Friday, June 19, 2009
Layers of Insulation
There are certain "hot topics" for me that make my stomach churn. Topics, and attitudes that make my brain go into overdrive, faster than my mouth can form words. Unfortunately when that happens, what I hear in my head never sounds the same way when it comes out of my mouth.
Last year a friend of mine did a play group over the summer with a small group of us. It was fantastic. She planned us to switch homes each week. Each mother was in charge of reading a book to the kids (which I loved), an activity, snack and then play time. She also planned "field trips" too.
Turns out someone in the Relief Society found out - so my friend, who has a difficult time saying no, opened up the field trips to the ward. Which was fine.
This year I thought I'd go ahead and do a play group. My idea was to include friends that I knew from school, neighborhood and even Church. Well, like anything - the RS found out and asked if they could join in. I honestly felt and do feel ambivalent.
I guess I wondered - is it the RS responsibility to organize play dates for mothers? Aren't we supposed to be anxiously engaged in a good cause on our own? Has initiative lost it's savor? I also wondered why other Moms didn't just invite their friends from school etc... and not just friends from Church. I think as a whole - I know it's a generalization - but most are too insular. I think if we want to be a light - we ought to shine it in places where there aren't a multitude of candles already. Just a thought. I know the LDS are fond of missionary work - so why not look at this as an opportunity to share who we are, build bridges of understanding by truly being friends with folks that don't see us every Sunday?
I think it didn't help that on Sunday, during Sunday School I couldn't contain the churning in my stomach. The lesson was about the revelation about the three kingdoms in Heaven. There was a question about... "well, why would the adversary want us to think there's just Heaven or Hell"? (or... in my opinion...he wants us to think there isn't a hell) One of the commenters suggested that the pass/fail option would quickly discourage people. I suggested that perhaps that metric allowed those of us that have the ability to exceed expectations to slack off...and get by - knowing that well... "at least I'm not as bad as....so I don't have to change... I can just stay stagnant".
Then the conversation started veering towards my no-man's land. Where the attitude started feeling like... well I go to the temple all the time - that makes me really, really good. Or because of this metric we are so safe and protected. Or the other people have to deal with this consequence...
That kind of talk just makes my skin crawl. I'm sorry, but just because you serve in the temple - doesn't mean you don't beat your children or rule with unrighteous dominion. I've known plenty who do. It frustrates me because if anything - knowing the gospel shouldn't make us puff up our chests in self-satisfaction. If anything we should be incredibly grateful and feel lucky to know what we know... and then have a dose of warning - because let's face it - the more you know, the more responsiilty and greater consequences we're responsible for. (perdition - probably going to be someone who knows the gospel...and truly seen/known God - probably not someone who doesn't know the gospel... just a thought)
So it's time to wipe the smug smile off our collective faces. I think many LDS folks become too insulated in the culture that they really, truly believe that if you are LDS you are good. If you're not, well - you need to change. And that is sad. With that attitude we are fooling ourselves. We are NO different than anyone else. We might know different things, but that doesn't mean we're better. It doesn't mean there aren't great people who could offer us lessons we would otherwise not have learned. It doesn't mean that the people you see each Sunday aren't ruling their homes in a abhorrent manner.
I guess it seems that some forget that change is not a mere affectation of outward appearances, checking off all the metrics we have - or even, speaking softly like they do in General Conference - change is in our hearts... a place nobody else can see. It's a place you can't flaunt. It's a place that only God knows and understands. Any amount of dressing we want to use to hide what's really going on inside - doesn't matter - because the only one who does matter - God - sees through all that crap.
Then it brings me to the fact that I am a new Beehive advisor in Young Women (please don't say Young Womens - with that 's' it's so grammatically wrong to me). I feel like I have a responsibilty to let those young girls know that being righteous isn't a matter of trying to align ourselves with the thoughts, acts of a prescribed view of piety. That they can be faithful, but still have a personality. That it's okay to be happy, and demonstrate that joy. That it's okay for me to say - I like being intimate with my husband... in fact I like it a lot - and not have people freak out about it. Listen - our kids get enough of one-side of intimacy - we have a greater responsiblity to share the joys and beauty of intimacy in a loving, eternal marriage relationship. If we don't teach them - they will never know.
Now - I compare this to the temple. The temple is sacred. It's also beautiful and peaceful. Am I not going to share the fact that I love it because it's sacred? Of course not. Naturally I don't go into detail about it. But I share how it makes me feel. How grateful I am that I have met the requirements to enter the temple.
Likewise with intimacy - it is a sacred bond. It's beautiful and wonderful. Am I going to share the details? (Well, not unless you're a really good friend(har har).) But of course I'm not going to share the nitty gritty details. However, it's important to let our youth know the truth - that intimacy is always good - in the bounds the Lord has prescribed.
We need to let our youth grow up knowing that being a good LDS member isn't about mincing around acting a certain way. We need to let them know that being LDS allows you to soar the way you want, soar higher. We need to let them know that there are GREAT people within and without the LDS religion. We need to let them know that they don't need to hide in layers of insulation - that they need to, and have a responsibilty to reach out, and let their light of influence radiate with warmth.
The only way our youth can learn that - is if we, as a group start peeling off the insulation, layer-by-layer.