In Cleon Skausen’s book, The First Thousand Years, he explains something that has perplexed me ever since my History of Christianity class in college: Why there are two accounts of creation in each of the creation stories. To paraphrase, he explains that the first account is describing spiritual creation and then the second account is the physical one. He gives loads of details on the spiritual creation, but hardly any at all about the actual physical creation. The differences in the two accounts don’t need to be reconciled because they are narrating two different events–different events don’t need to be consistent with each other.
Reading this passage got me thinking about spiritual creation. God spiritually created the earth in order of how things would feed off of each other–first there needs to be light, water and atmosphere so there can be plants, then the plants will feed the animals, etc. He went through the needs step by step. The actual physical creation was probably a bit more intertwined and simultaneous, things growing up next to each other, land forms evolving along with the plants and trees. But the principles of the spiritual creation ruled the physical creation.
We do the same thing every day. We conjure up ideas, or walk through the steps out loud, before we even take them. Planning. Visualizing. Athletes have been doing this for a long time, thinking through the winning shot, or the way the ball feels when they punt it just perfectly. They build their success spiritually first (or mentally, or emotionally. Whatever word you want to use.) Then they step into the blueprint and execute it in real life. I’ve talked about the power of thought on this blog before, its the same thing. You send out the plan into the universe and then watch it all fall into place.
We’ve been remodeling our kitchen this month. We’ve been talking about how we want to open up this wall, widen out this door way, move these cabinets around–for years. Thanks to Fixer Upper, I feel like I can do it all in a cool 45 minutes. We’ve been spiritually creating this new kitchen, talking through options and the order of operations and colors and everything and were ready to finally do it. Then I felt a nudge to wait a little bit longer; then suddenly, a week later, felt like it was time.
A neighbor casually told me about a used home goods store that sells old cabinets and things (Habitat for Humanity Home Store), and I thought I would check them out to see if we could find three matching cabinets that go with our original ones, and save us from constructing new ones ($$$$), or buying all new matching ones in a different design ($$$$$$$$$$$$). When I walked into the first store, and realized how many different styles of cabinets there are, I felt like I was on a fruitless quest. But I had prayed about it, and blocked out a day to hunt for cabinets, so I continued across town and at the very next store, I found them! The exact right sizes, and pieces and door style and color. It was a miracle, truly and honestly. A kitchen miracle. I felt so grateful and still do. It will still be in my book of most amazing answers to prayers that I have experienced. And then I understood why we felt inspired to wait a bit before pulling the trigger on the remodel. The cabinets were still in someone else’s house, getting ready to be ripped out. Since we had been planning and sending our design out into the universe, God knew what we were looking for and led us to the missing pieces. Also amazing: we need 11 pieces of saltillo tile to patch a hole in the floor. My husband found some tiles in the garage when we moved in 5 years ago and he saved them just in case we needed them. Lo and behold, there were 13 when we pulled them out again.
Which, of course, brings me to family councils. Elder Ballard taught about the importance of family councils in April General Conference. We have started implementing our Family Council every week on Sunday evening. (It’s not the same as Family Home Evening, our council is more business-y). My six- and eight-year-olds take the minutes. My husband leads the meeting. I pull out the calendar. We have a scheduling segment–who needs to go where, when, and how. We have a goal setting segment–what do you want to accomplish this week? (Usually I force a piano practicing goal on each of them. The kids’ goals are generally “jump on the tramp all day and play with the dog.”) We talk about any special school assignments or worries that they have. It’s about 30 minutes. But that 30 minutes is making such a difference in our lives–we are spiritually creating our week. We are spiritually creating our family culture and activities. If they keep begging to go to a store or a friend’s house, instead of brushing it aside day after day, we talk about it in family council and put it on the calendar. If they have a day off, we think about our activities before hand so we don’t waste the day trying to organize something spur-of-the-moment. We can make big goals and big plans because we have direction and accountability (The eight-year-old reads the minutes of the last week’s council at the beginning of the new council to see how we did.) It’s been wonderful. The only thing that would make it better is if I had them plan our week’s meals too. Maybe I will.
Just like we wouldn’t rip into our kitchen without a plan in our minds, or on paper, we shouldn’t go about our family life willy-nilly. Talking through our week, making plans and goals, really spiritually creating things has become essential as our schedule has become more chaotic. My stress load has significantly decreased because I know what’s coming and how it is going to happen. We may have things back-to-back-to-back all day long, but I’ve already thought through it, processed it, and am ready to step into the plan and execute it.
At the end of my life, my family is going to be the most precious treasure I will have invested in. Spiritually creating our time together before physically spending that time is the key to making sure I have built something that I can be proud of.