7 Ways We Really Are All Luke Skywalker

 

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Recently Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy gave a devotional address to BYU students about realizing our divine birthright and eternal destinies. In the devotional he compared us to the characters of Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, both of whom discovered their “royal heritage” and began a quest to live up their progenitors’ legacy. However, he only referenced these characters as a brief aside. In reality, the story of Luke Skywalker—the story of the classical hero—lines up a lot more significantly with the Plan of Salvation than a brief aside lets on.

You should know the story of Luke Skywalker already. From moisture farmer on the barren planet of Tatooine to Jedi knight and de facto leader of the rebellion against the evil empire, Luke’s story is the epitome of the “Hero’s Cycle,” a literary and mythological concept popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. The hero, at first perfectly ordinary, goes through a series of stages that facilitate his or her rise into greatness. It is a timeless, universal tale—and there’s a spiritual reason for that. Read on and you’ll see how the story of Luke Skywalker truly provides mirrors for us all.

  1.  The Call to Adventure

The hero’s journey always begins with a rousing cry to action. The lad or lass is called upon for a special mission or duty that will eventually carry them away to a transformative adventure.

Luke was roused from his state of mediocrity by a literal call for help hidden in the mechanical bowels of R2D2. Faced with an invitation to go to Princess Leia’s rescue with Obi-Wan Kenobi, he rejected it, perhaps overwhelmed at the sudden change that would bring. But when stormtroopers killed his aunt and uncle and destroyed his home, Luke was compelled to take up his cross.

We each had a call to adventure of our own. Multiple ones, actually. Can you remember the first? No, me neither. That’s the veil working. But we had the choice to go down to a mortal life to begin our journey to become like our Father—or follow Satan’s plan and remain eternally stunted.

In mortality we’re given more calls to adventure. Sometimes it’s literal, in the form of a mission call. Or perhaps it was the moment when the missionaries knocked on your door, or really any kind of powerful personal experience that brings you to an awareness of who you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to do in this life. Whatever it is, the call to adventure gives you the opportunity to set out on the path of progress.

Our first call came in pre-earth life. And if you’re reading this, that means you kept your first estate and chose to heed the call the first time it was offered to us. What other calls have you been given?

  1. Crossing the Threshold

This stage refers to the moment when the would-be hero can never turn back. The bridge has been burned, the path has been chosen, or the hero has made an unbreakable commitment. Without this step, the hero could go back to her old life at any time, and because all heroes face weakness and peril in the face of strain and pressure, she can’t take the path back home. It compels the hero to stay the course and hold strong against adversity.

For Luke and many other classical heroes, the threshold is the moment when the hero refuses the first call to action. On Tatooine, Luke felt the initial weight of destiny on his shoulders, responded with fear and uncertainty, and so refused the call. It wasn’t until he learned that the Empire killed his aunt and uncle that he accepted Obi-Wan’s invitation to train as a Jedi. The deaths of Owen and Beru made staying home and declining the journey an impossibility, and so at this point Luke is compelled to journey on, and become who he was born to be, for there is no other choice

Once we chose to come to earth and gain bodies, we could never go back to premortal life. Our eyes have been opened to mortality, with all its pains and pleasures, its rights and wrongs. We are past our point of no return, and our eyes can never be closed again.

  1. Mentor

The mentor figure is essential to the hero’s development because he guides the future hero to the path she cannot find on her own. Luke had Obi-Wan Kenobi and later Yoda, who both taught him the basics of fighting and revealed to him his true potential—to be a Jedi knight, like his father.

Similarly, we have mentors everywhere in our lives. Ideally they teach us how to navigate the world and how to make good choices—and, like Obi-Wan, they remind us of our true potential to become like our progenitors. Our mentors can be various things at various times: the prophets, the scriptures, priesthood leaders, personal advisers, friends, but perhaps most especially, our earthly parents. From them, and from the gift of the Holy Ghost, we learn our true parentage, and thus our true identity and destiny.

Without anyone to train us or teach us truth, we would remain ignorant and stunted, not knowing any better than to make poor choices. With a guide like the Holy Ghost, we become responsible and accountable for our actions, and become full agents like Heavenly Father.

