Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Forgiveness and Trust

I think the correlation between forgiveness and trust--what a relationship with someone who has wronged you should look like once you've forgiven them--is something that a lot of people struggle with. If I've forgiven someone, shouldn't I trust them?  If I've really forgiven them, shouldn't our relationship be cozy and warm?

Not necessarily.  Sometimes, a little distance is OK.  You will always hear me advocate for forgiveness, and I do think it is important to extend more opportunities for trust when someone has shown remorse and accepted moral responsibility for a mistake, be it inadvertent or intentional.  I am constantly amazed by the mercy that the Lord shows to me, often in the form of new opportunities to "get it right", so far be it from me to hold grudges or deny opportunities for relationship growth to other individuals who fail.  Failing to give someone another chance when they have shown remorse and expressed a sincere desire to change whatever was wrong, simply because you can't let it go, is a terrible sin to my way of thinking.

"Of you it is required to forgive all men."  Not all men who repent.  Not even all men who recognize they've done anything wrong.  All men.  The commandment to forgive has no caveats.  I believe forgiveness means no anger;  forgiveness is a sincere desire to see things go well for someone, a hope that they can and will become the best possible version of themselves and be happy, a willingness to serve them.  It doesn't mean you put your heart, or any aspect of your well-being, in their hands.

If every time you've stood near a cliff with someone, he's pushed you off, you'd be a fool to keep standing next to him.  That's not forgiveness--its stupidity.  If he does acknowledge that he pushed you, that it was wrong, and swears that he won't do it again, its OK to start with a high curb.  If he pushes you again, don't go up on the cliff.  Don't stand next to him anywhere.  Forgiveness means you let go of any anger, resentment, or hurt, and that you are happy to give service they need that is within your capacity to provide.  It doesn't mean you have to keep putting yourself in a dangerous position to make them feel better about themselves.

It doesn't matter what other people think of your relationship, your attitude or your approach, so long as you are at peace with your Savior about it.  Sometimes, people don't show the same side or tell the same story to everyone, and so people will undoubtedly form judgments of your judgments based on what they have experienced or heard, regardless of whether or not it bears any resemblance to the experiences that have led you to your choices.  Be patient with them: we all have times where we pass judgments while failing to see the whole picture, and chances are those souls have no desire to hurt you or criticize you.  More often than not, they simply want to believe what is most comfortable for them to believe.  We all want that--sometimes we have that luxury and sometimes we don't.  Strive to see the best in others, even when they fail to see the best in you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kids are Gross

The last few weeks, my three-year-old has taken to very occasionally licking me at random, and then laughing like its the funniest thing in the entire world of comedy. Because children are disgusting.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

End in Sight

So, this week is crazy.  I take the TEAS (the four hour, four part exam that accounts for 40% of my entrance score for the program) on Thursday afternoon, then my final chem lab lecture exam at 8am Friday morning, and my last pre-finals chem lecture exam an hour later, and a stats quiz sometime this weekend.  Then all I have to do is study for my last bio lab practical next Wednesday, and three finals in two days the next week.  If all goes well in the next week, I should be applying to my program with a 4.0 and (if practice tests are any indication) a much higher-than-average test score.  Most of what I have been doing the last decade doesn't get immediate results, and even though those things are much, much more rewarding to me than good test scores, its nice to have something in my life that has quantifiable, near immediate results (yes, waiting only 16 weeks to see an outcome seems a bit like instant-gratification).

So by 6pm on May 8, I am finished with school until late August.  The sun has been shining a lot the last couple of weeks.  It has made it tortuous to be stuck inside buried in text books or lost in Safari tabs, but its also exciting:  so close to walks to the park, afternoons at the pool, bike rides through town, and geo-cacheing adventures sprinkled in here and there.

Less than two weeks after school gets out, I'm off to Boston with the hubby.  Just us.  Traveling somewhere new.  One of my very favorite things in the whole world, and the last time I can think of that we did something like that was in spring of 2007.  Since then, there's been a lot that's happened (including, but not limited to, two more babies and uprooting and moving almost 1500 miles), and we need this.  There's an appointment we have to attend to (and that we'll actually be driving down to Connecticut for, so in addition to days in Boston, we'll get to do a little exploring through New England in the car--bonus!), but we'll be there for five days, and aside from that one afternoon, the time is ours to do with what we will.  And hopefully that afternoon will start a process to help us get closer to where we'd like to be in the long run.  I'll get to that later.  Maybe.

After that, its just summer fun for us--no homework, no classes, no obligations.

