Healing vs Fleeing

Riding without training wheels

Long-term healing. The Balm of Gilead. Recover, Refresh, Renew. The Savior is said to “arise with healing in His wings” (“wings” in the bible means the power to act and do) see Malachi 4:2.

This is the topic of today’s musings, but first, I want to start with a milestone that we reached in our house this week.  We taught two children to ride bikes without training wheels (my nephew and my six-year-old daughter).  What a miracle! Their faces beaming with delight and satisfaction. They can propel themselves forward, they can balance, they have joined the ranks of the big kids – what an accomplishment!

So, how do these ideas relate? (I’m sure you’ve figured it out already, but I’ll draw the analogy anyway!)

As we began the bike lessons, my little girl and I started with prayer (see 2 Nephi 32:9).  In her prayer, she asked Heavenly Father to help her so that she wouldn’t fall.  Well, you can’t learn to ride a bicycle without falling.  It just isn’t going to happen.  So, I took her lovingly in my arms and told her that.  Then, we spent the first little while learning how to take a fall. After she got good at that, we began to work on balance. It was hard, tiring, frustrating work. She fell, but she had learned how to deal with it, and she kept getting up. Eventually, she began to go a few lengths after I let go of the bike seat. Then a few more, until she went several houses, and finally the whole street. She was so far ahead of me that I had to run quite a way to catch up. The absolute JOY on her face was so priceless (see the picture above) after she did it.  It made all of the work so worthwhile.

Life is so similar, isn’t it.  Looking at the big picture can remind us of why we are here having to deal with all of these mortal issues.  It’s so that we can have JOY (2 Nephi 2:25). So that at the end of it all we can have experience (D&C 122:7). So we can become someone better than we are now (1 John 3:2-3).

But, it will mean that there will be some falls. Major, epic, difficult, heart wrenching falls (D&C 101: 2-5 & Hebrews 12:11).

Let me share some thoughts on the subject that I came across this week in an amazing talk.

What then is healing, and why should we seek it? My favorite talk on the subject of healing is a BYU devotional given by Elaine S. Marshall in 2002 entitled “Learning the Healer’s Art.” I strongly recommend you study it. I assign it in every class I teach, from undergraduate to doctoral level. I suggest you read it more than once. Listen closely to her definition of healing:

On [my] first day as a nurse, I assumed cure, care, and healing to be synonymous. I have learned they are not the same. Healing is not cure. Cure is clean, quick, and done—often under anesthesia. . . . Healing, however, is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of, maybe because of, enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It requires time. . . .

. . . It requires all the energy of your entire being. You have to be there, fully awake, aware, and participating when it happens.4

Healing is much more than “getting better” or “having our problems go away.” Healing is growth, development, and maturation. In a word, healing is change. It takes time and energy and struggle, but healing teaches us. As Marshall said:

Healing can help us to become more sensitive and more awake to life. . . . Healing invites gifts of humility and faith. It opens our hearts to . . . truth, beauty, . . . and grace. 5

But remember, even with all that beauty and growth and grace, healing does hurt.

Some people I have had the privilege of working with over the years have had a hard time reconciling the fact that healing requires suffering and yet is a gift from our Savior. How is it that a loving God would allow us to suffer? I have come to realize that my Savior cares more about my growth than He does about my comfort. One evidence of His love is that He does not spare me from the suffering I need for my development and progression, even when I get mad at Him. As a client once told me, “I used to feel guilty for getting mad at God. Then I realized He can handle it.”

And, unlike other humans, He does not punish me when I am mad or hold a grudge or remind me of it the next time my heart is right and I ask for His help.

The above talk, Healing = Courage + Action + Grace,  was absolutely phenomenal. It was given by Jonathan G. Sandberg on January 21, 2014.  It is WELL worth your time, as is reading the footnotes. I know that sounds weird, but I’m serious. He has given copious notes for extensive study, and well as additional thoughts on the quotes that he referenced in the talk. You can read the entire transcript here, or watch it here -

Along with this, I need to address another part of healing. Yesterday, my older daughter and I had to have a hard talk. It was about some negative actions that she has been repeatedly doing.  As we talked she cried and yelled, denied, and cried some more. Finally, she said, “Mommy, it’s just that when we talk about this stuff, it hurts. I feel so bad!”

