Jun 24, 2007

My Blog Odyssey

By Liz Adair

I would like to say that writing today’s blog has been an odyssey of the mind, but actually it’s been more like a game of Hide-and-Seek. On Monday of this week, as I walked to the door of my client’s office, I was ruminating on a grandson who has made some spiritually disastrous choices lately, and I had an epiphany, during the which, I said to myself, “That’s just what Rene Allen was blogging about!” I got so excited about the prospect of writing about it for my turn today that I determined to spend the next morning’s used-to-be-seminary time in composition.

So, Tuesday morning at 6:30, I sat at my computer, fingers on the keyboard, ready to share my epiphany. Unfortunately, I hadn’t a clue what it was. I cudgeled my brain. I re-read Rene’s posting. I sat in a pose that I thought might approximate Rodin’s ‘Thinker’, but nothing availed. I remembered getting out of the car. I remembered walking down the hill to the office door. I remembered the thunderbolt of pure intelligence, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember a speck of what that pure intelligence was.

I was on the verge of deciding to blog about the positive aspects of writing down your ideas as they come to you (and hanging on to the notebook), when it came back. My husband Derrill and I had a quick weekend getaway to a state park, and as we sat around the campfire talking last night, I remembered.

Here’s my epiphany: Rene Allen wrote, “The effectiveness of visualization and mental rehearsal is already accepted and used in activities such as athletics where performance is important. This new information expands that knowledge. I find it exciting because I believe that anything that empowers a person to be in charge of his or her life, to exercise agency and enjoy the thrill of self-efficacy, which does not compromise this agency through ill-effects such as drug dependency, is good.” Rene was talking about positive things in our lives, positive choices we make. But I think the effectiveness of visualization and mental rehearsal can also, does also, work when we choose degrading things. The choices my grandson made were not on-the-spot or spur-of-the-moment. Against counsel, he had put himself in situations where he was given the tools to visualize, to mentally rehearse the things he put into action and which resulted in a very theatrical parting from his family.

My epiphany was to realize the truth to the axiom, “The thought is father to the act.” For good or for bad, this is so. If we think good, positive, Christian thoughts, and seek out the virtuous, the lovely, and things of good report, we will tend to act as good, positive Christians. But if we think mean, destructive, lewd and salacious thoughts, seeking out things that feed our basic instincts, then our actions will be mean, destructive, lewd and salacious. Maybe not right away, but soon.

This situation will have a happier next act, I think, for this young man is a very family oriented fellow and is learning about consequences. He is not being shunned, but his own actions have put him in a situation very alien to our family, and, as he says, he spends a lot of time walking and thinking. He is also finding out that wickedness never was happiness—a verse he memorized when I taught him in seminary. That was the classroom. This is the lab.

So that’s it. My forgotten epiphany. My quest for an elusive thought. Remembering it was almost as strong an experience as the first dawning. Thank you, Rene, for a provocative article. I hope what it provoked sticks this time.


  1. Liz,
    I really like the way you described Seminary as "the classroom" and life as "the lab." How true! I am sending positive thoughts to your grandson...through lots of prayers. How fortunate he is to have such loving and wise family members. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and example.

  2. Liz,
    I too, have children who have made choices that have led them far, far from what they know is right. It is heartbreaking to watch them make those choices and wonder where I went wrong. I have to remember constantly that it was their free agency that led them to where they are. All I can do is love unconditionally and pray that the Lord hits them over the head with a spiritual 2x4!

  3. Amen, Betsy.

    Mother's guilt is a hard thing to go through. Shake free of it! Although we haven't made the choices our children have, they have that moral agency. We fought a battle for it. Hold fast to the promises!

  4. Liz, I made a nice long comment then brushed my hand across some key or other while it was in the "Preview" mode and lost it somewhere or other. It wasn't that good, anyway, so I'll try again.

    I taught early morning seminary in Oklahoma for a few months. I wondered if anybody was learning anything except me, but my son, who I thought never listened, quoted something or other some twenty years later and told me he learned it from me in seminary. One never knows!

    I've also known the agony of failure when I condemn myself for choices my kids sometimes make that I know will bring sorrow. I'm like the majority,I think, who may give lip service to agency, and defend it to the death, but find it's still a hard thing to give completely over to our descendants, or to anybody we love, for that matter, when their choices differ from ours.

    There is a remedy, however. It's as old as the earth, as sure as heaven, and is getting lots of attention again now. One author calls it "The Secret," while another calls it the "Law of Attraction," and there are undoubtedly many more out there, writing, lecturing, and gossiping about it.

    If I'm understanding it, there are at least three steps: identify what you want to change, have, or be, clarify all details, believing them possible, then act--even if it's just keeping them uppermost in mind.

    My epiphemy, Liz, was that it all boils down to the three keys we've always had:
    Faith (identfy and believe), Hope (clarify and give thanks), and Charity (act accordingly). Do they fit? Well, sort of. Use your imagination, or get your own epiphemy.

    The biggest test comes in choosing that which is uplifting. We DO get what we ask for, think about, and live for.

    Thank you Liz, Kari, Betwy, Marsha, and Rene, for your thoughtful input. I may put off deep thinking as long as possible, but it's rewarding when I do get at it. Thanks for the stimuli.

  5. Sorry, Betsy. I published too soon.

  6. Liz - I've had a son who's made some really goofy decisions and is having to clean up the mess. It's been interesting watching him become humble and teachable for which I am thankful. I believe one of our first choices, as our moral development matures, is what we put into our minds. I used to tell my boys I was responsible for what went into their heads until they were 18 - and hopefully the pattern would stick. But agency is tricky - and will be tried. Thanks for your lovely essay. Rene


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