Is This The Year You Begin Working On You?
by Midnight Freemasons Founder
Todd E. Creason, 33°
I got a nice card from the Grand Lodge of Illinois last week. I get one every year acknowledging another anniversary. I’ve been a Mason for 14 years this month! All I can really say about that is that I’m a better man than I was, but not nearly the man I’d like to be. I have more work to do.
What a lot of people don’t understand about Freemasonry is that it’s a journey, not a destination. It’s not a magic wand. You don’t walk out of the Lodge after receiving the Master Mason degree a better man. You have to become a better man. You have to work at it. You have to read and apply Freemasonry to your life. You have to learn from the good examples set by those mentors you’ll undoubtedly meet along the way. It’s a lifelong commitment. The way I view it, being a Freemason is a goal that we never quite reach in the same way we never perfect that ashlar during our lifetimes because there’s always a little here or there that needs to be chipped away or ground down. If you’re not a Mason that’s willing to do the work, then you’re just a dude with a nice ring and a dues card in his wallet.
There are Masons that “get it” and there are Masons that don’t (too many). For those that are willing to do the work, the rewards are tremendous. I started by learning what the degrees meant and studying and trying to apply the concepts presented within. When you begin to do that, you begin to realize just how imperfect you are. I was under the misguided impression that I was a pretty good guy when I joined, but after beginning my journey I realized there were a lot of areas for improvement—a lot more than I thought. I don’t think there’s anything more difficult than improving your personality and your character. I took the Benjamin Franklin approach and listed out all the areas that I needed serious work on, and each week, I focused on one area, and I’ve repeated this exercise over and over again for 14 years—if you look in my bullet journal today you’ll see what I’m working on this week. There’s a few bad character flaws I feel I’ve mastered over the years—my exercises over the years have made those positive traits second nature. There’s other areas . . . well, I’m working on them still. It’s not the attainment of perfection that’s important, it’s the continued pursuit. And every Mason should go about it in the way that works best for him.
Once a Mason begins that process of getting his house in order and improving himself, it becomes his duty to help other Masons do the same thing. That’s what many Masons find to be the most rewarding aspect of Freemasonry—mentoring others. Showing other Masons that this isn’t a club. It’s not about attaining titles and wearing aprons. Freemasonry is a way of life. It’s shared values and shared experience. It’s tradition. It’s about reaching and maintaining a higher standard for yourself than those in the profane world do. And when given the choice, it’s about always striving to do the right thing rather than the easy thing.
There’s nothing easy about Freemasonry. And improving your character is only the first step. You’re going to discover fears that are holding you back that you’ll have to confront on this journey—I’ve been outside my comfort zone so many times over the last 14 year that I wouldn’t even be able to count them. The next challenge is when you become aware that the values you’ve begun to develop don’t match the lifestyle you’re living. There may be adjustments needed in your personal habits, your recreational pursuits, your job, and perhaps even some of the people you spend time with. When you begin making changes to who you are as a person, every aspect of your life will be impacted. Most of those changes will be extremely positive, but know that if you’re serious about the journey and the destination you seek, some things may just have to go.
I got a message over the holidays from a Mason in Tennessee. He’s forty-four years old and has been a Mason for eight years. He put it perfectly when he said, “I know Masonry is working in my life when I see the long list of things I’ve accomplished in the last eight years since I’ve been a Mason both personally and professionally compared to the short list of accomplishments I achieved in the 36 years I wasn’t a Mason.”
Freemasonry starts with personal improvement and change. It’s hard work, but through the process, you’ll find the person you were meant to be. And it’s never too late to begin.
Is this the year you begin working on you?