I’ve had another hectic week, so I am catching up. Here’s Dates with God, Chapter 6, Part 3: Kate’s Letter #6, in which Kate has a download about how what she learned in college meshes with what she is learning in Mothers Who Know/Eternal Warriors. She gets inspired to write a letter to herself.
Kate’s Letter #6
I’ve been having all these flashbacks to college that help me understand this class. I was driving and letting my mind wander a bit. I almost turned on the radio, but then I heard a voice in my head say, “No don’t. Just be with your thoughts.” Then Thou brought to my mind the scripture that says, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” For some reason, then I remembered my college professor, Dr. Brown, teaching about how the brain works. He was really into human psychology and what things affect the brain. I remember him saying that the brain has a section, the limbic brain, that is similar to the brain of reptiles. Sometimes it is called the reptilian brain. I know that you know all of this God, I am just writing this all for my sake so that I can think aloud, pull it all together as I write, and discover more truth that Thou has to reveal to me. The limbic brain is the place of low-level thinking and instinctual behavior. Reptiles have nothing beyond this. They don’t have any attachment to anything, including their own babies, such that they walk away from them as soon as the egg is laid. There’s just zero attachment there. They just don’t have a place in their brain for attachment that we humans do. I have been calling this part of the brain the animal brain.
Any attachment or values we have are in the frontal lobe, which is separate from the limbic brain. The professor loved to have his wife bring his twin babies to class. You could see by the glow of his face, as soon as his wife walked into the room with those babies in her twin stroller, that he effusively adored them. He and his wife would then each don a baby in a sling and walk around the room, showing us how much babies love to be held close. Then they talked about the great natural birth Dr. Brown’s wife had, a twin birth at home. I thought it was cool that his wife breastfed the babies in front of the class as they both talked about attachment parenting, without making a big deal about it. It was just a natural thing to do with a baby. She did it modestly and without any fanfare. It felt OK and normal and natural. Dr. Brown probably spent at least six class lectures on attachment promoting features of babies, attachment promoting behaviors of parents, and how much joy is found in attachment.
He went on and about how the infant brain and even the adult brain is wired for attachment. We studied all those depressing stories about babies dying in institutions when they had no human touch to convey attachment, even if they had all the “proper” physical care of bathing and changing and feeding. I still remember him saying that it’s as if someone, before life as we know it began, planned for humans to be attached. He assigned us to write about what are humans biologically programmed to attach to, and why? Why not have the human species propagated by non-attachment behaviors? I remember writing the assignment and deciding as I did the research that we are biologically programmed to attach to love, or people that give us love. I decided it was because God designed it that way. God is love, so His creations, which are people, are a part of that love.
Since the class was at BYU, he could mix God and religion in all he wanted. He pointed out that the word perdition comes from the Latin root word perditio which means lost, or unattached. Then he asked us what is the worst final state in the plan of salvation. Some of us answered “sons of perdition.” It made such sense to me that the worst condition we can end up with is to be unattached to anyone. Does that mean they aren’t attached to love? Do they receive the state of perdition as their fate because they chose to turn from love? Growing up I remember my mom saying something to my little brothers. They would play a game of cops and robbers. They would pretend to shoot the robbers or put them in jail. She would tell them, “Let’s not shoot the bad guys and throw them in jail. Let’s teach them and share with them and love them and they will want to change.” I’ve always wondered if love is all that changes people. And is it possible to resist love and not change? Is it possible to accept love but still not change?
My mom had a girlfriend from high school whom she kept in touch with. This friend had been a foster mom to over 20 kids. Judy always said that she had never met a bad kid. It was amazing how all the delinquent kids who went to stay with her would clean up their acts after being in Judy’s home. We all attributed it to the love Judy has. She is the most loving, generous women, next to my mom. I always felt so comfortable in her presence, like I could tell her anything and she wouldn’t judge me as a bad person. Emma kind of reminds me of her. So I guess I am wondering if changing or repenting always comes because of some kind of love that we feel, and if we don’t change is it just because we don’t feel enough love? Or can we feel love and still choose not to change?
One of the other things he pointed out was that the word religion means “to tie back” which also relates to attachment. I really liked his appreciation for all religions because he said that all religions, if they are true religions based on the true God, have goodness in them as they promote an attachment to God, post-earth life, family, and community.
