Friday, July 10, 2015

Punishment without Volition

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn from my marriage was about agency. We often talk about agency like it's "free will" or the power to choose. But it is inarguable that the vast majority of us are very much "punished...for Adam's transgression." Here on earth, mortality is one long experience of being punished for the mistakes and sins of others.

Most of my tear-streaked nights were spent wrestling over the effect my divorce was going to have on my children and my eternity. I stayed in a marriage which had nothing to offer me almost from day one because I believed in the covenants I had made in the temple. I believed that if I was patient, things would work out for good. I thought that my ex would eventually see how much a covenant life had to offer, that he would be able to forgive me my failure, and we could work together towards God.

But that wasn't to be.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Taking it Personally

I was writing in my personal journal. When I finished, I realized there is something about my heart and mind right now that other people might need to hear. I try to be vulnerable here. It is easier, behind the protection of an online persona, to share the uglier parts of my personality. The difficult part of trying to serve God. My insecurities and doubts.

I know that distance makes it easier to hear, and not to worry about me. Because I'm ultimately all right. I've been through a refiner's fire, and I am stronger than a little sadness. But I find that allowing myself to be sad is a powerful thing. It helps me grow, keeps me humble, and gives other people a chance to feel safe and acceptable. Hiding the bad parts only makes us all feel like we can never measure up. So here it is:

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Right Ways to Criticize Church Leaders

This talk dates from nearly thirty years ago, but it is just as relevant today.

Throughout our history we have had members who have criticized the Church and its leaders. Church disciplinary action against such members has been rare or nonexistent. Persistent, public critics punish themselves. By deliberately separating themselves from those who have been called as their leaders, critics forfeit the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. They drift from prayer, from the scriptures, from Church activity, and from keeping the commandments. They inevitably lose spirituality and blessings. As the prophet Nephi observed, those who succumb to pride and “works of darkness” are on the way to spiritual destruction, “for the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man.” (2 Ne. 26:10–11.)

Thoughts?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mormons are Hypocrites

I mostly grew up outside of the Mormon Corridor. When I was fourteen, my family moved from Germany to a small town in Idaho. The culture shock was the greatest we had ever experienced. I went from a high school with nearly a thousand people in my graduating class to one with nearly a thousand people in the whole school. We went from being surrounded with trees and cultural activities to being stuck in a desert, with only two basic things for a teen to do on the weekend: get drunk/high or go to the Mormon dances.

It was definitely a step down.

But, over time, I made quite good friends with a girl I'll call Kelly. Her family was in the Church, but they didn't go consistently. They lived in a different housing complex across the base from us, but we still frequently hung out together. We were friends for the better part of a year before Kelly started dating.

Now, I wasn't interested in dating. I was tall, gawky, frizzy-haired and awkward. Plus I was a definite tomboy and bookworm. And boys scared me ever since I had heard them talking about girls when they thought none were listening. But that was all Kelly could talk about. Swiftly, she found a particular boy and they would make out every chance they got, often with me around. I remember playing chauffeur to them frequently as we went to and from activities. They would kiss (and other things) in the back while I drove.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Faith Unto Joy

Not long after the events which eventually led to the final end of my marriage, I had the opportunity to receive a blessing from my father. It had been years since I received a blessing, because my husband was not comfortable with giving them, and I felt it would undermine him to ask for one elsewhere.

It was a very dark time in my life, when fear was nearly overwhelming. I had no idea how I could protect my children. I was nauseated from early pregnancy, and my stress level was so high that I would months later experience adrenaline withdrawal. I felt like my life would never be free from feeling in constant danger.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Perspective of Joy

Twice I have stood on the ground of Dachau, closing my eyes as the horrors of history reached into the present to sanctify through suffering. I have spoken to survivors of Auschwitz, and read the stories of many others. My own grandfather was captured near Strasbourg, France, and survived a death march in World War II.

Two things I have gathered from those who have survived horrors: That all are given a choice between allowing the darkness to make you his own, or to fight to find joy in the midst of atrocity; and that there are some things too dark to talk about.

When another human being chooses to do everything in their power to hurt you, words fail. There is nothing that can be said about that particular use of agency which fully communicates the way it changes your perspective, tries its best to warp your faith and rob you of power.

While not all of us will face the unspeakable hell faced by the victims of the Nazi regime, we will all at some point be injured by the deliberate actions of another. We will all have the choice to face aggression with returned aggression, or meet it with candor and acceptance...which is far easier talked about from a distance than up close. How, when you are attacked by another human being, can you truly forgive?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Grief and Redemption

Let's imagine for a moment that you see a child reaching for a pot of boiling oil. You know you can't stop the child from severely burning himself, and he will probably die.

But in that instant, you are given the chance to take the pain and scars on yourself. You will not die, but you will spend your life in incredible pain. Would you do it?

Now let's say that you did this, but the child somehow chose to suffer all the pain anyways...to die, even, because he didn't want you to pay for something he did.

Would you still have taken the pain on yourself? As the child, given that you can't stop someone from suffering your pain for you, what will you do? Will you reject His offering, or accept it in humble gratitude and love?

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

D&C 19:15-19

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