Showing posts with label acceptance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label acceptance. Show all posts

Friday, August 11, 2017

Use Labels for Items, Not People

        I watched the 2016 version of Ben-Hur for the first time last night.  I don't recall ever having made it through the 1959 version without crying, so why should 2016 be any different?  Jenna looked at me after the Chariot Race scene and asked if I was crying.  I cry for a number of reasons each time.  She had excused herself before the crucifixion.  That was heart-wrenching.  

        I had recently met some of my water buddies at the local coffee shop.  One asked what makes one a Jew.  Is it a race? a religion?  It doesn't matter - we're all part of the human race.  He was just wondering.  I'll admit I've wondered about that myself.  I sent him a link to this site.

        I am one who could never be in the Klu Klux Klan or put labels on people - usually I don't know.  I don't know if that would be considered ignorance or miraculous - as in most cases I truly can't tell by looking at a person what race he or she might be - and it doesn't matter.  Why do we insist on putting labels on each other anyway?

        When Ben-Hur started, Judah and Messala are racing their horses - egging on one another.  It reminded both Jenna and I of the introduction to the Prince of Egypt.  In both movies the pair start out as friends, but labels change when groups are divided: Romans and Jews, Egyptians and Hebrews, North and South, Americans and Japanese.

        I thought about countless stories I have either seen, heard about or read.  Some true, some fiction - but all with the same purpose.  Sometimes friendship tear apart, sometimes they end up saving - but are still lost in many cases.
        Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook, by Beverly Patt,  is about a friendship between two American girls named Dottie and Louise.  Though both are Americans, Dottie is sent to an internment camp and writes to Louise who keeps her letters in a scrapbook along with some other memorabilia. 

But both girls are affected by the war, and when Dottie and her family are relocated, she no longer hears from Louise.  Still friends in their heart, but there is still a sadness of losing contact.

        I watched Friendship in Vienna when in 1988 when it was first created and aired on the Disney Channel.   It is about the friendship between two girls, Inge and Lise - neither understanding the conflict that surrounds them or why both of their parents insist they stay away from each other. 

One day Inge is told she can't continue with her education at the public school.  Lise's brother joins the youth of Hitler and Lise tells Inge to stay away from him as he has become a dark person.  She sacrifices much for their friendship.  Their friendship is torn, but it is because of their friendship that Inge and her parents are saved.

        I thought of examples from before the Civil War - those may have attended West Point Military Academy and fought in the Mexican war found themselves on different sides did not view themselves as comrades but enemies.  I thought about some of the westerns that my husband will watch in which friendships are formed between those that have been told not to be friends.  Sometimes it works to be a blessing.

        We don't always share political points of view.  We tend to use labels - even if it's not meant in a derogatory way - we still call ourselves Jewish, American, black, white, straight, gay, rich, poor, star- and plain-bellied Sneetches (see here) How great it would be if we just saw ourselves as human beings and treat one another with respect and dignity.

For further information about the examples I used see here for " Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook"  and here for Friendship in Vienna 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged

  My dad was a man of few words.  He did not share much of himself with anyone - including his own children.  So when he did share experiences with us - particularly about his past - it was indeed a rare treasure.  Although I may have not appreciated it at the time, I now realize what a treasure it truly was.

       We were having a family home evening lesson - I'm thinking on judgement.  I remember him sharing an example from his past.  He said that there was a boy in his class who was not all that nice, one that had the reputation of a bully.  Someone whose personality clashed with everybody.  My dad was no exception.  He said though he had tried, he just didn't like the guy.

       One day the teacher had given the class an exam.  My dad said his arm was in a cast at the time, and he wasn't able to write the answers in the given amount of time.  When the instructor called "time" dad's paper was only half complete.

       I don't know if my dad would have said anything on his own.  The classroom "bully" pointed out to the teacher that "Gary can't write the answers.  It isn't fair."

       He then volunteered to take my dad aside and write down the answers as my dad would say verbally.  Dad said that ever since that time, he was able to look at people with new eyes and realize that probably everyone has some good in him.

       probably a few years after dad had share this story, I had a similar thing happen to me.

       Jeff seemed to have an obnoxious personality in my opinion.  He was quite popular, but overall not my favorite person.  I seemed to face low self-esteem.  I was quite friendless at school and really didn't enjoy being there. 

