In the last few blog posts I’ve focused on our Destiny and the conflict of not knowing our Destiny. We may have an overall destination and plan for our lives or we may not. We most likely have a general idea but are still working out the specific details. I call these specific details our Inherent Desires. Inherent Desires are the threads of a tapestry that form the complete picture of our Destiny. I mentioned that we also have Desires that conflict with our Destiny. They sidetrack us. But discerning which Desires are distractions and which ones are apart of our Destiny is hard. It takes time and experience to figure it all out.
If you’re presently all tied up in knots about a decision you have to make, this blog post might be helpful to read. In the post I focus on why we have Conflicting Desires and how we affect our ability to sense our Destiny and weave our Eternal Tapestry when we don’t use our agency to make a choice between them.
In the Desire Obtainment Process, the goal is to identify our Inherent Desires and ignore or let go of every Desire that conflicts with them. Desires that get in the way of obtaining these are Conflicting Desires.
The types of Desires that usually get in the way are the kind that tempt us in the beginning but enslave us in the end. They are adulterated versions of our Inherent Desire. They mock or imitate it similar to how bait on a fishing hook imitates the real food a fish would eat. When we obtain these mock or Pseudo Desires, we also obtain a hook in our mouth. In the beginning, this Desire may have seemed like a windfall, but things get worse over time. Pseudo Desires result in addictions to substances. They result in bondage-like relationships with Conflicting Causes. These addictions and conflicting relationships decrease our life expectancy and interfere with the healthy relationships we need to build to obtain Sustainable Joy. They rewrite the code of our Destiny so that we are blinded to our real one. Desires, when they are inherent, end in balanced relationships that are sustainable where all members give and receive continuously to everyone’s satisfaction. A Pseudo Desire is like the Maka-Fekes described in the following video.
“The adversary offers counterfeit solutions that may appear to provide answers but take us even further from the peace we seek. He offers a mirage that has the appearance of legitimacy and safety but ultimately, like the great and spacious building, will collapse, destroying all who seek peace within its walls.” ~A Pattern For Peace by Bishop W. Christopher Waddell
“Here on earth, however, our thoughts and actions become encumbered with that which is corrupt, unholy, and impure. The dust and filth of the world stain our souls, making it difficult to recognize and remember our birthright and purpose.” ~He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint…And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” ~Genesis 25:29-34
“Which of us would sell his birthright for a mess of pottage? Isn’t it advisable that we direct to our own selves the question raised by the Savior: ‘… what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’” ~What Will a Man Give by Mark E. Petersen
We have the responsibility to choose between Desires to determine which are inherent to us and which Maka-Fekes. It’s not black and white. There are good, better, and best Desires. That means that many Desires may fall somewhere between completely satisfying and not satisfying at all. It’s up to us to tell our Heavenly Father through prayer, thought, and action which of all the Desires out there satisfy us. And I don’t mean satisfactory–mediocre, average. I mean satisfying, complete, fulfilling.
True conversion to a moral way of life happens when we identify our Inherent Desire and a Cause that enables us to achieve it through the balance of his grace and our works.
Listen: Something That I Want by Grace Potter from the motion picture Tangled
I remember a time in my life when I was trying to identify an important part of my Destiny, an Inherent Desire that meant everything to me. I had been back and forth in trying to decide what was possible and right and what was not. Looking back on the few months prior to that, which were recorded in my journal, I saw that my Cause–the Lord–was trying to convince me that what I really wanted was possible and even part of my Eternal Tapestry but I couldn’t believe it.
Finally, a day came that was a major turning point in my life. I realized I had explored all other possibilities as far as I could and saw that none were ever going to work out. It was like the sun had been gradually coming up behind the mountain for a long time. Hints of its existence had been beaming through its morning rays. Then suddenly, I saw the first golden arc of the sun itself rising above the peaks and was convinced.