Well, there are the small matters of Dylan's baptism and the 200 person family reunion I'm supposed to be putting on.  But those should be fun.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

And So It Is




My heart has been befriended



defended,
by those who've gone before




They call to me,
like distant, rolling thunder



"You cannot be outnumbered"


"You're standing with the Lord,
and he keeps watch over his own."



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Symbols

Every year around Christmas and Easter, I see several posts about how the celebration of the holidays--their timing, their symbols, and sometimes even their names--have their roots in pagan Roman societies.

I have no intention of arguing with the historical record, as I believe it is more or less accurate in these respects.  I simply see it as another evidence that God can make the decisions of even those who claim to oppose or not believe in him serve his larger purposes.  As he firmly reminds us, his ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts:  he sees a much, much bigger picture and is playing a much longer game.

I do not think that it is an accident of fate that Christmas is celebrated just after the longest night of the year.  In the dark, cold nights, we look to a baby that brought a promise of greater light, a hope that the cold winters of life will not last forever.  Nor do I think it is coincidence that we celebrate Easter in the spring;  as the world comes alive again and the days get longer and warmer, the sun shines brighter and the cold of winter melts away, we turn our thoughts to the grown man, who conquered death and darkness and brought new life and greater light.

If he had to work through corrupt Roman emperors for things to work out that way, I've no problem believing he's capable of that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On vision. . .

If a man were born blind, or were to go blind through no fault of his own, I would not think his blindness was the result of some moral failure on his part.  I would not judge him for being frustrated by the severe limitations imposed upon him by his condition, nor would I pretend that I would handle it any better were I in his position, or try to equivocate my own difficulties with his:  some trials are objectively harder than others.  I wouldn't insult his intelligence or his faith by insisting that if he were just faithful and obedient enough, if he just prayed a little harder and desired a little more sincerely, he would be able to see.  Certainly, I believe that the Lord, through his power and his  Atonement, has the ability to provide such cures, but for whatever reasons, he usually lets us endure such trials throughout the entire length of our mortal lives.  I would not undertake to lecture such a man on what he ought to be learning from his affliction, nor for what cause the Lord gave him such a trial.

I would respect tremendously the blind man who would strive to recognize and acknowledge not only the blessings he has in spite of his ever-present struggle, but the blessings he has because of it.  I would not condemn him or look upon him with contempt or impatience if, on the other hand, he shut him self up in his house in frustration, giving in to the darkness and refusing--at least for a time--to navigate the outside world in any meaningful way.  Who among us hasn't had such a thought, at least in passing, under much less oppressive trials?

But, if he celebrated his blindness as ideal, tried to convince others that a life in darkness was better than a life of full sight, I wouldn't hesitate to tell him--pleasantly, but firmly--that he was wrong.  I would feel nothing but compassion for the fact that he couldn't see the flowers and mountains and ocean, but I would not concede that it would be better to not have the gift of visually beholding creation.  We don't punish ourselves for having mortal frailties that cause us to fall short of the ideal (aren't we all pretty doggone far from the ideal, after all?), but we also don't push the ideal aside and deny its truthfulness because we're frustrated that we're not there yet, and, in our more frustrated moments, falter in our faith that we ever can be.

Instead, we clear our spiritual vision, look to that ideal, and renew our faith that there is Grace to heal frailties, Grace to reconcile failures, Grace to salve our wounds.  The challenges of this life and these as-yet-imperfect bodies and spirits, are not the things that will last eternally.  If we will turn to him in our frustration, hurt, loneliness or faltering steps--rather than away from him--no good thing, no righteous desire or eternal blessing, will be withheld from us.  And I suspect that when we are more complete in our knowledge and understanding, we will find that those blessings were never as far away as we had supposed.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fairy Tales

I read a comment on a blog recently decrying the sexism of fairy tales:  the story always focuses on the princess not because of her importance, but because she is an object to be won, a prize for the brave prince to collect once he's done the "real work".  What a misguided interpretation.  There are real dragons out there--kind, determined princesses and brave, selfless princes are more needed than ever.

Evil often focuses its efforts on young girls with a special intensity.  Girls become wives and mothers, and whatever post-modern feminism may have to say about the matter, there is no greater power or influence in life than that, and so if the young girls can be destroyed--or at least distracted by lesser things--it becomes much easier for evil to thrive.

A thought that comes to mind often as I raise my three young girls is a quote from President Hinckley: "When you save a girl, you save generations.  I see this as the one bright shining hope in a world that is marching toward moral self-destruction."

The essential truth in these fairy tales--one that we need to be more mindful of--is that, if you can save the princesses, the kingdom will prosper, but if they are lost, there isn't much hope for anyone.