I have been thinking a lot about this. Just how attachment and God and parenting and joy are all so intertwined. So somehow, Thou made us spirits, from intelligence, as it says in the scriptures, and somehow, sometime, that spirit entered the body before birth. We start out attached to our mothers, and when we are born we are still attached to our mothers for a short time through the umbilical cord. That seems a good guide for the best way not only to enter the world but to leave it when we die, feeling attached to someone, if not physically, but emotionally. It seems to prefigure a greater attachment, but Thou doesn’t want us to feel forced to be attached to Thee. But this brain Thou gave us which is somehow part of our soul, has a part of it, the prefrontal lobe, that is a part of Thee. It is what attaches us to Thee, if we choose to stay in it and not drift.
So I am wondering if memory is also in the prefrontal cortex? Maybe so. I can see why Napoleon Hill, in his book Outwitting the Devil, says that the enemy would use drifting as his number one weapon. It’s another word for forgetting. He uses the chemical scale to get us to drift out of our frontal lobes so that we are no longer agents acting upon outside things but so that we are animals who get acted upon. As we use our bodies, which is something satan doesn’t have, we can do things that keep us in the frontal lobe. Things like rituals, because they help us remember, because they are physical.
Remember. That’s another word that I have been studying. I realized that the word “remember” also promotes attachment. If you break down the word you have “re-” which means “again” and “member” which means “a part of something bigger.” What would that “something bigger” be? I suggest it is the family of Thee, God. When we remember things we remember things that allow us to do or say or be something that will once again, get us to feel our part in something bigger, something that we are a member or a part of. Maybe that’s why President Spencer W. Kimball said that “remember” was the most important word in the scriptures. So when I “forget” to do something, it’s always because I started down a path of shutting myself away from the bigger picture that involves Thee and Thy will for me, even down the very day. When I remember things I am showing that I know and recognize that I must choose to do things that show that I’m part of a family, a team, and my actions affect other people. As my professor used to always say, “We are biologically meant to be part of something bigger. That thing is God’s family.”
I found a scripture that shows us how Thou, God, plays in with memories. In the Bible Jesus said “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26) Satan has a counterfeit to this, as he usually, if not always does. It’s the satanic spin. That allows him to bring back memories of things that will push our buttons. He wants us to bring back negative memories because he wants us to justify a negative feeling and make the hurt go deeper! The scoundrel! Christ on the other hand wants to bring back memories, through the Holy Ghost, that allow us to feel the fruits of the spirit which the scripture says are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Galatians 5:22-23)
After experiencing and learning in this class for the past few weeks, I am really getting the hang of how it feels when satan is creeping up on me. It’s when negative memories come back to me along with feelings of sadness about the future and even feeling that all of life is a waste and pointless. I’m OK with sadness, but I guess this kind of sadness is abject depression with feelings of hopelessness. Even more, I’ve figured out that he brings good memories but then twists them into bad feelings by speaking in my voice and suggesting that things can’t be like that ever again. The past few weeks I’ve been tormented by the following: “It’s too bad that this year it will be our last Christmas with Dave.” I imagine this will continue on with all of the holidays. I will probably be hearing, “This is our last birthday, Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving…” Then I start hearing this thought of “You are born, you grow, you get sick like Dave, and you die. It’s all a waste.” Then I just get this overwhelming depression and I don’t want to get out of bed. Now that I am writing about it and I realize how these thoughts aren’t really me, but satan, I just feel this intense anger towards the low-down cheat. How dare he twist my pleasant happy family memories into feelings of doom and gloom and that they are a waste. I am not ready to give up on Dave’s prognosis! It can change! It ticks me off that the enemy is getting me to descend into hopelessness by speaking in my own voice in my head!
Dave had promised me he would help me all of these remodeling projects around the house as soon as he was done with a project at work. With all of these kids and homeschooling and our music practice and play practices and music competitions it’s impossible for me to get to them. But then he got really sick and he hasn’t been able to do any of it. So now, I’ve noticed that whenever I’m looking at house decorating or DIY blogs, I hear this voice in my head, “That’s beautiful, but why bother? I’m never going to have my dream house. Not at this rate. Dave is dying.” Guess what? I know that voice is satan now! The scum bum! It’s like I’m shining an intensely bright searchlight on him and he can’t hide anywhere! Busted!
