Creating Room for Possibility

I have been wrestling with the idea of limitations–from whence they come, their impact, the weight that they carry in our lives.  The interesting thing about how I came to the conclusions to which I came is the fact that I was muddling through a few different lines of thought, without realizing that all three of them related to one another and that their linkage was the idea of limitations versus possibility.  It made it all the more poignant when all three puzzles were summed up beautifully with the same conclusion.

I wrote a post late last year about the reservations that I have felt in moving forward with certain big decisions because they preclude some of the (really important) possibilities that might come my way in the meantime.  I have since come to peace with that issue through a more perfect trust in my knowledge that, since my priorities are aligned in conjunction with my Heavenly Parents, I will be alright.  But it got me thinking.

In one of my classes, we were discussing Alma's exhortation to experiment on the word in Alma 32. While we were talking about it, I started thinking about what goes wrong when an experiment fails. If I remember 8th grade science correctly, human error can be a major factor. But what does human error look like in a spiritual experiment?

Alma talks about needing to exercise a particle of faith. He also talks about the ground being barren. In this experiment of faith and belief, it seems that the human error is not giving place for the experiment to have success in the first place.  More importantly, I would argue, is that we don't give the metaphorical soil enough nourishment. But what does that look like?

Certainly, many of us have contemplated the barren soil as being a perspective and attitude that is not willing to give even a particle of faith to the experiment. And that is valid. But what about the word enough? It doesn't mean that we haven't given it any nourishment. In the Scripture, the seed has already grown into a tree! It has leaves! It has roots! But it doesn't have enough nourishment to bear fruit. Could it be that this is a bigger, more relevant problem for Latter-day Saints than we give heed?

The quintessential question is this:  Do our expectations of what is possible become limitations for what is possible in our lives?  Alternatively, do we give enough room for God to work His mighty miracles in our lives?  Is there enough room in my heart for Alma's tree to grow as tall and as healthy as is possible?

Could it be true that, unless we carve out the room for Father to show us what He can do, He can only do for us what we think He can do?  If that's the case, then is it possible that too many Latter-day Saints are trees, with roots that go deep and leaves that are beautiful, but no or little joyous, miraculous fruit?  Is it at all possible that if we were to lay down some of our expectations for our lives and our relationship with Deity, while still exercising the most perfect faith of which we are capable, the miracles wrought in our lives could be more grand and more undeniable? 

Could we become unshakable in our faith because we gave Heavenly Father the room within us to tend mightier oaks?

Perhaps the punchline to all of it is simply this:  that carving out room in our lives for God to really work His miracles requires real faith in the very nature of Deity.  Real belief.  Real fortitude.  After all, it was Christ Himself who proclaimed, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible."


treen said...

Oh my gosh, Lauren - this is TOTALLY applicable to a major situation Adam and I are in right now with our church work. Mainly, how do we convince the nay-sayers in our ward (or help them be open to the Spirit, I suppose, so HE can convince them) that there really is a miracle sitting on the table just waiting for us to open it RIGHT NOW. You should change your title to "To the Vicksburg, Mississippi Ward. Get your head out." Or something like that.

Lauren Kay said...

Oh good! I'm SO glad that know...made sense. No, really, I also think that sometimes we just have to welcome the Lord into our lives and say, "Alright, do whatever You want, because You can make more of me than I can even conceive." The immediacy of the possibilities in our lives is astounding. All we have to do take off the blinders a bit.

There's this story (more a fable than fact) that talks about how as the ships of Columbus approached the new world, the native peoples of the island of Hispaniola could only see the ripples in the water created by the boats and not the ships themselves because the ships were so far outside of their conception of the possible. I wonder if in practice, this isn't so far off when we consider how myopic we humans get in thought and practice.

Anonymous said...

I love what you have written and the thoughts it invokes in me. I want to throw another possibility out to add to the curiosity. Going back to perspective, perhaps the tree is bearing fruit and because of our expectations of what the fruit should look like we are not seeing it and we sometimes cast out faith aside thinking it was a failed experiment. Alma states it is our unbelief that casts out the seed, or I believe it can uproot the tree in later stages if we pull the plug on our faith. I do believe what you have covered could be more often the case though but I wanted to throw that out there to cover another area where we ourselves set the limitations. Just like your story(fable) about the natives not being able to see the ships. Perhaps if this is the case we should look for signs(ripples in the water) of God's blessing and safely assume that although we can't see them, the effects of his blessings are there and so must the blessings (fruit) then also. I have used this method with much success. I guess this also follows Alma 32. If we see symptoms but don't know what the actually blessings are, we should exercise a particle of faith that they really are there and then as it grows our eyes will be able to see what was there all along. I think patience and faith go hand in hand. Sam

Lauren Kay said...

Wow. Thanks, Sam. I think that your thoughts here are profound and something I hadn't thought before. Definitely, definitely an important addition here. Thanks again for sharing!

Adam said...

My favorite discourses on this topic is Elder McConkie's "Purifying Power of Gethsemane" where he says that if we want the same rewards as the ancient Patriarchs we need to know what they knew, believe what they believed and live as they lived. And they believed in and received mighty miracles.

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