  1. The Road of Trials

The mentor is especially important given the next stage of the journey. After we open our eyes to the reality of the world, we face the tests, trials, challenges, and temptations that accompany it. The mentor gives us the perspective we need to overcome these trials and understand their purpose—to be shaped and carved in the right ways by the winds of adversity.

Luke faced many a peril in his quest to save the princess and topple the Empire. He risked his life to save Leia, endured the threat of death by garbage compactor, watched as his mentor and old friend was cut down before his eyes, fought off stormtroopers in the Death Star and on Hoth, and so on and so forth. But his ultimate challenge was spiritual, a parallel to ours: enduring the moral seduction of the satanic Emperor Palpatine.

We are all on the road of trials right now. In fact, I can’t think of a better way to define our sojourn on this Earth. Trials have been placed before us so that we can learn to endure, to struggle, and to overcome, and in the process, internalize the traits of godhood. The gospel helps us recognize those teachable moments as training grounds for higher living, and respond with the appropriate perspective. Brigham Young said, “the gospel…causes men and women to reveal that which would have slept in their dispositions until they dropped into their graves. The plan by which the Lord leads this people…brings out every trait of disposition lurking in their [beings]” (Journal of Discourses, 3:47.)

Whether we are good or bad, the road of trials will prove us, just as they did both Luke and his father, Anakin.

  1. Death and RebirthTransformation

As a result of the road of trials, the hero passes through a state of death and rebirth—not literal death, but a kind of shedding of the skin. The old self is cast aside and the hero takes on a fresh new identity with a greater understanding of himself and his capabilities.

At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke goes through this process as he learns the truth of his parentage and falls into a veritable bottomless pit. In the next film, he reappears as a practically reborn man, a Jedi knight with newfound skills and confidence. In the climax of Return of the Jedi, Luke’s rebirth is tested and found complete: he refuses to join the Dark Side, and he ascends to his final height.

While Luke’s deeds could be called “good,” even “great,” they were less important than Luke’s inner transformation. Luke himself became something great, a legend and inspiration to so many, and the tool by which his fallen father was redeemed. From farm boy to hero and even to savior: that is the transformation process of the Hero’s Cycle—and the plan of salvation.

Our own symbolic death and rebirth is crystallized in our moment of baptism—when our souls are washed clean and our new lives as disciples of Christ begin. But ultimately, our transformation gradually takes place throughout our lives. The goal of the road of trials is not to solve and endure them for their own sake: it is to transform into the gods we’re meant to be. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32.).

  1. Atonement with the Father

The transformation process takes the hero to a stage that resonates so loudly with our theology that it almost needs no explanation. After all, what else could “Atonement with the Father” really mean? To Campbell, it meant a confrontation with the being that holds ultimate power in the hero’s life, most commonly a father or father figure. This stage is where we internalize that power and discover truth about our identity, our place in the world.

For Luke this occurred at the very end of the original trilogy. By withstanding the temptations of the emperor, he proved that he was willing to die before giving in to his evil side. In his refusal to turn, he invoked his father’s old identity as a hero and a good man. His example and testimony destroyed Darth Vader and brought about Anakin Skywalker’s return to the good side. This change of heart was the titular “Return of the Jedi,” as for the first time in their lives, Luke and Anakin looked into each other’s eyes as father and son, both Jedi knights at last, and spiritually at one.

Similarly, Christ also asked us to be at one with our father: “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). After becoming a full soul, with spirit and body, we are asked to go about perfecting that fused being, to become like our father and reject all ungodliness, deny the carnal nature inherent in mortal bodies and choose the divine nature inherent in our spiritual bodies. Oneness with the Father—eternal life in His presence, and the eternal life that He Himself lives—is what the Atonement is all about.

  1. Ultimate Boon

The everlasting happiness and never-ending inheritance we receive as joint-heirs with Christ is our “Ultimate Boon,” what we’ve been working on and searching for all this time.

For Luke it was peace both within himself and throughout the galaxy. He rejected the Dark Side and saved his father’s fallen soul. He grew to his full potential and realized the Jedi he was meant to be. He destroyed the evil in the galaxy, ended the war decisively, and set the prisoners free. In the end, Luke fulfilled his destiny, his potential, and his power.