From now on, I’m going to say, out loud, if I can, or if I am in public, under my breath, as soon as I hear that voice, or feel these despondent, morbid, hopeless feelings, the following: “Stop it! I can hear and see you! You think you are so smart but I caught you! Everything you just said is a lie! Dave’s fight is not over! He has lived a life of goodness and courage. His life and nobody’s life is a waste! It is up to God if he dies. If he dies in the peace of Jesus, as it says in D&C 42:46, that is a beautiful thing. His death will taste sweet. I can go on with happy memories of our life together. I can also go forward joyfully, knowing that because of our temple covenants we will be together happily eternally. He wants me to keep going on. Nothing will mar our beautiful, happy, loving life together. Shut up and flee, you dastardly demon! Go back to hell where you belong and stay there!”
I am going to drill this routine so that when I do feel the depression I can immediately write those affirmations, instead of reaching for food to numb the pain. So here is my plan for my new drill. I have alarms set on my phone to go off at 10:30 AM, 3 PM, and 7 PM. Then I have the alarms labeled with the question, “The devil with his depression is calling you! What do you say to him? Yes, that’s right, tell him ‘Go right back where you belong, to hell!’ ” Then I am going to play the “Overcomer” song by Mandisa on my phone, strike my yoga warrior pose, as long as I am at home and not shopping, and recite what I just wrote. I will have it written on a 3 x 5 card I carry in my pocket. Then I am going to go touch all of the doorknobs in the house, and open all of the doors to show that I believe in being open to love and God’s will for our family, even if that involves the impending death of Dave.
Last week we rented a movie for our date night. We watched the French movie, With Love: From The Age of Reason. It’s about this character named Marguerite who has a high-powered career and rejects an offer for marriage from her live-in boyfriend because she says she doesn’t want to commit to a husband or kids. Eventually she finds a letter. It’s a letter from her 7 year old self. The letter reminds her of what she wanted to be when she was young. She realizes that she is off-track and then changes her life to be like her 7 year old self wanted to be, which includes having a husband and babies.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that. What letter would I have written when I was seven, to my future self? Even better to ponder is what letter would I have written to myself from the premortal world? I am going to think about that and write one.
I got this huge insight from the scriptures this week. In Alma 58, the Lamanites have gotten smarter about the Nephites’ strategy of using a decoy so now the Nephites have to get smarter. They, the Nephites, have to wait to get more food. An army of 2000 delivers more food to them. They start to get scared when they compare their small numbers to the Lamanites’ innumerable numbers.
I love vs. 10 because it says that the Nephites poured out their soul to Thee in prayer. They beg Thee to help them protect their lands and possessions. In vs. 11 they receive an answer. It says that Thou didst visit them by speaking peace unto them, giving them assurances and “great faith,” and hope for “our deliverance in him (God).” Then they were inspired with a new strategy. This strategy allowed them to stand fast in the liberty that Thou gave them, even though they received some wounds. It allowed them to lead away the Lamanites into the wilderness and the other parts of the army that were hiding. What was this new strategy? I love this story! This was the new strategy, a new “secret to success” given in the same verse. It was to remember Thee, their Lord God every day. They were “strict” to do this every day. They showed this by observing Thine statutes, commandments, and judgments continually. Also their faith was strong in the prophecies to come. That is what I am striving to do too. I am doing my Power Actions every day to remember Thee and that Thou art the only source of my power. I am also learning more about Thine prophecies.
How will the enemy attack me tomorrow? He will attack me with stress about all of my responsibilities and depression about the cancer. And depression that my body seems to be stuck at a plateau of weight. And temptation to make cookies and caramels and fudge. How will I fight back? I will fight back by making a plan for the day, and then setting my alarm to go off at the above times. The alarm will remind me to do my drill and then to look at my daily schedule and remember what’s on it and make changes.
Extra Letter for Week #6 for Kate
A Letter from the Premortal Kate to her Future Adult Self in the Mortal World
Dear Mortal Adult Kate,
I know you! Do your remember living in the premortal world? Remember your Heavenly Father? Remember how He is the King of the universe? You know that He once held you in His arms. You know that He loves you wholly and infinitely. When we were all together as one big happy family up in heaven, before this earth life, we felt this love so completely. It penetrated you to the very core so that you felt like you were warm and safe all the time. Remember how Father took you and all of His spirit children on a tour of His dream estate? It has innumerable mansions with all the materials that allow each of us to fulfill our passions of creating beauty and building useful things and serving to bring joy to others.
