Friday, March 21, 2014


A few verses of scripture recently came to my mind, for no apparent reason at first. The verses in Doctrine and Covenants, revelation from the Lord, read:

For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal--

First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work--

Speaking unto you that you may naturally understand; but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning; but it is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed.

Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.

Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.

D&C 29:31-35

I've had these verses floating around in my thoughts for some time and after pondering over what they could mean for me, this is what I've come to.

When the Lord created the earth, He first created all things spiritually (Moses 3:5). At the end of the earth, all things will become spiritual again. We each have a physical body and a spirit body that together make up the soul. I like to think that each physical or temporal thing is part of a soul as well, meaning it has a spiritual counterpart or spirit, even the things that have since been created by man, or things that exist only in thought or word, lacking any physicality, like ideas, or commandments. Everything is both temporal and spiritual.

First let's talk commandments. We are taught in these verses that all commandments are spiritual. None are solely temporal. This is pretty basic gospel doctrine. For example, though the laws outlined in our health code, The Word of Wisdom, sound purely temporal to us, we know that there are great spiritual blessings that are unlocked when we keep these laws. We are blessed both physically and spiritually. Another example, when we keep the law of tithing, we are blessed both temporally and spiritually. Always both. The two are inseparably intertwined. We often say that sometimes the blessings of paying our tithes come spiritually and other times they come temporally or financially. But I don't believe God distinguishes between the two. In fact that is exactly what he says in verse 33. We are the ones that label and divide spiritual from temporal.

In verse 33 the Lord basically says, "I'm explaining this to you in a way you'll understand. But please know that I don't think about it the way you do. To me, everything is spiritual. When I look at my creations I don't see a Body and a Spirit. I see the Whole Soul."

"Man makes a distinction between temporal and spiritual laws, and some are very much concerned about keeping the two separate. To the Lord everything is both spiritual and temporal, and the laws He gives are consequently spiritual, because they concern spiritual beings. When He commanded Adam to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, or Moses to strike the rock that the people might drink, or the Prophet Joseph to erect the Nauvoo House, or the Saints in Utah to build fences and roads, such laws were for their spiritual welfare, as well as physical. To obey such laws, when given, is a spiritual duty. One who performs his daily labor 'as to the Lord, and not to men' (Eph 6:7) derives spiritual benefit from whatever his duties are." (Smith, Commentary)

So commandments are spiritual, as are all things. For each temporal thing I like to imagine what it's spiritual counterpart might look like. When all temporal things turn back into spiritual things, what will they be then? It's easy to imagine some of them, particularly people I know and love. I can see my mother as a spiritual being. She is already so spiritual to me. She is loving and strong and fearless. She is a powerful force for good. I can imagine a hundred year old tree as having this noble spirit full of wisdom and patience. I see each temple having such a unique spirit, made up of all the beautiful events that have taken place there. But what does something more abstract look like spiritually? Like gossip, or immodesty? What about a tattoo? Or a particular tv show? What about a book or an outfit or a social media website? What about jealousy, narcissism, ego? My ego?

Someone I respect told me that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. I believe that. But it is easy to forget. I forget all the time. I let myself become too much a part of the world when I know that I am not meant to be. We are to live in it but not be of it. But hey, I'm here so I might as well fit in! That's what I end up thinking most of the time. So I shop online and I listen to spotify and I get a little caught up being human and forget who I really really am and what I'm doing here in the first place.

But when I can remember that everything has a spirit and that by choosing what to fill my life with I am choosing different spirits to surround me, it get's easier. In a 2011 conference talk, Elder Scott talked about his friends, the scriptures. I thought it was so corny at the time. I think I am starting to get it now. If scriptures have a spirit, that's the kind I want to be surrounded by. More abstract things, like wonder, come to mind. I went camping in Goblin Valley in Utah as a young child with my family. In the middle of the night there was a crazy wind storm and sand was whipping uncontrollably through our tents. Mother Natures was showing us her power and there seemed to be no refuge. It was absolute madness and I was loving it. We abandoned our tents and sought cover in the cars. The closed doors were the only thing that could protect us from being sanded smooth. I was filled with such wonder that night, probably for the first time in my life really. That experience has a spirit and it made an impression on me that I won't ever forget. That is one of the great blessings of being on this earth with a physical body. We get to experience all these great moments that we never could have as spirits alone. I am not in favor of rejecting the physical. I am only suggesting we consciously think about the spiritual influence that the temporal has on us.

