Senses and the Savior

January 17-23

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These chapters cover a little bit of what happened after Adam and Eve lost Abel. It speaks of some of the generations following Adam as well as the wickedness that has come into the earth.

As I read, I noticed that there are several references to senses and physical observations. When the Lord is speaking to Enoch, he talks about how the people can’t hear or see afar off. He teaches Adam that He allows the children of men to taste the bitter so they can prize the good. Enoch was slow of speech but found favor in the sight of God.

Here are just a couple of those references.

Moses 6:27 And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off;

Hardened hearts

The first “sense” is that of our heart. While I know it’s our skin that actually takes in external feedback, our hearts are often used to express this idea of what we can feel. So our hearts are turning hard. What happens when our skin turns hard? It inhibits our ability to bring in some of that external feedback. When you play guitar over and over and over, calluses build on the tops of your fingers to cushion your fingers from the pain of holding the string down repeatedly.

Let’s think of this spiritually. It’s a dangerous thing when you’re not able to bring in external feedback spiritually. Everything we know about the gospel and everything the Lord is sending us in the form of peace and healing comes through the power of the Holy Ghost in the form of external feedback. When something is painful, whether that’s in the form of trials or sin, we automatically jump back from it. However, if we continually push back against (if we continue in our sins or if we refuse to take care of some of our trials), our hearts harden in an attempt to protect us from that pain. It becomes increasingly difficult to take in the sensory information. 

Example. I started a show with my husband, and we loved it. It was historically accurate in really incredible ways, and we were learning a ton while simultaneously enjoying the entertainment value. Unfortunately, as they so often do, it started including some less than desirable scenes. I started getting promptings to stop watching it, but I pushed back against them. I reeeeeeally wanted to finish watching it. It was made doubly difficult by the fact that I was watching it with Conner, and we were spending that time together. His favorite movies and shows are all historical, and so I knew he would be really disappointed. I probably would have been able to quit if it had just been me, but I kept pushing it off. 

It got to the point where I couldn’t write anything for my blog or prepare my videos. I would sit down and read the chapters over and over and over, and nothing would come. This was also an incredibly poignant, personal lesson that I can’t do anything of myself; it all comes from God. In the years that I’ve done this, no matter how burnt out or stressed I’ve felt, Heavenly Father has always helped me find something to speak about. I felt nothing. The words sat there on the page as if I was reading a normal book. Nothing jumped out at me.

I continued to ignore it, hiding in my own mind, pretending that it simply wasn’t time for Him to teach me anything. I hid from that little prompting that I was cutting myself off from the Spirit. 

I finally, finally, finally got it together, and I addressed it head on. I told Heavenly Father that I really wanted to finish it. We were in the last season, I didn’t want to disappoint Conner, there were some really redeeming qualities about it, and I was learning so much. Judging from the earlier promptings I had been receiving, I deduced that He probably didn’t care about all of that. I was cutting myself off from the Spirit by ignoring a prompting that I was personally receiving. 

So I quit it. Conner was actually very supportive, and I felt so much better after. However, it took a while for me to be able to write again. It took a while to get rid of those spiritual calluses. I felt better because I wasn’t kicking against something painful anymore, but that didn’t mean I could immediately feel everything I felt before. 

So your heart hardens. This can come from ignoring promptings, but it can also come when we won’t allow ourselves to feel the trials that come our way. We more purposefully harden our hearts to protect ourselves, but we’re simultaneously hardening ourselves from receiving peace from our Savior. Unfortunately and fortunately, Christ wants us to experience some of the heartbreak that comes with mortal life. We were meant to feel things, and feel them deeply. He has promised to sustain and support us and attempting to cut off those deep feelings cuts Him off to an extent as well. 

Dull of hearing

Then there were ears that were dull of hearing. There are a great many problems that can come with being hard of hearing. Being able to hear enables us to hear when there is danger present. You hear an explosion or gunshot, and you can take cover. Not being able to hear cuts you off from those warnings, and it is the same spiritually speaking. You can’t hear the warnings, not just immediate warnings but the tiny, persistent ones too. The tiny, persistent ones are sometimes the most important. 

I’ve had promptings to check on my daughter to find her choking, but I’ve also had smaller promptings that prevented a slow, downward path to unhappiness. After I had one of my babies, I got a little depressed. Like many women out there, I struggled with body image, and I wasn’t losing weight as quickly as I wanted to. I was fine and healthy, but I let other voices get too loud. I started being more cruel to myself, berating myself for eating things I “shouldn’t” and still being mean to myself even when I ate “healthy.” This was about body image, but it was also a manifestation of the depression I was feeling postpartum. 

