This is an open blog, to any and all that would like to share their thoughts on ways that you find strength throughout life.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If I don't write about this, I may explode...

I have read many a blog in the past week on this subject. For many who have read this blog, or this blog, or this blog, or just others like unto it, much of this will probably be repetitive. (girls...hope its okay I linked you...I was inspired by your posts).

I wasn't even going to touch on this subject. Mostly because it has been well said in so many places, that I don't feel I can add much to it, but if I don't write about this topic, I'm afraid I couldn't write at all right now. Because really, this has been whats on my mind the past week. So, touch on it, I must. At least just to get it out of my head and move on!

I live in California. A week ago today, Californians voted on a very important and controversial proposition.


This number has come to mean so much in the past few months. An annoying coincidence that it happens to rhyme with the word HATE. It's given the opposing side to this proposition a catchy rebuttal for those of us who supported it.

We had been told that even if the proposition passed, that the battle would just be beginning. I had no idea what that meant, until the day after it passed and the insults hit the fan. They spewed every which way. The 52% of California that believed the union of "marriage" should be defined between a man and a woman, have now been called everything from "intolerant" to "bigots". Even more so, religions have been singled out for their support.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day church, has been the bulls-eye of the mud-slinging targets. Through efforts coordinated by its members and NOT its leadership, the members of our church donated money in support of the proposition directly to the cause, mostly via None of the moneys raised came directly from the church. The money that was used was donated solely for that purpose by individuals and families. Unfortunately, this has been gravely misunderstood by the opposing view. Nonetheless, the strong backing for this proposition from my church, whether it be through volunteering time and energy, or speaking with our friends and neighbors, has angered No on 8 supporters.

Honestly, it's understandable. They were the opposition. Of course it would make them unhappy. This, I totally get.

What I don't get, is how people who have claimed that they are fighting against hate, intolerance and singling out of groups, have done just that as their rebuttal to the tight loss. Like my friend said on her blog, sings of "Stop the Hate" next to signs of "Mormons (or Catholics, or whatever) Suck!" is truly confusing.

And honestly, I completely sympathize with why they are upset. They feel that something that was important to them is taken away. They want to get what they voted affirmatively for. Unfortunately, for all of us, that is not the way it works. Not everything or everyone that I voted for passed or was elected. It is upsetting. I'm still very saddened that while chickens have the right to "get their exercise", the rights of unborn children are put into hands of teenagers who as my other friend said it, "can't legally get a Tylenol from school, but can have an abortion." However, it's a fight that I lost. And while I will continue to believe how I believe and vote the way that mirrors my beliefs, I have to respect that I live in America and a democracy in which I was outnumbered.

I don't expect opposing members not to fight. I expect that they will continue to stand up for what THEY believe in. Because I will continue to do the same.

However, I do not believe any feelings of frustration, disappointment, anger...whatever, warrant what has been happening to our sacred places of worship. Our buildings have been vandalized, our holy temple grounds trampled upon and barricaded with protesters. However, "peaceful" and "respectful" the protest, that is not the place, and it will never be respectful. There was a protest at the State Capitol recently. Great place for it, in my book.

Not the temple. Not our sacred houses of worship. First of all, because the Mormon vote made up 2% of the Yes vote, and secondly, because to me, that's like us coming to your bedroom where you make your private decisions about your sexual preference, and protesting what you believe to be right.

Nor do I believe the physical threats are warranted. It is not fair for people to say things like, "Mormon's better watch their backs." There are websites out there with very physical threats on different religions that have supported the proposition. This is no more okay than someone saying that "Gays or Lesbians or Bisexuals or Trans genders better watch their backs". Such threats, no matter the group or motive, is EVER okay. To quote the No on 8 slogan... "It's unfair. It's unnecessary. It's wrong."

I have love for people. I love a lot of people that I disagree with. There are lifestyle choices aside from sexual preference that I don't agree with, but I love the people nonetheless. I have many friends who do not agree with my religious views whatsoever. Some of them have even been members of my faith and chosen to leave, and yet, our friendships and love remain, despite the vast differences in our beliefs. We likely voted very differently this election, but we love and respect each other nonetheless. And that is the meaning of true tolerance. To be able to respect others for their beliefs, views and feelings...and respect the system. We can't reject the system of our government just because some things don't go in our favor. That is life. That is America. And we will keep on believing what we believe, and respectfully fighting for what we believe in.

