Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
A friend of mine brought to my attention the following verses from the Book of Mormon, http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng
and asked me the question, “Does this happen in our current day?”Helaman, chapter 3, verses 33-34 http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/hel/3?lang=eng
33 And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—
34 And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
I've talked about this with certain friends in the past. There are many ways in which pride manifests itself in the church today (lack of tolerance, i.e. racism or people hating "Utah Mormons"), but I feel that one big way is when people scoff at those who are humbly (and usually quietly) trying to live the "higher law."
Here are some examples of someone trying to live a higher law (situations in which they might be judged/scoffed at):
- Trying to foster a sense of camaraderie by addressing peers as "brother" or "sister."
- A woman who chooses to wear nylons to church on Sundays, or a mother who makes her daughters do it.
- Someone who chooses not to watch a movie because of swearing or "mild" references to drugs/sex.
- A man who chooses to only wear white shirts on Sundays.
- Someone who doesn't drink caffeine
- Someone who chooses never to watch PG-13 movies.
- Parents who won't let their kids watch TV.
Of course, these vary depending on the standards of the Latter-day Saint. For example, some people may be persecuted for insisting that each of their sons serve missions, or for not swearing or not watching R-rated movies.
The previous list was for the typical active Latter-day Saint who keeps a large majority of the commandments. There are hosts of potential "persecution" situations. I mention these because either I've witnessed the persecution myself, or I have been the persecutor.
If I was the persecutor and questioned the standards of another, it was never to hurt their feelings. It was simply incredulity or in defense of my current standards. Just because that was my intent doesn't make it okay, nor does it imply that the other person still wasn't hurt by what I said. But right now I'm focusing on intent.
Some persecutors will openly scoff at the humble because they're trying to make themselves feel better--to convince themselves that they themselves are doing just fine with how their standards currently are. Most of these persecutors don't realize that they are literally mocking another for his or her personal journey to righteousness. It's a manifestation of lack of confidence--pride, ironically. The truly humble have confidence enough not to heed such persecutions.
I think we've all had times in our lives when we're faced with a situation in which we learn of the habits, standards, or preferences of another Latter-day Saint, and think "Isn't that taking it a little too far?" At least I know I have. Remember when I told you about that guy I dated before the mission who didn't like a certain movie because it had like two swear words in it? My immediate reaction was "Seriously?? Come on." I think that's a perfect example of persecution--demeaning or downplaying the dignity or validity of the standards of another.
Asking yourself, “Am I humble?”
Other than simply consulting your own conscious, I think a good indicator is this: when you hear about the standard that someone has made for himself or herself that is more restrictive or specific than what the prophets have promulgated, what is your initial reaction? Eye-rolling? Thinking, "What a goody-goody"? Incredulity? Disgust? Scorn? Defensiveness?
I am much better than I used to be, but once in a good while (esp in Utah) I am still caught off guard when I hear about the self-made standards of others. But over the course of my mission, and since the mission, I have progressed exponentially. Now when I am confronted with such situations, my reaction, far more often than surprise, is sincere interest (and sometimes fascination)! :) Instead of questioning to challenge, I question to understand, and to perhaps even adopt whatever principle I'm introduced to. Because it happened to me, I know that our initial reaction of either charity or lack thereof can change with effort on our part. Again, it's about one's intent.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Heavenly Father's path of adversity for us can sometimes lead us to feel that we are alone. Strangely enough, this is a tender mercy. God wants us to get through our trials, but in His way. This is because He wants us to learn something specific, something that can only be learned in a certain way. So sometimes He puts us in situations that make us react differently (stretches us) because there is no other option.
"None Were with Him"
Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2009 General Conference
"Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”"
For example, when you get stressed out in normal, day-to-day life, what do you do? Most people listen to music, exercise, take a nap, a shower--anything to get their mind off the pain--and some will even turn to self-destructive behavior. We call these "stress-relievers"--the world's #1 answer to problems and troubles in life. Unfortunately, the hole that adversity creates cannot be filled by these things. These bring only temporary comfort. So what is to be done?
On the mission, it is very difficult to go through trials because you have no other "outlets" other than reading the scriptures, writing in your journal, talking to your missionary companion, or talking to the Lord. You can't take a day off, you can't take a nap because you feel like it, and you can't call home to mom. The Lord is teaching an eternal habit here. He's teaching us to either turn to Him and find peace, or turn to some other source of temporary comfort that brings only a fleeting relief. As a returned missionary or for those who haven't gone on missions, the temptation is to do the latter--to fill the painful hole that adversity creates with something that simply cannot satisfy. What we don't need cannot satisfy, no matter how much of it we obtain.
Having returned home from my mission, I am learning that the answer to go through adversity is the same. We must turn to the Lord in prayer, and figure out why He wants us to experience this trial. There is always a reason.
In addition to help from the Lord through prayer and His Holy Spirit, I thank the Lord that I have access to friends and family members to act as angels in my life. How grateful I am for the divine plan of our Father in Heaven. I know that our experiences with adversity are meticulously designed to bring us closer to Him. How blessed we are to have our Father in Heaven so ready, able, and willing to help us!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
A couple months ago I had a very special experience. After returning from a wonderful visit to the temple, I was doing a bit of homework when I felt prompted to attend a senior voice recital I'd heard advertised for that afternoon. I didn't know the girl performing, and I didn't have anyone to go with. Oh well :). I arrived and sat in the back. She had a decent voice, nothing stellar or stunning, but very pleasant. She had a sweet, endearing countenance. Oh, and she was about 8 months pregnant. I was getting a bit restless toward the end, wondering why I was there. I soon found out. She reentered the stage to announce her final piece. She explained that from the moment she first heard this song back in high school, she knew that this would be a song she would sing to her children. The accompanist played her starting pitch; I then realized she'd be singing the piece a cappella. She began singing, "You Cannot Lose My Love" by Sara Groves. It was a moment I will never forget. She sang with great meaning, and her voice was angelic. It resounded, reverberating off the walls of the recital hall. The audience converted from silent to reverent. During the final verse, she placed her hand on her belly, and her voice faltered ever so slightly. Tears filled my eyes, and I was suddenly humbled; honored to be in her presence. I was truly taken aback at her beauty, her grace, her virtue, her love. I was honored to be in the presence of a mother in Israel. I now have several mothers and mothers-to-be in my immediate family, and have seen this same divinity, light, and truth in them. I am humbled that Heavenly Father allowed me to witness this miracle. Here is the text (and the song on youtube):