When I was a little boy, someone (probably my dad) taught me how to make animal traps out of old fruit boxes. We would take the ends off the box (about 6”X 12” X1”) and nail four of them together in a long, rectangular shape (sort of like a square tube). Then we would put window screen or a fine mess fencing on one end of the box and a door on the other. The door had a string that held it up and was arranged so that if the animals ate some food we tied to the string, the door would fall down and catch them. (There was more to it than described, but I can’t give all the instructions…you know, violation of military secrets and such).
Our traps were similar to this one, though not as fancy.
The traps were primitive but very effective in catching little critters (preferably chipmunks and squirrels but sometimes birds got in). Most often we would just release the animals but sometimes they would become so anxious about their captivity that they would harm themselves in an effort to escape. Many of our captured friends ended up with bloody noses from crashing against the screen, but we tried to let them out before any permanent damage was done.
I’ve thought about some of the traps encountered in my own life and have recognized that most are just as simple and effective as those I created as a boy. Let’s look at a few that have given me trouble.
This has always been my dream car….still don’t have it.
Growing up somewhat deprived of the THINGS of life (at least in my eyes), I determined early that I was going to be sure to have enough money and stuff so that I could be “happy”. One of my life goals (in addition to a family, serving in the Church, etc.) was to have a MILLION DOLLARS by the time I was 30 so I would never have to struggle again. College and work led me to a career that was very profitable and had me well on my way to success.
What I found was that, while the trap of wealth was exciting, it was also restricting and distracting. In order to have lots of money you have to work lots of hours or make lots of concessions. And those concessions and hours left bloody marks on my soul because they took me away from what I really wanted. A few painful events (not to be discussed at this time) finally convinced me that “things” weren’t really that important. Since then I have been much more at peace with myself and my life.
An equally difficult trap has been that STUPID TV. While I have made progress in this regard, it is still a thorn in my side and in the foot of my sweetheart. I’m better at the quality of what I watch and I (most of the time) can control the amount, but there are still times when the trap slams shut and I am frantically running around, trying to get free once again. My hope is that before I die it will be a non-issue (maybe I will go blind or something).
This last one is a little more sensitive so I ask for your kindness as you discover my weaknesses.
There, I said it. Now you all know and you can see that I have such a long way to go in life (some of you may remember that I tried to sell off a few of my faults a while back but I forgot to include this one. Oh well, it wouldn’t have mattered because no one wanted the other items so I would still be stuck with this one.).
Here I am, serving as bishop in my ward, trying to help the members improve their lives, and one of my greatest weaknesses is that I am more concerned with myself than I am with other people. Oh, there are days when I think I am doing OK but then I revert back to ME mode and ignore what others need. Then I start wondering why I’m not in tune so much and in finally comes to me that I have forgotten what I’m really supposed to be doing.
You would not believe the scars and scratches I have endured because of my own stupid decisions…forgetting that I am here to serve and bless everyone else.
But there is hope!! I have faith in the Savior and His Atonement!!! He can help me!!!! He can open all the traps and let me out.
That’s the only way I will ever be free.