by Kari Diane Pike
One of the many advantages of living in Utah County is attending (or watching live) the Brigham Young University Tuesday morning devotionals. This week, I managed to catch the last half of Sister Cheryl C. Lant's presentation. Sister Lant spoke about Lehi's dream and applying the lessons learned to our own lives. She challenged listeners to ask themselves several questions:
Where am I on the path to Jesus Christ?
What are my mists of darkness?
How tight is my grip on the iron rod?
How do I feel about being strictly obedient?
How do I strengthen my ability to hold to the rod?
Will I do it?
Am I willing to do all that is necessary to return to live with Heavenly Father?
Sister Lant elaborated on each question as she presented it. While all of the questions made me pause to think, the second question took my breath away. "What are my mists of darkness?" Sister Lant explained that while some things are obvious, like lying, stealing, murder, pornography, etc., there are more subtle mists that Satan swirls about us: things like anger, procrastination, depression, self-doubt, and envy. Individually, these challenges may be "light fogs", but if we fail to pay attention them, they can grow and darken. As I pondered on these thoughts, and assessed where I am on the path to Jesus Christ, I noticed that my personal mists of darkness (or fogginess) include busy-ness. I get so caught up in trying to do everything all at once...and trying to be everything to everybody...I forget to take time to listen and pay attention to the beauty and lessons set in front of me in the moment. I get so busy worrying about things that haven't happened yet, I miss the joys of right now. As I do that, I completely exhaust myself and miss experiences along the way that would otherwise keep my feet pointed in the right direction.
This morning I asked Heavenly Father to help me see what I could do today to be more completely on the path to Jesus Christ. The thought came that rather than trying to do so many things at once, I could focus on doing things one at a time. When the phone rings, stop folding clothes and really listen to the person on the other end. When the kids come home from school and need to talk, stop washing dishes and look them in the eye and pay attention to them. Pay attention to where you are and what is happening around you. Pay attention to who and what you are. I know what you are thinking:
"But that's not efficient. You can't possibly get everything done that needs doing if you don't multi-task. It's a waste of time to sit and pay attention. " I know, because that is what I thought, too.
At the end of my yoga class today the instructor made a comment that I knew was meant just for me. She said,
"Time spent paying attention is not time wasted. It is knowledge gained."
Wow. I'll receive the knowledge I need to meet the needs of my family and friends. I'll hear the Spirit and gain the knowledge I need to fulfill my mission in this life. I will feel peace and joy and light; all for simply paying attention.
Now apply this concept to our writing. Can you imagine how much better our writing can be if we are paying attention and in the moment? If we pay attention, we will know how to add detail to our settings and characters. Our minds will be free of cluttering thoughts and worries, and we will be open to guidance and direction from the Spirit. Best of all, we will be able to share that knowledge gained with the rest of the world!