After we receive the ordinances of the gospel, show our faith in Christ, repent of our sins, live righteously, and endure to the end, then we can advance to our highest state of being: exaltation. A station where we, like Luke, understand ourselves in our totality—our destiny, our potential, and the profound power we’ve accumulated, as well as the role we’ve played in frustrating the enemies of our Father’s plan.

As our eternal reward, Christ promised that we would receive “all that [the] Father hath” (D&C 84:38). Not only will we dwell in God’s presence, “to go no more out” (Helaman 3:30), but we will be sealed to our families and given the sacred power to create new worlds and tell new stories.

Final Thoughts

Think of the beginning of Star Wars. When you first see that whiny kid living on a desert planet with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, could you believe he would one day give hope to the galaxy and topple the devil’s Empire?

CS Lewis wrote in his book The Weight of Glory, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship.”

Think of our day-to-day lives. When we pass others in the street, do we see them for their potential, for their preciousness in the eyes of God? Do we even see ourselves with that same potential?

Ponder the consequences if Luke had remained with his aunt and uncle, farming moisture out of a barren wasteland of a planet—what a parable for our modern-day distractions! Meandering through apps and further down the Facebook feed, employing ourselves primarily in video games, putting all our resources and spending all our time merely seeking to gain more and more money, more and more things that fall away from us as we rise into the next world—though flashy and colorful, this kind of living leaves our Book of Life as empty and desolate as Tatooine.

We have a destiny far grander than that—and it is Satan’s victory if we forget it or disregard it or if it remains only potential while we slumber through the Lord’s rousing cries. Fulfilling our potential is our prime goal in this life, and our hero’s journey is also our Heavenly Father’s work and His glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

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The Hero Doctrine, Available Now (Apparently)

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It seems those who have ordered from Amazon early have also received the book early. The stack you see above, between those high-fiving cats (obviously celebrating the books’ arrival), belongs to my parents, who of course ordered 8 copies immediately, intending to send them out to my siblings.

The book technically comes out February 9th, but I guess Amazon didn’t really care much about the official release date and heck, I don’t really care either.

So: order away!

AND (this is important): even if you just take five minutes, please PLEASE leave a review on Amazon (especially if you have positive things to say). User reviews sell the book better than almost anything else, so if you think the book deserves at least four stars, please take the time to leave a brief review. Honestly, even just two sentences would be great.

Thanks!

The 17 Costcos where my book will be sold

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That’s right, 17 of ’em! Throughout Utah, Idaho, and Arizona, Costco will be selling The Hero Doctrine, coming out February 9th, and plans are being made for doing some signings at a half dozen or so of the Costcos in Utah. There’ll be more on that next week, after my schedule is confirmed. (Next week we’ll also probably reveal whether or not Deseret Book and Seagull Book will be carrying The Hero Doctrine. Stay tuned!)

The 17 Costcos are:

UTAH:
Salt Lake City
South Ogden
Sandy
South Jordan
Lehi
Orem
Spanish Fork
West Valley
St. George
Bountiful
Murray

IDAHO:
Twin Falls
Pocatello
Boise

ARIZONA:
Gilbert
SE Gilbert
Mesa

Locke’s Theory of Property and Maternity

Many new fathers, I have heard, get emotional at the moment of their first child’s birth. Overwhelmed by the miracle of life, and their part in it, they weep as they look upon their new baby, this little creation that has an eternity of potential hidden in its future, and this is its very beginning. I thought for a very long time leading up to this moment that I would be weeping with the best of ’em.

But that wasn’t my experience.

No, the best word I can think to describe my experience was that I was startled. Maybe the blame lies in the fact that my eyes were glued to what we’ll call the focal point of the birth, having felt obligated to bear witness to the gory reality of labor and be as involved a participant as I could be. I didn’t want to back down, and the sight fascinated me, so I didn’t—couldn’t—look away.

Then the baby was born.

It only took a few seconds. One final push and my little Dagny came pouring out. That’s the best verb I can think of. Like a flash flood, suddenly overflowing out of my wife’s body. The size of the baby shocked me. I suppose I was expecting the size of a vastly premature baby? But no. She was normal-sized, which to me looked massive, almost Lovecraftian. She was also dark red and purple all over, and then there was all the blood that came with her, and on the whole the experience felt like something out of The Walking Dead. She resembled nothing of what I had anticipated, and she certainly didn’t resemble myself or my wife in the moment, so you’ll understand why I wasn’t filled with an instant emotional connection to this strange creation that just came out of my wife’s body.

