The other day I was reading the Church News and came across a recap of a message Elder M. Russell Ballard had given at the U of U for Institute students. His companion speaker was Elder John Huntsman Sr. and the message he gave is what struck me the most (not dissing on E. Ballard because his talk was excellent). Elder Huntsman spoke of an experience he had with Pres. Howard W. Hunter, while Pres. Hunter was serving as the Prophet. Here is the part that I was interested in sharing:
He said he had learned much from great leaders he has known, including President Howard W. Hunter.
He recounted that on one occasion, as he was driving by President Hunter's home, he felt a prompting to stop and see how he was feeling. The Church president asked him for a blessing.
"He [President Hunter] said, 'Today, President Huntsman, I had an ill thought toward another individual. It has made me physically sick. I need a priesthood blessing, because I cannot continue to function if I have any ill thoughts toward any man or woman on earth.'"
Elder Huntsman said the incident made him think of the statement by the Savior, blessed are the pure in heart, "for I was in the presence of someone who was pure in heart." (Church News, Nov. 22, 2008)
What is the real power of our actions on our physical health? Here is a man who, because of the decisions he made while in mortality, had reached the point where any negative/ill thought toward another of God's children caused physical sickness in his body. Could it be that there is more connection between our spiritual and our physical persona than we have realized. Those of us who suffer from frequent disorders in our bodies might want to check out our relationships with those we love and serve. I won't go so far as to say that every sin we commit might be a source of sickness or weakness, but it seems logical that we could increase our physical health if we were more thoughtful of our spiritual existence.
There is also that phrase, "pure in heart", that rises up before us, calling for examination of our commitment to Christ and His Kingdom. Can we really say that we have purged our souls of all unrighteousness and are seeking to become like King Benjamin's subjects:
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, 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. (Mosiah 5:2)
This is not a lecture for others, but more of a self-examination of my own motives when I deal with others. There are certain words in my vocabulary that might (or most assuredly would) be considered derogatory in nature when spoken aloud. I have a tendency to use phrases like "knucklehead", "goof-ball", and even "loser" when I describe people I know. Mostly, it comes in anonymous stories and such but it is still something that sets a tone others hear and may assume would include them in different instances. There are also times when decisions made by others seem to be incorrect so, while I may not say anything vocally, I am prone to have "an ill thought toward another individual." Sadly, many of these thoughts are toward people I love the very most and probably manifest themselves in my associations with them.
Could this ability to have a pure heart explain why the Prophets have a tendency to live such long lives? Not being weighed down by the stress of judgment on others, they can focus on the lifting and blessing of Heavenly Father's children. The love that is present when we refrain from criticism and degrading comments must have some beneficial results in our lives. I wonder if this is the "Balm of Gilead" spoken of so much in the scriptures.
My desire is to learn to withhold remarks or thoughts that might put me in the arena of experiences causing harm to my spiritual and physical self. It is a lofty goal, but obviously (at least based on E. Huntsman's story) not out of the realm of possibility. There is a lot of reconstruction to be done and many old habits to weed out of my life, but it is something I would like to tackle as I move closer to the end of my mortal existence. Pay attention and let me know if you think I am doing better.