The only possibility left to me was this one seemingly impossible road. So I took it. I leaped in faith and said I believe this is possible. Again, I had been back and forth and back and forth but something finally changed in me that basically enabled me to cross the threshold between faith and knowledge.
The Effects I experienced upon making that choice were deep and powerful. They were similar to how I felt when I had other spiritual experiences that testified of known truths. And that’s when I knew this pathway was the right pathway. It was the only way I knew. When I thought of this Inherent Desire and listened to the above song (Something That I Want), I was on fire with light. I was motivated like never before to do good and love others even in the face of the adversity that would be mine as a result of choosing this pathway.
Adversity Level Desires can also be conflicting to different degrees. They may be just a little bit conflicting or a lot conflicting. To continue the fishing bait and hook analogy, we may end up with a cut lip when we get tangled up with a Desire, which causes us to experience a degree of short-term adversity. Or we may end up in the frying pan, which causes us to experience an extreme degree of long-term adversity.
But the catch is that all of our Desires require us to experience some conflict throughout the Desire Obtainment Process in order to obtain them. That’s sacrifice. Anything worth anything is going to cost us something. But we need to ask ourselves, “Is this Desire worth this sacrifice? In the end, will this Desire leave me destitute or will it be Sustainable?”
When it comes to our Eternal Tapestry we’re looking to develop sustainable relationships. We don’t want short-term fixes that will never last. We’re trying to work out our salvation here–our retirement, our eternal life. The only way we can do that is if we keep our Effect Sensors sharp to the Effects of our God.
Not all Conflicting Desires are Maka-Fekes. We can have a conflict between two Desires that are both good. In fact, sometimes both are so close to our Inherent Desire according to our Effect Sensor readings that we are in a serious conundrum.
Sometimes the Resolution Process is just about making a choice between them after studying both options the best we can and then leaping in faith. It is possible that both could return Sustainable Joy to the satisfaction level of everyone involved. The problem is that if we don’t make a choice between them, neither of them will return it in the end.
There are two reasons that Conflicting Desires exist:
- The Fall
- Scattered Effect Sensors
The First Reason: The Fall
The first reason that Conflicting Desires exist is the Fall. With it came opposition. Opposition gives us different Desires to choose from. Having different Desires to choose from enables us to state loud and clear who we are. We’re able to test different ones out and assess what we think of them. There are good and bad ones. There are better and best ones. And remember, it’s not all about what we receive, it’s also about what and how we give. Giving Desires a test drive is about seeing how we feel about the balance of those two Processes–giving and receiving for that Specific Desire. How do we like having both those responsibilities and those privileges?
In our choices, sometimes we make mistakes and experience lots of grief. But because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, those mistakes don’t have to be permanent. The Atonement enables us to learn from our mistakes instead of being condemned by them. In fact, we are supposed to test different things out, while not taking advantage of this blessing, so that we can determine the Joy from the Sorrow, the good from the evil, and the Inherent Desire from the Pseudo Desire. We communicate to God what exactly we need in combination with what we’re willing to do to be happy. So thankfully, we do have the Fall AND the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Because of this remarkable situation that we are in and the remarkable gift of our Savior, we have this space and time to make up our minds.
“To be tested, we must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition.” ~Opposition in All Things by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” ~2 Nephi 2:11
“Although it is imperative that we choose wisely, there are times when we will make foolish choices. The gift of repentance, provided by our Savior, enables us to correct our course settings, that we might return to the path which will lead us to that celestial glory we seek.”~Choices by President Thomas S. Monson
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” ~Exodus 20:7
The Second Reason: Scattered Effect Sensors
We scatter our Effect Sensors by developing relationships with two or more Conflicting Causes and engaging in two or more Conflicting Desire Obtainment Processes for extended periods of time. We try to obtain two or more opposing things at once. We try to please two or more opposing groups of people.