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That isn’t to say I was disgusted or disappointed, or anything like that. And it wasn’t that I didn’t love her. I was startled, but I was also fascinated. I watched the baby as she was cleaned and measured and weighed, my mind rapidly adjusting to this new reality, adjusting to the fact that this was my daughter, the new focus of my life. I was grinning the whole time, happily bewildered at this brand new experience, but still not feeling that overwhelming feeling of instant attachment and protectiveness that I feel a good father should have.

Then I got to hold her.

That was the first step. Until that point she had been treated as something like a science experiment. The team of nurses were amazing, but the baby was at a distance from us for her first ten or so minutes of life. She was being poked and prodded. Her skin was purple and she didn’t look like a normal human. She had been withdrawn from my wife’s body along with a bucket of blood. She was a thing to observe—only eventually becoming a sweet little innocent baby to be held. The nurses finished what they were doing with her and wrapped her up in a blanket, and handed her to me.

I realized very quickly something extremely important: everything I had envisioned about my Dagny—the future I’d have with her, the hobbies she’d enjoy, the skills she’d develop, the time I’d spend with her, the girl, the woman she’d become—everything I thought I knew about my daughter was wrong. Well, not wrong per se, but not necessarily true. She could still be and do some of those things, perhaps even all of them, but this little girl I was now holding in my arms wasn’t that person. She was, is, her own soul. She exists independent of my visions of my future with her. She existed before she was born, and it wasn’t my job to create her, but to discover her. That was the key difference. I didn’t know her yet. I thought I did, but the baby that came out was someone different. She was real. Not simply a dream of mine. And it would be my responsibility to get to know her, to figure out who she already was, and do the steward’s job of guiding her, not composing her.

I wonder if other parents have felt that same transition in perspectives.

Holding her in that blanket, I took her over to my wife. Nyssa was lying on the hospital bed, and she, too, was smiling ear to ear. Holding the baby, I leaned over the bed railings and laid Dagny next to Nyssa’s head.

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Nyssa was instantly attached. For her the connection was emotional, whereas mine was still intellectual. As I said in my last blog post, her maternity blossomed in one fell swoop. I, meanwhile, loved my baby, but still from a slight distance. It wasn’t until almost exactly 24 hours later that I discovered my sense of fatherhood.

It wasn’t any big event or momentous moment that stirred me. In fact, it was somewhat small, and I might not even have known it ever happened if I hadn’t thought about it. It happened when the nurses came in to take her away from our hospital room for more measurements and check-ups. Nyssa had been asleep for a couple of hours at that point, and I had been taking care of Dagny. Well, more “watching over” than “taking care.” Holding her, admiring her, reflecting on how well everything had gone, how grateful I was…then the nurses took her away, and I realized I felt a slight anxiety over it. They were taking my baby! Not that I was afraid for her or anything…just that she was gone, and I missed her.

And that’s when I realized I was attached. That’s when I realized she was really mine. That’s when I finally felt like a legitimate father.

So why was that? What happened? Why did Nyssa instantly become a mother, and it took me a while longer to gain that deep-set sense of fatherhood?

From Wikipedia:

In his Second Treatise on Government, the philosopher John Locke asked by what right an individual can claim to own one part of the world, when, according to the Bible, God gave the world to all humanity in common. He answered that persons own themselves and therefore their own labor. When a person works, that labor enters into the object. Thus, the object becomes the property of that person.

That’s right. John Locke’s theory of property popped into my head. A person mixes his or her labor with the land—grows some fruit trees or plants seeds in a field—and by some ancient, primitive, inherent law, that person now can justify ownership of that land.

I believe the same thing holds true of parenthood. The more time, the more effort a father or mother invests in caring for and nurturing their child, the stronger attachment they’re going to have to that child.

