Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Spirit of the Mission Schedule

On my mission, I realized I was often overliteral and had difficulty seeing the spirit as well as the letter of the law. (Sometimes the phrase "the spirit of the law" is used to rationalize wrongdoing, but the introduction to my missionary handbook said to learn and live the higher law as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.)

I just now realized the spirit of the missionary schedule--why there are strict rules to maximize proselyting time. It is to meet the missionaries' physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs as efficiently as possible so that missionaries may serve as many people as possible.

Inasmuch as we want to live the law of Consecration, we should learn to manage our time so that we can meet our needs, in every area, wisely and efficiently. For example, a married couple need time together; children need time with their parents; everyone needs sleep and food, with money to pay for necessities and modest wants; everyone needs time to grow both mentally (developing talents) and spiritually (becoming more like God). If we neglect our needs, we won't feel as happy or energetic.

The better we are at filling our needs efficiently, the more we can serve. For instance, eight hours of sleep at night leaves me just as rested as seven hours of sleep at night with a two-hour nap in the afternoon. That's an hour that I can put into relationships or work. Or I could go to the Temple and do some of the shorter ordinances in that time. And all the while, I feel just as rested and peaceful.

Addictions are the opposite extreme--trying endlessly to fill a need in a way that will never satisfy it. Some wounds can only be filled with the love of Christ or through true emotional principles taught by the Holy Ghost, through friends or therapists. But we try endlessly to fill the gap by binge eating, smoking, or immorality--usually by using something good excessively or in the wrong way, or at the wrong time. If you skip dinner and binge later, you won't feel good. If you're hungry and eat a box full of treats, you may not feel good, either. If you are lonely or depressed and use sexual feelings to fill the gap, the temporary pleasure will only cover your loneliness for a moment, and then you will feel worse than before.

For me, reading books is a good balance, but it isn't perfect. It is wholesome and lets me feel the Spirit, but sometimes I could get the same emotional and spiritual strength faster by doing something else, leaving me more time to serve.

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