Thursday, 17 April 2014

Dad Day

Two years ago today my dad died.  They've been a long two years.  Sometimes I feel like it's been much longer.  Other times I awake from dreams of him, that seem so real that I am no longer sure if he is alive or dead.
I don't spend lots of time speaking, or even thinking, about my dad.  I'm always hesitant to share stories about him, especially with those whom I'm not sure if they know that my dad has passed away.  But today is dad day.  I get to think about my dad, tell stories about him, enjoy the memories and be a little sad.  Still, I have to function, I have things to do, I don't get the whole day just to mourn.
There are many stories I could tell about my dad.  This is a story about when he made me feel like the most important person in the world.  When I was 7ish, my dad read Heidi to me.  That summer the two of us went hiking.  Half way up the mountain we entered a sloped green field, beautifully alive with wild flowers.  We sat down to have our lunch, and my dad told me that I was Heidi, and he was Peter and we entered into the world of pretend.  It was lovely.
It's dad day, one more story:

My dad also ready the Little House on the Prairies books to me.  I was rereading one of them and I think those books may have been what inspired me to ask my dad to tell me stories about his childhood.  He would make excuses, saying that he wasn't good at telling stories, or that he couldn't remember any.  This always make me a little sad, but he'd read to me, and for that I am so thankful.  I told my dad that he had to take me to Bolivia, the country where he spent a large portion of his childhood.  When I was 18, we went to Bolivia, and there I finally heard stories about his childhood.  We went hiking and came across these large rock formations.  I wish I could remember what they were called, but I believe the name reflected the idea that they were guards.  My dad shared with me that as a kid he was never allowed to climb the rocks.  I tried to get him to climb them, but he claimed to was too old.  Rather he lived his childhood dream vicariously through me as he encouraged me to climb the rocks.  It was great.  He encouraged me all the way up, helped me to find handholds and took pictures of my accomplishments.  I'm so thankful for all the times my dad let me be a kid and climb trees and mountains and rocks, and dig holes in our back yard and get dirty and just play.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

On Humility

reserved the right to change my mind, and while I haven't changed my opinion, I've changed my attitude.  I spent Sunday dwelling in frustration, arguing with my sister missionary about gay rights and, while I watched conference in the morning, I was completely unfocused, and I didn't watch in the afternoon.  My sister missionary told me to study something, but I didn't want to.  I considered picking up my Book of Mormon and just reading the next chapter, but in my imagination when I picked up the book, I tore it to pieces.  I was neither willing nor worthy to receive revelation from God, so I didn't see the point of studying.  I decided to bake instead.
I've been reading through the Book of Mormon and underlining the things that are meaningful to me.  At the end of each book I go back and make notes in my study journal about why those verses were important.  Though I was half way through Helaman, I hadn't gone back over Alma, so, after baking muffins, I decided to do that.  I prayed.  I told God that I wasn't sure why I was still trying, but I was.
I started flipping through Alma, stopping when I had something underlined.  I had Alma 5:7 underlined.  Perhaps I underlined it thinking that God had changed my heart, but it became my prayer that God would change my heart.  But what really hit me was Alma 5:28 "Behold, are you stripped of pride?  I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God.  Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life."
Was I stripped of my pride?  Not at all, and I knew it.  I knew I was refusing to be teachable, I knew I was holding on to my opinions as right, unshakable and better than everyone else's opinion.  I had Alma 5:33 underlined as well.  "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you."  I had some repenting to do.
I decided I should watch Elder Anderson's talk again, this time with determination to be humble and teachable.  Five minutes in, I stopped it.  He hadn't even started talking about homosexuality yet, but I was questioning.  I don't have childlike faith, blind faith.  I still think I know better than people speaking on behalf of God.  When I try to just accept I feel like I am brainwashing myself.  I remembered that I can write down my questions.  That validates them, they are real questions, but stops them from consuming all my thoughts.
He said that there was always going to be sin in this world, but I thought after Christ's reign on earth that the world was going to be transformed/perfected/celestialized.  Did he just mean in this current state there would always be sin?
He talked about the trials that some of the general authorities faced in their early years, but they all seemed really small, really trivial to me.  If he was trying to conjure up sympathy by telling me that Packer had polio, it didn't work.  Thousands of kids will die today because of hunger and preventable illnesses.  You don't care.  I don't care, really.  If I want you to care, I'll tell you a story of a little girl, Sary, barely 7.  Her dad is gone, her mom is in labour.  Sary is trying to keep her two younger siblings calm as her mom screams with her legs spread on the dirt floor.  Sary is doing doing everything she can to comfort her mother.  She fetches water (it's murky, something you'd never drink) and brings it back to her mother.  The mother screams again, and then the bady, a boy, slides out.  Sary is there in time to catch the baby.  She hands the newborn to her mother, but her face is paling.  She's bleeding badly from a tear that happened during birth.  "His name shall be Miro," she says, blessing the newborn child with her last breath.  Later that afternoon, while Miro sleeps, the children dig up the dirt with their bare hands, and bury their mother in a low grave.  They stand together weeping.  When Miro awakes, Sary tries everything to comfort the boy, but she doesn't have what he needs.  They haven't the ability to feed Miro, and he will die a few days later.  They will dig a grave for him next to his mother's.
I hope you feel some sympathy, but the story is just a creation, something made up based upon what happens all too often.  A story with loveable characters will elicit sympathy; stats will not.  Thousands of kids are dying of hunger?  So what.  Packer had polio?  I don't care.  I suppose my concern here was with the delivery, not the message.  Actually, I'm not sure what point he was trying to make.  Trials make us stronger?  Sometimes, but sometimes they kill us.  I think I was most bothered by how much weight he wanted to grant to the trials of the general authorities, whilst seemingly forgetting the kids growing up in war zones, or the ones who struggle every day to find food, or the... the list goes on.
I had a few thoughts after that, like:
-Prepare for trials by remembering.
-Don't disconnect sex from all that goes along with it (namely intimacy, children, trust, love)
-Same-sex attraction = trial of faith.  I'm not sure how I feel about that statement.  it seems weighty.  Same-sex attraction certainly leads some to trials of faith, but is it in an of itself a trial of faith?
-Beware of self-righteousness.
-Strength comes from trusting the Lord's prophets (yikes that sounds hard and scary)
-Experiences confirm that Jesus is the Christ (what will those experiences look like?)
-Jesus will comfort me.

