The Seven Doors to the Soul

I believe in the soul. You have one. I have one. I am not completely sure what a soul is made of, but I am sure it is there.

When protected, it is a fortress—with seven doors, doors that can only be opened by your permission.

Happy is the soul who guards those doors wisely.

The first door, the eyes. Your eyes are the proverbial window to your soul. We open our eyes to see a scene, a person, a truth. We let the image in. For good or ill, the image becomes part of your being.

Second, the ears. We listen to others through our ears but also with our souls. At first we may listen without the other person really knowing we are listening to them. We are interested. We are intrigued. We quiet ourselves and listen.

This happened on my mission: I helped teach an investigator in Kirtland, Ohio back in 1978. Nothing happened. Fourteen years later, I saw him again and he revealed to me that he had listened to our testimonies and “devoured” a book we had given him, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards. I didn’t know that at the time. When I saw him that day in the Portland Oregon Temple, he presented his temple recommend to me (I worked at the recommend desk). It was profound evidence that a door to his soul had quietly opened many years before.

The third is the mouth. With trust and confidence gained from eyes and ears, we begin to speak and share. We open up. First, we may share a simple fact from our lives, but as trust grows, we reveal ever deepening avowals. With the people you trust the most, you can share anything without fear; with those we fear, we conceal our essence.

The fourth portal is the mind. We open our thoughts to ponder and meditate. We let words and ideas distill upon us, drop by drop. We think about an experience over and over. It can be our own experience or the experience of another. The mind, of course, is involved from the beginning, but the door fully opens through intentional thought, deliberate meditation.

An example of this for me is the experience of our Savior in the garden Gethsemane, something I’ve pondered for many years. I think of how He felt completely alone, how He begged for relief, and how He yielded. How He did not bleed until He completely yielded. That is my own conclusion; it does not come from the scriptures, but it feels true to me. I will hold it as true until someone convinces me otherwise, but I won’t teach it as doctrine. I offer it only as an opinion that has passed through a door to my soul.

The fifth, the heart. The mind is a pathway to the heart. I am not speaking of the physical heart that pumps blood through our veins. I am talking about something else. I don’t really know what the heart is. It may be connected to the physical heart but it is much larger. It is at the center of our bodies. It glows and vibrates and shines and crackles. We weep and laugh. We may open this door when we are reading a book or writing one or listening to a talk in sacrament meeting or talking to a spouse, a child, a friend, even a stranger or listening to a sparrow or the wind sing, or contemplating a memory or the voice of the Holy Spirit. The heart is the sail of the soul.

The sixth is the spirit. Your soul, your eternal friend, is a union of your body and spirit. It is where the physical meets the spiritual. It is where the past meets the future. It is eternal. It is where we see across a vast expanse, forward and backward, into a time and place we seem to remember but cannot fully grasp. It is a place where we come to understanding or recollection before the mind and heart arrives. It is where we connect with the truth. When we connect with it, when that door is open to it, we forget we are on earth. Heaven is here and now. It is a way to peace, a peace that goes beyond understanding. 

The seventh and last is sacred, human touch. This is the door we often open too early. We are anxious to open it. We are desperate to find a soul mate. We think when we open that door that it will throw open all the other doors, but in this we are often disappointed. When physical touch begins so does trouble when that touch comes too early.

My wife and I never kissed until after we were engaged. We had known each other for over three years. To some that may seem Victorian, but really it was reverence for the sacred and reverence helps relationships last.

No door to the soul is more sensitive to timing than human touch. No door is deeper in the fortress. When it is opened in the right way with the right person at the right time, it is a joyful door to open, this final door. But this is why divorce and unstable relationships can be so painful and harmful. We long for the last door to be opened, but when we open it at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons or with the wrong person, it can destroy us.

These are the doors to your soul—our fortress.

Let no enemy enter. 

Hey, I Got Running Shoes for Christmas

My wife bought me running shoes for Christmas. The nicest pair I’ve ever owned. Brooks Ghost 6.

I spent almost two hours at the running store trying different brands. I’d try on a pair and run around the store. Take one shoe off, put on another in its place. Run around the store again. And again. It was kind of fun. Rarely have I taken that much time to buy anything.

The shoes are light and comfortable. My feet are in love with them.

I am learning how to run again. I know almost nothing about it. But I feel inspired to do it. Here are a couple of reasons why.