As Father showed you each room with all of the elegance and luxury and comforts that only custom-built homes can have, you felt indescribable peaceful longings to enjoy all of this with Father forever. You had spiritually grown up in the nursery of His cottage in the woods so to speak so you were not used to such palatial appointments. At this point in your development, you were not mature enough to live in any of these mansions. These mansions have gleaming white rock walls, marble floors, and the finest fabrics for the furniture and draperies. Remember? No, I know you don’t, so that’s why I am telling you. Numerous windows allow abundant light and color to pour forth inside. The whole estate is surrounded by gardens and lakes and woods and flowers and animals. You were in awe of all of the places to climb and explore and play and relax and create.
Then Father took us one by one into His den. You got a royal, personal invitation from Him and Heavenly Mother to come live with them forever, based on a condition. Both of Them held you and looked into your eyes and told you how much They love you. Then Father said that the fondest wish of His heart was to have you come live with Them both and have an eternal life together in this mansion and gardens. You were told that you could live with Them only if you really wanted to. You would not be forced to live there just because you are his child. You were told that Father and Mother would trust you to inherit your place in one of the mansions and treat it with care if you became like Them, always loving, always wise, always giving, and leading with light. This eternal life would involve eternally pursuing your passions of creation of music and art and beauty and worlds and people and eternally serving others. Father reminded you of your older brother, the Savior Jesus Christ, who would hold the keys to let us back into the mansion because of his royal love which would be manifested on earth by his atonement.
They told you that when you show that you have chosen to have a heart like Father and Mother’s and receive this royal love that is embodied by Father’s Only Begotten Son in the flesh will you be allowed to come in. Then came the clincher. The only way to show that you really wanted to be like Father and have a heart like His and Mother’s would be if you lived far away from Them. That way you could show that you really were choosing Their life, with the opposite choices placed before you in a dark world. That way you could show that you weren’t just choosing Their life because that’s all you knew or that Their life was the only choice you had. You could show that you intended to be part of Father and Mother’s kingdom, and be like Them, no matter how far away you might be, and no matter how much the enemy would attack you. So whenever you “remember who you are” you are showing or feeling or doing or knowing things to “again,” which is what “re” means, be a “member” or a part of Their Divinely Royal Family and Kingdom. It’s like you are saying, “I haven’t forgotten Thee, Father. I am coming home! The best in life is yet to be! I am becoming like Thee. I am having a heart like Thine and receiving Thy royal love through my elder brother, my Savior, so I can live with Thee again. I choose to be with Thee again!” Whenever you remember important things, you are having thoughts, or doing actions that involve you becoming more like Father with His light and truth.
Father sent you to earth with many royal gifts, including the atonement of your older brother, the Savior Jesus Christ, and your body. Your body was made in Mother’s image, with a divinely appointed part of the brain called the frontal lobe where you can connect with Father in your earthly abode. The enemy, who wants to hijack you of your choice to inherit Father’s Divinely Royal Kingdom, does everything he cowardly can to get you out of that royal place in your brain, the frontal lobe, where you can have your intentions to be like Father and Mother.
Don’t let the enemy stealthily lure you out of that place. Remember to tell Father every day in your prayers what you want. Declare to Him, Heavenly Father, that no matter what happens on earth, no matter what weapons the demons throw at you, you will be a member of His Loving Royal Family again. Just let yourself feel the Royal Love again. Feel yourself letting go of all false gods and false feelings satan gives you that make you feel justified in being alone and being a law unto yourself. Feel yourself letting go all the hurts and offenses people have given you. Feel the Royal Love from your Parents and receive it so you can give it to others. Choose to be with Father again. Choose to be in the place in the little house of the body Father gave you where you can stay connected to Father across the eons of mortality and space. Choose to feel His Royal Love and choose to be born again in that love with a new heart like His. “
“Katie from the Premortal World”
Here’s what I learned from writing that letter.
The frontal lobe is the place of connections and value so that when I stay there and not drift with satan’s influence I can connect with the most important connection of all, the connection of Thine Royal Family. I am convinced that the holy place Thou mentions in D&C 87:8 is the frontal lobe.
