To paraphrase a variety of philosophies, writings, and even scriptures that touch on the matter, I would like to put forth the premise that our thoughts become our desires, and our desires eventually become our actions. The book “As a Man Thinketh” takes this a few steps further to observe that our actions eventually become our habits, and our habits become our character. For the purpose of this topic, I would like to focus on the birthplace of our life’s works: our desires.
I believe that most people, in most things, are basically good. But I also believe that we all “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) I don’t believe that those sins and shortcomings are born in an instant, or spring up out of us spontaneously; I believe that our desires have to be in the wrong place first, before we sin.
In about 124 B.C., a people that had been taught about God’s laws and instructed in everything relating to the Gospel came to a critical point in their faith where they had to truly choose in their hears whether the would do good, or not. They were asked outright how they would choose, and they chose to follow God. In the Book of Mormon, the book of Mosiah Chapter 5 verse 2, we can read why they so chose [emphasis added]:
…because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
Now, these people didn’t start out with a desire to do good continually. They first had thoughts, instruction, and experience. And finally, the Spirit of the Lord changed their natures, their desires, toward good. The end that they arrived at is one that every Christian seeks, and one that I am seeking continually.
Like all humans that roam this earth, I have sinned and fallen short. I have been in places where my thoughts and desires were not good, but evil. I have experienced those things, and I can honestly say they never lead to joy or happiness. Regardless of how the world views good and evil, my own thoughts, learning, and experience burn an indelible impression of good versus evil in my heart. I know for sure that “wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10)
Luckily, I have also learned that I have the power to control my actions. That power starts in my thoughts, and then extends into my desires. My goal is to become like those who have had a “mighty change of heart” and have “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” To achieve that goal, I realize that I must start with my thoughts, and then my desires.
As I work on controlling my thoughts with the aim of controlling my actions, and even my habits and character, I am coming to realize that I have metrics and indicators that can help me along the way. Specifically, my desires can be a measure to me of how well I am doing at controlling my thoughts. If my desires are in the wrong place, then my thoughts are in the wrong place, because that is where my thoughts are born. If my desires are wrong, the solution isn’t to fight against my desires (though, that may certainly be required as a stop-gap measure), but rather to determine where my thoughts have gone wrong, and make the correction there.
At a level, all of my desire is to do good, and live with God after this life. Much of what I aim for flows from there. But at another level, I fall short. That is my nature, as it is the nature of all that are here in this life. For that, feeling bad will do almost no good. Instead, I intend to feel good about my overarching desires, and work diligently on the rest of my desires that are in opposition to that, starting with “the thoughts of my heart.” I know that as I do that, I will come closer and closer to my Savior, and the example He has put forth for me.
FDREL122 L01 Lyman