Recently, I have watched two movies which had to do with the philosopher’s age old questions: “What is the meaning of life?” “How do I fill this place inside me that yawns open and nothing seems to assuage?”
The first movie had flashbacks to the 1920’s in Paris, where after the devastation of World War One, there arose writers and artists struggling to fill the emptiness which became evident after all the shibboleths of the “old order” had been done away by the pointlessness of so many deaths. Intellectuals trying to fill this void consumed great amounts of alcohol and grouped together to dabble in cocaine and grapple with shattered “truths.” Hemingway, especially, was haunted and driven by the desire to find a reason not to die. Eventually, he could not find that reason, and in later years, gave up the struggle and shot himself.
The second movie was a French production in the modern day. It was haunted by the question of what was real, what was lasting. We only watched it halfway through, as it endlessly belabored the fact that marriage was certainly not the answer.
I think we don’t realize sometimes how very blessed we are to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ which teaches us about filling this void within. We judge others in their oftentimes extreme behavior to “complete themselves.” In 3 Nephi we read: “The light of the body is the eye; If, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light.” (3 Nephi 13:22).
This is an added blessing given to us from the Word of Wisdom. That empty ache is so great in many people that, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, et. Al., they use alcohol or drugs to fill it. Or they constantly seek the one perfect relationship that will complete them. The answer is so simple: we can be filled with light, if our our eyes are single to the glory of God.
The commandment is the same for all of us, but the results are different, according to our talents. If a scientist has his eye “single,” he can be endowed with revelation, which when added to the love of God will help him or her to uncover truths that will greatly benefit mankind. A writer, likewise, can add his or her talents to this light and write, to the best of his or her abilities, words that will change lives.
Why are we born with this empty place? I believe it is where our love of God belongs. We have left him behind when we are born. But the place where his love was still exists in our souls. It is the “light of Christ” and is what drives us to find the fulness of His love here on earth. When we find it, our souls are at rest. Then we have purpose. We long to share that love with others, to help “complete” them.
If our “eyes are single,” we will know what to do to keep ourselves full of light. We will not seek safety in these perilous times by the accumulation of wealth or being married to the “perfect” person. We will seek it in our relationship with our Savior. We will turn to him in our trials rather than to the arm of flesh. As Elder Holland has shared with us, “Christ knows the way, because He is the way. He is the way out and he is the way up.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May, 2006)
If our “eyes are single,” we will search for divine answers here in mortality. This will result in our putting off the natural man and his cravings and desires, and becoming filled with the spirit until we have taken on the spiritual man (Mosiah 3:19), thus fitting us, through the Grace of God and His Atonement, for Eternal Life.
GG Vandagriff is the author of twelve books, the most recent being The Only Way to Paradise, a novel dealing with questions raised in this article, available on Amazon.com.