The first reason is simple. I can actually do it again. After dealing with a chronic health problem since 2001, my doctor figured out what to do about it. One Methyl CpG a day. One. It is amazing how much better I feel. I can run again. Why not do it?

Another reason is I could run fast in high school. I recently remembered that. It’s been a few years.

Next, Jim Michie. I home teach Jim. He is in mid-70s and he runs four marathons a year. He is lean and agile, more than most people at any age. When you run four marathons a year, you have to train big. I have been so inspired by Jim. I want to be more like him—not when I grow up but now. 

Finally, Shawn Craig Wickard. I met Shawn at a writing conference last summer. He has a rare condition—lupus in his spinal column—and he is in a wheelchair. He had stem cell transplant 9 years ago and he is getting the use of his legs back.

We’re buddies on Facebook. Last October, Shawn posted that he had gone 0.81 miles on a treadmill. He said, “It feels so awesome being this close to my impossible goal of walking a mile! What’s holding you back . . . ? Mine was only paralysis and gravity!” He reached his one-mile goal on January 4, 2014.

When I read what Shawn said, something clicked. I realized that I was doing myself a disservice. If Shawn could walk a mile, why couldn’t I run a mile or three miles or five or 10? 

This is where I start. My goal is to run at least two 5Ks this year. It is a small goal, I know. My goal is also to come in third for my age group even though I may be the only one who enters in my age group. 

And that first race? No matter how fast or slow I run, I’ll PR.

I am 56 years old. I haven’t run consistently since I was in high school [no, my mission]. I am running now because I can. And because of Jim and Shawn. And because I have an incredibly supportive wife who believes in me. She has always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you, Cristi.

I appreciate the running advice I have gotten from family and friends. Please keep it coming. I’ll take all the advice I can get. I need it. 

Addictions and Relationships

Can you think of a more important skill than the ability to form and keep a long-term relationship? I can’t. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.

Please think about this with me. Let’s say you are a world-class guitarist or an internationally known actress or a billionaire entrepreneur but you lack the ability to hold a relationship together.

Which skill is more important to you? Really—what kind of success do you value the most?

Now hold that thought and think about this: what strikes at the core or essence of relationships more than addictions?

All long-term relationships are built on three principles—respect, trust, and loyalty—in that order. The result when those three things are in place is always love. A love that glows. Boundless, secure, safe, happy, peaceful, fulfilling love.

True principles never fail you. We may fail to live up to them, but when we do live up to them, they never fail us. Respect, trust, and loyalty are true principles. They are also qualities and skills. And they are also gifts that we give ourselves and others.

Relationships that last must be built on respect, trust, and loyalty. Unless those three things are firmly established, the love may continue in a polite form, but the relationship won’t.

It is better to be trusted than to be loved. —David O. McKay

When one or both parties in a relationship has an addiction, what happens? Trust is replaced by suspicion, respect erodes, and loyalty is threatened. When an addict has a “love affair” with his addiction, it makes relationships very difficult. If you don’t embrace respect, trust, and loyalty, you won’t be able to hold things together for long.

If you can’t create and hold a long-term relationship with another human being, it is doubtful that you can hold a meaningful relationship with God. If you don’t have a strong relationship with God, you likely don’t have have very good relationship with yourself. 

Given these facts, what is an addiction worth? Is it worth giving up a even one long-term relationship? Never. Ever.

It can be any kind of addiction, really—drugs, alcohol, pornography or sexual addictions, gambling, even video games. Even something subtle like Facebook or caffeine.

When you cling to an addiction, you send a message that something else is more important than the person you love. That is where the heartbreak lies. And broken, unhealed hearts lead to broken relationships.

Instead of security, addictions bring insecurity. You don’t feel safe. You and those around you will be mired in sorrow. You will have a troubled heart. You will lack fulfillment.

Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. —Proverbs 20:17

What would you give in exchange for an enduring relationship? Is any addiction worth threatening even one relationship?

I am not beating up on addicts. I am beating up on addiction. You are not your addiction, even though it would like to control you. Even if it does control you, it is not you. You can beat it. You and those around you deserve the real you.

If you are an addict, you owe it to yourself and to everyone you love to do everything you can to get in recovery and stay in recovery.  Stop allowing something or someone to control your body and to lie to you about it. Stop telling yourself that you have it all under control when you don’t. Stop thinking you can do it all on your own. You can’t. If you try to do it alone, you will fall back into addiction whenever crisis taunts your body to go back.

One last thought. There is only one price for a wife or husband. It’s everything. And he or she is worth it.

Please think about it.