After listening to the talk, I continued going through Alma.  Alma 13:28 was again about humility.  I need to be humble.  That is a choice, but it is also a process, a journey that the Holy Spirit will lead me on.  Alma 36:5 confirmed my thought that I am not worthy to receive revelation from God.  That, however, won't stop God from making things known unto me.  God loves me and receives me, and if I am humble, he will be able to teach me.  For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

On Understanding

You say you want to understand, but understanding is a lot of work.  If you knew all that was involved, would you still feel the same way?  I so desperately want to be understood.  I want to believe you, but I’m afraid.  I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed.  You’ll never understand me.  I can’t say I’ll ever understand myself, and when one thing comes to make sense to you, I’ll change.  But, I’m not sure you really want to understand me.  I’m not sure you know all that is involved.  Professionals, they’re paid to listen, but you, I feel bad taking your time.  I’ll keep buying you supper because I feel that somehow I need to give back to you.  I need to make every hour we spend together worth it for you, and I can’t believe that you’d find it worthwhile, just hanging out with me.  I love you so much, that’s why I’m so afraid.  I’m afraid that you just put up with me.  I don’t want to annoy you.  I don’t want to force you to listen to me.  I’m selfish.  I love talking about myself, I love being with you, so I’ll try not to talk about myself too much, because I’m afraid I’ll push you away.  I wish this wasn’t all about me, but like I said, I’m selfish.  I’m not sure I have anything to offer you.  Can I buy you lunch?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

On General Conference

I have often stayed up to date in the happenings of the MoHo world as I follow blogs and read about what people are saying.  I read of people who feel sad, hurt or angered by things the general authorities say and wonder why they stay in the church.  I wondered if anyone I'm following would have posted about this morning's conference.  I noticed rather, a post about a new car.  Not a word about conference.  I'm a little jealous of those that can live today and not care about what the general authorities are saying.  Since no one I follow has yet remarked about the anti-gay doctrine reiterated at conference, I feel ahead of the game.  I watched conference this morning at the stake centre. I knew about this before I joined the church, I'm not sure Elder Neil L. Anderson said anything new, but it was still very painful to hear.
I noticed his slow approach to the topic.  I hoped he'd skirt around the issue and move on, talk about the dos and not the do nots.  At the first hint that his talk was going to make me uncomfortable I wanted to get up and leave, but I sat through it.  I starting fidgeting with my pen, I put down my journal.  Somehow I felt betrayed, let down by the church that was supposed to be supporting me.  The more he glorified families, the more I felt like I didn't belong, could never belong.  There was no place for me to be single.  As he spoke about the laws, I felt opposition.  I am fully for marriage equality.  Let all men practice their religion however they want.  Let gay people get married, have rights, and lovely families.  What's wrong with that?  How better can we show love for people than by letting them love, be loved and be protected by law.
One of the most painful statements, though it seems nice enough, was "The Savior taught us not only to love our friends, but also those who disagree with us."  That sounds great, but that's not really what Jesus said.  Jesus said love your enemies.  Am I your enemy, Elder Anderson?
I started texting my sister missionary after his talk.  I wanted words of consolation, but she wouldn't soften what Elder Anderson had said.  I hope he's wrong, but she just reminded me that he's an apostle.  I don't care.  She said I didn't like it because I don't understand, but frankly, I don't think he understood.  She suggested that his words are God's words, given to make us happy.  They might make some of us happy, but traditional marriage doesn't work for everyone.  She told me to pray.
"God... I don't know what I want...  you don't care what I want anyhow."
Why does what I want matter to God?  If he knows what is best, my desires are forgotten.  On a better day I'd have an answer to this, I know it's out there, but not today.
I thought I should try praying again.
"God, help me to want what you want."
I left the conference a few minutes early.  I didn't want to talk with anyone.  They might ask what I thought about conference...  Then what would I say?  I thought the first half was good.  The Church, however, is an "ism" that must be accepted as a whole; the seemingly good along with the seemingly bad.  If I thought I were a better judge of truth than some old men in suits I might forge my own path, but for now, I know no better way.