To what should our eye be single? To the stock market? To our children’s problems? To the balance in our checkbook? To the administrative details of our callings? To our jobs? To the neatness of our houses?
The rest of the scripture we know very well: “to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:67)
In this day and age, just as in every other dispensation, there is plenty to worry about and many things to take the focus in our lives a put it somewhere besides on Jesus Christ. In fact, learning to make him our focus is really the lesson of a lifetime, so if we’re not there yet, we just need to be reminded that this is our goal.
I fell into a hole, partially through naivite and partially through leaning on the arm of flesh, where my focus switched for many years from the Savior to myself. I was ill, extremely ill, and was hospitalized for a month. It was during that time that my focus was changed. Doctors told me I had been doing too much, focusing too much on others at the expense of myself, judging myself too harshly, and generally not taking care of #1, which was ME.
And so, for many years, I kept thinking I could find the road out of my illness by “fulfilling myself.” Many of us are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The first is physiological (food, clothing, shelter), the second is safety (preferably within a family), the third is love and belonging, the fourth is self-esteem, and the fifth (at the top of the pyramid) is “self-actualization.” This is the model that was used in my therapy. As you can see it is very self-centered. No doubt many scholars who know much more than I do about psychology would take issue with this, saying that you can’t focus outward until you have taken care of yourself and become “actualized.” The facts were that my illness was physical in nature (bi-polar disorder) and not psychological. The answer to my problem was not to be found within myself.
It was only when I went to General Conference in 2004, that I got put on the right track by Elder Hafen in his sermon “The Atonement of Christ: All for All.” I felt his words to my marrow as he said: “God asks all that we have. To qualify for [the atonement of Christ] in whatever way is ours, we must give the way Christ gave—every drop He had. ‘How exquisite ye know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.’ (Romans 8:17) . . . All of His heart, all of our hearts.
“If we must give all that we have, then our giving almost everything is not enough. If we almost keep the commandments, we almost receive the blessings.
“Some people want to keep one hand on the wall of the temple while touching the world’s ‘unclean things’ with the other hand. We must put both hands on the temple and hold on for dear life. One hand is not even almost enough. . .
“We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more.” (“The Atonement of Christ: All for All,” Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Ensign, May, 2004.)
I was not the center of the universe. My needs were not the center of the universe. I was headed totally in the wrong direction. From that point on, though still ill, I switched my focus. For the next two years, I strove to do all things to bring me closer to the Lord. I will not enumerate them, for the list is different for all of us, according to what the Lord would have us change about our lives.
Then, a change of fortune brought an unexpected trial into our lives, and it was the last straw. I was down for the count, when we went to April Conference in 1996. It was then that I got the instructions that I needed to take me where I needed to go. In his talk, “Broken Things to Mend,” Elder Holland counseled all of us: “He [Jesus Christ] is saying to us, ‘Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then when you walk where I am going we can talk about where you are going and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness. I will give you the answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls’…When he says unto the poor in spirit, ‘Come unto me,’ He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way” (“Broken Things to Mend,: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May, 2006.)
The answer to my dilemma was clear. I was to place it and all my other fears upon the altar. Only then could Christ take them from me.
My testimony is that He did! Through the last three years He has led us through the gardens of Grace. I have been healed through medical means. I have received countless blessings I have never thought to receive in this life. So has my husband. So have my children.
As we mortals learn to focus on the real center of the universe, everything else will drop away into its proper perspective and our lives will take their proper course. Even if burdens are not completely lifted, they are made light enough for us to bear, to teach us what we need to learn for our eternal salvation. For a refresher on exactly where we are going, read Doctrine and Covenants 76.