       My mom had called the school psychologist in hopes that he could help mend my situation.  Everybody knew that those that went to the school psychologist had issues.  Those kids were made fun of.  Way to go, mom!

       I remember a time when my teacher told me that it was time for me to go to the psychologist office.  Most of the class had gone out for recess or gone to lunch or whatever, but I do remember hearing Jeff ask when he would get to go.  I didn't hear the teacher's response.  I was mortified. 

       My situation did change, but it wasn't directly because of the school psychologist.  Ironically, I give Jeff the credit for smoothing out the bumps in my road.  I don't think I connected the dots until much later in my life, but it was after he had asked the question that he and a few of his buddies started paying attention to me and befriending me and teasing me about which of the three I would like to go steady with.  They made being at school a lot more bearable.

        I never told Jeff how much I appreciated that.  I don't think I made the connection until many years later - when I didn't have contact with him anymore - not that we ever did have intimate contact.  He may not even remember the situation.  I'm certain that it was a lot more meaningful to me - especially since it was someone I hadn't even liked that had helped me.

       I think there are lots of situations in which many are "saved" by someone that they either hadn't liked or maybe feared.  Perhaps we ought to find a new perspective in others before we need saving.  Just a thought.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

“Paperboy” takes place in the mid to late 50’s sometime after Elvis had made a name for himself and when Arkansas started integrating schools
The story takes place in Memphis and reads like a journal.  No commas, no quotations.  Very cleverly written, I think.
The summary of the story itself got my attention, but what really intrigued me was Rob Buyea’s recommendation.  I had posted a review on Buyea’s books here
Victor Vollmer has agreed to take his friend’s paper route for a month.  He enjoys throwing papers and is good at it.  His problem is with collecting money, for Victor has a stuttering problem and lacks the confidence in talking with people.
But he learns a lot and meets a few people that he may not have otherwise.  He records his thoughts and some conversation and little by little the reader can see the growth of this young man.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot until pretty much towards the end – after all the characters have been introduced.  He sums up the last chapter as Primrose had here in “Everything on a Waffle” and I love how he portrays who he is and who he’s met and how it’s made him grow (although he, himself, may not be aware of the growth that we see as a reader.)
My favorite quote is on page 217 as he’s wrapping up a brief description of his mother:
“I don’t know if it’s worse not being able to say words at all or being able to say them and not know what they mean”
It’s a very good book.  Easy reading.  Strong recommendations on my part.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Woman in the Background

Formally titled "Walking in Another’s Shoes (or "What Are the Odds?")"

Miranda and her mother live in Arizona.  They had come to Utah to spend the Thanksgiving Holidays.  On Black Friday they found themselves at an Old Navy store in Sandy, Utah.  The two were smiling as someone took their picture, which evidently Miranda immediately posted to her facebook page.  The focus should have been on mom and daughter – to see their happiness.  But for some reason her facebook friends seem more drawn to the woman in the background.  Apparently she wore a sour expression that many “friends” felt the need to poke fun at. 

         I have not seen the photo myself nor read the hurtful comments.  But I’ve been told that they exist - or did.  And with the given track record of facebook, I have no reason to doubt it.  People can be hurtful and mean and put others down without even knowing them or the circumstances or background of the individual that we are demeaning with our hateful words.  We become facebook bullies. 

         I have mentioned my sister-in-law, Sunny and her enthusiasm and her remarkable spirit.  Evidently she teaches the gospel doctrine lessons – which she says is somewhat intimidating, as most of the class members appear to be old enough to be her parents or grandparents.    Sunny always prays and studies out her lessons (or talks or sharing time or whatever her calling is) and always seems to have a fountain of Spirit pouring out of her.  She radiates! 
         Her subject was on the Proclamation of the Family.  Because of the signs of the time and issues in the media, she knew that subjects may be brought up with confrontation and judgment – and did not want her class to become a sideshow or debate.  She did a lot of research and called Corey to ask his approach.  Corey ALWAYS has good advice, as the Spirit seems to be with him ever much as it is for Sunny.

         Sunny ended up writing a huge list before the class had even started.  On her list she had put gay marriages, unwed mothers, child abuse, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, spousal abuse, divorce, temple marriages, civil marriages, single mothers, mixed families . . . . there were a lot.  It sounds like her list covered the entire board.

