Monday, May 7, 2007

Pain of Progression

In a fairly recent thread at FMH, a long discussion ensued about the temple ordinances separating family members from each other. I'm not really sure why I feel as hurt as I do over the issue. I guess I still cling to a romantic idea that somehow hard choices will be honored. Let me try to clarify what I mean (though it is far from clear in my mind.)

I think that society is leaning towards an attitude that acceptance is virtue. I disagree with this in a sense. Although it is important to love and accept people, the same is not true of ideas. You have a choice. Either you accept all ideas, and end up as a relativist (all things are true, depending on who you are,) or you draw a line somewhere, saying this is true and that is not. I hurt when I think of relativistic philosophies, because I feel that it is an adversarial plan to mask sin with intelligence. Intelligence is good, so if the adversary can draw a veil of sophistry over error, it can appear good to the casual glance. Society has become such that if you do not agree with everyone's opinion, you are close-minded. Therefore, those who call themselves open-minded can be automatically superior. They build walls around their sanctuary of "everyone is right," and anyone who disagrees is ignorant. Thus, they can feel safe in their self-defined superior opinions, and ignore anyone they choose to ignore without feeling the need for further self-examination. The irony is that they are not truly open-minded, they are only open-minded to predefined ideas. They are indulging in a subtle form of pride that allows them to mistake self-satisfaction and comfort for happiness.

Unfortunately, this is a plan of the adversary, and lulls people into accepting themselves for who they are, rather than for who they can become. They no longer feel any need to improve or change, and they are caught in the great and spacious building, pointing fingers at the unfortunates still clinging to the rod of iron below them.

There is a delicate balance for the faithful to walk. Those who have worked and prayed, and painfully changed see things differently than they did. They understand that questions are okay, that people are not evil for questioning authority. They can also testify to the efficacy of searching. Because I have prayed, pondered and studied, I can vouch that those things have changed me. I can testify that God has guided me to peace. Unfortunately, that is all I can do. In this sense, I find myself with hard-earned oil that I cannot share. The oil only works for me. The five wise virgins were not selfish with their oil, they simply had no way to share it. All they could tell the foolish is that if they went to the market themselves, they would find those who sell, and they could buy for themselves. This brings me to my second heartache.

No matter what the wise say, they foolish will see them as hard-hearted, selfish and prideful. "How could they not share?" they ask, "They have plenty." It is easy to see how the five foolish must have felt, alone and cold outside of the bridegroom's door. How their hearts must have ached! How they must have wept bitter tears of regret. What is often overlooked are the feelings the wise must have felt. They were wise and kind, they must have longed to share their oil with the foolish. After entering the chamber, they must have missed their friends, and wondered if they were alright, outside the door. It could not have been any easier for them than it was for the foolish. It could not have been easy for the bridegroom - he who had invited ten, to have only half show up to the feast. How it must have felt to him, to know that his feast wasn't important enough to the five for them to have properly prepared.

Unlike this parable, however, it is not possible for the bridegroom to simply open the door. Certain requirements were set to attend the feast. Those who did not meet the requirements cannot have the same reward as those who did, can they?

It is hard for me to see people ask for the blessings of the Lord when they do not do the laws that are set forth to earn those blessings. It is especially hard, because I have made the heart-wrenching, uncomfortable, painful choice to risk everything of value to me for this one thing. Do they think it is easy for me to contemplate losing my marriage or my child for discipleship? Do they think I thoughtlessly dedicated every day of my life to nothing more than a promise of something better? Why do they think I would do such a thing?

Apparently, to some, it is so I can hurt people. That is the perceived motivation for my actions, and that breaks my heart. It would seem that the foolish who ask for oil are the same who mocked the wise for buying the oil early.

Of course, this doesn't account for those who have truly searched and not yet found.

So of the three states: foolish, wise, and searching but not yet wise, I feel that I am all three. There are some things I have procrastinated. There are some answers I have not yet received. But the things which the Lord has shown me, the feelings that I have had in the past, I have used as oil to see me through the dark times of searching. Even when it feels my oil has run out, and I cannot see, I know that the Lord once provided oil, and that He won't let me fail.

Faith is not to step into a darkened room with a single burning lamp. Faith is to keep walking when you have nothing but the memory of light. Faith is trusting the Savior to catch you when you fall.

Faith is knowing that the opinions of others in no way diminish what I have felt and what I know.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for this articulate, beautiful, and moving post, SilverRain. The Bloggernacle can be a very cruel and debilitating place, and for that reason I have pulled back from reading and commenting on most sites.

    I totally agree with your analysis of problems inherent in making a virtue of the acceptance all ideas, and then labeling as "close-minded" those who believe that there really are some things that are true, and others that are false.

    Your comments on the fMh thread you linked to were a welcome addition to the discussion. I felt like I was reading the thoughts of a kindred spirit, and I'm sure there were many readers (like me) who greatly appreciated them, even though we didn't comment on the thread. :)


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