Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Purpose in Parenting

I saw three things today that reminded me of the purpose of a parent.

1.  I loved this video that's been floating around for the last few days that emphasizes a father's role in his family.  It reminded me of the movie, Courageous.  What I want to see now is a similar video on motherhood to get me all weepy and happy.


3.  My friend wrote a Facebook status about chopping walnuts.  I'd love to just copy it in here, but I don't have her permission, so I'll just summarize.  As she chopped, she stressed over all she had to do and what she might be doing wrong.  Finally, she took a breath and decided just to focus on what she was doing.  She noticed one walnut always jumping out of the way of her knife and "just going with the flow."  As she slowed down, she remembered she actually enjoyed cooking!  She noticed other little things around the house and then wondered how often she misses out on special times because she's worrying about other things.  She wondered about missing connections with her kids and other "blissful moments."  She realized she needs to be more like that walnut and "go with the flow" and try not "to fix and force things," but to "be still" and "be quiet" so she can "find the joy and contentment [she] seek[s] in places [she'd] never expect."  Loved it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Greater Good

Yesterday in Sunday School, our teacher, a doctor, shared a story about a young man who was ready to serve a mission.  As a child, the young man suffered from a condition that in most people doesn't go away, but it did for him.  Because the condition was gone, the young man wondered if he should indicate that he'd had that condition as a child.  The doctor counseled him to be completely honest in his mission application and indicate that yes, he'd had this condition.

The young man was concerned that if he indicated the past condition, he might be limited in where he could serve.  The doctor offered to write a letter explaining the health situation and clarifying that the young man was capable of serving without restrictions.

The mission papers were sent in, and the young man waited and waited for his call.  After several weeks, I believe the family asked the doctor to intervene and see if he could find out what the hang-up was.  After some sleuthing, they found that the doctor's letter had been overlooked and there was indeed some concern about where to send this young man because of his (past) condition.  Things were cleared up and the young man is now on track to receive a call.

Throughout the story, you could tell the doctor-teacher was really frustrated with the process of the missionary application in regards to health records.  I wondered if that was his big annoyance with Church structure.  I could tell he wanted a better system in place.

Last night, I recollected yesterday's post regarding "Mormon feminists" and thought about the things that bug them most about the Church.  I mentioned to my husband that everyone really does have their own "thing," don't they?  He kind of laughed and said he, of course, being a programmer is rather bothered by the technical issues he sees in the Church software and web sites.  Our conversation reminded him of some study he'd been doing on the Constitution earlier in the day regarding sacrificing for the greater good.  He'd run across this quote from Benjamin Franklin in a talk by Dallin H. Oaks that I think is worth sharing:
When you assemble a number of men to have the advantage over their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does. … The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good.
And then Dallin H. Oaks summarizes,
In other words, one should not expect perfection—one certainly should not expect all of his personal preferences—in a document that must represent a consensus. One should not sulk over a representative body’s failure to attain perfection. Americans are well advised to support the best that can be obtained in the circumstances that prevail. That is sound advice not only for the drafting of a constitution but also for the adoption and administration of laws under it.  --The Divinely Inspired Constitution, Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign Feb 1992
Although this is about the Constitution, the principle of sacrificing personal interests for the greater, or public good is a nice reminder to let go of the hang-ups we may have with Church processes.  There's always a bigger picture than what we see, and although something that may bother us may seem huge, there are probably 100 other issues that bother other people that are also just as important.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who Holds the Power?

I know this is a way old topic now, but within a day or so of hearing about the whole "pants" episode, I went to do my nightly scripture reading and happened to be on 3 Nephi 14.  The words in verses 13-23 flew out at me like a 3-D movie:
Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.   Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; departfrom me, ye that work iniquity.
After reading that, I felt it confirmed that supporting pants-type movements was not for me.  Now maybe some women have that "calling" to lead an participate in movements like this, but I'm not one of them.  

The other day I heard about the petition by the pants organizers to write letters to Church headquarters to ask the Church leaders to allow women to pray at General Conference.  I have nothing against women praying in General Conference; I think it would be great, but an organized movement to write letters?  Sorry, I think I'll stay away.  I believe the leaders of the Church are already aware of the praying discrepancy, and if it is supposed to change, it will.  I can't imagine that Church leaders are deliberately conspiring to hurt anyone in this situation, and I don't think a mass of letters coming their way is going to help things.
Image: Wikipedia
When Jane Manning James (a black pioneer woman) had concerns about her husband not holding the priesthood and about not being able to attend the temple, she DID question.  She even questioned the prophet, but she didn't gather up a band of people to petition for her cause (as far as I know).  She made it personal and plead for understanding in her own way.  I can't imagine the hurt she felt in her situation, but she did not cause a rebellion.

What concerns me the most is the premeditated organization behind these movements.  If there's a concerted effort to organize pants day, then letter-writing, what's next?  I also feel that by petitioning the Church for change, it implies that the power is in the Church itself, when really, isn't the power in us?  Aren't we the ones who can receive direct revelation for ourselves from God?  That does not require the Church.  What influence can I have on those around me?  It does not take the Church telling me what to do to serve others.  What is my personal ministry?  I find that out for myself.  The Church is just an institution to keep Christ's church orderly and to provide temples, meetinghouses, organized missionary work, and other great things. A sometimes imperfect Church structure does not need to cause me undue angst. I control my own microcosm.