Tuesday, October 25, 2011

11 years ago...

11 years ago today I was living one of the most perfect days of my life.  Most wedding days have one fiasco or another to overcome, but somehow, for us, the stars aligned, and everything went off without a hitch--except the one we wanted.  The weather was gorgeous and crisp, the decorations at the reception were elegant but modest, everyone was cheerful, no one forgot rings or licenses, the photographer was pleasant and there was much love in the air.  I was amazed.  Our courtship had not been so smooth, and there had been many moments that I felt panicked that I was about to make an eternal commitment to a being separate from myself, over whom I had no control, in whom I would put implicit trust with no guarantee of the consequences besides his word that he would take the same chance on me.  But here, at the end and beginning of it all, everything felt right, and the world was at peace.

And here we are, 11 years, 4 kids, and 9 homes later, still working on being better people and better partners, and very much still in love.  Today I celebrate not only my marriage, but the institution itself.  In a world where the very concept of marriage is becoming passé, I still believe in it, and the kind of love and loyalty that lasts forever.  Is it easy?  No.  Is it possible?  YES!  Is it worth all the hard work, and tough times, and the sacrificing, and apologizing, and forgiving, and the patience, and the believing in each other?  A thousand times, yes.

Happy anniversary to my best friend.  Long live marriage!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Are Mormons Christian?

There has been a lot of chatter in the news lately about whether Mormons are Christian or not.  With two Mormons vying for the Republican presidential nomination, and some speculative comments from their opponents, the media has been peppered with opinions about whether or not these alternative-scripture-toting religionists really deserve the coveted title of "Christians."  A simple definition of a "Christian" would obviously be a person who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ and adheres to his teachings.  As evidenced by the many different Christian denominations existing today, there are many different opinions about what Christ and his apostles meant when they taught the gospel in what has become canonized scripture, specifically the Holy Bible.  Yet all these churches are still considered "Christian."  I don't see the logic in singling out one religion and saying because they have a specific interpretation of Christ's teachings that is in some ways unique from all others that they are not "Christian."  Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, believe in the Bible, they believe that Christ is the only way by which man can be saved, that he is the center of the gospel, and he is the center of their worship.  Sunday meetings are focused on the study of his life and his teachings, and during the week, members of the church strive to live according to those teachings.  It really baffles me that anyone could say Mormons are not Christian based on scruples over scriptural interpretation.

I am a Mormon, and I have a very personal relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ.  I know he is the only man who ever lived a perfect life, and that through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he opened the door for me and any who will follow him to return to the presence of God.  I love to study his life, and I love to read the teachings of his apostles.  For the past year, I have been making a careful study of the New Testament.  I have read it many times before.  I know that book is scripture, and I love it.  I feel like I understand what God expects of me, that I know what the purpose of life is, and what we are to do to be saved.  I have many friends of other Christian faiths, who practice different traditions and have a different understanding of the gospel, but I would never dream of saying they are not Christian.  It hurts me when I hear someone say that I am not, that I don't know Jesus.

Let me make a comparison to help illustrate: say I have a friend named John.  I know John is an athletic type, and I was thinking he might really enjoy going to a baseball game, so I plan to invite him to a game I've got a few tickets for.  You, on the other hand, have heard John say in some passing conversation that baseball bores him to tears, so you know he would probably not enjoy going to the game.  We're both friends with John, but have gotten to know him in different situations, and have had different conversations with him.  Would you or I ever accuse the other of not really being John's friend, just because we have different ideas about his personality?  Or would one of us say that the John you are friends with is a different John?  One of us may be wrong about John's personality, but maybe we are both right.  Maybe John doesn't like baseball, but he may still enjoy going to a game to enjoy the company.  If we really wanted to know the truth about John, it would be rather ineffective to argue about which of us knows him better, or is actually his friend.  What we ought to do is simply go ask him to settle the dispute and stop worrying about what we think we know.  It's not a perfect comparison, of course, but it touches on what I feel when people say that I and all the members of my church are not Christian.  They are saying that this man whom I love and worship and depend upon for my salvation is no friend of mine, that I don't know him, that I don't serve him.  If studying the teachings of Christ and striving to live them to the best of our understanding is not being Christian, then I don't know what is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Standing in One Place

A few weeks ago, I attended a small carnival with my three older kids. They all wanted to go on different rides, and not wanting to disappoint anyone, I told them they could, so long as they would each come back and report to me when they were done and let me know where they were going next. I told them exactly where they would find me and let each go off to enjoy themselves. Since there were only a few options, I could stand in one place and keep everyone within view. However, I soon realized that I had picked a rather uncomfortable spot to stand and wait in because it was right in the hot sun. I looked around and saw a much better shady place not far away. It was not as central, but it would have been much more comfortable. As I considered moving there to wait for my kids, I worried that even that small of a shift in a crowd such as that might cause some confusion, and my kids might experience some anxiety if they did not find me right where I had said I would be. So I stayed, and I waited. In time, each child came and reported back, and I thought about telling them I was going to move, but I never had them all there at the same time, and I didn't want to risk any confusion, so I continued to stand in the sun, until we were all worn out and ready to go home for lunch.

This little experience made me think about how important it is that we stand in one place morally as well. Our kids rely on us for a sense of stability. If we are constantly shifting where we stand, it can cause confusion. They may end up feeling lost, or uncertain where to find us. They need us to be constant so they can learn to be constant, too. Of course, this means we need to be wise in establishing where we stand in the first place, but once we have decided on the best place to stand, we need to be steady, even if it may be uncomfortable.