A few weeks ago, I began a kundalini yoga teacher training, and it's really expanded my practice already. Today was day three for a cold shower at 5am, for example (it's supposed to be at 3am, but I'm going to need some baby steps there). As I continue to add to my weirdnesses, it's easy to go into fangirl mode and start insisting at least in my brain that EVERYONE DO THIS STUFF NOW. It's not just because I'm seeing really cool things happening in my life as I do these weird things and want everyone to experience the same; there's also an element of not wanting to seem as insane, I'm sure.
I see this a lot in myself and in everyone around me. When we love and are converted to something, we want to share. We want people we care about to have the best life they can, so we want to add the awesome things we have discovered to their efforts. When our stuff is time- or labor-intensive, we especially want to share so we don't have to feel defensive about the investment we ourselves make. True?
Hello, religion. Mormons win at this. Mormonism is awesome, and, therefore, everybody should be Mormon RIGHT NOW. Now, clearly I buy into this to the extent that I feel compelled to share my testimony as widely as possible so that anyone who might be touched by it will have access to it. I believe the truth claims of my church and [finally] have that personal witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet who restored ordinances necessary for salvation. I love my faith. And until very recently, I felt enormous anxiety about people dear to me who were choosing different paths for their lives. I want them to be happy, and I know the gospel brings happiness, so it makes sense to freak out for them. Or does it? How many times are we told in scripture to press forward with a perfect brightness of hope? I'm told that faith and fear cannot coexist and am finding that to be true in my life. Jesus himself told the Nephites that "ye know not but what they will... come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them" (3 Nephi 18:32), making it pretty clear to me that I have no idea what each person's path is supposed to be and it's not my job to figure it out. I'm supposed to take care of myself spiritually and minister to everybody. I used to think ministering meant telling everybody to get baptized, but now I understand it more as sharing God's love with everybody. Ministering means having God in my countenance so people feel loved when they're with me. That's a lot harder than just talking about Jesus.
C.S. Lewis talks about the supposed unfairness of Christianity, this idea that only those who are lucky enough to be able to believe in Christ will be saved, in Mere Christianity. I love his response: "But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him." Of course, Mormons believe we know a little about that, with the basic gist being that everybody gets a full fighting chance and that everybody will ultimately choose exactly what they want, but we don't know exactly what that looks like in practice. We don't know God's specific plans for his individual children. All we know is that we're promised that we'll all receive a fulness of joy according to our capacity. We also know that we're told to have faith, to proclaim the gospel and, most importantly, to love every single one of God's children.
Here is what I'm learning: faith and love don't look like anxiety. They don't look like anger or fear or bossiness or judgment. It's okay to feel these things as we're figuring all this mortality stuff out. It's important to go through emotions rather than around them during our faith journey, and we need to have self-compassion as we see these characteristics popping up. But we do need to recognize that these are not faith and love. Faith and love are calm and hopeful and radiant and complete non-respecters of persons. Faith and love are gifts of the Spirit that have place in people who have a personal witness of their beliefs and of God's love for them and everyone around them. These people don't rely on the choices of others to feel fulfilled or validated or loved, so others' choices cannot affect their state of mind.
The title of this post is something my teacher said last week regarding a kundalini yoga relationship--the best way to have a happy one is to let everyone order what they want. I think she was quoting Yogi Bhajan, but hey, don't quote me on that. The priniciple is valid, in any case. You can't make people choose your choices. Even if you could, it wouldn't be good for anybody. The point of being here is to learn how to choose what makes you happy. God shows each person what that is in the way that is right for that person, and if someone else is making the choices, they might be wrong, and there's definitely not any learning going on. There's no changing and transforming and God-realizing. In fact, I'm pretty sure not being able to make choices and grow is our very definition of hell.
It can be so hard to respect other people's right to make choices, especially when those people are intimately connected to us and making what we'd call bad choices. This is what we signed up for, though, which is why we're allowed to make our own good and bad choices every day. I'd love to hear about the last time someone's disapproving look or anxious lecture made you want to reform said bad choices. It just doesn't happen. Unconditional love is the only way to influence anybody, and that means we can't be attached to our love changing people's minds.
We also signed up for the plan that included the Atonement in it, the plan that promises that we can all make it to God if that's what we want. That's his promise--that he's taking care of everybody. Let people order what they want. It's okay to suggest something on the menu you've tried and enjoyed, but love them no matter what they order. You don't know what they need right now.
Just make sure you're doing your best to know that what's on your own plate is the most nutritious fare you can find for your needs. The person sitting next to you may well be allergic to vegetables, but that's a horrible reason to pretend you are ; ) Stay healthy, people. Sat nam!
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.