2016 Goal in Progress: Replacing Complaining with Meekness
As mentioned before here, I have gone back to school. Diving back into education has been very rewarding. I absolutely love taking religious courses alongside secular courses. Last semester, as part of my religion class, I had to choose a Christlike attribute and consciously work on making that attribute part of who I am. In other words, I had to become something. This is my becoming story of meekness, but it is only the beginning of my journey. Elder Neal A. Maxwell has taught: “Meekness is one of those attributes acquired only by experience, some of it painful, for it is developed “according to the flesh.” (Alma 7:11-12) It is not an attribute achieved overnight, nor is it certified to in only one exam—but, rather, “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21, 68-69)"
I have learned much, and rejoice in the many experiences I have had. I know that even though the first semester has come to a close, and a new one has begun, this was only “one exam” and my journey will continue if I allow it.
Meekness is described with words like humble, patient, docile, submissive, teachable, gentle and kind, strong and serene. With these words in mind, I began to look for examples of people who seem to posses these qualities. Prophets and apostles, both modern and ancient, seem to learn and grow in meekness as their discipleship deepens throughout their ministry. Moses was described as meek “above all the men on the face of the earth”.(Numbers 12:3) I looked to the stories of Jesus, for he was the ultimate example of meekness.
In striving for meekness, the first sign of difference that I recognized in myself was a sense of freedom. After breaking the mentioned habit of the uttered or un-uttered complaint, I experienced an immediate increase in peace and happiness. I was freed from certain expectations of mind that were limiting me in life. I immediately became more teachable and was richly rewarded for my efforts with some great study sessions taught by the Spirit. Once opening my heart, I experienced a brief period of intense pain and grief from the loss of my father and other subsequent hardships that have come since then, but I realized that by closing off my heart in order not to feel the hurt I was closing off my heart to the Lord and his healing, love and teaching. While I had experienced a small portion of the atonement working to heal, I wasn’t quite fully using this gift. I allowed the grief to work through me and received a couple of tender mercies that further proved the Lord’s awareness of me and my personal sufferings. By turning to the Savior, more fully though prayer, I demonstrated my desire to be meek and was rewarded for those efforts. Through these experiences I learned that meekness rests on trust in the Lord.
The second sign of difference that I noticed in myself was a new awareness of the attitude of entitlement I had been carrying. I realized that the grief I felt seemed so heavy that a sense of entitlement began to creep into my expectations from God the Father. I already had one very hard thing to deal with; I shouldn't have to deal with anything else of any difficulty. This sense of entitlement made me somewhat bitter, and therefore my responses to everything were somewhat bitter. Recognizing this enabled me to repent and once again turn my heart to the Lord for cleansing and healing. I learned that the weaknesses of the natural man never really leave. Instead, I felt like my "meekness muscles" were simply getting stronger; another sign of the atonement at work in me. This new enabling strength helped me to act on weaknesses rather than be acted upon by my emotions.
The third thing I learned about meekness is difficult for me. I have trouble being firm or taking a stand when necessary and feeling OK about it. In answer to my questioning I was reminded of the story of Jesus when he cleared the temple and overturned the tables. Poetically explained in Jesus the Christ: “The incident of Christ’s forcible clearing of the temple is a contradiction of the traditional conception of Him as of One so gentle and unassertive in demeanor as to appear unmanly. Gentle He was, and patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. His mood was adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself; tender words of encouragement or burning expletives of righteous indignation issued with equal fluency from His lips. His nature was no poetic conception of cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions and passions essential to manhood and manliness. He, who often wept with compassion, at other times evinced in word and action the righteous anger of a God. But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or strongly they surged, He was ever master.”
This account made the man Jesus, which walked the earth, come alive inside my head. It gave him greater depth of character, and my admiration and love for him deepened because of it. I know, as I continue to strive for meekness, the Holy Ghost will guide my actions and I will be given strength to stand firm when necessary, and the ability to speak up, without mercilessly speaking down to others.
The fourth and final point of learning that I discovered is, since turning fully to the Savior, I have experienced a lightening of my burdens. He has kept His promise found in Mathew: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mathew 12: 28-29) I have experienced this for myself and my joy is full. Have my problems, trials, and heartaches been removed? No. They have been made light through Jesus Christ. The power of the atonement is real and brings a sense of calm within, even amidst the storms of life.
Spencer W. Kimball described the depths that we must sometimes go to find such stillness: "There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties."
Meekness is that place of stillness where the voice of God can be heard. Meekness is that quiet strength, which resonates the portion of divinity that is within each of us. Meekness is humble gratitude for the path I have been given, and a willing servitude as I continue to walk that journey. How grateful I am for the opportunity to develop, in greater measure, the attribute of meekness.