         After the opening prayer she shared the story at the beginning of this post – from her point of view.  Sunny was the sourpuss woman in the background of the photo.  She has some sibs who happened to be facebook friends with Miranda.  What are the odds?

         After far too many hurtful comments, one of Miranda’s friends contacted her and asked her to please remove the photo with all of it’s comments – for the woman in the background whom the “friends” were bashing was her sister – and it was hurtful to see all those unnecessary comments who had lost focus of what the picture really should have represented.

         Sunny (an enthusiastic shopper and person by nature) hadn’t had a proper amount of sleep and fully admitted that she was not in the best of mood when she returned to Old Navy for the third time in less than 24 hours.  It is quite evident from the photo that Sunny did NOT want to be there - but she is such a great mother she had sacrificed her time to take her fourteen year old daughter and stand in line while Candy found items that she wanted to purchase.  (Sunny is not her actual name.  I call her that because of her normally sunny disposition - which evidently is quite hidden in the photo) 

         Sunny finished relating the events that had taken place and concluded with a plea to not pass judgment.  She pointed to words on her list while saying, “This is my brother”,  “This is my sister”, and “Everybody in this room knows somebody on this list”  
         Sunny said the Spirit had been invited into the room and stayed throughout the class.  She said she felt great about the lesson and knows that others were touched as she received heartfelt compliments.  She really is a great teacher – great person really.  And those in Miranda’s circle would never say the mean things they did if they actually did know Sunny.

         As Sunny shared her lesson and as I later related this all to Roland, I realized that I am guilty of jumping to conclusions long before I try walking in another’s shoes.  May I always keep this with me that I may recognize that all people are a part of the human race – always somebody’s brother, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s parent, somebody’s friend.

         May we all recognize others as our own family members.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lions of Little Rock

I love Love LOVE this book.  I think it’s the best piece of historical fiction that I have read EVER . . .

Kristin Levine did a lot of research before writing this book found in the juvenile fiction.  Originally she thought she would do a story on the Little Rock Nine but as she was doing her research she learned about the WEC (Women’s Emergency Committee) and the STOP (Stop this Outrageous Purge) and the battle of Segregation/Integration and the closing of schools that followed the Little Rock Nine.

The author’s mother had left Little Rock in 1954 – three years before the nine were admitted to Central High.  She hadn’t had a first hand experience in the events explained in the story.

The story is told through the eyes of Marlee, a twelve – thirteen year old white girl who makes friends with Elizabeth – the new girl who is light enough to pass for white, but really she is what was then referred to as colored or Negro.  Today we say African American or black . . .

The junior highs in this story are opened, but all the high schools are closed.  Marlee attends junior high, but her sister attends high school. Judy (the sister), has a hard time with it as she would like to associate with her friends and perhaps get educated as well. 

Marlee also has a brother, David, who is away at college.  She loves her brother and sister dearly and misses David as he is at college and then misses Judy as she is sent away to live with her grandmother so that she is able to attend high school in another city.

Marlee is a math genius.  She loves numbers.  She’s not great with words however.  She hardly ever speaks.  Many of her peers just assume she’s mute.

Elizabeth (Liz) is quite outgoing and assists Marlee in overcoming her shyness.  They work on a project together and practice their parts.  Marlee’s greatest incentive is a “Magic Squares” math book which Liz uses for a reward.

But when it’s discovered that Liz is not white, both girls are forbidden to have any further contact with one another – which upsets Marlee’s world even further.  We are then introduced to WEC and STOP and the racial prejudices and the fears and taking a stand and “mixing races”

The title of the book has symbolic meaning. And there are questions at the end of the book.  Thought provoking questions.  And references to non-fiction material of events that occurred in Little Rock in the late 50’s and early 60’s. 

We’ve come a long way.  Unfortunately not everybody has been on board with the whole racial issue.  The Klu Klux Klan has thinned out tremendously, but there are still some active members.  I’d like to send each member of each group a pedigree of every member – prove to them that no one of them is pure. 
The whole racial thing has bothered me my entire life.  And Jenna yells at the top of her lungs, “What difference does it make?”

It shouldn’t make a difference.  And it’s sad that so many believed that it did – or still believe.  We are all children of God.  I don’t get the trials that so many have put themselves through due to skin differences.  How stupid!

