Friday, February 14, 2014

For God Loved the World; Pain and Valentine's Day

This is my daughter's newest favorite song. It has long been one of mine as well. I think it has one of the tenderest aspects of doctrine in the Gospel. This year, that same daughter is making the decision to be baptized. It is something filled with mixed emotions for me, most of which I don't want to get into. But on this day, when we celebrate love, I want to celebrate both loves which changed my life: the love of God and the love of my children.

I am far from perfect, especially right now. It has seemed, especially lately, that the church is leaving me behind. I don't feel a part of it. I don't feel a part of the Lord's Kingdom. And that hurts. If I could put my finger on one thing I want more than anything else, it is to feel like I belong, like I'm part of accomplishing something good. And I don't.

But as I wrote some time ago, I feel as if the Lord wants me here. Nearly four years later, I still don't know why. Not much has changed. I have a burning testimony that the Gospel is true, I just don't know how I fit into it. And I'm watching my precious child, with many of the same self-critical personality traits that I have, prepare to make this huge covenant. I'm proud of her, and terrified for her.

The Gospel can't be proven. It can only be trusted. You have to trust that there is God, that He is "mighty to save." You have to trust that He is a being capable of sending the person He loved most to suffer pain for a world that largely rejects Him. It is almost impossible to comprehend. But He did.

How does the Father show the world love, tenderness, sacrifice and death? He sends His Son to die for us, then rise, breaking the bands of death and pain. He is the only one who can truly hear your pain, whatever pain you might hold so close to your heart. The only one. And this is why, feeling cut off and alone, I will never leave this Church nor give up on doing the things I believe in to the best of my capacity. All that I have, all that I am, is His. Even my broken imperfection and doubts. Even my glorious zest for life and illogical concern for others. All that is ugly and beautiful I lay at His feet.

If I can teach my children to do the same, I will count myself richly blessed, even knowing that they will have to suffer for their discipleship. I would save my children as much suffering as I can, but suffering which God allows comes with unspeakable rewards. No one can walk that path for you. You have to "take up [your] cross" of your own will.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."


  1. If I may respectfully share some thoughts.
    How you feel follows how you think, and how you think about not being part of the Lord’s kingdom or being left behind is not true. You are a member of the church, yes? Then you are part of the Lord’s kingdom. You are trying to live your covenants, yes? Then you will not be left behind.
    You say you are self-critical. If so, then there is a pretty big chance that you are forgetting all the good things you are doing or disqualifying the positive in your life and trying to claim it doesn’t count. Taking care of your children by yourself counts as accomplishing something good! Providing for your children counts! Those things are huge! Church callings count! Maintaining a blog counts! Do you turn away with a shudder from the evil you meet? That counts!

    I am pretty self-critical too, and I can make myself pretty dang miserable just by thinking distorted thoughts. I’d like to recommend a book for you which might help you a bit. It’s called “Feeling Good” by David Burns. It has helped me realize where my distorted thinking causes me to get depressed and has some really solid techniques for helping confront fears, manage overwhelm, overcome feelings of failure, etc. For me this is a book that I go back to every few months and reread particular chapters to remind myself when I get into unproductive thought patterns.

    Maybe you know all about this kind of thing already, but if you don’t, I hope you’ll give it a look.

  2. I basically think we're all in pretty good shape, maybe not Jeffrey Dahmer. I have a grace trumps justice mentality which doesn't always go over. The other day I was talking to a friend about a quote from Orson Whitney to the effect that if we are faithful to our covenants, our sinful children might have to suffer for their sins but we can drag them along to the Celestial Kingdom with us. It's a pretty cool quote. Then, my friend, said "but." And my stomach curdled. Because I knew he was going to say "but we have to work as hard as we can." I said, "John, who are you talking to when you say that? Who do you think isn't working hard enough?" He was a little embarrassed since it was only him and me in the conversation. It's like we can't rejoice in Christ unless we're scared to death of not doing enough. I hate that message. It's not true. Watch in your meetings, it's like we always have to add a caveat to our message of Christ and him crucified. I personally think it's disrespectful to him. People interpret it to mean that you don't have a chance unless you're scared to death you're not going to make it. Sorry, end of rant. I think you rock.

  3. Thanks! :)

    I have heard that idea quite a bit, that we can drag our family to the Celestial Kingdom with us. But I believe that mercy isn't being put some place we haven't chosen.

    I do not doubt that keeping our covenants means the bonds we forge with our family will not be broken. But it cannot be merciful for someone who has not chosen to live a celestial law to live in a celestial sphere. Have you ever been surrounded by people who you feel have made life choices completely different from yours? They value different things, and you just can't be comfortable around them.

    Agency is part of God's mercy. How merciful is it that we can choose our own place, decide what we value most? If by "pretty good shape," you mean we will mostly all receive glory, I fully agree. We will all go somewhere glorious and beautiful, partaking in exact measure that portion of God's love which we have chosen by our actions, that part we are willing to accept.

    Christ's atonement covers mistakes. He gives us space to decide which direction we want to move. But I cannot believe He would circumvent our agency to make us move in a direction we are unwilling to take.


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