If Ye Do This, Ye Shall Always…
Months ago, I was preparing to teach the gospel doctrine lesson on Mosiah 4-5. I love those chapters and as I was re-working over my notes, I got a message from a blogging friend (whom most of you probably know): Middle-aged Mormon Man. He had asked if anyone was working on the same lesson, and I had answered. Our conversation went as follows (there has been some editing for flow of content and so I don’t look like a complete dork):
MMM: So – read chapter 4 verses 10&11.
MMM: It looks to me like an if/then relationship – a cause and effect. If we do what it says in 10 and 11, then the RESULT will be 12-16. We aren’t being told what to do in 12-16 – it is a result of the Spirit and acquired knowledge.
Cheryl: Ah… and the manual doesn’t really say that –it’s more of a “teach your kids, feed the hungry, etc.” type of format. The result is the DESIRE!
MMM: It never says THOU SHALT NOT, it says “thou will not.” If we have the spirit guiding us, then we are more likely to teach our kids, feed the hungry etc. We will be driven by the Spirit, rather than pushed by mandate.
Cheryl: Exactly. You know, as I was reading through this, I saw a very similar (if not the same) pattern as the 4th Article of Faith. It occurred to me that these people had already been baptized and received the Spirit, and so I saw this pattern: knowledge –> desire/faith –> repentance/forgiveness –> change of heart/covenants made –> charity/service –> teaching others –> remembering/continuing in that new faith… Something we do over and over and over: “O man, remember, and perish not.”
MMM: Yeah and the last part about remembering is reinforced after the covenant is made – weekly in the sacrament prayer. Funny how just about everything spins back to the 4th Article of Faith!
Cheryl: And it’s that word: “Remember” that I keep coming back to. We don’t remember because we have the veil; our mortal existence seems to bring with it an exorbitant amount of forgetfulness. Thus the constant reminders. The repetition. And with all of it, we keep learning new things. Thank you for pointing out the cause and effect, though –I hadn’t really noticed it! That will help my lesson tomorrow.
(end of conversation)
What do we do when our hearts are changed and we have the pure love of Christ on our minds and deep in our souls? Our thoughts become better. Our attitudes improve. Our actions reflect these changes.
I have spent a lot of time reading self-help books and researching essays on mental anguish. Depression is a companion of mine, and to better understand it, I have done research. Along with gathering information, I have been medicated, attended therapy, and sought out physical changes (diet, exercise, vitamin supplements) to improve my situation. These things have helped me tremendously, but it was never enough. You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with Mosiah 4:12?”
“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”
I have found that applying the doctrines of the Gospel has helped me just as much –or more –than trying to figure out why I’m so depressed.
Let me be clear, though. I understand and appreciate professionals who have helped countless lives (including mine) and I believe they are a blessing from God. Just like a surgeon saves lives by repairing hearts, mental health professionals are invaluable. But it’s not always enough. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, when rooted in my soul, has taught me more about how to change the way my brain works than therapy did. King Benjamin’s admonition that “if ye shall do this ye shall always” is absolutely true. I testify it is, because I have seen it work in my own life.
When I have a faith-centered and repentant heart, I mother with greater kindness. Depression aside, when I remind my heart and soul of my stewardship to my children, I yell less, I lecture less, and I love more. Some may say that this comes from my medication (which helps, believe you me!) but I sincerely believe it stems from something deeper –it comes from love created through the Spirit of Christ.
Understanding doctrine blesses our lives. Knowing the WHY makes the HOW easier.
- How have you been blessed by understanding doctrine?
- Have you seen the “if ye do this ye shall always” pattern in your life?