Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Some of you are members as well and could say more better than I. Some of you are not, and it is to you I address this. I share this with love and with a desire to let you know what I believe. I have never been very vocal about anything, but especially about my religious views. Even in church I'm the one in the back row whispering answers to myself without wanting to draw attention and say them out loud. I am working to do my religion better justice. The time is here that we must choose what we believe in, what we will live by. This is one step. Please keep in mind I am only qualified to speak for my own thoughts and not for the entirety of my Church. There are other resources for this purpose; or being a possible first step among them.

I was born into a religious family, and have never been an atheist. I, therefore, don't feel qualified to approach this with an understanding of atheism. For that I refer you to C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity." I am, however, a scientist and an academic. I do not understand the conflict that reconciling religion with academic knowledge presents to most members of the human race, unless its simply that we don't want to admit when we're wrong or that we don't understand. To me nothing makes more sense than God. Nothing is more logical. This one thought, that there is a God, add structure, purpose, meaning and possibility to everything else. What is the meaning of life? Love. The love of God, the love of Christ, the love we have for each other. What is the purpose of life? To learn. To become like God, and through Jesus Christ, to return to Him. All quests for knowledge and truth with lead you to this resounding revelation. I will venture to say that this is what all Christians believe. For me, my religion completes the puzzle. It puts all the pieces of how and why together, and offers an opportunity to know all things. Not just believe, but to know. This doesn't mean that I know everything now. You have read enough of my meanderings to know that about me. But it puts me on the path to learn. Just as in a paint-by-number, if I follow the directions there are no limits as to what is offered me. I can see the big picture through obedience. Everything has a pattern, a structure. To learn an advanced truth you must first learn the foundation that truth is built upon. You need faith that what you are learning, whether it be atomic theory or how to draw, is true. You start with desire and faith, but faith leads to truth.

Some religions wonder why we rely on 4 sets of scripture. Why we trust in modern prophets, apostles and revelation. Why on more than the Bible. Why not? If the Bible is real and true, doesn't that mean that other sources of scripture are real and true too, as long as they originate from God? Would God let you, if you asked him, believe something about him that is not true? No. Never. That would defeat His purpose for us. How can we learn to be like him if we don't know him? If we don't know whats truth and whats not? Before I get lost in my own words let me simplify and be frank.

I believe that we are children of God. I believe that families can be forever. But in order for this precept to be true it must be sealed through proper ordinances by those who have authority from God. Those who have authority are those who hold the Priesthood. The priesthood cannot be used wickedly, the authority of it is taken away if there is wicked intent. Baptism is the first ordinance needed for eternal life. We see Temples as the house of God. There we can perform these ordinances not only for ourselves, but for anyone who has ever lived, if they choose to accept it. I believe that we can return to the presence of God. In order to return, I believe that we must have been with God before coming to Earth. We were with Him, but not like Him. Not perfect. We were spirits, spirit children of God, our Heavenly Father. This life is a period to obtain bodies and to show whether we will follow Him or not. Only by proving ourselves obedient can we accomplish what is required for us to become like Him. Jesus Christ is the living example, and Savior that makes the plan possible. The "way and the light." He is our advocate and teacher. He is the only way justice and mercy can both take place. The only way we, as sinners, can aspire to perfection and return to God. I believe in the Atonement. I believe in the resurrection, that when we die and our spirits leave our bodies they will be united again forever, becoming incorruptible. I believe in the preexistence, judgment and degrees of glory. I believe in eternity. I believe the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price are books of scripture and truth from which we can learn the gospel. We have been given all we need to succeed, but we must be active. Faith is not idle. Knowledge without action is wasted; wisdom is knowledge applied. We must learn all we can. We must teach our children with love, as we are taught. We must live what we believe. We must strive to be better. We must try. The living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, is the mouth piece for Christ. Through the prophet, Christ guides His church. There are twelve apostles, just as in days of old. There are revelations today just as in days of old. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever than this must be the same too. If one is true, so is the other. Their purpose, under the direction of Christ and the prophet, is to guide us. To tell us what we need to do. This is Christ's church. That's why his name is in the title. This church is true and good. We are not perfect. Christ said he came to save sinners, and that is what we are. But we have the potential to become like Him, perfected. That is what I believe, and that is what I'm trying to do.

I don't know if any of this made sense, I hope it did. There is a lot I didn't say, but I feel this is sufficient for now. Any more from me right now may be counterproductive. There is always a way to know if what I say is true. Pray and ask. I will close this as we close as testimonies, in the holy name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Quick family update

Along side my personal ramblings, I know you want to know the new developments of our lives. Ethan is growing really well. He rolls all over the place, and he can get his knees underneath him now. We have been told by those with more experience than us, this means that he'll be crawling soon and as soon as he does there's no stopping him. I have a hard time keeping him on his back long enough to change his diaper. He's starting to wake up around 4 or so in the morning instead of sleeping through, like we've been spoiled with in the past. I hope its because he's teething. Otherwise, he's becoming reconciled to his high chair, he can't wait to eat what we eat, he's as happy as ever, and he spends a good amount of everyday discovering new things and trying to mimic faces and sounds I make.