I went to this presentation last week about the ancient Nephites of the Book of Mormon. The presenter stated her theory that the Nephites practiced the Law of Moses in a certain part of North America, the middle section of the United States, because that is where all of the animals and plants were so they could practice the rites. She showed us a powerpoint chart of all of the Jewish holy days, and what plants and animals were needed to practice them, like wheat and lambs for the Passover feast. None of these things were native to Central or South America hundreds of years ago.
After it was over, I thought, wow, I never had noticed by my many times reading through the Book of Mormon that the Law of Moses was practiced by the Nephites. It’s been there the whole time, I just didn’t pick up on it. Those Nephites were amazingly blessed to have the Law to teach them about the upcoming Savior and to help them remember His sacrifice to bring them back to Thee. I started thinking, I wish we had some rites like the Jews and the Nephites to help us remember Thee and the Savior more. Duh! Then I realized, or Thou helped me remember, that I have opportunities to remember Thy son all around me. The Law of Moses was fulfilled by Thy son, so now I have the baptismal and sacramental ordinances which allow me to remember His eternal sacrifice. My daily prayers and scripture reading allow me to remember Him, they are a ritual now. The temple ordinances allow me to remember Him. I even learned a new ritual from Emma. During the week, she writes down all of her negative feelings on a piece of paper. Then she takes it to the temple and tears it up into little pieces and throws it away in a wastebasket at a temple.
I rejoice that I have more freedom than the Nephites and Jews to come up with even more rituals, my own rituals that cause me to remember Thee and the goals Thou inspires in me. My drill is a way to remember Thee. In fact, all things are in the likeness of Thee, to help me remember Thee.
I thank Thee for giving me my opportunities to be a member of Thy household again in Thy Dream Estate. The remembrance is what that is all about. Now I’m going to create rituals for all of my goals, like I have for my power actions to remind me that I am a member of Thine Royal Loving Family again in eternity. I’m so looking forward to creating these rituals and doing my drill.
Oh my gosh, I just remembered the title of a book I saw at the bookstore as I wandered around there with Dave last week. Sometimes we go there for dates to peruse the books and talk about ideas. This title I glanced at is now running through my head, “I Refuse to Raise a Spoiled Brat!” Could that be the plan of salvation, boiled into one sentence uttered by Thee, premortally? I can’t speak for Thee, so all of this stuff could be wrong, but it seems to me that Thou would feel the same way. Thou art King of the Universe, and could just give everything Thou has to us, without qualifications, but that would turn us into spoiled brats. I know that I will always love my kids but that doesn’t mean that I want to live with them forever in the needy, premature, and obnoxious states they sometimes are in now. I do enjoy the chubby cheeks and big eyes and the adorableness of babies and little kids, but I do look forward to conversations and relationships with them all being independent, self-reliant, mature, respectful older people.
It will be so wonderful not to have to remind little people to stop picking their nose, clean up their dirty socks, change their underwear, brush their teeth, and go potty instead of dancing around when the urge hits. I look forward to the day when I can actually have a family dinner without reminding children not to chew with their mouths open or wipe their hands on a napkin and not their pants. I am looking forward to a life without fishing something out of the toilet, stepping on Legos in the dark, getting to eat a meal without being interrupted to referee a fight or wipe the toddler’s bum, and not have to get up in the middle of the night to help a puking child. I want to enjoy eternal presence with my children without the custodial tasks.
Maybe this is how Thou feels? After all, isn’t part of godhood having children eternally? I guess by the time someone is a god, the custodial tasks aren’t a big deal. At least the ones that span through mortality. Does it work out that the children that live with Thee eternally don’t demand any of Thy time or care? I am just wondering here. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like even though Thou loves us we can only live with Thee eternally when we are developmentally ready and do it of our own free will and accord. Otherwise it would be like living eternally in Thine mansion with spiritual toddlers, or worse, spoiled brats, whiny, careless kids, and misbehaving teens. No fun. I will always love my kids but I do look forward to them being adults. They can always live with me if they really are down on their luck, as long as they aren’t misbehaving. If they do misbehave, they get to do it on their own dime, once they have reached 18. It sounds kind of harsh, but I am thinking, isn’t that how Thou parents? I think so.
I feel so blessed to know of Thee, God. I thank Thee for letting me know of Thee and that Thou art my Father. I feel so many possibilities!
copyright 2015 Celestia Shumway