I respect, that those who voted No on 8 will continue to fight for what they believe in. I only pray that they can respect me for fighting what I believe in.

I do realize though, that no amount of "Christian bloggers" is going to change anyone's mind on this. We need only stand tall for what we believe and continue to be respectful of others.

"Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm."~ Doctrine and Covenants 42:27

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "As a church, we are not without critics, some of whom are mean and vicious. We have always had them, and I suppose we will have them all through the future. But we shall go forward, returning good for evil, being helpful and kind and generous. Let us be good people. Let us be friendly people. Let us be neighborly people. Let us be what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ought to be."

Not only do we need to be respectful and understanding of stand up and be examples of light and truth, but we must understand that opposition is part of this life.

Spencer W. Kimball- "No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience."

Concerning this quote, Lloyd D. Newell wrote this in his book, Come, Listen to a Prophets Voice, "While wrongfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail, the Lord taught the Prophet Joseph that followers of Christ are not promised freedom from tribulation but strength to endure all things: 'My son, peace be unto thy soul;thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high....All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good' (D&C 121:7-8;122:7). Life is a school, and part of that education is hardship. Elder Spencer W. Kimball taught: 'Being human, we would expel from our lives, sorrow, distress, physical pain, and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort. But if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of his education."

So, although painful as it is to see the Gospel that I love, the buildings that I seek sanctuary in and the people that I worship with, under fire for standing up for our beliefs...that is what we will endure, because it is part of life. It is part of our education and we will be stronger for it.

And not only must we turn the other cheek, but we are required to forgive those who have trespassed against us...

"We cannot repent for someone else. But we can forgive someone else, refusing to hold hostage those whom the Lord seeks to set free!" ~Neal A. Maxwell

"It has been said that lack of forgiveness toward another is akin to consuming poison and waiting for the other person to die. Vindictiveness and hardheartedness stifle spiritual growth and happiness. On the other hand, nothing enlarges the soul more than genuine forgiveness and compassion. The Lord's directive is : 'Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for their remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men'(D&C 64:9-10). The Lord who is perfectly merciful, knows our hearts as well as the hearts of every offender. And since we all walk imperfectly before the Lord, we all need mercy. If we wish to be forgiven and draw upon the Atonement, we must forgive. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give others- and ourselves."~Lloyd D. Newell

And with that, I understand why I personally needed to write this. I personally needed to understand that I need to forgive those that call me names and trample upon my beliefs. I will continue to stand up for what I believe and hope that we always have the freedom to live in a country where individual feelings and beliefs are still recognized, respected and allowed.

God bless all of us. As Americans, as people, as children of God, we are one in the same.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Forgetting to Remember

I missed this blog. I missed it so much, that I kind of forgot to think about it. Not a good thing for me, which means right now I probably need it more than ever. For me, like I said when I started it, the blog was to reflect on my spirituality daily. It helped me to remember the things that are important and focus on those on a daily basis.

But, I am thats a good sign for me.

Actually, things have just been a little out of the ordinary. My brothers best friend passed away two weeks ago, and I was very reflective at that point about the Plan of Salvation and life after death. Everytime I thought about writing a post, I came up very short in being able to express my feelings of gratitude for such a plan.

Also, we had a family vacation and a holiday and it seems every time I've felt like I want to sit down and reflect (a.k.a. write my blog) I've been distracted. And it's okay, because life happens. What's not okay, is that I don't feel like my mindset has been the same without my blog reflections. So, here I am today, picking back up where I left of, and feeling a surge of the Spirit roll over me like a wave.

Another distraction was my birthday...and for my birthday one of my sweet sister-in-law's gave me a Sheri Dew book. I LOVE Sheri Dew. I've read a number of her books and I really relate to her style of "straight-forward writing". The particular book I was given is called No One Can Take Your Place. My sister-in-law thought of me when she read the inside cover, she said. I can completely understand why. Let me pull a few lines for you,

"Have you ever wondered if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing with your life?...Or, like most of us, maybe you have those days when you just don't see how you'll ever measure up. (This book) will help you catch a glimpse of the power our Father in Heaven wants you to have. It will help you learn how to lay hold upon that power, how to overcome the temptations that stand in the way of your happiness, and how to shine as a leader in the world. It will help you understand who you really are...True happiness comes from doing what we were meant to do. This book will motivate you to find out what that means for you; it will also inspire you to carry out your unique work on the earth, for truly, no one can take your place!"

