Friday, October 2, 2015

If It So Be That They Will Repent

Safety is something that many of us take for granted in a first-world country. Unlike our ancestors, even the poorest of us generally have access to food, water, and shelter. Most of us wake up in the morning, go to work, mow our lawns, go shopping, without ever once feeling unsafe. When something does happen to us, it's a shock.

A coworker of mine recently experienced a break-in. It was a kid who knew the family, and thought he could get away with ripping off a few cell phones. He confessed to his misdeeds, and the family now knows who it is and what led up to the break-in, but he still said that they couldn't sleep well at night, knowing how easily their safety could be shattered.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Beautiful Poison

I noticed this plant earlier this year, and as I usually do, let it grow until I could know what it was. Yesterday, when I was weeding in my garden, I started to pull out the vines which have beautiful, tiny purple and yellow flowers, and wide, heart-shaped leaves.

I stopped, thinking about how beautiful a vine it could be if I just let it grow on my fence. I decided to get an ID before ripping it all out. It turns out it is woody nightshade, a close relative of deadly nightshade or belladonna. While not as deadly as the more familiar belladonna, it is also toxic to humans and animals. When broken, it weeps a sticky, smelly sap. It has medicinal properties which have grown out of use.

As long as it is not eaten, it is safe. For a brief moment of insanity I considered leaving it, even knowing that it has the habit of overtaking gardens, simply because it is so pretty.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pride of Faith

Last night during a long drive home, a girl told me that she was thinking of leaving the Church because of how women are treated. And she is right. In many ways, women are afterthoughts at best. Especially among the midsingle men of the Church, women are a mystery who don't perform according to plan, a challenge to surmount, a problem to solve. Whether it is the men who are baffled by women and want to learn the rules so they can push all the right buttons to get what they want, or the ones who think they know the right buttons to push boundaries as far as they can, we women are objectified. Benignly and not-so-benignly.

I supported one of the teenagers in my Sunday School class in teaching a lesson on how we can teach of the importance of marriage and family. It is not an easy lesson for me, so I was mightily glad he chose it. But as I studied, I realized how strongly I feel about the importance of marriage between a man and a woman, in part BECAUSE my husband did not, as my daughter phrased it "treat me well."

When I asked the teens why marriage is important, their first answer was "to make it to the celestial kingdom." And that isn't wrong, exactly. But it's not the important part of the answer, either. "Making it" to the celestial kingdom by checking items off your list, a wife only being one item of many, is nothing but an illusion. A lie...or, at least, an embarrassingly dramatic oversimplification.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Seeing Through A Stone

To me, the Church's release of photographs of one of Joseph's seer stones falls under the category of only "mildly interesting." But thinking about that and hearing others' thoughts about it has coalesced some rather unrelated thoughts.

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.)


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