I know it hurts.  I ache right along with her, but we needed to address the behavior, we needed to find solutions, and NOT run away from the difficult work. (As a side note, today, when the behavior happened, she followed the protocols, exactly the way that we worked it out, thus saving us grief and frustration. What an AMAZING little girl!)

Another thought from Sandberg’s talk -

[W]e have to be courageous to face the truth regarding what needs to change in our lives. This type of intense introspection requires tremendous honesty with ourselves. As Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32; see also 2 Nephi 28:28), but that is usually only after it hurts us first. Most of what I know about the courage to heal I have learned from clients. I have noticed among those who do find healing a real commitment to learning the truth about themselves, which is never easy.

I am so amazed at my beautiful children. I am amazed that they trust me to work with them, whether it’s learning to take a fall, ride a bike, or having a hard talk which will change behavior for the good.

I wonder, sometimes, if the Lord feels the same way about us. Is He thrilled right along with us as we learn to bear up under our burdens just a little bit more? Is He thankful when we offer true forgiveness and understanding to those who have caused us pain and frustration? Does it bless His life when we ask for His gifts and powers to enable ours? Is He thankful when we serve and bless others, especially when He asks the first time?

The truth is, although we may pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us so that won’t fall, life doesn’t work that way.  You can’t live in mortality without falling.  It  just isn’t going to happen.  So, when we do fall, we have some choices. We can flee and hide. That is our right and privilege as Beings with agency. We never have to learn to ride a bike. We never have to have hard talks.  But then we will never grow.

Or, we can choose to allow the Lord to take us lovingly His arms and spend some time learning how to take a fall. We can choose healing when we fall. We can choose to keep going, to keep learning, even when it hurts. We can choose to be comforted by that Being who has healing in His wings. And through these experiences, if we choose healing, then we will be able to join the ranks of “the big kids”.

 

Character – The Legacy That Lasts

42 The Jackie Robinson Story

 

A while ago, I watched the movie, 42: The Jackie Robinson Story  – it’s a great movie about baseball, but like most movies about sports, it’s not just about baseball. There is one scene in particular that teaches the principle that I want to discuss today, but a little background, first. Jackie Robinson was the first black player to play on a major league baseball team at a time when there were many, many social injustices and much prejudice and hatred.

In the scene that’s our focus, the Dodgers were playing the Phillies on April 22, 1947. During that game, the manager of the Phillies, Ben Chapman was being so vehement, cruel and vile in his insults toward Robinson who finally almost loses it, but instead of railing back against Chapman, Robinson goes down under the stadium and takes his frustrations out on the wall with a bat. Then the owner of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey (the man that hired Robinson, and a devout Christian) comes to talk to him and this is their conversation (the first line, I paraphrased a little, but that’s the jist of it.) -

Robinson: Next white person to say something, I’m going to smash his teeth in.

Rickey: You can’t do that, Jack.

Robinson: I’m supposed to just let this go on?

Rickey: These men have to live with themselves.

Robinson: I have to live with myself, too. Right now, I’m living a sermon out there.

Rickey: You don’t matter now, Jack. You’re in this thing. You don’t have the right to pull out from the backing of people that believe in you, that respect you, that need you.

Robinson: Is that so?

Rickey: If you fight, they won’t say that Chapman forced you to. They’ll say that you’re in over your head. That you don’t belong here.

Robinson: Do you know what it’s like having somebody do this to you?

Rickey: No. No. You’re the one — living the sermon. In the wilderness. Forty days. All of it. Only you.

Robinson: There’s not a … thing I can do about it.

Rickey: Of course there is! You can get out there and hit! You can get on base and score. You can win the game for us. We need you. Everybody needs you! You’re medicine, Jack!