I’m so grateful for those who have made a difference, who have carved a path to make it a little bit easier for those who followed.  I hope the prejudice dies and having a different skin, or religion, or favoring gender or a tattooed covered body doesn’t threaten anyone.  We’re all different.  And still, we’re all the same.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Postcomment for Jake Abhau: - A Mormon Dad of a Gay Teen

While I was reading  this post, my mind flooded with ideas for a comment I might leave – but there were too many thoughts racing through my mind that my fingers couldn’t keep up with what I thought I wanted to say – so while trying to condense my comment (so that it did not come out to be longer than the Jake’s post) I made errors with spelling and smooth transitions.  My comment sounded disjointed and stupid – to me anyway. 

Perhaps not all of it sounded unpolished and sloppy.  My thoughts were flying faster than I could get the words out. When I reread through the first comment that I left, I realize I should have just stopped at the second paragraph. I copied the first two paragraphs and deleted my original comment and tried again – with just the two paragraphs and a link for my brother’s blog. I’d like to share my ideas and hope that they are valid and helpful.  But I don’t want to sound preachy.

Some of the thoughts that went through my mind were words I had already written in such posts found here, here and here among several others.  I had also thought about the lesson given in Relief Society, several of Corey’s posts, and a talk I had given in Sacrament meeting.

The lesson in Relief Society was chapter 15 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow in which we learn that sometimes things don’t go as we had planned but that we need to make the best of it and realize that perhaps that was part of the plan all along – that Pres. Snow was destined to be in Malta rather than India, that we ourselves may have another mission that doesn’t seem compatible with what we’ve been taught all of our lives.

Corey had been taught to go on a mission, get married in the temple, honor his priesthood, etc. etc.  But that isn’t the path he chose for himself – nevertheless believed it was expected.  And then God allowed for Corey and Joh to cross paths.  Corey is now on a mission through his blog.  He has a strong testimony of the Church gospel.  But he also values gay awareness. 

My belief is that his calling right now is to assist in bridging that gap between the LDS Church and the LGBT community.  But his records had to be removed from the Church in order to get the following that he did (and continues to get) And I think he has done an amazing job – though that was not his intent.  Corey is a happy and complete person – neither of which existed before he came out – before he found Joh.

I gave a talk in Church.  The subject I had been given was on forgiveness.  I didn’t want to come right out and say, “Corey, I’ve been assigned a talk.  Allow me to be your proxy; you write the talk and I will give it.” Though that is what I wanted to do.  I emailed the three paragraphs which I had been given and told him that I needed to make a talk out of it and was looking for his ideas – which he shared.  But not a complete talk’s worth.

Ironically about half of my talk came from some of the posts that he had created about a friend who had been sent to prison.  So unbeknownst to him, I actually did make most of it his talk rather than my own.  Just because he’s been excommunicated doesn’t mean his relationship with God is over.  Quite the contrary.  It has gotten stronger.

We don’t always understand why we’ve been given certain trials.  We don’t often understand why God would give a commandment (“Thou shalt not kill” for example) that we accept and imbed into our brains and strongly agree with and then tells someone (Nephi, for example) “Kill Laban” and we’re like “What?”

There are some people who I believe have been chosen – yes “chosen” to marry outside of their faith or not serve a mission or leave the Church to build strength in either their own character or become an example for others to follow.  I truly believe that. 

I do have a testimony of this church gospel.  I do.  But I have strayed from the strict teachings I grew up with and have ventured outside the box into a world where I want to understand others – what their viewpoints are.  And I’m seeing the flaws of men – mankind who are church goers – some are Pharisees, some try their hardest to fit into the perfect Mormon mold, and others explore.  There are some mighty strong members who have strayed and returned – and then there are others (like my brother) who remain strong but cannot return – at least for the time being.

I think so many of us feel discrimination at one time or another.  And yet Jesus did not or does not discriminate.  So why is it we may feel that when we are attending His Church?  Because there is still leadership run by imperfect men.  None of us is perfect.  We're not expected to be perfect in this earth life - just to stay on the path that will lead to perfection. God isn't going to discriminate because Jordan is gay - just as he will not discriminate against my bother. It's his mission. You can see it in his blog.

