A frequently quoted scripture in the Book of Mormon is found in Alma 38:12. Here, Alma counsels his son Shiblon to "bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love". Growing up I'd heard this scripture repeatedly likened to the need to control your hormones while you were dating if you ever hoped to find true love.
This scripture took on a new meaning for me one Christmas when I was home visiting family. Being home is supposed to be fun, but I was actually struggling with the transition. I wasn't used to the messy house, the constant chaos of kids, and the frigde completely void of anything I considered remotely healthy. My sanctuary soon became the room which I was put up in- the cluttered office with the blow up mattress in the corner. It was there that I one day came upon the former scripture in my studies. However, this time I connected with Shiblon in a way that I never before had. Shiblon had been the obedient son who'd faithfully served with his father in preaching the gospel. Alma acknowledges and even praises his son's obedience, but then comes his caution and counsel. Alma speaks of his own conversion and stresses how it was not his own righteousness that brought about his change of heart. He talks about being temperate and not being lifted up unto pride, then the familiar scripture- "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love". Why did I connect with Shiblon? I, like him, was getting a little too confident in my own capabilities. Like Shiblon, I needed Alma's reminder that though we may be working towards change, it is God who ultimately endows us with the change of heart we seek and blesses us with the talents we possess. The strengths I might have (or I might perceive myself as having :) ) were never meant to be used with overbearance or condenscension, but to bless and serve others just as Christ.
I thought I'd squeezed all the needed lessons from this scripture, yet as of late, I've gleaned even more from Alma's words. As seen from previous posts, I've taken on several different projects, primarily refinishing furniture and photography. I've absolutely loved exploring these different venues of creation and creativity. You could say I'm passionate about these things. However, with time I began to wonder if my "passions" were healthy for me. Not only were they consuming my time, but also my thoughts and attention. I noticed that meals became simpler, scripture study more rushed, my appearance more low maintenance, my house was accumulating little sorting piles, and I wasn't giving Chad the attention he needed after work. Not only that, I began to notice that my love for each of these areas was affected. For example, I enjoy cleaning, but when I was so occupied with my projects, housecleaning became more of a burden rather than a joy. This bothered me and I began to seek for understanding.
It was in working on one of my projects that this scripture was reintroduced to my mind. I have continued to think on this scripture, pray for understanding and try to put the counsel into practice. I can say that I've gained a deeper understanding that God is happy for us to find things that we love and are passionate about. He wants us to take the talents he's given us and to further develop them as a wise steward would do. However, all this with a caution to govern our passions so it us ruling, not the passions. I still love the process of creation and creativity, but now there's a time and a place for them as with all things; a time for laundry, a time to talk with a sister on the phone, a time for showering, a time for grocery shopping, a time for exercise, a time to fix dinner, a time for applying make-up, a time for sewing, a time for studying my scriptures, a time for cuddling up with my husband, etc.,... My love for my passions is not decreased by putting a reign on them. In fact, my love for them feels deeper because it feels more balanced and healthier...I feel more balanced and healthier.