Contentment is illusive, is it not?
Guest blogger: Emily Flinders
In General Conference, Elder Oaks talked of the need for service-mindedness and how contrary it is to the worldly doctrine of entitlement. I think this is part of it, but I find myself needing to dig deeper. I'm a yes person, so my willingness to serve is usually a given. But the reasons behind my willingness to serve vary greatly. The contentment I get from service follows suite. Both my husband and I tend to serve out of habit, because it is the right thing to do, and because we always try to do what is right. I'm sure we are blessed for this, but I think we could be more richly, spiritually blessed if we offered a deeper, more spiritual motivation for our service.
All that God has ever asked us to give to Him is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. In theory this is easy enough. Be humble, avoid pride. Thy will be done, the end. In practice.... I am reminded of a favorite quote, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." (Attributed to Yogi Berra).
Overcoming worldliness and the natural man in the midst of the world requires work. It requires purposefulness. When President Uchtdorf said ours is not a secondhand religion, I think he in part meant that ours cannot be a passive testimony. We have to be choosing, every minute, to keep our baptismal covenant and always remember Christ. The entropy that will erode our personal relationship with the Spirit is subtle, but also very constant and opportunistic. We have to choose to resist it about every 12 seconds. Otherwise we (like just about all people) have to navigate the ebb and flow of spiritual highs and lows. Getting from high to low is easy, getting from low to high takes work.
I'm always trying to figure out a secret, a thought that I can keep just below the surface in my mind to keep me on track, or at least make me uncomfortable when I start to coast. Isn't coasting such a temptation? It's the illusion of staying where you are, as though the current won't pull you under if you stopped swimming.
My goal, perpetually elusive, is to be someone that serves because I love God. I think if I can successfully, and continually make that gift to him of my broken heart and contrite spirit, he can fill me with the kind of love that creates eternal perspective and allows us to see one another as Christ sees us. (A view of us that made us worth atoning for). That intense, spiritual love of my fellow man ought to be the motivation behind any service that I do.
I fall so far short so often.
Luckily motherhood is allowing me to love unconditionally without "arriving" at my spiritual maturation. It is teaching me the kind of selflessness I have to embrace in order to achieve that broken heart and contrite spirit. It is stretching my capacities to love and to serve and I'm hoping I come out the other end polished and refined.
"Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” Stanislaw J. Lec