Thursday, December 31, 2009

Campus Construction

"I've never had a bad day" --Elder L. Tom Perry

Taking a walk around the campus of Brigham Young University will clearly lead one to the conclusion  that it is--as we say--"under construction". This has been the case during my entire stay in Rexburg. This has involved yellow tape, fenced off walk ways, disagreeable clamor, and unwanted detours. It becomes especially difficult when you can see a shorter path to your morning class blocked off by one of those highly transparent chain linked fences--often, our destination is "right there" but there is purpose in the long route. For me, all these pesky disturbances have added up to...well, a bucketful of pesky disturbances. This was the case until something hit me. I was walking to class with a friend. She was commenting on the fact that this construction seems to never end. I paused and agreed. This was followed by my own unexpected response. I said, "Well, we are all under construction."

Yes, we really are under construction and we must rejoice in the fact. A few weeks ago I finished Fall semester. It was a perpetual whirlwind of success and failure, growth and depletion, of breakthrough and breakdown. It was my best semester to date. All the failure and breakdown had to do with me. They had to do with me "unlearning" certain thought patterns, work habits, and attitudes that were detrimental to any sort of positive progress. The successes and breakthrough stood in the cultivation of a new outlook on personal goals and personal capacities.

Of the many lessons I passed through--including the dignity of diligent work, using our personal gifts for the good of others, and the importance of seeking learning in all things--there stood an even greater message.

I am a Christian. Christ is our true source of self. An inspired Christian named C.S. Lewis wrote on this truth in his book Mere Christianity. Here is the message:
"The more we get what we call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become....It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own....Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self....The very first step is trying to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him."
Christ is our builder and Great Contractor. He knows what He intends us to be if we let Him have place. Lewis also shares this analogy:
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing., He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
 Indeed, there will be yellow tape, fenced off walk ways, disagreeable clamor, and unwanted detours. Often we will be asked to take the long route but hopefully we will find Him along the way. We must be looking. And, along that way, we will change and be built into a place suitable for Him.

Going back to BYU-Idaho, then, if we look we can see that it is not being built up to show its growing status. Rather, it is under expansion for the sole purpose of allowing many others to come and gather and see. It is not under construction for itself. The same goes for you and I. We are not being built up unto ourselves; we are being built so that He can come in and do His work in us. That kind of construction is intended to be continuous.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Well-Worn, Red Bowling Shoes

"Wherever you go, you take yourself with you" --Unknown

Today, I saw a man walking while wearing a pair of well-worn, red bowling shoes in a campus building. To this, I was full of wonder. I say thank you to this man. I feel that he was fully able to wear any other pair of shoes but he wore his well-worn, red bowling shoes because he wanted to. Perhaps, we limit our inner-person from being fully illuminated because it gets shaded by normalcy. What is there to be afraid of ? We could be the vehicle of thought that certain people need--a fresh view beyond the daily humdrum. Be you. It's okay.

Tomorrow: where your well-worn, red bowling shoes. Make 'em think.