I hope that Jake does not give up on the Church.  But I do understand where he is coming from.  The Church teaches values.  It builds foundation. But it is hard to live the concept of “Families are Forever” and then have imperfect leaders tell us that unless we repent of the unrepentable that we can’t be together forever.  We have to have hope and faith and realize that God’s love and perfection is so much mightier than any man’s.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Accepting Change

Mom did not go to Anna’s third birthday party.  She may not have known about it.  I wondered who would bring her – or if she’d be there at all.  I learned that the last time Sunny and her family had collected my mom for a Sunday dinner was probably the last time she was out.

I had taken her out on Memorial Day.  I don’t think she would have come if Harold hadn’t given his approval.

“Mom, you have to come.  Your brother, Bruce, will be there.”

She hadn’t seen Bruce for years.  He actually looked the same to me – but in her eyes he was still 29 or 35, certainly not an old man.  She didn’t recognize him.

But she was active and attentive and helped provide Corey with names to go with several photos he had found.  She enjoyed herself and we enjoyed having her there.  But that was over a month ago.  I haven’t taken her out since, and from what I understand, she doesn’t want to go.

Well, that’s a far cry from January through April – when she was packed to leave and looking for a way to escape and begging every visitor to please take her home.  I think her attitude changed when the walls were repainted.  When the “fun”  themes and icons were removed and the dining area was given more of a homey feel.  I wonder if she even remembers the way the place looked before the change.  I doubt it.

Sunny said they had her over for a Sunday dinner and mom was freaked and crying because she didn’t know how to get back to where she lives.  And Sunny said that all of them knew how to get her back and dinner was cut short and mom was returned to assisted living and she hasn’t been out since.  She says she chooses not to take scenic drives or tours.  She’s already seen everything there is to see. 

That’s why I didn’t volunteer to take her to Anna’s party.  I figured she would either be confused or anxious to return to her quarters and we’d spend more time in the car driving her from one end of the valley to the other than at Anna’s party. 


I am floored by the drastic change.  Still confused in her mind, she does seem to have accepted her new home and doesn’t want to leave the securities she has created.  I still think it would be nice of her to get out more – but I am happy that she finally seems content and even happy – well, except for when she feels that the staff is being intrusive – like a child who wants to live by his or her own rules and doesn’t see the wisdom in the parents’ methods.

Her adaption to change should give me an example of moving on myself and stop wishing the changes have taken and will continue to take place.  My mom will never be the same – at least in this life.  I have to accept that.  I have to adjust.  I have to find a peace just as she has.  But it is so hard.

I hope that by keeping an alias Blog with so many name changes from the ones I post about on facebook or record in my journals will force me to keep a sharper mind and keep me alert so that I don’t get dementia so that Jenna might not have to hurt the way that I’ve been hurting.  If so, I hope that she can conquer with and deal with change sooner and better than I.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thank You Rob Buyea

I mention my discovery of Mr. Terupt in this post.  Rob Buyea makes reference to several books throughout the two books that I’ve read and I have made my journey into some of those books. So here are my reviews on “Belle Teal” by Ann M. Martin and “Belle Prater’s son” by Ruth White

“Belle Teal” is told in first person by a girl who’s been named after her grandma – Belle Teal.  The story takes place roughly 1961 – 1962 I’m guessing in Virginia. Two things stand out for me.  One is that Belle’s grandmother has Alzheimer’s or another form dementia.  It isn’t explained.  Even back then – there wasn’t the same understanding that we have now – and are still trying to explain.

The other is/was the relationship between her classmates.  One is a black student who has just transferred into an all white school.  Another is a high and mighty princess, also a first timer for that particular school. The other is the son of an abusive drunkard parent. They had formed a friendship in a previous grade. 

I absolutely love the way Belle Teal handles herself and tries hard to make friends and tries hard to add harmony to classmates and to situations that occur.  I also like her enthusiasm with her writing and her creativity.  She reminds me a little bit of my own Jenna.

“Belle Prater’s Son” also takes place in Virginia – but about ten years earlier.  It is told in first person – which I enjoy.  I always have an easier time getting into books that are told in first person.

Gypsy is Belle Prater’s niece, who tells the story mostly about her relationship with her cousin Woodrow, who moves in next door shortly after his mom disappears. There is a bit of mystery involved, tall tales, and finding self esteem.  The message I took from this story was that looks are not important and we needn’t treat one another in a way that focus on outward appearance.  I love how the characters are willing to accept themselves and grow.  I also like how Woodrow appreciates the simple things and what Gypsy has taken advantage of for some time become new again.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Let’s Override Bullying and Manipulation

It’s been a couple of months since I took Jenna and her friend to see The Mysterious Happy Life of Brown Bag by Greg Near. I honestly did not know what it was about – but it was playing at the library and gave us something to do for free.

