Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Resolution

I need to focus all the time on things like personal and family scripture study and prayer, regular and meaningful Family Home Evening and temple attendance with Mama, but this year I am instituting only one New Year's Resolution. It deals directly with my last post on the true meaning of "perfection" as commanded in Matthew 5:48.

As I said in that post, the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus' penultimate sermon - what I consider to be the blueprint to perfection. Matthew 6 & 7 are part of the blueprint, but I am going to focus on Matthew 5 this year.

In this chapter, I count 12 character traits applicable to me and within my control that I believe, when fully internalized, make someone perfect. In my opinion, everything else in scripture
revolves around these traits. Therefore, I am planning on focusing my efforts this year on those 12 traits - emphasizing one per month in successive order - thinking about it and looking for ways to acquire it and not worrying about any other traits during that month.


The following is the plan:

January: Become more poor in spirit.
February: Look for ways to mourn with those who mourn - then mourn with them.
March: Become more meek.
April: Hunger and thirst more after righteousness.
May: Become more merciful.
June: Become more pure in heart.
July: Become more of a peacemaker.
August: Control my anger better.
September: Become more chaste in thought and deed.
October: Keep my promises more diligently; make them a simple "Yes" or "No".
November: Give more freely and do not revile as quickly.
December: Love those who revile me; seek situations of interaction with those who will do so.

I am planning currently to repeat the first seven traits each year until I feel impressed to stop. I intend to change the last five each year to other traits found in the scriptures. I have come to believe that if I focus on becoming more "perfect" (complete, whole, fully developed), my actions will begin to take care of themselves - that as I replace my natural tendencies with those demanded by the Savior, that internal change will alter my very nature and allow me to do more naturally what He would have me do.

In the spirit of my resolution for this month, I would like to ask any who read this to share whatever they feel inspired to share about becoming more poor in spirit. There are no parameters or suggestions for this request. I would like to partake of and learn whatever anyone has to share.

I'm sure I will blog about other things, as well, but my main focus this month on this blog will be what I learn about becoming poor in spirit.

20 comments:

Mama D said...

Ray, I know more than anyone else just what this means for you. (He is not one for formal resolutions, though he is one who accomplishes things each year without the burden of "failed resolutions.")

Great plan!! You are an amazing example and I want to join you in your quest for developing these attributes.

On becoming more poor in spirit... sincere prayer is a key factor. I also think my thoughts on developing a broken heart and contrite spirit (that will be in my next MM article, coming soon) address this perfectly.

Papa D said...

It's interesting my wife would pinpoint prayer in her comment. I was up late after posting my resolution; I read the verse and the footnotes accompanying "poor in spirit" in the online scriptures at lds.org; it hit me that I need to pray more frequently and sincerely and thoughtfully.

I did so last night, and it was an amazing experience - and I have had many amazing experiences in my life. Sometimes, the Standard Sunday School answers really are the best place to start.

Papa D said...

Forgot to say, "Thank you, M'Lady," before I hit Publish. That's rare for someone who believes so firmly in the Yes, Deary Theory.

Sorry, M'Lady.

Darrell said...

Ray(?)

I like your resolution. It got me thinking about my own. I will enjoy following the progress on this blog.

I really enjoy your comments on various LDS blogs that I read. Keep it up. You have your perspective just right.

Darrell

Tatiana said...

Ray, I followed your link from Steve Evans' thread. I always look forward to your posts on the bloggernacle. I think your one resolution is awesome, and I'm tempted to emulate you.

I had just now decided to resolve to quit whining. It's huge for me, I don't know if I can manage it at all. I'll be lucky to go a single day. So I think I'll stick to that idea, and not attempt yours for now.

As for becoming poorer in spirit, I have one suggestion. I think the realization that we're entirely dependent on his mercy can be helpful there. I can start with astronomy and think how an asteroid hitting earth could wipe us all out any moment. (There's currently a 1-in-25 chance of a skyscraper sized asteroid hitting Mars on Jan 30th, in fact.) There are myriads of other astronomical events that could make the Earth uninhabitable. If that's too remote for your tastes, then you can imagine all the worldwide disasters we humans can make for ourselves, such as the environmental devastation we're constantly wreaking upon our only habitable planet, or the instability in Pakistan which could result in some madwoman or madman firing nuclear weapons hither and yon. If that's still too remote, we can imagine a moment's inattention on the highway at the wrong moment. By the time we count all the possible disasters that could befall us, and all the ways we could fail miserably and bring calamities upon ourselves and our families, there's no shortage of spiritual poverty to draw upon.

It's paradoxical that thoughts like that, which ought to make us feel completely rotten, nevertheless can bring an exhilarating sense of freedom and peace when we cast all of those possibilities at the feet of the Lord and rely upon him utterly to sustain us.

Thanks for all your great comments in the bloggernacle. Here's hoping this suggestion wasn't super obvious already and I'm not making a total idiot of myself. I always find it scary to open my mouth in front of those I admire.

kevinf said...

Ray,

First time I've visited your personal blog. I just wanted to let you know how much I respect you and your posts in various places in the 'nacle.

This particular post has reminded me of the dangers of just "enduring", rather than seeking to improve on a regular basis through a disciplined approach such as this. I'm pretty disciplined about some things, not so much about others of equal importance. Have a great year. If you're ever in Seattle, or if I ever get back to Ohio, I'd love to get together.

