About a year or so ago, a dear friend posted Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talk (from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), The Challenge to Become, on Facebook. I read it, and then read it again. It not only spoke to my spiritual heart—that part of me that seeks to be a better person—but it also spoke to my social aspirations, my physical aspirations, my mental and emotional aspirations. It spoke to the whole of me.
A Short Summary: Becoming
Elder Oaks’ talk explores the process of spiritual development. The qualities that we need to become Christ-like are not qualities we exercise, like loving, not judging, and serving others, but they’re qualities that form our characters: we become loving, we become non-judgmental, we become charitable.
“It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions.”Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become”
There’s a difference between doing an act of service for another and being that act of service; there’s a difference between having charity and being charitable. There’s a difference between loving and being loving. The difference is that one is an act, the other is a state of mind. If you are charitable, then it’s something you do all the time, while an act of charity is episodic.
The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes.Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become”
How Do We Become?
I’ve been pondering on this talk for months now because it’s not just relatable to spiritual matters; it’s relatable to all aspects of our well-being.
We all have goals, right? We might want to be richer or healthier or happier (in fact, it’s mostly happier and everything else is designed to get us there…not that money or healthiness actually causes happiness). So how do we attain these goals?
We must Become.
This doesn’t mean eating no carbs for a year, and suddenly we’re skinny and happy; it’s a state of mind. Being healthy is a state of mind: you start eating like a healthy person, you start exercising like one. In short, you become healthy in your mind and in your body:
“This is achieved not just by doing what is right, but by doing it for the right reason.”Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become”
Elder Oaks referred to being Christ-like; we do it for the pure love of Christ. The right reason for being healthy is for the joy and desire of being healthy. If you’re doing it to fit into a dress or impress your friends, you’re always going to fall short; the results won’t stick.
How Do We Know We’ve Become?
So how do you know you’ve become healthy in mind and body? Elder Oak’s has an answer to this as well:
“If we are losing our desire to do evil, we are progressing toward our heavenly goal.”Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become”
Translated to goals, it means if we lose our desire to do evil or binge on food or waste money, then we are on our way to becoming good or healthy or financially secure. If we no longer have a desire to eat and live unhealthy, we’ve become healthy.
So…with this in mind:
- Choose to be instead of just do
- Do it for the right reason
- Make goals
- Lose the desire to do or be otherwise
I wanted to make this my theme for the year and base my goals and resolutions around it. I want to become something more, not just accomplish some goals without really changing. I need to ponder what and who I really want to be. Do I want to be more fit? More financially secure? Have a better social life? Yes, yes, and yes. But running farther, saving more, and going out more often won’t really change me. I have to be healthy and frugal and connected to others in such a way that I don’t want to be otherwise.
I’m not one to share personal goals on my blog. It’s so…personal (obviously). But I will say that I’m making goals to Become. Because in the end it’s all about Becoming…a little happier.