I would venture to say that I am not the only one that sometimes feels like a "face in the crowd", wondering just how she/he will affect the world. Sure, I understand that I am directly affecting my family and loved ones, but there are points in time where I wonder if I am truly fulfilling my mission here upon the earth. I try very hard to take each step in my life, following the guidance of the Spirit but there are those moments that I stop and think, "Am I where I am supposed to be? Doing what I am supposed to be doing?" I've only read the first few chapters of this book so far, but I am already grateful for the guidance and inspiration it has provided me.

Sheri talks about identifying our "God-given attributes we all have that we need to awaken within ourselves if we are going to do what we have been sent here to do- attributes such as faith, knowledge, obedience, purity, integrity, a clear sense of identity, and courage."

She then goes on to explain each attribute, why it is necessary and what we can do to recognize it within ourselves. I appreciated this list, and looked at it almost as a score card that I measured myself upon. I thought of the areas that I am doing pretty well in, and honed in on areas that I need to work on. Each area is vital and important and plays a part in recognizing our worth and importance in the sight of God, and as a messenger of His in these latter days.

As I mentioned above, the thing I love about Sheri Dew is how straight forward she is. She has been more straightforward in this book so far than I've noticed in any other book. When talking about the attribute, INTEGRITY, she sites a wonderful example of when the Lord asked Eve about what had happened when she was beguiled by Satan, ..."she immediately acknowledged what she had done and accepted the consequences. She didn't lie. She didn't pout. She didn't get defensive. She didn't blame Adam. What humility and integrity..."

For me, this shed a whole new light upon integrity. Most of us would not classify ourselves as "liars". Generally, I'd like to think we all tell the truth. But integrity is more than just is humility and willingness to take full responsibility for our actions. It is being transparent in our words, our actions, our intentions....everything, so as to not deceive.

Within this section she talks about Satan and shunning him" the snake that he is...". Here is where her straightforwardness really hit home for me...she said, "Forsaking Satan may mean changing things. It may require changing wardrobes or changing channels or changing attitudes or changing habits or changing lifestyles or even changing friends, because it's not possible to to sort of dress modestly or kind of tell the truth or act with integrity most of the time,or almost be morally clean. Nine percent tithing isn't tithing, it's a donation."

Whoa. That paragraph slapped me in the face. It doesn't matter in which "important areas" I have forsaken Satan. Yes, generally, I have forsaken him. But that is not good enough. Have I completely forsaken him? I would have to admit that with a resounding NO. I wish I could say that I have...but do I always change the channel when I need to? And this is just one small example. While we are not expected to be perfect we are instructed to progress towards perfection. Sheri wrote, "The object of this life is not to become perfect. Could we all just pledge to give that up once and for all! But it is to become increasingly pure, which will eventually lead to perfection."

Perfection almost seems too broad to even comprehend. It not only to me means free from sin, but also have I done all that I was meant to do? This is why I appreciate Sheri Dew's clarification of becoming increasingly pure, so much. It makes clear sense.

Webster's dictionary defines the word pure as this-

(1): unmixed with any other matter (My translation- of one purpose and focus).

(2): free from dust, dirt, or taint (My translation- sin)

Basically, pure is clean. Clean is understandable. Clean is a process...but clean is attainable.

Everyday will be a battle for it. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that everything I think I've learned, has to be applied everyday in order to maintain the affect. The Gospel isn't a video game where if you accomplish a certain level, that you've passed it on and no longer need to return to the basics of the game. Every day, these processes must be visited and built upon in order to continue to learn and progress.

The scary thing about that Satan loves to work with the forgetful. He has a way of keeping us from forgetting to remember that we forgot...(haha it makes sense if you think about it enough. )

I've spent more time recently forgetting than remembering. I am overwhelmed when I think of all of the blessings in my life that I so easily forget about and the Spirit that I feel when I am in a mode of gratitude and rememberance. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be reminded and renewed.

Because if I don't remember why I am here and what I am here to do, then what is the point?