we’re full with some other Cause’s provisions, we won’t be able to receive our chosen Cause’s provisions.  My mom always said I would spoil my dinner if I ate other things before what she had prepared for us was ready to be served.  I have found that to be true.  I have also discovered that it’s a principle that can be applied to Goal Achievement.  When our “dinner is spoiled” we lose the motivation to make the sacrifices necessary to obtain our goals.  When the going gets tough in our Goal Achievement Journey and there are conflicting Causes offering us “comfort”, it’s pretty tempting to accept.  But if we do accept it, it messes up the whole challenge our Cause is offering us.

The Student role a Child plays is on the opposite side of the balance from Beneficiary.  This is the role of apprentice, trainer, disciple, learner.  A Student receives opportunities to learn.  She is given challenges.  They are difficult because she is just figuring out for the first time how to juggle all the variables.  We’re not just talking about learning from books.  We’re talking about learning from the trials and adversities in our Goal Achievement Journeys.  That’s when conflicting Causes with their pseudo-provisions have the greatest temptation.  If we receive them, we miss out on the opportunity to grow; we slow down our Goal Achievement Journey, or prevent ourselves from progressing any further.

Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller
This dynamic relationship between Cause and Child is played out in the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan.  Anne is trying to teach Helen language.  She uses sign language in her hand as Helen is both deaf and blind.  She also tries to discipline her because she can’t teach her anything until Helen chooses to be taught (#HorseToWater).  Helen throws tantrums, destroys property, and hurts other people when she doesn’t get her way.  Because Helen’s parents have not been able to communicate with her very well, they haven’t been able to teach her balanced conflict resolution and desire obtainment skills.  Whenever Helen acts out, someone in the house—a parent, the cook, or a servant—gives her a piece of candy to quiet her down.  The candy reinforces Helen’s tantrums.  Anne won't do this.  She expects more of Helen and believes she is very bright.  She believes Helen has the capacity to learn to control herself.  So the result of all this is that Helen runs from Anne every time she attempts to teach her the sign language yet her tantrums continue to push the entire family into repeated events of imbalance—chaos and contention.

Anne realizes she needs to be alone with Helen.  Helen needs to rely on her implicitly.  One day Anne discovers a little cottage on the Keller property.  She formulates a plan to ask the Kellers if they could fix up the cottage enough for Anne and Helen to live there for a while on their own.  It would be far enough away from the home that Helen would not know how close she was yet her parents could come anytime to watch from a distance.  They agree and the plan is put into action.  Once Helen can’t rely on anyone else but Anne for what she needs and desires, she begins to trust her and desire to learn the sign language.  Anne uses her provisions to motivate Helen to stop her tantrums, to listen, practice, learn, and behave herself.  Let’s keep in mind that Anne is not doing this for her selfish desires.  She KNOWS Helen will be a lot happier if she can actually communicate. "Language is more important to the mind than light is to the eye" (Anne Sullivan says this in the Disney movie Miracle Worker).  It takes time but finally the goal is achieved!  It happens all at once!  The scattered puzzle pieces in Helen’s mind finally come together.  Connections are made.  Helen understands that the signs Anne has been making in her hand are a representation of something else like water, bird, grass, tree, dog, mom, dad.  The joy that is experienced by both Anne and Helen, not to mention Helen's parents is incredible.

Helen Keller/Anne Sullivan Cottage
Boundaries and Pathways
When we can not or WILL NOT receive comfort from any conflicting source, we have no other option than to trust our Cause.  This motivates us to do hard things that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.  Boundaries sustain our motivation. 

I think this is why it is so hard for us to accomplish our goals these days.  Most of us can get ANYTHING we want ANY TIME we want it.  We have to create the boundaries of our own cottage with our Cause if we want to achieve higher heights.  The challenge is to make a solid commitment that we WILL NOT receive any provisions without first receiving our Cause’s permission.  And that starts with our thoughts.  We need to choose which thoughts we will entertain and which thoughts we will not.

"Your thoughts, more than anything else, will be the determining factor in what you accomplish during your life."

"Until you learn to discipline your mind and have complete control over it, you will be expressly limited in your capacity to exercise faith.  The full power of the mind is only realized when it is specifically focused and directed to a specific end."

~Grant Von Harrison, "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven" 
If you feel yourself rebelling against this Beneficiary-Student Child role, you’re not alone.  When I try to teach my daughter about this, all hell breaks loose.  But here’s the conflict for me.  As a Child, I don’t want what conflicting Causes have to offer me anymore.  It’s just not enough.  Yes, they tempt me but what I really want I can’t have unless I sacrifice what is within my power to just grab and gobble down or meanderingly come across.  What I want—my goal—is powerful enough to motivate me to withhold from partaking of what keeps me comfortable in my present location on my journey.  Yet when I lose sight of my goal, it loses it’s power to motivate me (Listen:  "In You" by MercyMe).

Finding the Balance Between Comfort and Challenge
That said, it’s important for me to remember that even with my own Cause (Conflicting Causes out of the picture) it is a dynamic balance between comfortable and challenge.  I can feel him asking me, “How intense of a journey are you able to bear?”  For example, if my goal was weight loss, I would need to determine how strictly I’m able to adhere to the rules of a diet plan AND how long I am able to endure before I start seeing results.  If I'm too strict, I'll hit the wall eventually and ricochet into needing too much comfort.  But the more strict the diet plan the faster I lose weight.  Yet I need to recognize that the faster I want to achieve my goal, the more intense my sacrifice of comfort has to be.  If I need to see results fast in order to motivate me, I will have to be more extreme in my efforts.  If I’m patient and very observant of less visible results, my climb can be more gradual (Mosiah 4:27). 
And vice versa.

So think about this: 

Are you actually “drinking the water” your chosen Cause is giving you?

Is your goal powerful enough to restrain you from partaking of the level of comfortable that is going to slow you down too much or prevent you from maintaining the motivation to obtain it?

Are you trusting your Cause implicitly?   Or are you running from him, like Helen Keller was running from Anne Sullivan?

If you’re in the position where you can get whatever you want whenever you want it, have you made a solid commitment NOT TO RECEIVE from Conflicting Causes?  Are you setting up boundaries for your own Anne Sullivan cottage?

Do you understand that the reason your Cause does not want you to live in total comfort right now is because it slows you down and may even be preventing you from obtaining the Goal you’re asking him to help you obtain?

Are you “spoiling your dinner”?

Do you always return to your Cause when you mess up?