The view of a West Virginia sunset from my parents' back deck on Thanksgiving.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience."
I was recently reading O Magazine and I came across an article by Martha Beck that I found very interesting. In the article, she discusses how oftentimes we find ourselves in a life that we don't like, and we're not quite sure how we got there or how we're supposed to change it. Many don't even know what kind of life they want- they can't even envision it- they just know that the life they have isn't working for them.
Beck then explains that each of us has our own personal GPS navigation system built in. She compares it to the game Warm/Cold, where something is hidden and in order to find it, you must respond to vocal cues of whether the direction you're going is "warmer" or "colder." If you are getting "warmer", then you should continue in the same direction. Likewise, if you are getting "colder" then you should change your course.
We each have different aspects of our lives that make us feel warmer and colder. Some call our awareness of these feelings an "inner compass", some call it our conscience, and some just chalk it up to natural affinity. However, I believe that these feelings Martha Beck was writing about are the manifestation of the Light of Christ within each of us. In a talk entitled, "The Light of Christ", Elder Boyd K. Packer described this gift by saying,
"The Light of Christ is defined in the scriptures as 'the Spirit [which] giveth light to every man that cometh into the world' (D&C 84:46); 'the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed' (D&C 88:13; see also John 1:4–9; D&C 84:45–47; D&C 88:6; D&C 93:9)."
Personally, I see the Light of Christ as being kind of like a little tracking beacon that we each have that reminds us where we came from. No matter where we are, or what state we may be in spiritually or emotionally, there is still that little bit of our Heavenly home that is embedded within each of us, and it will lead us back there if we allow it to guide us.
I really love the quotation that I placed at the beginning of this post (I actually have it displayed in my home office) because it reminds me that above all things I am a spirit daughter of my Father in Heaven, and even though I may get all caught up in the human things of the world, it is those things that are not seen, those things that are only felt, that are the true purpose of my life here. This life is but a short human moment compared to the rest of my spiritual existence. It really puts things in perspective, doesn't it? I think really that the Light of Christ is simply a peaceful feeling of familiarity we get when we're engaged in activities that are true to our spiritual selves. It's kind of like when you're all grown up and out on your own and suddenly you catch the scent of your mother's perfume. There's a peace there, a sense of home and love that reminds you who you are and where you came from.
So back to the article about the warm/cold. I thought that Beck's comparison to the warm/cold game was really insightful. I may call it something different from her explanation, but the concept is the same: we are each searching for the warmth, and it is only when we pay close attention to what feels right that we can find it, and thus find the life we were meant to lead. When I say "what feels right" I'm not talking about the things that make our bodies feel good or the things that are entertaining to us. I'm talking about that spiritual homing beacon, that feeling of peaceful familiarity. That's what we should be paying attention to, and what will lead us to true joy.
I think that the most important part is to listen. We are all playing our own games of warmer/colder because in essence, we are all searching for one thing: real happiness. It would be ridiculous to play the game with earplugs in, yet that is what so many of us do- we wander around aimlessly, searching here and there, sometimes getting closer to our goal, sometimes moving farther away, never really paying attention to the clues that could lead us right to it, because we're far too busy with the business of searching. It's time to stop and listen, to look inside and hear that inner voice telling us which way is warmer and which is colder. I believe that by following the gentle guidance of the Light of Christ each of us can find the warmth of the beautiful life that He has in store for us.
To learn more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.mormon.org.