Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Storm Is Here, and We Weren't Prepared

Where I live, we recently had some extremely severe winds that blew down giant trees and fences and blew off lots and lots of shingles.  The majority of our city lost power for as little as a few hours, but some people lost power for up to a few days.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty prepared person -- I'm pretty sure we have our year's supply of food, and we also have our 72 hour kits. We have at least some wood for fuel.  We keep some extra gasoline in the garage for cars and bought a nice grill for fun grilling and emergency cooking.

With these storms, however, we realized we were much better prepared for a summer disaster, not a winter one.  We weren't sure how to cook food indoors safely.  With 100 mph cold wind gusts, I really didn't want to cook outside on the deck.  Sure, we had wood, but it needed to be split to be burned in our fireplace.  Considering I was 6 or so months pregnant, I really didn't want to be out splitting wood anyway (my husband had gone to work).  We also realized that with our somewhat open floor plan on our main floor where the fireplace is, we couldn't just shut off one room and keep it warm.  We still haven't figured out solutions to the cooking and heating problems, but need to.  (In case you were wondering, we ended up leaving our house when it got down to 55 and went to a friend's who had a gas fireplace in a room that could be closed off.  We ate dinner at a restaurant that had power.  For the night we went about 45 minutes away and stayed with friends whose area had been unaffected.)

It seems like just as this severe wind storm crept up on us, the evils of pornography have crept up on us as a society.  I hate to say it, but it's as though Satan's strategies in preparing the world for this day have worked.  The moral fibers of society have been weakened enough that pornography is generally accepted.  The devil and his angels must laugh at our unpreparedness.

Last night we had our adult session of stake conference.  Our stake president mentioned that young men are getting exposed to pornography at age 10, 11, 12, and 13, but because because it's an addiction that is kept quiet and is relatively easy to hide, these boys don't get help until they are 16, 17, or 18 -- giving them up to 8 years of use, thus making it very difficult to overcome.

Tragedy, yes, but there are things we can do to win this war.

  • For one, our stake president encouraged us to have "spiritual courage" within our families and also to reach out to others with Christlike love who are struggling.  We need to pray to know how to help others.  We need to stand up and speak up against things that are harmful.  Leaders were encouraged to intervene with youth early so we can head off this problem.  My husband plans to talk to the 14 & 15 year olds he teaches at church and also speak to our 8 1/2 year old (again) about this.  (I realized the other day that our little boy is half way to independence -- going to college and potentially moving out of the house!  I wonder if we've taught him half of what he needs to know to face the world.  Have we armed him thus far?  I feel there's so much more we need to do to prepare him for life ahead.  I hope we can stay close.)

  • Also again, Stephanie's Satan's Power Tool post gives us ideas on how to talk to our families about this problem.  Particularly striking regarding our husbands:
If your husband has a heartbeat, he struggles with [pornography] on some level.  The world is cruel to him in its blatant temptation and oppressive titillation.  If he watched the Super Bowl, he’s seen pornography (for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started).  Talk to him about it.  Ask him how he’s doing:  What can you do to help him?  What steps can your family take to help him feel protected?  What measures does he currently use to avoid the temptation?  Be prepared to feel threatened a little as you learn what a real struggle it might be for him to stay unharmed by the storm.  Cling to each other a little tighter.  Express your love for him and your desire that he remain clean.  Encourage him to fight the hard fight.  Pray for him, and pray together.  Talk about your covenants and go to the temple often to remember them and reconnect to them.

  • At Julie Beck's 2009 Women's Conference address, she reminds us that we women have the responsibility to protect our homes (and ourselves) from pornography.  This is the talk where she said, "Sisters, fight -- fight, sisters" regarding pornography.  That call can be likened to a story I shared before:
. . . Erastus Snow, under the direction of Brigham Young, told [a] stake president he needed to stop 'going "heart and hand with the gentiles"' by "selling and drinking liquor dispensed at the LDS co-op store" or he'd be replaced.  Snow told the women: "I advise you sisters to get together in the capacity of a Relief Society, and gut the store of every drop of liquor in it, and spill the liquor on the ground."
Now Julie Beck didn't say to go to the local adult store or even the local grocery store and tear up all the nasty magazines, but she did say to take action within our stewardships, our homes, and to fight for them.

She encourages us to fight when she says:
    • We cannot sit and act like victims
    • We must teach our families everywhere:  in family home evenings, prayer & scripture study, mealtimes -- both formally and informally
    • We must limit activities that take us to and fro
  • I feel that the most important thing we need to teach our children to withstand pornography is personal integrity.  We need to teach them what is good and wholesome and pray with all our mights that they will choose what is good and wholesome.  We need to teach them that it's okay to be different; it's okay to not do what everyone else appears to be doing.  
Some people simply define integrity as telling the truth, but I look at it as so much more comprehensive.  My integrity defines who I am.  Will I do what I say I will?  Do I act consistently with what I profess I believe?  I am reminded of the Karl Maeser story about honor:
I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!
That is integrity.

  • The very last thing I wanted to mention was regarding the use of media.  Bad media is all around us.  If we do our best to avoid it, not let it infiltrate our minds, we will be so much better off.  We must avoid ANY movies or t.v. or music that is not uplifting -- the stakes are too high when we let even a little bit in.  Do we want to be close to God, or don't we?  I once heard a story by a guy who was trying to overcome a drug addiction, and he felt that he should change his music.  He started avoiding any music that wasn't uplifting and he felt a change in his life.  He was able to be closer to God because negative media wasn't consuming his mind.
It's not too late to win this war, even if it seems that we've had a slow start in fighting back.  We know we are on the winning team, so let's show it.