by Marie Leslie
I had a dream about bread last night.
In my dream, I was sitting with a friend with whom I often discuss things spiritual. We are of different Christian faiths, but we are still of like minds and often discuss our spiritual issues and share our thoughts about God and religion and life with each other. For some reason I wished to give my friend some bread. And so I began pulling bread from my bag, but it was all crusts and stale and crumbled bread, and I had no good bread to give her, which distressed me and made me very sad.
As is rarely the case, upon waking my dream remained vividly in my mind — every detail. Very often, I don’t remember dreaming at all, but I don’t sleep much, so that might have something to do with it. As I pondered on this dream I was reminded of this scripture from the book of John, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).”
I began thinking about the significance of this dream. While I don’t take a huge stock in dreams, I do believe that sometimes they do have something to teach us. I clearly have something to learn here.
I only have stale bread to give. Why? I live a righteous life—at least I tell myself I do. I attend church every Sunday; I fulfill my calling. Admittedly there is always room to improve, but I am there. I am often pondering on principles of the gospel.
But over the past several weeks and months it seems that I have allowed the busyness of everyday life, the trials of motherhood and running a home, the challenges of running a small business, and all the other bits and pieces to take over my life, leaving me less time for studying the words of Christ and for nurturing my spiritual side. This is not a good thing. My religious beliefs and my spirituality have always been an important part of my life.
Lately, I have felt overwhelmed. Some days it feels that there is so much to be done, though so much of it doesn’t seem all that significant. But I can’t seem to figure out lately which are the real priorities? How do I reconcile the temporal needs of my life with the spiritual ones? How do I trade my stale crusts for fresh bread that will fill and nourish both body and spirit?
So I begin the process of examining my life. What is it that has taken me away from studying the gospel and feasting upon the words of Christ? Why is there always a reason that I have time for only a quick reading of a chapter or two in the scriptures, or thumbing through a church magazine but no time to study and ponder? And even though a temple is less than 30 minutes away, why can I so rarely find my way there, to receive the peace and restoration I will find within its walls?
I think about what I am doing and realize that I have fallen into the trap of mistaking busyness for productivity. And as I have worked harder and harder each day, I feel like I am running up a never-ending down escalator. The faster I run, the faster it moves, until finally I can no longer keep up and I feel myself beginning to slide backwards while my goal of peace—and bread—moves ever farther from my view.
It is time to remove from my life the things that make me busy while leading me away from where I need to be. It’s not an easy process. Yes, some of those things are dalliances and time wasters, yet some are good and worthy pursuits. But if they aren’t leading me toward that strong relationship with Christ—and to the bread He offers—they aren’t worthy of my time.
As I begin to reprioritize my life, I am reminded of the words of Ezra Taft Benson, “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.”
While giving up some of my busyness will not be easy, it will be good. I have convinced myself that what I do is important, but when I look at it in the context of putting God first, it really isn’t. Some old habits will be harder to break and others I will be happy to set aside. I’ve already given up the silly online games that I rationalized with the thought that it gave my mind a break. Monitoring the time I spend online to make sure it’s really purposeful is a habit I will need to work at a bit more diligently. And I am pretty sure that my penchant for murder mysteries, while not bad in and of themselves could be tempered with more time spent reading books and articles that edify and inspire. My life will not in any way be diminished by the new habits I make and by reclaiming my time for that which is most important.
As I stop spending my “labor for that which cannot satisfy (2 Nephi 9:51), “I can already feel the fog lifting and my soul becoming lighter. I am looking forward to refocusing on my spiritual side and my soul eagerly awaits the promise of fresh bread and never hungering.