Nyssa put in nine months of pregnancy. Nine months full of nausea, back pain, awkwardness, discomfort. Nine months of a new life growing inside her body and leeching life energy out of her directly, feeling the baby kick and punch and feel and flip. Then the climax, 36 hours of the various stages of labor, the most painful and traumatizing natural event a body can go through. And then the beautiful process of feeding the baby with her own body through breastfeeding. Of course she’s going to feel more attachment. Of course she’s going to ascend to motherhood immediately. Look what she’s invested!

On the other hand, look what I’ve invested. I literally planted the seed and walked away (see 3:40 for the relevant quote; the whole sketch is fantastic). I gave my wife some back rubs over the months, did the dishes, bought her chocolate…but that was for her. The baby inside her was far away, an abstract concept to me, not the constant burden to bear that it was for her.

So it makes good sense to me that I only felt that longing pull to my baby once I had taken care of her. Invested some time with her. Held her and kissed her and changed her diaper once or twice. Only then did I feel she was truly mine, and not the doctor’s or the nurses’.

So what does that mean? What is the point? I think it’s as simple as the fact that we need to spend time and effort in the most important relationships. We need to mix a little more of our labor with people—parents with children, and even children with parents—and we’ll find that the investment does indeed return, with increase—with a sense of ownership. Not the selfish, domineering kind of ownership, but an emotional connection in which we care deeply, personally, about the end result.

 

Isn’t it about…time?

 

A Woman When She Is in Travail

When our cat Abra unexpectedly gave birth, something very startling happened. Before she had been just a normal cat—adorable, playful, cuddly, etc. But then, the instant she had her two kittens under our bed, she transformed. There’s not really another word for it. She was still Abra, with her same personality tendencies, but she was suddenly something more. Her identity seemed to double: she was now both Abra and a mama cat at once, expressing constant devotion to her kittens’ needs. She somehow knew immediately what to do to take care of them, licking them and nursing them and carrying them around by the scruff of their necks. There was no hesitation, no selfishness, no uncertainty. Instinct kicked in, and her maternal potential was unlocked. She simply became a mother, fully capable and endlessly responsible.

I witnessed the exact same thing over the past couple of days with my own family.

Nyssa was never really afraid of being a mom. Not palpably or to the point of breakdown, anyway. But there was the completely natural fear of this huge new responsibility, which I admit immediately to sharing. We both felt that inherent nervousness. I think if, before the birth, you’re not terrified to some degree, you’re doing parenting wrong. But I think that’s only a result of not knowing just what it is you’re getting yourself into, and having no real way to practice, and all the pressure being on your own head because once you go home there isn’t a team of nurses available to take over the job when you need a nap.

But as our baby was born, as our baby was cleaned up, as I brought our baby over to Nyssa on the hospital bed—all those anxieties fled. For both of us.

The photo below captures that moment best.

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This is just five or ten minutes after the baby was born. Do you see terror in those eyes? Do you see concern for her own discomfort or pain? Do you see any anxiety or nervousness? No. Just joy. As soon as she became a full mother physically, my wife also became a mother emotionally. Not once since then have I seen her scared or upset or discouraged. Not once has she complained or pushed responsibility on someone else. Not once has she expressed a selfish desire. Biological and spiritual instinct have simply transformed her. Like a mama cat, her identity hasn’t changed—she’s still my Nyssa, with all her quirks and tics—but been added to: she’s now also a mother, completely and totally and, so interestingly, suddenly. She knows how and when and what to do for her child, ever concerned for her baby’s well-being. It’s a miraculous and incomparable vertical transformation. Her identity has doubled.

As has her potential. This child is our work and our glory, and anything she achieves with her life, we also achieve. That’s the point and purpose of all parenthood—including Heavenly Father’s. And it’s why having a family is the greatest thing that can be done on this earth, in this life. Deciding not to get married and have children is simply wasting your life away. I’ve only been a father for two days, but that fact is already quite clear to me. Nothing compares to parenthood. Nothing.

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, for her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that two women are born into the world.

Books Are In and Available for Pre-Order!

The books are in! And they look BEAUTIFUL. And they’re available for pre-order from Amazon right now. The Hero Doctrine: Awakening to Your Eternal Potential comes out on February 9th and costs $17.99 for a physical copy and $7.99 for a Kindle version. The physical copy is also eligible for Amazon Prime free shipping. It will also be available in select bookstores that I’ll name when they’re confirmed in the coming weeks.