 

Earlier in the movie, when offering the contract to Robinson, Branch Rickey said that there was one condition for him to be able to play. Could he control his temper?  Rickey said:

“I want a player who’s got the guts NOT to fight back. People aren’t gonna like this. They’re gonna do anything to get you to react. Echo a curse with a curse and they’ll hear only yours. Follow blow with a blow and they’ll say, ‘the [black man] lost his temper.’ That ‘the [black man] does not belong.’ Your enemy will be out in force and you cannot meet him on his own low ground. We win with hitting, running, fielding. Only that. We win if the world is convinced of two things: that you are a fine gentleman and a great baseball player. Like our Savior – you gotta have the guts – to turn the other cheek. Can you do it? “

Now, I realize that dialogue and elements of the film were dramatized (as they pointed out at the end of the movie). But what is the legacy that Jackie Robinson left? The number 42 is the only number that is retired in baseball, and every year, in April, all of the Major League players wear #42 on their uniforms as a reminder of Robinson’s accomplishments.

At the end of the day, what matters? What is the legacy that you leave? Your character.

Of course you could fight back, railing for railing, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, but who does that bless?

When we engage with others (ESPECIALLY when we don’t agree with them) there is a need for character “at all times, and in all things and in all places” (see Mosiah 18:9).

They have to live with themselves.

They have to face the great Judge of all Mankind, just as you do. There will be mercy and there will be justice.  But, as I’m trying to teach my children, the only one that you can ever really do anything about, truly, is you. You are the one living and teaching the sermon, and if you let the teachings of the Lord change you, change your heart, then your fruits will be of great worth. We cannot bear good fruit if we don’t do it in the Lord’s way. (see John 15: 1-8 and Matthew 7: 16-20).

Putting our “Exception” on the Altar

Exceptions to the Rule. They crop up everywhere, don’t they? Nature, Math, English grammar. Always there … lurking. Just when we think we understand something, an exception pops up and we have to re-examine our thinking.  But do the exceptions make the rule “untrue”? Do we throw out the rule because there are exceptions to it?

Personally, I don’t think so.  When we begin to say that rules don’t exist, or shouldn’t be followed because of exceptions, then we delve into a space of chaos.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Everyone who ever  has lived on earth has sinned, so everyone needs to repent.

That’s a pretty inclusive rule!

Oh, wait. There is (at least) one exception.

Jesus Christ never sinned.

I think that the most interesting thing to go along with our discussion then, is that, though He  clearly was THE great exception to the rule, (like 0 in mathematics) He got baptized anyway.

So what does this teach us?

Before we go into that, I’m going to share a couple of stories.

Story # 1 -

When I was at Basic Training, I broke my leg, a stress fracture just under the right knee. I was in excruciating pain for several weeks. No one believed me and I tried to continue to “run through the pain”.  When we took our final PT test, I hobble-ran around the track and began to be lapped by all of the other soldiers.  The drill sergeants then realized that there was something real and horribly wrong and sent me to the Army hospital where an x-ray proved the break.  We still had several weeks of training left, and I began a strange routine of doing the best I could.

During PT one morning, my Drill sergeant yelled at me for doing the exercises and made me sit and watch.  A few days later, when we were at a special camping training (bivouacking in the woods) I was chosen as one of the night guards because of my injury. Guard at night, sleep during the day.  Although, on one of those days, I went out for training with my platoon, at my drill sergeant’s behest. We were supposed to run through an open field (practicing the art of covering ourselves and our buddies). Each group went out and I lingered at the back (as running with a broken leg had proven not to be my thing.)  Then my Drill Sergeant told me it was my turn.

“But, Drill Sergeant Jones, remember? My Leg?”

“GO! I DON’T CARE! GO, MOVE, MOVE MOVE!!!!”

He could be quite persuasive, so out I ran, hobbling through the exercise, hoping that an enemy soldier wouldn’t “pick me off” as I went.  Hobble, hobble, hobble,  hide behind a tree, cover my buddy, hobble, hobble, hobble, run behind a rock, watch for enemy snipers – you get the idea.

The funny thing was that, as silly as I looked, I actually enjoyed being out in the field that day – injury and all.  It was such a relief to participate in something after being “held back”. The air was fresh. Movement was welcome to my body.  I felt unified and reconnected with my platoon again, and I never got hit by the pretend enemy! ;)

Story # 2 -

When I was in my twenties, I became the Laurel adviser in my ward (that means that I was the teacher for all girls aged 16-18 in my area). I began to teach them, that though they wanted to get married – which every Mormon girl wants of course, [note that's the general rule, not the exception] ;) sometimes marriage didn’t come as fast as we planned, and that they should have a something else in mind for life without nuptials.