It started out cute and funny.  Jaime, Trume and I all laughed.  Towards the end though, they both got bored with it and I don’t think they realized what had even taken place.  The one act play had taken me from laughter to tears in just a matter of seconds.  Brown Bag had been bullied because he was different.  He so desperately wished to have friends that he allowed them to manipulate him – even though he knew that because they were trying to hurt him, they really weren’t his friends.

After the play the cast members and writer and some others held a discussion panel.  Trume and Jenna both wanted to leave – which I understood.  It’s not a comfortable subject. But I thought it was important that we stay and get some feedback.

So many of the children (what little there are) that surround us are from broken homes and dysfunctional families and perhaps it’s just what they’ve learned from their own surrounding circumstances and upbringings.  I wouldn’t classify any of them as bullies (just yet anyway) though there are a few that have been able to manipulate Jenna.

Jenna had always been the leader when we lived in our first part.  Yes, she was a bit manipulative – but in a positive way.  She never tried to hurt her friends.  She never tried to seek pleasure by embarrassing another or enjoying watching others get into trouble or what have you.  She’s just always had a head full of great ideas and would strongly suggest that her friends play her games.  But they always had fun together.  There was never anything cruel about her domination.

Over here things are different.  She has somehow allowed herself to get sucked up into things that she hasn’t been comfortable doing – and I repeatedly tell her to stand up for herself and not to get sucked in.  A real friend wouldn’t allow a friend to feel uncomfortable.  I’ve used my own examples as well as referring to The Mysterious Happy Life of Brown Bag and repeatedly asking if she remembers what happened to him.

I used to worry about Tony, too.  Tony has always seemed socially awkward (actually, both two oldest boys have) and I was afraid he would fall in with the wrong crowd.  He is swayed so easily. Even as an adult I think he is easily manipulated. I’ve always wished that he would stand up for himself and not allow others to walk all over him.  But he has been walked on a lot.  

Jenna and I are over here to learn something.  I don’t know what it is.  Gratitude perhaps.  Because right now we are not very grateful.  I’m finally comfortable in my own ward, but not with the neighborhood.  Not with Jenna’s friends (or lack thereof)


I don’t deal well with bullying.  I am so upset with the results and the pain.  Manipulation needs to vanish.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We All Need HOPE

On -

Yesterday I made a comment to a quote expressing a limited hope targeted to a certain group of people for basically following his or her own heart.  Perhaps I was out of line with my answer, but I elaborated as the one who posted the quote followed my comment with a question that sounded to me as though she is feeling despair.

But we have to have hope.  Hope is what brought the children of Israel out of bondage.  And it was hope that caused slaves in America to move from the South to the North.  It was with hope that so many Jewish people (among others) stayed hidden before and during World War II.  It is with hope that we are even to leave our house each morning.

I like how President Uchtdorf says, “Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances.” In his talk The Infinite Power of Hope

We all hope to get out of bondage. We all hope that we can get through each day without harm or accident – whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally.  We hope that our loved ones will be safe.  We hope that things could be different.  We hope that some things will remain the same.  We hope that our children have learned what we tried to teach them.  We often hope that they may turn out better than we did.

If we didn’t have hope, we wouldn’t try new things.  We wouldn’t try to run (let alone finish) the race.  We wouldn’t put forth any effort without hope.  We wouldn’t go to the doctor’s or the attorney’s office or even work without hope.  We wouldn’t vote or elect officials.  We wouldn’t leave our comfort zone – though often times it may be our hope that we won’t ever have to.  There is no growth without hope.

Monday, February 11, 2013

To Be or Not To Be Beyond the Walls

This year the Church created a new format for teaching the youth.  Our theme for the month of February is on the Plan of Salvation.  The website and brochure give guidelines and suggestions, but it is up to the instructor of seminary, Young Men’s, Young Women’s or Sunday School to allow him or herself to be guided by the Spirit to come up with meaningful lessons that will make an impact on the youth.  It beats the same outline and manual that we shared with the adults last year (and I suppose every year prior)

Last week I introduced self worth and service as part of the plan and had a tremendous amount of examples – including relating the ideas that have been shared in the video “Man’s Search forHappiness” (Didn't the Church put out a more updated version?)