The Hero Doctrine is a rousing cry to the saints to awaken them—to awaken us—to our full potential and the responsibility that comes with such potential. Every chapter opens with an extensive parable from pop culture, including Star Wars, Batman, Harry Potter, and a couple of other Christopher Nolan films. I believe strongly that the gospel is best taught through stories, and I think my love for stories will come through as you read.

Former president of the Association for Mormon Letters Boyd Petersen says, “Neal Silvester is one of the best new voices in Mormon literature.”

 

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On the back they’re half matte (like the cover) and half gloss (the endorsement quotes below). It works magically and just feels good to hold.

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I confess I wasn’t anticipating how great they look and feel. And I can’t wait to see them in the hands of friends and maybe even strangers in the weeks and months to come. I’ve been working on this book in one form or another for six years, so please support me and buy a copy!

Freedom or Freefall? A Parable

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Consider: we love the feeling of weightlessness, don’t we? We’ve felt a little of that on roller coasters and other thrill rides. We see it in space movies like Interstellar (and, above, in Inception) and can imagine the freedom of living without any kind of pressure, with the ability to bounce in any direction at will. What liberation that is! 

Take this kiwi for instance. He just wants to be able to fly.

But there is a danger to weightlessness experienced near something as huge as a planet: if we’re not careful, if we are not aware, that same sense of freedom can turn into a very real freefall. We wouldn’t notice we were falling for quite some time, and along the way it would be thrilling and even very pretty (it really would be!), but that excitement, and that beauty—of the planet, of space, of the atmosphere—would be pulling us in an increasingly inescapable grip. The closer our freely made choices take us away from the celestial and towards the terrestrial, the more we are going to be pulled down, down, down until that sudden, irreversible stop.

Consider this heartbreaking story as a parable of this concept:


We might want desperately to fly, to have the wind in our face, to grow wings and soar. But too often the result is defined by our lack of wings—our spiritual earthiness. We want the freedom, but without the training, without accountability, and without the work it really requires.

That is addiction. That is sin. That is the seduction of the philosophies and practices of men. In the end, the strength of our own arms won’t be enough. For we cannot be pulled up to the heavens and away from Earth’s gravity on our own power alone. Only Christ can truly give us the launching power we need. Only through the Atonement may we attain that state of existence. And seemingly ironically, only the straight and narrow path can give us true freedom, as we reject and attempt to reverse the gravity of the great and spacious building, and live according to our own choices, built on a foundation of righteousness.

And so true spiritual weightlessness is our goal—the grand end goal of the whole gospel, the gods we will be at the conclusion of all our soulcraft. A state where we feel no more pressure from Satan, none of the gravity of temptation, no burden of conscience, no weight of guilt: where any choice, any direction we take is truly our own.

The Most Frequently Given Commandment

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(Photo by Alexey Trofimov, National Geographic)

As you go to make your New Year’s resolutions, and ponder on the past as you plan the future, as you think on your accomplishments and on your choices this past year and form your vision of how this year is going to bein short, as you reflect on the state of your soul, remember, most of all, compassion.

Remember that we all fail and fall behind the standard we set ourselves to. I certainly do. Writing a devotional blog does not preclude me from sin. I have to repent and recover from spiritual slumps constantly.

But failing occasionally, or even frequently, does not mean we are not keeping the commandments. On the contrary: what is the most frequently given commandment?

REPENT.

That means God knows we’re going to mess up. God knows we’re going to sin.

And so with compassion for yourself, and not beating yourself to death with unnecessary guilt—after all, guilt is supposed to be a rumble strip on the freeway, meant to keep you from crashing over the side, not a self-torturing device—forge onward with courage. Be willing to fail, and be willing to get back up without hating yourself.

Resolutions will always be broken, or forgotten, or otherwise not kept. That is okay. There is nothing in the scriptures or prophetic teachings about only resolving to do things at the beginning of the calendar year. You’re going to have to rethink plans, rethink the state of your soul, many, many times this year. Do it often. Do it regularly. Not with the intent to punish yourself, but with the intent to turn around, if you need to. That’s what repentance is: turning your soul to face God. Looking to that serpent raised on a stake, and living.