8 But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
9 And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
10 And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
If we could see the full consequences of our actions, I suspect that many if not all of our self-destructive behaviors would disappear completely. We either lack awareness or somehow succeed in suppressing that awareness, and we therefore engage in activities, conversations, or thought-patterns which are harmful to ourselves and to others, to a greater or lesser degree.
As Alma tells Helaman in the passage above, when the angel appeared to him many years before, he said many things, but Alma only heard one thing: “If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.” I would paraphrase the sentence this way: “If you want to ruin your own life, that’s your problem; leave the church alone.” It was apparently that one sentence which sent Alma into a coma for three days. He was filled with “fear and amazement.” He had apparently not considered that he might be destroying himself as he fought against the church.
I suspect that prior to this experience, Alma would not have been known as a reflective or thoughtful person. I’m guessing that adjectives like rash, intemperate, and hotheaded would have been more appropriate descriptions. But for three days, he was unable to move or speak, and so he spent that time thinking. He pondered what it would be like to be judged. He thought about the consequences of his actions in the lives of others. He wished that there were some way for him to cease to exist rather than be accountable for his actions. In the end, he turned to the Savior and became a changed man.
Today, I will remember the words of the angel as I consider my words, thoughts, and actions. I will strive to be aware of the consequences of my decisions in terms of how they affect others and how they affect me. I will be strive to be aware of any self-destructive decisions I may be making and will seek the help of the Lord to choose more wisely.