As it turns out, all of the girls in my class got married before I did.

I thought that “marriage doesn’t come right away” was the “new rule”, because it was so in my case (and, after all,  it is the teaching of mainstream American society).  It turned out that I was the exception, and that in that class, the original rule (that most Mormon girls get married young) was in full force.

So now, let’s get back to our discussion above, about the Savior and His baptism and introduce a BIG, GIANT, sticky problem.

What do we do in gospel living when we are the exception to the rule?   Does it make the rule “untrue”? Do we throw out the rule for everyone in the whole church simply because I am an exception to it (or because exceptions exist)?

The scriptures teach us that we are to follow the example of the Savior. (See this link for a plethora of scriptures about this teaching.)  Here is one of my favorites -

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Peter 2:21)

 WHAAAAT?

Are you saying, Laryssa, that if we are the exception to the rule, we are still supposed to follow the rule?

Yes, I am. Or at least, I am saying that if you can’t follow the rule, because of your exception, you should live as close to the rule as possible. Yes, I am Drill Sergeant Jones, pushing you out onto the field with a broken leg.

"'To fulfill the law,' said Jesus, when the baptist questioned why."

“‘To fulfill the law,’ said Jesus, when the baptist questioned why.”

Why?

For two reasons.

Reason #1.  Because of this great promise -

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17).

That by doing, we will know and understand the reasons that God gave us the doctrine to begin with.  Then we can testify from our own experience about  A.) the truthfulness of the teaching, B.) why it is the doctrine of God, and C.) of the miracles that helped us live the doctrines even while in our exceptions.

Reason # 2.  Because, if we follow the example of the Savior, (especially in our exceptions) we will have the power to bless the human family in ways so powerful it is incomprehensible.

Just look at what the Savior wrought, by taking on sin as a sinless being.  He was the exception. His was an adult life devoid of sin. He had every right to enter into the Kingdom of God because He lived perfectly (see 1 Nephi 15:34,  3 Nephi 27:19, and Revelation 21:27) and yet, He gave up His “exception to the rule status” and took upon Himself our sins, and through that great and glorious Atonement, gave every single human being the ability to enter into the Kingdom of God, should they chose to accept it.

Now, that is phenomenal.

Each exception to the rule of life carries with it a huge burden and a huge opportunity.

So, how do you live as close to the rule as you can with such difficult problems? What are you expected to do? I don’t know, because your case (quite probably) is so very different from mine. But there is Someone who does know.  If you ask Him, He will show you with baby steps, and then sometimes, with grander steps, what is right for your unique and personal situation.

I will give a simple example from my life.

When I was a single sister in the church that teaches that Marriage is the ultimate design of both earth life, and of ALL ETERNITY, I found myself getting older and older without the opportunity (and I found that the rule was that most Mormon young adults were getting married and having those babies that I so desperately wanted – see story # 2 above).

I went through a period of anger and rebellion.  But then, because I loved God, I decided to try to live life in the gospel, even though my circumstances were not ideal according to the general rule.

Then, I went through a time when I demanded that every one, every religious talk and teaching about marriage (in conference or any other church function) bring up and recognize my own personal exception to the rule (and coincidentally, offer praise and comfort for my “amazing faithfulness”).

Finally, I came to a point in which, I began to realize the necessity of giving up my demands, and doing what the Spirit was prompting me to do – to testify of the importance of the family, without regard to my own personal exception.

I focused my thoughts and prayers on my relationship with God. When the pain, anger, or injustice came up, I prayed or sang a hymn, treating those thoughts as I would an immoral or upsetting thought – forcing them to leave my mind, rather than spending time dwelling on it,  “licking old wounds”.

In so doing, over time,  it took away the pain and anger.  It drew me closer to the Savior. It made me an effective Seminary teacher because I could teach without angry energy seething out of me. It put me in a position to be taught deeper truths about the doctrine.