Kevin Folkman (kevinf)

Papa D said...

Darrell & Tatiana, Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate the recognition of the fact that I am doing my best to promote real discussion in a civil tone.

I initially wrote this strictly for close friends and family, since I didn't want to get embroiled in the anti-stuff that flows so steadily on the web. I never intended to link to it, but after the recent admonition to use the "new media" for good I decided to go ahead and make it known on the blogs where I regularly comment.

Tatiana, I like the "insignificance of man" perspective. I wish King Benjamin's remarks on that subject were better understood among the membership. Also, regarding your attempts to quit whining, read a few of my posts on the practical meaning of grace. I feel strongly about how that concept is misunderstood by many. I hinted at it in the perfection post, but it is addressed much more directly in other posts.

Anyway, welcome - and thanks again.

Papa D said...

kevinf, I shouldn't have favorites, but as I read your comments elsewhere I sometimes think we were divided at birth - right down to number of children and current calling. I can't tell you how much it meant to me when I saw your name in the comments section. Your second sentence is exactly how I feel about you and your insights.

If I am in Seattle, I definitely will look you up; if you are in Cincinnati, do the same with me.

(Now I need to call my wife and let her know that kevinf commented on my blog!)

Alison Moore Smith said...

Sincerely great post. I am SUCH a goal nut.

"this year I am instituting only one New Year's Resolution. It deals directly with my last post on the true meaning of "perfection"

I am, however, a little disappointed that your ONLY goal is to be perfect. Sheesh. Can't you do a bit better than that? ;)

Papa D said...

Alison, I at least have to put up an appearance of keeping up with Mama. *grin*

Patty said...

Just reading your goals is making me feel even more exhausted. Maybe I should read through this again when I've fully recovered from the last two weeks and have had more sleep!! -grin-
Wonderful perspective, as always, and another great post to get me thinking in bigger, better ways. Thanks!

Mama D said...

kevinf and Darrell, if you visit Ray's blog again and see this, you need to know that your comments made his day!!

Ray loves the discussion on the bloggernacle and is extremely impressed with many people he has come to know through those threads (including all of you who have commented here).

However, Ray's admiration for kevinf and Darrell goes a little deeper. The way they express their viewpoints and testimonies just really resonates with him. FWIW, as a quiet lurker and occasional commenter on some 'nacle sites, I am also impressed with both of you.

No offense intended to anyone else, but I just wanted to let Kevin and Darrell know that Ray's respect is sincere.

(Patty, you are part of our blogging neighborhood family, so you are in a different category than the bloggernacle friends. I hope you quickly recover from the past few weeks!)

Papa D said...

Michelle's comment accidently posted three times. I deleted two of them, but I couldn't delete the notifications from the "Recent Comments" section. Just thought I'd explain why there are three "recent comments" from Mama but only one actual "comment".

Darrell said...

Wow, moma d! Talk about making someone's day! I will be walking on air for the next couple of hours. Thank you for the comment, and, Ray, thank you for making the 'nacle a better place. I was once determined to leave off lurking because of some of the negativity that is out there. However, some of the comments that I read from you kept me going and I have (I hope it is OK) used many of your ideas in Sacrament and council meetings. Thanks again.

kevinf said...

Seems strange to call someone MamaD that I've never met or conversed with before, but I'll say this. My wife has had a huge influence on who I am and what I believe and stand for. From what I have observed of Ray and his comments, you must be just as remarkable a person as my wife.

Now, before this gets too deep, I've got to go play troll somewhere on some unsuspecting blogger.

carrie said...

that'll keep you busy...wow, just one or even a few of those would be a big spiritual achievement for the year. i wish you success and spiritual enlightenment as you work to perfect your spirit. i think they are wonderful goals.

Papa D said...

FYI, I responded to the comment by anonymous (posted on two threads) on a different thread, so I have deleted it from this one.

steffielynn said...

Ok, I have already learned something new,I hate to admit it, but I did not even know what it meant to be "poor in spirit" So I had to look it up, and I found this http://www.ldsliving.com/nt8.asp

So now I know it means! To be humble!

Ray, it seems to me you already have this trait! But I LOVE your resolution, and I am totally stealing it!

It's a little scary though, because when we pray for, let's use this months trait for example, humility, the Lord will bless us with some trials!

I look forward to hearing about how you do! :)

Mama D said...

Darrell and Kevin, just wanted to add another thanks. To have Ray's comments used in your own meetings and to have my influence on Ray compared to your wife's influence on you... *wow!*

I guess I'm so used to being called Mama D that it doesn't faze me for virtual strangers to do so! There's some background, which I was going to link to, but I won't share it here.

Kevin, you have "conversed" with me before in a way, you just don't realize it. You partially quoted me (Mi) in a comment about your decision concerning your son's wedding (whether or not you should remain outside the temple with your other sons). Never forgotten that! That's one of the reasons I keep lurking and braving a rare comment, even though I usually feel way out of my league on most of the 'nacle.

Thanks to both of you for sharing your insights and knowledge on the bloggernacle. It's a better place because you're both there.

(Sorry to threadjack your resolution post, Ray! Now, back to making resolutions.)

Ardis Parshall said...

Ray, I've found this post by following a link from ZD. As much as I like the specific resolutions, I like the method more -- it's like you have 12 New Year's Days with the opportunity to start fresh with a new resolution, yet they're all tied together as part of one grand resolution. That's a method I could make work for me.