Derek could tell you about himself better than I, but I will endeavor to share anyway. School is in its last few weeks of the semester, which means lots of stress and work. At this point there's "nothing to it but to do it." He'll be traveling down to Provo at the end of this week to help film some Latter-day Profile episodes. He's also directing a 'mini play' as I call it, and is acting in another for a directing class. This means nights later than usual due to rehearsals. He could, possibly, graduate in April. The only thing stopping him is a Theater practicum he may need to take. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

As for me, I think you've heard plenty and are pretty up to date. If you have any questions let me know :) We still don't know what awaits us in the future, but who does? We just have to keep facing the right direction, step into the light and wait for our eyes to adjust.

Welcome to your life: your biggest adventure.

Before I begin, I must ask my mother's forgiveness. I am about to discuss her, my understanding of her at least, in a very personal way on which, potentially, is a very public forum. Those of you who know her personally will find warm and loving understanding in what I say. For those of you who have not had that privilege, but know me personally, know how much I admire and respect my parents, and therefore, will endeavor to share my feelings. Those who can only rely on the shadow of emotion emitted through words in cyberspace, you must trust what I say. Mom, my explanation for using your example is based upon my own thoughts and feelings, but also because a wise man, guided by truth, once counseled me to look to your example and my hardships would be easier. Now I follow that counsel.

My mom has always adored children. Perhaps this was something she was born with. Some women know instinctively how glorious and important children are. Or, perhaps, she learned this precept through years of enduring patience and repeated pain. She loves her children beyond words, and she lets us know it. We, as her children, may not have the same relationship with her, but we have always had the same love. Even with four children of her own (we were not tame children), I remember mom watching, or volunteering to watch, every available child in a 10 mile radius. I always thought, if possible, she would take care of children until the day she died. I considered this a personal trait, but not one necessarily common among all women. At school there were plenty of girls who abhorred the thought of having children. This was also a time when the argument for overpopulation and lack of resources became seemingly more urgent (I feel I must address my views on this a little later). Contrary to my family, and religious, influences I never pictured myself as settling down and having children. Not out of disrespect, or dislike, for family. There was simply too much I wanted to do!

I dreamed of having a career. Well, a lot of careers if truth be told. None of which provided time for a family. Perhaps it was the influence of reading and movies, but all of my careers carried with them images of being called to adventures around the world at a moment's notice. How would this work with children? With a husband? Indiana Jones wouldn't do it. Maybe a husband (if he could keep up), but little children? Out of the question. I liked the thought of having a small, but chic, apartment in my old age. The walls carrying mementos of my adventurous life. A small, cozy fire warming my fat gray cat, named Moses, while I read peacefully by its flickering light.

As I matured a bit, and met Derek, I came to realize that image wasn't as inviting as I once thought. It was lonely. I didn't want to become that weird Aunt passed around my siblings' families as the children whispered words like "eccentric," "special" or "odd" merely so I could fantasize about gilded adventures. I didn't want the hopes I had for my exciting future to become the only thing I had to hold on to. So, I got married. Yay! A partner! My soul-mate! The love of my life. Naturally, in the course of things, children would come along, but this didn't dampen my ambition for greater things. I wasn't going to become another nameless housewife that lived vicariously through her offspring. Unfortunately, in my inexperienced mind, this was inevitable. If I had children, I had to give up everything else I wanted. This thought presents itself most strongly during times of frustration; times when I don't feel like I can get anything 'important' done. They must be important if I'm so bent on doing them right? Or when I don't necessarily get to do what I want. Even now, as I look at my adorable baby boy smiling at me and playing a few feet away I sometimes catch myself thinking, 'When he gets older then I can really figure things out.' Or, ' When he grows up then I can do what I want to do. I can finally write my book.' Or, the worst illusion, ' When he starts school I can start my life again.'

While brushing my teeth last night, as I often do, I had an epiphany. Maybe the monotonous action of your arm gliding back and forth leaves your mind vacant and exposed to your own reflection; you inevitably start to reflect. During this time of thought, a still, small voice taught me what my Mom has known for so many years. What her example has presented so often. This is my life! This is what I wanted! What am I waiting for? Its already started! I wanted a family. Here it is. I wanted children. Here he is. I wanted adventure and excitement. I wanted to experience something that would last my lifetime and beyond. What can do this better than family? It suddenly hit me that I'm missing it! Derek told me the other day that I needed to enjoy Ethan, especially when he's frustrating. I'm not going to tell him that he was right. At the time, I wanted to see him try it. But these times are what I will have to keep me warm later. The relationships that I'm building with my husband and my son are what will last through the ages. Love is the greatest and most incorruptible monument. This echos from Gandhi and Mother Teresa like it does from so many others. I finally realize that I am building my monument, everyday. I want mine to be something to be proud of, like my mom's.