How does comparing myself to other people on facebook for an hour affect me spiritually? How does spending time making a healthy meal or working out affect me spiritually? What if I work out so much that I can't bend my arms more than 90 degrees and can therefore not scratch my face?  Probably not affecting me very well spiritually because it sure it annoying!! But maybe it served a purpose because I've learned something and will always be able to laugh about it. Back to the point. How does getting absorbed in a series on netflix that I watch every spare moment and make extra spare moments for affect me spiritually? How about looking at the fashion magazines in the grocery store checkout? The spirits of all those things -- do I want to surround myself with them? How about the spirit of this wonderful smelling candle my husband just bought? Yes, I choose to surround myself with that. It's simple and beautiful. It makes me feel peaceful. It gives my home a wonderful ambience. I'll own up to that. But what spirits do I need to cut out of my life?

Wasting time when I really need to bee productive has a spirit and it's not my friend. Making excuses has a spirit that is not my friend. Looking in the mirror and criticizing my body because it's not "perfect" has a spirit and it is definitely not my friend. Desserts, though they may be the sweetest of spirits, are not my friends. I have known for so long how gross sugar makes me feel and yet I still pick up that cupcake any time it is offered to me at a Relief Society event! There are so many things that I can recognize that spiritually and temporally they just don't work for me. Facebook doesn't work for me. I am spiritually and temporally better off without it. Junk food - better off without it. Certain sins -- their spirits are sneaky little brats and I am better off without them. I don't want them surrounding me, or hanging around my house. If a sketchy dude was creeping around your house at night, you would call the police. But when we're bored on a saturday night and thinking maybe this R rated movie won't be that bad, we don't react as defensively. We let it slide. These things, habits, ideas, character traits -- they're all spirits with an affect on my own spirit's well being. Just as I want to be surrounded by people that are good influences, I want the things in my life to be equally influential on my spiritual well being.

I don't live in a bubble and I don't want to. Again, we are to live in the world. I am good with that. But I know I am not immune. I'm not above being affected by what is around me. I've got to fortify myself and put on the armor of God. This new perspective gives me such added vigor in my quest to keep the commandments and keep myself unspotted from the world. It gives me strength where I need it - which is in self control. I often feel so acted upon and don't stand up and act for myself and make good things happen with my own will and strength. This helps me to do that and I feel blessed to have been given this little bit of truth today. Though I generally feel personal revelation is private, I do love good discussion and hope my insights provoke some thoughts you may feel to share with me as well.


Dana said...

Linds, I love this! I'm going to have to ruminate on it for awhile. But for now I'll just say that I miss our companionship study SO MUCH!!

Linda said...

Finally is letting me comment! Linds.. I love this articulation of wonderful thoughts and images. thank you!!! keep it coming!

Lizzie said...

LINDSAY!! seriously. i have spent more time than i would like to admit comparing myself to people on Facebook and instagram today. It destroys my peace and my spirit. Have I picked up my Book of Mormon today? Nope. Do I plan to now? You bet. There are so many beautiful, fulfilling, uplifting things I could spend my time on. Why do I choose to waste time doing menial, insignificant things that don't feed my soul? You have provided me with a beautiful reminder and I am going to do better. I love what you said about not being acted upon. Reminds me so much of Elder Bednar's talk. You are such a great example!

kassidi bridge said...

I often find myself trying to separate temporal and spiritual. It's obviously easier, and often times makes more sense. I think it will always be hard for me to see things such as abuse, as having a spirit. So I really love that you wrote about this. I think it really does come down to agency and individuality. It's beautiful that we get to choose what is our "friend" and what is not, what we let in and what we don't. I also enjoyed what you said at the end, because not one of us is immune, and to be 100% authentic as an individual and daughter of God I have to protect this soul of mine. Otherwise these ideas and goals and dreams that are 100% Kassidi will be tainted, which is actually a really cool definition, it doesn't mean I'll be entirely bad by making one lame decision, but instead will have a trace of something offensive or bad or harmful, which in reality is way worse. How many traces of bad things can our soul contain? Brandon and I just had a really awesome conversation the other night, about how we can be completely true to ourselves/ 100% authentic, and it really comes down to agency, all of the little decisions we make. These choices are truly what makes us really really happy or not. And by the way, you're awesome. Thanks for sharing.