The lesson itself seemed to go okay but I also seemed to lose my train of thought rather early in the lesson. I ended quite early and asked for a closing prayer.  But as it was so early, I asked the class to remain seated and allowed my overly quiet class to talk about whatever was on their minds.

I’ve been putting more thought and preparation into my lesson for next week – which thus far seems to be taking me in the direction of the three kingdoms – though I haven’t really felt inspiration so much as incomplete thoughts.

I’m not discouraged particularly, but I feel myself delving deeper into places where I don’t necessarily want to be – or would like to share with the class rather.  For example, I have read some opinions given on object lessons discussed in this site  as well as some others. Actually, I have been somewhat intrigued by some of my searches, but it’s not where I want to take the class.

I remember a fireside that had been hyped up with advertisement of going to Hawaii or some other destination.  All the advertisements were geared to our moment of “travel” – only the fireside had been presented to the adults about a month or two before the youth were given the opportunity.

Mom had come home from the adult fireside.  She had enjoyed the presentation and had enthusiastically shared with me that which had taken place.  It sounded (to me) like a really good fireside. And I remember wishing I could have gone – not realizing that I would be at a future date.

When I had gone to the youth fireside one or two months later, I’d forgotten about the fireside mom had shared with me.
First the group was taken to the passageway that is nestled between the chapel and the cultural hall.   The chairs had been set up similar to how they appear in a commercial airline. We had been given plane tickets in small official looking folders. As we boarded the plane, we were given leis as I recall. I don’t recall there having been a specific flight number.  I just recall the destination.  I thought it would result in a luau.  But no . . .

The flight attendant demonstrated safety devises as the pilot made announcements over the intercom.  The flight was underway.  We listened to Hawaiian music.  And then our plane crashed.  It was then that I realized what was in store.  I don’t know if it would have developed a different impression if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen.  But I had already experienced this crashed flight and results through mom.

We were told that everybody aboard had died upon impact and that there were no survivors.  Our guide showed us around taking us from one kingdom to the next explaining why we were there and who the candidates were (are) for each kingdom.

We were taken to two other rooms before entering the chapel to see all of our leaders dressed in white and were told that we had made it to the highest kingdom.  I don’t remember how I felt right then.  But I did walk away from the object lesson almost as impressed as my mom had been.  I thought it well done. Well illustrated.  There were many of us who did.  It hadn’t occurred to me that there were some that had been freaked out by the object lesson or uncomfortable or turned off or other emotions that were quite opposite from the ones I had felt.

I was to attend at least two more similar firesides. Both in the mission field.  The first was after I had been in the field for a month.  I was part of a tripanionship (three sister missionaries serving a one unit) and we portrayed the flight attendance and arranged for participants to learn their parts.

Brother Croft did an outstanding job as the pilot.  Our flight number: 307.  There was no divider between the cultural hall and chapel.  We used the stage as our airplane.  We passed out hand-made tickets in homemade folders and passed out leis (I believe)

Bro. Croft recorded music and provided great sound effects for the crash.  He had also given us eerie sounds to be played while the participants were led passed a dark room representing outer darkness – which not all firesides provided. We were told who would be sent to outer darkness and fortunately nobody in the group qualified.

 A lot of non-Mormons had been invited to the fireside and attended.  Upon seeing the bishop and his family on the stand in the chapel – which represented the highest kingdom – many laughed.  Many said: “No way.”  Too many saw a flawed family and wouldn’t accept the symbolism. 

The last time I attended the fireside was later the following summer.  I had served in the area for only a month and only knew a handful of members. I was with a companion who had a hard time getting along with any of her former companions.  It was actually a tough area for me.

The ads that were created to hype up the fireside were not for a flight to Hawaii.  We would be taking a train to the Orients.  As soon as we were seated, I figured out that the train would crash. But before the train went underway, each table (yes, we were seated at tables that had been set in two rows) we were given board games to play.  And I was actually so wrapped up in the game that I forgot about what was about to take place – until the lights went out and we were pronounced dead.

When we entered the chapel which was supposed to represent the highest kingdom, I started to cry.  I didn’t know many that were on the stage.  I was with a companion I wasn’t getting along with.  None of my family was there.  Just a bunch of strangers.  It did not represent Celestial glory – or if it did, it was not where I wanted to be.

