Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thoughts from the Bathtub

When I'm alone, I have this annoying tendency toward internal dialogue. With Kirk in Seattle, I've had far too much time alone lately. This morning, my inner ramblings woke me up at 6:20. In an attempt to reclaim the rest I should have been getting, I decided to put my mind back to sleep in a hot bath. Instead of slipping into a thoughless abyss like I'd so hoped, I found myself turning toward thoughts of a more eternal nature. My mind finally settled on comtemplating the eternal family, and why it is a conditional blessing rather than a sure thing. There's probably a lot of reasons, but here's the main two to which my mind kept returning.

1) Good parents don't just give their kids everything they want. I've seen too many adults whose parents erred on the side of the easy life, and the results are not good. These adults lack perspective, the ability to set appropriate priorities, and many basic decision making skills that the rest of us picked up through a combination of trial-and-error and good old hard work. Since Heavenly Father is the best parent out there, I believe He understands that something worth having is worth working for.

Take, for example, the college student who knows that regardless of his scholastic performance, Daddy will pick up the bill. I cannot argue that every student in this situation squanders the opportunity; however, many lack the personal incentive to become their best, and many leave college without a single important lesson learned. On the flip side, I cannot argue that every college student who pays his own way graduates with honors. But I do believe such a student learns either the collegiate lessons he paid for, or the harder to learn lessons associated with wasting one's own time or money on a less than stellar effort.

Even though Heavenly Father does expect us to work for our blessings, He is fair. He has given us a clear road map to follow to obtain the blessings like having an eternal family. Just as a person who has caused several accidents does not deserve to receive discounted insurance rates, a person who has chosen to ignore the spiritual road map does not qualify for the attached blessings. But here is where Heavenly Father's plan differs from the system of natural rewards and consequences here on Earth.

Our Savior volunteered to make up for the extra. Imagine a student with a C average showing up to interview at Harvard. He explains that he tried his hardest all throughout school. He completed all his assignments, studied hard for his tests, and even completed any available extra credit. Still, the C average was the best he could do. Now imagine the admissions office smiling at the student and explaining that they understood. Fortunately, there was a very exceptional student who had scored so highly on the entrance tests that he was willing to make up the difference. Obviously, that just wouldn't happen. For the most part here on Earth, you get what you worked for. But in the Plan of Happiness, the Savior made the greatest sacrifice so that if our best truly is a C average, we will still be able to receive the blessings the Lord has in store for us.

Wow. This is getting long! If you're still with me, here comes #2.

2) Heavenly Father has prepared a place for each of us in the hereafter in which we will be happy and comfortable. After the final judgement, there is no "hell" where any of us are going to rot in eternal torment. Instead, Heavenly Father has prepared three kingdoms, each of which are better than what we have here on earth, and each of which will surround its inhabitants with peace and happiness. Which kindgom will become our eternal dwelling depends on the progress we made here on Earth.

A McDonald's fry cook would not be qualified to be a high-ranking officer in a major company. A car mechanic still in his greasy work clothes would not feel comfortable in an elite restaurant. A high school drop out would not be able to keep up in a graduate program at an acclaimed school. Life takes preparation. So does the afterlife.

After the final judgement, the Lord will justly decide which kingdom we have earned. Whichever kingdom we have earned is also the kingdom in which we will be most comfortable. The Lord will not set us up to spend an eternity feeling like we are walking on white carpet with muddy shoes. If we want to be a part of the Celestial Kingdom where we have the blessing of an eternal family, the steps of preparation have been clearly outlined. When we follow them, we become clean, and we become the type of person who will be happy and comfortable in the Celestial Kingdom.

Again, though, there is the amazing redeeming power of the Savior. If we want to be in the Celestial Kingdom, but there is still a bit of mud on our shoes, we can turn to Him. He has already suffered for our sins, and He is there to redeem us.

I have a testimony of the Lord's plan. I believe that it is fair and appropriate for us to be required to work for the blessing of an eternal family. I believe that achieving this blessing is possible by following the steps the Lord has revealed through the scriptures and through the prophets. I believe that Heavenly Father is a kind and loving father who is ready and waiting to reward us if we will just try to deserve it.

I hope nobody felt like this was preachy. It's just what I was feeling this morning, and I just had to share.


Anonymous said...

EXACTLY! Oh my goodness...well said Andrea. Well said. I loved this. You touched on something that has come up in our family conversations many times: LOVE is not conditional. But BLESSINGS are conditional. Or, in terms of the family, PRIVILEGES are conditional. I will never stop loving my children. No matter what. Bad behavior earns the natural consequence of lost privileges. Yet I still love them no matter what.

Even our Father in Heaven is conditional as he bestows blessings. Just because I *want* to go to the temple doesn't mean that I can. The Lord has told me how I can attend the temple. I must DO what is required of me by my Father in Heaven before I can be blessed with His blessings.

I love the parallel between earthly rewards and eternal blessings...the wonderful eternal plan that promises our Father will make up the difference - when we strive to do good and live by His principles.

AWESOME thought-provoking post Andrea. You should take baths more often. You're all grown up!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Andrea. For being willing to share. Those are some really great parallels and you really have an amazing testimony.
Love you forever, even if you are steeling my sister ;)

Mecham Family said...

That could have been an article in the Ensign. Very wise words indeed. Thanks for sharing!