Can a rebel become self-actualized? What is a rebel? I like the definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary that defines one as a person who does not like rules or authority, and shows this by behaving differently from most people in society. In my own way, I was a rebel; I liked doing things my way and I didn’t want to conform to societal norms because I wanted to be me and not like anyone else. Was it the homogeneous environment I grew up in that kindled this behavior within me or was this something greater than myself…..is there a rebel or natural man in all of us?
I was halfway through my Junior year in High School when my personal choices began distancing me from my family; my external influences such as friends, music, dancing and glamour, began taking precedence over them. My relationship with my family began to suffer because I spent more time with my friends, especially on weekends going to dance clubs and getting home after curfew. My Mother started recognizing a change in me, and, because she worried about the path I was heading toward, ultimately kicked me out of the house. This monumental life-changing event happened the summer before my Senior year in high school. You could say I felt like a true rebel
Why would a young girl such as myself get involved in such a strange and difficult predicament? Up to this time, I had never driven more than 100 mile radius from home and now, with my car loaded with all my belongings, I was headed way down south to St. George, Utah….(I thought all rebels ended up in DIXIE 🙂 ). I lived with my Sister-in-law’s mother and I worked at the Big Dipper ice cream parlor in St. George, Utah that summer. Never in my life had I felt so alone. In my young and naive mind, even in my wildest of imaginations, could I have seen how my actions merited such an extreme disciplinary consequence. I did not feel like I or my friends were bad people. Although my friends may not have been of my same religion or moral standards prior to my leaving, I saw the good in them and I wished my feelings would have been considered rationally instead of temperamentally.
Nevertheless, One and a half months after moving to St. George, I found myself moving again, this time across the state to Vernal, Utah. I was welcomed into the home and loving arms of an aunt who prudently took me in. I lived with her for six months until, I again did a rebel act that involved dancing, icy roads, a “sleep-over” and SLC, Utah (home of my favorite dance club, Xenon’s). Again, I packed my car and drove to my new destination…this time, my Grandmother’s home in South Ogden where I continued to live on and off until I was married some 6 years later.
Why was my 17-year old nature stubborn, undisciplined, unruly, prideful, self-centered, inconsiderate, worldly and rebellious? Why did I crave to be an “individual”? Was it because I was going through the steps and process of maturity and self-actualization? I had basic needs to process through and because my relationship with my parents was lacking, I ended up experiencing life rebelliously. On a side note, I have learned to be patient with my own daughter’s stages of rebellion because I know they are truly crying out for more love during this time. The saving grace has been time spent alone with them such as driving somewhere together where we are uninterruped and can open up our hearts one to another. I have to keep in mind that, this too, shall pass. Everyone needs to feel accepted, loved, and included. The Savior taught that His people should be “of one heart and one mind” (Moses 7:18). Meaningful service can be received or extended by members with disabilities, and when that happens, Christlike love grows. Ensign 2010 One Heart and One Mind
While in Vernal, Utah, I had the privilege of visiting with my Bishop and repenting. Never before had I experienced or even understood what the Atonement of Jesus Christ was or how it worked. I knew I longed for a connection to someone who would love me and luckily, I was protected from the wrong influences who would or could have taken advantage of this weakness of mine. I began listening to new music from Afterglow and “Not of this world”. I listened and I longed to know how to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. I listened to the song, “You’re not alone” by Michael McLean and I knew there was someone with me, guiding me and comforting me during those scary times of my life and while driving long treks of highway back before GPS and cell phones…back when you actually read maps.
Through all these experiences, my healing process began and my heart became able to love and accept love as well as to forgive. I discovered just how much my Savior loves me and how he longs for my happiness and safety. I was re-born and I chose to change the course of my life from that time forward. I learned a valuable lesson of becoming one with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Along with this lesson came the importance of exactness and honor in obeying all God’s commandments. I also learned how positive connection to one another is the most important key in the grand puzzle of life. This is achieved so well as described by Paul to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 12:20, 27: “Now are they many members, yet but one body. … Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” President Gordon B. Hinckley: “The Lord said that except ye are one, ye are not mine. (See D&C 38:27.) This great unity is the hallmark of the true church of Christ. It is felt among our people throughout the world. As we are one, we are his. … We pray for one another that we may go on in unity and strength. If we do so, no power beneath the heavens can stop the onward progress of this great kingdom” (“Except Ye Are One,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 5).
My life’s lessons have taught me the need to overcome the natural man and become of one mind and one heart; to align my thinking with God. Dallin H. Oaks said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change. “Repent” is its most frequent message, and repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change.” Just as I had severe consequences to my bad choices of being separated from my family, breaking the Lord’s laws warrants the same as we are separated from the presence of our Father in Heaven both spiritually and ultimately physically at the time of resurrection and judgement day. Deuteronomy 11:26 ¶Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
In the book Walden And Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau’s process of putting off the natural man allowed for self-actualization, thus becoming free from bondage similar to my lonely journey of rebellion, isolation, and new spiritual re-birth. “He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them…..I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation of a true expression. Who that has heard a strain of music feared then lest he should speak extravagantly any more forever?….The volatile truth of our words should continually betray the inadequacy of the residual statement. Their truth is instantly translated; its literal monument alone remains. The words which express our faith and piety are not definite; yet they are significant and fragrant like frankincense to superior natures.”
The irony behind Thoreau’s experience living at Walden Pond was his becoming self-actualized all the while lacking for food, water and shelter and separating himself from the “protection” of a civilized society such as family and friends: He found himself between God’s boundless creations around him. Mosiah 3: 19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
Rebellion gives in to our natural man instincts which is an enemy to God. Subversiveness to Him gives us freedom from one’s self as we begin to lose ourselves. “The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). The simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a foil to the natural man. One does not need to isolate himself from mankind to find himself as did Thoreau, but rather learn the greatest law which is the first and great commandment to love the Lord thy God and the second is likened unto it, to love thy neighbor. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Our obedience to the commandments is an expression of our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He later declared: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).” Even Mormons such as myself, must go through their own Walden experience as “The Transcendental individualist who emerges is appealing and convincing because the vivid details of the woods, the pond, and the seasons are used as symbolic means to validate his vision of a spiritual life”. Thoreau found his At-one-ment with nature while I found mine in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.