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.


With all of the anti-bullying initiative in schools and daycares, my daughters often come home complaining of "being bullied." When I discuss it with them, it is frequently just kids being jerks rather than actual bullying. But why are kids such jerks?

It's obvious that some of their parents aren't too kind, either. The mockery from inside the Church and out regarding the seer stone is a perfect case in point. It's made me think. What do my kids really hear when I talk about the "idiot" driving in front of me? What do they think when I talk about being frustrated with someone?

In the times I've found myself being mean it boils down to a few things.

  • Conformity: There is a part of me that wants other people to be like me, do things the way I do, or agree with me. Bullying is probably the worst way to actually accomplish that.
  • Lashing out: For some reason, I've been hurt and that makes me want to hurt others to keep myself safe. Not logical, but definitely emotionally driven. The problem is that when I'm successful, I feel worse than I did before.
  • Exhaustion: Sometimes I just don't have it in me to give anything:, patience, kindness, or the benefit of doubt.

People who bully as children sometimes learn better coping mechanisms, but sometimes they don't. The internet has taught us that most of us act nicely only because of social consequences, because that veneer cracks pretty quickly as soon as we can play anonymously.

A Solid Foundation

I taught a lesson to the 16 and 17 year olds at church about journaling. As a part of that, I pulled out my old journals from my mission. It was strange to read how some of the most difficult times in my life were understood so differently than they are now. I knew more than I remember knowing, but I also judged myself and others much less harshly.

Even then, I was nearly obsessed with submission. I wanted to bend my will to God's will, shoulder His yoke, bear His burdens, etc. Reading the words of that innocently hardened girl surprised me. She got it. She knew that the two most important things in this world are charity and submission. But she didn't know the price that would be paid to understand those things. She didn't know what it meant.

Since then, I've suffered at the hands of a man who was supposed to be my husband. I tried my best to submit to Him and God, and was scarred for it as my submission failed to change anything. Yet, unlike many who become disillusioned, my pursuit of charity kept me from falling into the abyss which, at times, I almost craved. Where my submission failed, my charity, thin as it is, prevailed. I can mourn and even love someone I will never again submit to. And I can submit to God despite the pain it has caused in my life, because I believe in His charity.

Wisdom isn't what I thought it was. The wiser I get, the more patient I get with others who disagree with me. Mockery is never right. Most of us children of God are fragile, even the ones who perpetuate evil upon their brothers and sisters. Mockery does nothing but expose ignorance of the mockers. I've learned to be a little more patient, to listen. I've learned to submit, not because I hope it will make everything turn out right in the end, but because God submitted. And if Christ bent His knee to the pain of this world, so will I. I will not likely be as graceful at it. I am pitifully imperfect. But I will do my best.

Bagful of Stones

I've been slowly trying to let go of self-criticism. It's almost as if a part of me feels that if I criticize myself first, I'll beat others to it. If I throw the first stone, maybe others will hold back. But I've learned that however careful I am to root out my weaknesses, others will always be ready with more. You simply can't beat anyone at that game.

I am so often afraid to reach out to others and give of myself. When I write about painful things here, I use the internet as a buffer. I expose some of my vulnerability in the name of helping others, giving them peace, but I don't have to truly face most of the consequences of that exposure. I don't have to be ashamed because I don't have to face others reactions, for the most part.

But I am learning to stop beating myself up for mortal frailty. I'm not there yet. I still have nights where I am racked with agony over my failings. Self-criticism robs us of time and energy necessary to give. Fear keeps us from being God's hands. Let Him worry about your weakness. Just be ready to do what you can to help Him when He needs you. That's all He wants from you.

Stones of Revelation and Light

For whatever reason, I can't see what lies ahead of me in life. My patriarchal blessing, which is supposed to be a guide, a light, seems to have gone utterly dark. Promised blessings are impossible. The tasks laid on me unreachable. Prayer on the matter is only ever answered with a "be still, know that I am God, patience, peace." It has been that way for years. I'm not sure I'm any better at following that commandment than I was in the beginning. I am caught between my hope in God's promises and my fears gained through real experience. While I am here, I try to remember the things I have learned in my life. To rely on God. To trust in Christ's atonement. To take Their word for it when They say I have something to offer this life, a reason for everything that has happened.

I don't know how Joseph's revelation worked, how exactly that translation was conducted, but I know how revelation works for me. When I read scripture, ponder on those words, those experiences that others have had with God, when I think about the things I have experienced for myself, ideas crystallize. Words come to mind. That baggage I have collected throughout my life—metaphorical stones in a bag on my back—look no different than anyone else's. People can label them, deduct their origins, even laugh at how silly they are. But those stones have become Urim and Thummim to me. Peering through the past, I gain revelation for the future.

Be still. Patience. The Lord's ways are not mine. Trust in God, find rest unto your soul. Be part of His flock. My wool may be matted and heavy. I may have nothing that another person would find worthwhile. But I am the Lord's sheep. When the time is right, I will belong in His fold.

And in the meantime, I am looking for others who yearn for His love, like I do. Those who love the Lord have to stick together. It's a cold, harsh, stony world out there.

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