And, OF course, not getting married young brought me these exceptional military stories that I am now able share with you. ;)

The years have passed. Eleven, to be exact, since I got married and started my own family. Now, I am asked to live with different set of exceptions to the rule.  Exceptions that I do not have the courage or the permission to talk about yet.  However, the Spirit whispers the same solution to those problems — follow the Savior.  Live the rule, or as close to the rule as I can.

We hobble, hobble, hobble, and hide behind a bush, hobble hobble, hobble, cover each other as battle buddies, hobble, hobble, hobble and watch for enemy snipers. It’s not pretty to watch. My husband and I don’t move as gracefully in the battlefield as other families that live without our exceptions to the rule. But, we are participating in the activity.

Yes, I am petty and wish for things to be ideal, but, I see miracles on a regular basis. Miracles that help us live as close to the rule as possible. I am learning the doctrines and finding that they bring joy. I can witness that following God’s ways and rules give me peace and great opportunities that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t live this way. And finally, hopefully, as you and I try to be more like the Savior, by placing our own “exceptions to the rule” on the altar, that sacrifice will bless lives, just as His did.

 

Scripture Study: Steadfast and Immovable or How Do I Study Scriptures with Children?

daily scripture study

Our scripture reading as a family is slow. Very slow.  Most nights we get through two verses.  Why so few? Because I really want my school-age children (presently aged 9 and 6) to get something out of them.  (We just finished watching the children scripture videos – but, more on that later) and so, now that they can both read, we began at 1 Nephi.  Tonight, we read 1 Nephi 2: 9-10 (Yes, I know, we’ve come so far! ;) )

We began with one child reading, and dramatically yelling out – “I don’t understand ONE word of that!”

To which I calmly replied, “Do you understand the word, river?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, let’s start there.”

We discussed what Lehi wanted Laman to be like -

And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

(A river.)

What does a river do?  (It runs constantly.) 

Into what?

She didn’t know, so we talked about who the Fountain of Righteousness could symbolize  (The Savior).

How can we constantly run to the Savior?

She was mildly interested. ;)

Then the other child read.

And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

What does Lehi want Laman to be like? (A valley.)

What three things is a valley like? (firm, steadfast, and immovable).

What does that mean?

At this point, I had my former football playing husband stand up and asked my 6-year-old to try and push him over. Well, that was fun! We tried having each girl, and then the two together try to push Daddy over and when he was in his stance, there was nothing that they could do.

Then I asked what did we need to be immovable in? (Keeping the commandments.)

Now, being immovable in keeping the commandments –  that’s hard! We discussed the fact that everyone had commandments that they were steadfast in and other commandments that they were movable in.

My six-year-old wanted to know what commandments are (yikes! but at least she asked! ;) )  We said that they are the things that God has asked us to do (like keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, paying tithing, keeping the Word of Wisdom, not telling lies, etc).

We each shared something that we needed to work on being more immovable in and then committed as a family to work on it this week.

I bring this up because I had a dear friend ask me how to study the scriptures.  I started writing some posts, but then I had a baby, and it’s been hectic since. So, as a start, I will say this – it can become easier to do scripture study if you are consistent and engage everyone in the event.

If you only need to get through a couple of verses, doing it nightly is more manageable, and if you look for things in the scriptures to talk about and ways to “liken” it to yourself and your circumstances (1 Nephi 19:23) it will involve the family in the process.

Here are some thoughts that might help.

