Monday, June 22, 2009

Putting your Heart Before the Course

Hi friends. Life feels a little pointless today so I thought I'd solve that by blogging.

Here's a thought that's been rolling around my head for awhile now: a lot of Mormons struggle because they put the cart before the horse. Or, a lot of LDS people have internal struggles with their faith because they usually implement the action before they figure out their feelings about it.

Let me say right now, this isn't necessarily bad. I'm a big fan of the fake-it-till-you-make-it school of thought. My writing is a good example of that. I'm not a great writer, but I'm going to pretend like I am one until I figure out how to actually be one. That idea works for some church principles too. Like being a good parent. You may want to smack your kid every time they dump their snack out all over the pew and you may want to cuss when they break the DVD player for the second time that week but, since you want to be a good parent, you don't. You fake the more adult response until it is your first reaction.

I think spirituality doesn't always work this way though. You can't fake what is in your heart. Very few people can bear a testimony that they don't believe in and keep bearing it without getting bitter. Another example, you just won't keep making visiting teaching appointments if you don't understand and believe in the principle behind the program. People who do keeping trying to fake their spirituality get bitter and leave the Church.

So what's a believing (or wanting to believe) Mormon to do? Well, for me the answer has come in putting my heart before the course. For example, our stake president has recently asked every member to bring a family name to our stake temple day in the fall. My knee-jerk-happy-Mormon self nodded thoughtfully when I heard about this, but my heart screamed out, "No! You cannot make me do one more thing! I have enough to do!!" My husband and I talked and I calmed down. I decided that I am not going to do any name finding until I feel the need in my heart. Now, I do sustain my stake president and believe he receives revelation for me. I do think I should be doing this assignment at some point. BUT, I am going to work on my heart and my feelings about it before I work on the actual assignment.

(Of course, it also helps that my husband is interested in genealogy right now and working on finding some names and I will probably just grab one of his.)

I've done this before. Taken a deep breath and evaluated my feelings before jumping in to some Church assignment and I have to be honest: it felt good. I'm not advocating inactivity or anything like that, but I am saying it's okay to ask some questions about yourself and your relationship with God before doing something you aren't invested in. God wants us to gain a testimony before we try to bear it.

Well, now movie time is over and my kids are sure on my case! Thanks for indulging me, folks :)


Kelly said...

Yeah, we had a discussion on that one too. Luckily, Jon's dad has some names he wanted us to take care of, so we're done, without any effort on our part. I know that's not the spirit of the assignment -- but sometimes it's good to look at the goals for why the stake makes these assignments. They are trying to get people to try genealogy so that it takes the fear and mystery out of it for those who have never tried it. They also want to motivate and encourage people to increase their temple attendance. A good experience at the temple can do that.

I really believe that every time they make this assignment, someone somewhere in the stake finally learns how to do the research and take a name to the temple, and it is a spiritual experience for them. I actually believe it is not one person, but many, who have this experience. But I can choose not to participate (or at least not fully), and I can choose not to have that experience. And if the spirit is not compelling me to work on it, then I'm probably just fine.

I may be wrong, but when stake assignments are made to everyone, they're not necessarily for everyone.

Valerie said...

I love this post. I wish more members implemented this way of thinking! We have lots of non-member friends, and before our "transition" to the church, they thought all mormons just let others think for them; the bishop, the stake president, etc. Thinking for oneself does not equal a bad mormon!! Its a GOOD thing to do something for the RIGHT reasons!


Misty Lynne said...

You know, I used to feel guilty for never bearing my testimony during testimony meeting. Then, one day, I realized that I didn't have to. I could do it in more intimate settings, which I already did. It was quite a relief.

Maybe some day I will get up, but it will be because I felt the spirit, not because I felt guilty for not getting up in so long.

Unknown said...

Hi Laura!
I found your blog and could not stop reading. I sit here at my computer in tears. I read your very first post and it was like I was reading about myself..exactly! Thank you for having the courage to open up and share with those of us out here that suffer in the same way you do. In ways we are made to feel guilty about why we feel the way we feel.."you have a home" "a beautiful family" "good friends" etc...I am glad I have a place to come to now where I am understood! So again Thank You Thank You Thank You!

Becca Jones said...

My mom always says, "Stop crying about not being able to go to the temple every month. There's a time and a season for everything, and right now you're being a mom."

You actually cannot do everything in life--and some of us have disabilities that make it so we can do very little. I don't think the Lord will punish us for taking our disabilities into account and putting the most important things--like being nice to our children--first, even if it means we don't get to some things that other people do.

Kaylanamars said...

A week ago Sunday the High Council speaker spoke on missionary work and how every member is a missionary. He went on to discuss how serious a calling it is and how we should be planning missionary moments with all we meet, etc, etc. Good points, of course, but I'm still figuring out my own life and testimony and where I fit in the world of the Church and life in general. I'm a new mom, trying to get back to school and figuring everything out and fighting post-partum depression and all that fun stuff. So I finally turned to my hubby and said: You know what, I refuse to feel guilty about this, I've too much other stuff to worry about! Not that I don't want to get there someday, but it's just not that day!