The state of our Effect Sensors is not altered if we do this while we’re trying to figure out which Desire we should choose in the beginning. That is using the Atonement wisely. The state is altered over time. It is when we continuously divide ourselves between two opposing relationships we are actively developing. That is using the Atonement in vain. It is dishonesty.
We gain knowledge of laws through the Effects we experience when we engage in these Conflicting Processes. When we ignore these guiding Effects and continue in our Conflicting Desire Obtainment Processes, the dishonesty leads to becoming discrepant, false, and hypocritical.
Some other words in the dictionary that come up as synonyms are pretender, plaster saint, phony, fraud, and fake. The point is, we have to hide one relationship that we’re developing in one Desire Obtainment Process from another. We have to carry on some kind of deception to do this. But what we’re really doing is deceiving ourselves. Who are we? The one person or the other?
When we do this for a long period of time, we lose our identity, our distinctiveness, uniqueness, and singularity. We lose our Destiny and birthright. We develop bad habits and dysfunctional character traits that we can’t help. We bring ourselves into spiritual captivity.
“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” ~Moses 4:4
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” ~Matthew 5:13
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” ~Revelations 3:16
Using the Atonement Properly
We use the Atonement appropriately when we’re not purposefully seeking to deceive anyone with the Conflicting Desires we’re trying to obtain. We are just confused as to which, of all the Causes that are influencing us, we should listen to. Which of all the roads available to us should we go down?
If we listen to and expect validation from Conflicting Causes on a continuous basis, we end up sacrificing in Willy-Nilly ways that distract us from giving all we’ve got to one or the other. We’re dividing our loyalties. Spreading ourselves too thin. And there’s no way to determine which is best when we experiment upon them both at the same time. The one becomes a confounding variable to the other.
We’ve got to study it out in our minds, come up with the best hypothesis, make a choice between them, and then try it out, actively believing it is our best option. We stop trying to obtain the other.
When we engage in Desire Obtainment Processes over long periods of time, we obtain Results. Our Eternal Tapestry becomes deeply woven. Thread upon thread upon thread. Relationships are built. Habits are formed. Strengths, talents, and abilities are developed. Effect Sensors are changed for better or for worse.
In essence, Effect Sensors are who we are. They are what enable us to be alive, feel alive, feel Joy, and acquire Knowledge. Their condition depends upon the use of our agency to identify and ignore Pseudo Effects and things that are irrelevant to our Desire Obtainment Journey and to identify and pay attention to Real Effects and the things that are relevant to it.
If we engage in Conflicting Desire Obtainment Processes over long periods of time we obtain Conflicting Results. We develop Conflicting relationships. We form bad habits.
Because we’re continuously putting our trust in Conflicting Causes, our Effect Sensors become scattered. We become inherently confused, fearful, or skittish. This causes us to be even more indecisive with our Inherent Desire.
“Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.” ~2 Nephi 5:20
Scattered Effect Sensors is a condition within us where we are never satisfied because we can’t obtain either Desire. Our Processes remain in that difficult developmental stage without ever transitioning into the sustainable stage–abilities, talents, skills, good habits.
We can’t please all the Conflicting Causes that are involved. We can’t remain allegiant to any one of them. We’re not satisfied with the validation of one because another rejects us (see the story about Haman). We look on everyone as our Cause and rely on the number of people who validate us to determine our value. If the number is high enough we feel good. When it goes down we feel worthless.
Actively pursuing Conflicting Desires over an extended period of time is misusing our agency. This misuse scatters our Effect Sensors. With scattered Effect Sensors, we lose our ability to identify our Inherent Desires and the Processes we need to engage in to obtain them.
Space and time have been given to us so that we can make our choices. This is Mercy. It is given abundantly. But Justice watches over how we use this blessing. Justice incrementally takes over to sustainably bless us or damn us, according to our own choices. God is a Mastermind. His plan is infallible. If we want to actually complete our Eternal Tapestry and experience the eternal Joy from doing so we must choose wisely.
“For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.” ~Alma 42:24-25
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” ~Matthew 5:45