  • What are the concrete words and ideas in the verse? Maybe to get to the concrete idea you need to read over a few more verses than two, but move to the next one that you can find and begin the discussion there.  With little kids do ONE idea and then stop for the night.  Older kids can probably do more, unless you’re just getting started (then maybe all they can do is one idea as well.)  By ALL means start with that!  Don’t mourn the past.  Just begin today.
  • What questions can I ask that will make my children look into the verse to find the answer? Make them read the words and find the answers (they’ll shout out “pray, read scriptures, go to church, etc.” and act like they know everything already.  You need to say, “no, look in the verse!” Directing them back to the specific phrase or idea.)  They need to learn the foreign language of the scriptures, so, by directing them back into the verse they have to engage with the phrases.  Also, be excited – for example, Who do you think is coming down in the sky? Who could the twelve be that are coming with Him? see 1 Nephi 1: 9-10 .
  • What is going on (i.e. who is speaking and why)? Keep the thread of the story – for example, “Remember that Lehi and his family have just left from Jerusalem.”
  • Talk about how those verses can apply to you.  For example, on the verses about Lehi’s vision (see above 1 Nephi 1:9-10) we discussed dreams.  Have you ever had a dream from the Lord? What was it like? How did you know that it was a dream from God and not a regular dream (what’s the difference?) Does everybody have dreams from God (Joel 2:28-29)? Are there other ways that the Lord communicates with us, not only in dreams? etc. That was a REALLY good discussion.
  • Remember this should be simple.  No handouts, no bells and whistles. I’m serious ladies – no treats, no elaborate displays.  Save those for FHE!

Say a simple prayer for help and then trust that the Lord will help you by giving you ideas in the moment (Luke 12:12) of what questions to ask and what ideas to talk about (the idea to have my hubby be steadfast was pure inspiration in the moment!).  Trust that what you’re talking about (though simple, and maybe not what you think they need) in the hands of the Lord and the Holy Spirit will be effective in the lives of your children (see James 5:16).

 

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  I’d love to hear about you and your experiences.  What do you do when you read as a family? Which strategies work, and which don’t? What is frustrating to you? Have you had a “high five” moment that you want to share? How do you need to modify for young children, older kids, youth, a mixed family with children of all ages?

 

Thou Shalt … Judge?

Judgement

The other day, my daughter came to me and told me about a YouTube video that she was shown at school.  She didn’t know what to think about it, whether it was a good video or a bad video. Whether to like it because everyone else seemed to, or to shun it.  We watched it together and immediately I made up my mind about it, but I wanted to have a teaching moment about the importance of judgement.

As an aside, society seems to know one phrase only from the bible, and that is, “don’t judge” (though they don’t seem to know any of the myriad of other verses about judgment from the scriptures).   It seems to be the way to crush a conversation, or walk defiantly away from guilt with a quick “don’t you judge me”. It’s what the critical social police throw at you when you comment on strange behaviors and consequences of those actions, though their criticism for judging you is never thought about as they walk off feeling the moral victor. (I’m sure I sound petty right now, and I freely admit that it is a pet peeve of mine).

Yet in all of our conversations about not judging (which, despite all of our lofty “judge not” talk, we do all the time) there should be conversations about how to judge and what to judge  - because we are supposed to judge, but we are to judge righteous judgement (John 7:24).  How do we do that in a society which calls evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)?  Let’s look into that.

Let’s begin by getting back to my daughter.  We watched the video together and then I shared these scriptures with her (Moroni 7: 15-17 emphasis added) -

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

Good - For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Bad - But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

So we took the video and discussed it.

Was there a good message? (Yes, it was trying to get the kids to be safe). 

Was the information leading up to the message good? (No, it was creepy, about a bunch of ways to die).

How did it make you feel? (Scared, disgusted, creeped out, felt strange inside).

How did the song make you feel? (The same as above). 

So, we have one “good” and a bunch of “bads”.  Should we judge the video to be good for kids or bad for kids? (Bad).

Even though the message was a good one? (Yes, because there was too much bad to get through to get to the main message). 

Now she knows perfectly that she doesn’t need to pretend to like it just because everyone else did.  It took away her peace and made her feel creeped out inside.  Then we talked about strategies of what to do if it were ever shown again (which thankfully, it wasn’t).

Notice that we didn’t judge whether the people were going to heaven or hell.  We judged situations, the media, and consequences.  People make mistakes and people can have bad judgement.  I can allow her teachers and friends to have an “off” moment. We made decisions about how this child could effectively judge and use her agency to decide what to listen to and what to watch in the future so that she could continue to have peace in her heart (Jeremiah 6:16).

Now are there times when I can judge a person’s actions? Yes.  Should those actions have a detrimental effect on me or my loved ones, I can again determine whether I want to be around that behavior (as can my children). Do I forgive, do I hope that they will be better, do I show forth love? Yes. But the scriptures are full of examples in which the good moral people left bad circumstances (Joseph fleeing from Potiphar’s wife [Genesis 39:9-12] for example).

