Recently the Mormon Women Project started their New Testament Lesson Helps. (To get these helps, follow the MWP on Facebook.) One of these lessons several weeks ago caught my attention. It was Lesson #9 about selfless service. She recounted a story about Rabi’ah al-Basri, a female Sufi mystic.
“One day, she was seen running through the streets of Basra carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked what she was doing, she said, “I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to Allah. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of Allah.”
When I was a freshman in college, I attended a club hosted by one of the college departments. It was there I had first heard this short snippet from Rabi’ah al-Basri. That tiny story on an inconsequential night really has shaped my perception of faith. I try not to be scared of Hell or going there. I don’t want my motivations and actions to be based on fear. Nor do I try for the rewards of a Heaven – acting as if God is some slot machine where I put in my works and He doles out all that I assume I want or need. Faith is an action. As I hold onto it and move forward with it, it shapes my thoughts, ideas and my being. It creates room for things that might not have been able to fit before in my soul or character. It transforms me. I move forward because of the FEELING of goodness, of love, of compassion that start to grow in me as I increase in faith and potential.
Said another way, in LDS lingo, is a talk by Apostle Dallin H Oaks on The Challenge to Become. He states:
“We conclude that the … end of life… is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. ”
Also, he states: “I hope the importance of conversion and becoming will cause our local leaders to reduce their concentration on statistical measures of actions and to focus more on what our brothers and sisters are and what they are striving to become.”
Or stated, in other terms, Here is a article on 11 Ways To Become Your Best Self. These include forgiving yourself, moving on, meditating and so on. I particularly like this one because it is often easier, but not productive, to compare our “rewards” than our “becoming.”
3. Embrace your life’s unique curriculum.
Live in alignment with who you truly are. Be led by the “natural inclination” that’s encoded within your soul. Heed your inner directives. Don’t worry about what other people think. Say no when you need to. Cultivate healthy boundaries everyone in your life, and don’t be afraid to disappoint others when you hold to your intentions and honor your needs. And avoid comparing your life’s unfolding with that of others—we all have our very own train track with our own designated controls, stops, and speed settings.
So whatever our lot in life, married, single, no kids, 12 kids, religious, nonreligious, wealthy or poor, we are all in the process of becoming something. What motives you – truly, deep down? And what are YOU becoming?