Anyway, I was getting ready one morning, looking in the mirror and getting frustrated with all my postpartum hair loss. I wouldn’t let myself wear some of my old clothes yet because it highlighted my new weight too much. I don’t know why this morning was different or why I decided to listen, but the Spirit whispered to me that I was going down a dark path that would be very hard to crawl out of.

I thought of one of my dear friends who has become a health coach. She often posts and speaks about her attempts to try and break some of her bad cycles with food. She talks about how difficult it is to continuously not slip back into that mean, negative mindset.

It was then that I realized the Spirit was right. If I continued down that mean path, and if I let it go on long enough and become a habit, it would become a million times more difficult to turn it around. The Spirit whispered to me that I needed to stop it now while it was still easy to backtrack. 

Being mean to myself at that point in time was a small thing. It was so tiny, but it could have evolved into something I battled the rest of my life if I hadn’t listened. Being dull of hearing makes it difficult for the Spirit to warn us from starting down a destructive path.

Being dull of hearing also has its problems on the other side of the spectrum. 

It makes it difficult to hear kindness. It can make it difficult to discern when people are loving you and trying to be a true friend. Maybe someone in your life is trying to reach out and help you, but you refuse to see it as a kindness. Maybe you go to church and feel as though everyone looks down on you. Perhaps there are people who do, but there are also good people there who are kind. There are good people who want to be your friend. When we stop listening, it can be very difficult to find those kind people.

Eyes that can’t see afar off

And then there were their eyes that couldn’t see afar off. Though our eyes can see close by as well, I want to talk about this verse’s specific (and in my mind, purposeful) wording. They couldn’t see far away. When you can’t see far away, it is very easy to walk in circles. When there are trees blocking your view or you simply have problems with your eyes, it can be hard to walk a straight path. Which means it can also be very easy to deviate.

When we can’t see far away, it is very easy to make choices that cause us to bumble about in life. Perhaps you’re not making any choices that will dreadfully ruin your life, but it also makes your progress much slower. When you believe in God’s purposes for the Plan of Salvation, and when you believe that He has a specific purpose just for you, it is much easier to walk that line. You get so much more out of life when you see the goal afar off and walk directly towards it. 

There is also another aspect of being able to see afar off. When you can see the goal far away, you focus less on the minor, daily deviations. When you continuously look up towards your goal, you can get back on track quickly. When you’re looking at your steps right in front of you, trying to make every step perfectly straight, you might be able to keep a straight line. However, your progress will be painfully slow. Look up and afar off. Keep your eyes on the goal and don’t let your inevitable meanderings discourage you to the point where you stop walking at all. Sometimes discouragement does more to hinder our progress on the straight and narrow than the meandering itself.

Improving our senses

We all have dull senses to one degree or another. However, our ability to “sense” can improve.

Quick story. I had a dear, dear friend in college that I had the privilege of living with. She was fun and supportive, and one of my best friends. She also had this incredible ability to smell. I know that sounds like a weird talent, but she had it. I remember her getting frustrated when people put dishes back in the cupboards without drying them completely because they would leave a funny smell. I also remember her commenting on smells in the spring when the trees would start to blossom; I remember that I only ever noticed it when she commented on it.

One day we were discussing this odd talent of her’s when we came to a hypothesis. She did not have super-smell, but she had trained herself to pay attention better. Her mother designed gardens, and she had a million memories of her mother telling her to look up and smell something. Her mother had taught her to pay attention to smell, and because of that, she made those observations before most.

Now let’s look at this spiritually. Enoch is a man who was called by God to go and preach the gospel. Enoch humbly told the Lord that he didn’t understand why he would be called when he was slow of speech. The Lord answered him this way…

Moses 6:34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.

As I walked with my roommate, my sense of smell was heightened because her sense of smell was heightened. When we walk with God, our spiritual senses are heightened as He helps us pay better attention. Our hearts are softened as we walk with Him and He helps us through pain. We hear better as we trust what He tells us, and we see our ultimate goal much better as we come to know Him. 

I’m grateful for a Savior that is patient as my senses start to develop and become more sharp. I’m grateful He’s patient when I get distracted and focus on other things. I am grateful for a Savior who wants to walk with me.

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