          As I have gone through my research, I have also come across thissite  We made a mistake – we offended someone – apparently lots of someones.  We created an irreverence when we were trying to illustrate something good and wholesome.  That is what we were trying to do?

          People make mistakes.  Members make mistakes.  Doctrines are misinterpreted.  Things get misconceived.  It’s not that we are trying to be deceptive or opinionated.  That’s why it is so important to pray.  We need to learn for ourselves if something is right or if it has been misrepresented – if it’s our own lack of understanding or if it is the instructors . . . God is never wrong.  It is best to ask him than to take word for it.  It is best that we communicate with God and learn for ourselves what he expects of us individually and receive our own personal revelations.

          There had been one more fireside/activity that I remember from college – although not in detail – nor can I find an activity suggestion that is similar.

          Back in 1981-1982, the ratio (at was then Ricks College) was approximately 3 ½ girls to every guy.  The ward and family home evening activities provided more drastic – being about 5-6 girls to every guy.  There were two Relief Societies, but only one priesthood.  The statistics were pretty much the same throughout my life.

          At this activity, each of us were given four yellow tickets (actually, I don’t remember the exact colors nor do I know if they’re symbolic in any way, but that’s not pertinent to how I personally felt by the end of the night)

          We were given a choice of activities in which to choose from.  We could purchase a healthy drink or a more worldly one (of course worldliness at Rick’s college couldn’t have been more powerful than extra sweetened lemonade or perhaps orange soda pop) I would guess to represent the word of wisdom. 
          There was a fortune teller or a scripture booth (I’m just guessing about the scripture booth; I forgot the fortune teller’s equivalent).  There was also a room which represented a chapel for civil marriages or a room which represented temple marriage.  I forget what two situations represented the last choice that we were given.

          I hadn’t connected the dots back then, but I suppose the tickets that each of us were given represented time – and the markers would tell the “angels at the gate” just how we spent that time.

          I couldn’t get a pretend recommend to marry in the pretend temple because of the ratio thing.  I had made two wise choices, but realizing I would not be able to use a yellow ticket for temple marriage, I made a poor choice (knowing full well that it was the wrong choice) and went to the fortune teller – because what the hey.  I wasn’t going to find a partner to get married either civilly or eternally.

          Besides, Lucy was playing the fortune teller.  She had dropped by our apartment earlier that week to see if any of us had a flashy skirt which she could use.  Lucy was talented and funny.  I knew she would make a great fortune teller.

          Each time we made a choice, we were to turn in a yellow ticket and were given another color. 
          When the activities were completed, we passed through a door and would give our four tickets to one who “stood at the gate” and were ushered to our destination.  I had one yellow ticket, one orange and two blue. 

I ended up in the “Terrestrial” section along with more than half the ward.  As I recall there were only two couples (only four people) that had made it to the Celestial glory (the highest kingdom within the LDS Church) and only a few loners had been led to the Telestial (the lowest kingdom) section.  And I remember thinking to myself (even then) “This isn’t fair.  It’s not my fault that I’m still single.  It isn’t most of our faults.  We just happen to outnumber the guys.”

          I understood the activity and understood the concept that was being taught, but it felt like discrimination.  I had tried to get into the temple, but was robbed of that privilege because I had no partner – no guy partner.  And it had to be a guy.  It didn’t seem to matter much if I loved him or not – just so long as I “had done the right thing”

          I felt discriminated because I was single.  I felt discriminated because it wasn’t my fault.  I felt like I had been judged unfairly.  I was not happy with the results.  And as I looked around, those I felt closest to had all ended up in the same kingdom as I.  And I thought, “If this experiment really is accurate of the results to come, I don’t even want the Celestial Kingdom.  It looks lonely” (as there were a number of empty chairs)

          It didn’t occur to me then that my baby brother would grow up and be asked to leave the Church – well, not him personally – but that his records would be removed.  It didn’t occur to me that one day the Church would discriminate against him and his partner and deny them the blessings that actually so many of us are denied – because of civil marriage or feminism or acting upon same sex attraction or even black members for many years or for exploring beyond the walls. It doesn't appeal to me to live in a kingdom that discriminates.

          I do have more thoughts on the subject of going beyond the walls, but will have to save it for another post as my thoughts are not really in a well written order.  Perhaps this is not either.  How great there is to have an editing tool.