Am I allowed to talk about the consequences of actions?  Is that judging?  In Joshua 8:33, the prophet was told to separate the people into two groups, one standing on Mount Gerizim and the other group on Mount Ebal.  There they read to the people the blessings and cursings that come from the obedience or disobedience of following the law (see Deuteronomy 28).  The scriptures are FULL of laws and their fixed blessings and cursings.  Which is why it is important to study them, because if we want to be possessors of righteous judgement, we need to understand what the Lord deems as righteous and what He deems as wicked.

We do our children a disservice when we cut off communication and shroud the discussion of consequences with the pacifying doctrine of “don’t judge”, or worse, the insidious teaching of “that will never happen”.  If the costs of actions are not discoursed, our children will be spiritually crippled by the heavy burdens brought on by uneducated desires and uniformed choices.

Yes, we do and must judge – actions, circumstances, media, choices.  We must teach our children to value actions which lead to blessings and be wary of actions which lead to consequences that would be detrimental to their futures. Even if that means, at times, that we may preach doctrine that is full of “hard things, more than [some] are able to bear” (1 Nephi 16:1-2).

 

For further study, see this amazing talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell – Lessons from Laman and Lemuel. (Laman and Lemuel became rebels instead of leaders, resentful instead of righteous—all because of their failure to understand either the character or the purposes of God.)

Because of Him

 

Happy Easter!

I love spring.  I love watching the tiny green buds on the trees begin to sprout into delicate white and pink flowers.  We spent Saturday clearing out the dead and old wood and leaves from our rose bushes and flower beds. Then, we planted new annuals and patched up the lawn.

What a time of renewal and refreshing!

It makes me think about my own life.  Physically and Spiritually, we have the ability to start again, just as nature does.  Cast off those old burdens, hurts and habits and plant something new into your life. It’s not to late to start with the gifts that you’ve been given and make of your life, body, home or family something new and beautiful.  Start small, start with what you have, pray to see how you can make things around you better.  You’ll be surprised at what wonderful ideas you’ll get from the Holy Spirit of little changes that will make your life feel transformed!

And it’s all because of the Savior that we can.

 

Finally -

When I was a teenager, a teacher (I can’t remember which, but I am indebted for the teaching)  introduced me to this quote-

Turn Life over to God

 

It was from a talk by then, Elder Benson at a BYU devotional on December 10, 1974, you can read the full talk here.

It is one that I have tried to follow all of my life, and it’s been quite an amazing journey.  But it’s far from over.

It’s time to start over, to not give up on being a better person, to recommit, to clean up, to try harder, to work stronger, to lift up more.  Experiment upon the word, (Alma 32) see if the LORD will do it for you, too!

It’s time to get busy, it’s a new season, it’s a new day!

Ask Your Questions!

 

General Conference invite

When I was a Seminary teacher, one day right before General Conference, I felt prompted  to tell my students to write down a question (or two) before conference and then ask Father in prayer to answer it during the meetings.  I thought as I said it, “Oh, dear, am I allowed to say this to them?”  Then an impression hit me.  It basically said that it was not me asking them to do it, it was the Lord. And, anyway, He would be the only one that could answer the question for them, not me.  I told them to write down the question, ask and then really listen and promise that if they did, they would receive the answers that they were seeking.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (Matthew 7:7)

Remember, that just as there is a Scientific Method that (when employed correctly) can help the scientific seeker acquire knowledge with measurable and repeatable results, there is a Spiritual Method, that (when employed correctly) can help the religious seeker acquire truth with measurable and repeatable results. See Alma 32:21-43 for the Great Experiment on Faith.

Personally, I have never had a question that has not been answered when I have followed this pattern, even if the answer is, “I’ll tell you when you’re older” ;) , it has come in a way that lets me know that I am really being listened to.

Conference is this Saturday and Sunday.   Ask your Questions!

Follow this link to find ways to watch – How to View Live

Follow this link for a wonderful talk - Seek and Ye Shall Find. by Elder Craig C. Christensen