Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I attended church last week in my grandparent's ward in Mesa, Arizona, and I rediscovered the phenomenon that happens when the present adults outnumber the present children: I actually get to hear a bit of Sacrament Meeting.  I also found that when I am seated next to my mom in Sunday School and Relief Society instead of by my husband, sister, or friends, I talk less and listen more.  The results of listening to a solid three hours of doctrine-inspired talks and lessons was three brief, catchy comments or sayings - soundbites - to take back into my daily life.

#1 - "It takes a lot of money to raise good boys."

The second sacrament speaker was raised in a small rural community in Utah.  He explained, "There were six of us boys, and each of us had a sister."  He paused for maximum effect before continuing, "That made seven."  He told a story about accidentally backing a large piece of farm equipment straight into an electric pole, shutting down the electricity of the surrounding four towns.

When the electric company came to repair it, the men commented to his father, "It must take a lot of money to raise a crop out here when you've got boys like that."

His father explained, "You've got it all backwards.  I'm not raising crops, I'm raising boys.  And it takes this much land to do it!  It takes a lot of money to raise good boys."

The speaker went on to express gratitude for the endless investments his father had put into him.  Scouting, sports, the farm... and I knew I'd just received an answer to a question I had been pondering.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm a prayer in the heart kind of girl.  I'm not so great at taking my questions directly to the Lord.  Rather, I mull them about, research them, and try to put myself in places to receive inspiration when necessary.  And the financial decision of whether to spend the money to have Adam play tackle football this fall didn't necessarily seem like the type of thing with which to directly bug the Lord.  But I've been mulling and considering and discussing, and apparently by placing myself in a position to actually listen on Sunday, I had the opportunity to consider another angle.

"It takes a lot of money to raise good boys."

So my decision is made: I will not make decisions on what the boys get to do in their lives based on money.  If our family discusses on opportunity and deems it important and worthy, I will figure out a way to make the money work.  I will invest what I need to invest to raise good boys.

#2 - "The instructions may change, but the principles and the promises stay the same."

I have a natural sort of trust in my own testimony that helps me not sweat the small stuff.  I'm not one to ponder how it's all going to work out in the next life or to try to make sense of every piece of the gospel.  It's true.  I know that.  So I accept even the parts I don't 100% understand.  But if something was to get under my skin, it would be the "changes" that happen in the gospel.

Changes to the ways ordinances are completed in the temple.  Changes in who can receive the priesthood.  Even things likes changes in the missionary age (though the original age certainly wasn't in the scriptures anywhere or anything).  If I was to take the time to stop, think, question, it would bother me that a gospel supposedly the same yesterday, today, and forever would experience changes.

But thanks to a skilled Sunday School teacher who brought new light to the Word of Wisdom, I get it now.  Verses 5 through 17 in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants outline the instructions as revealed to Joseph Smith in 1833.  However, the principle is obedience, and the promises include health, wisdom, strength, and protection.  The principle will not change.  The promises will not change.  However, the instructions may be altered to match the challenges of the day.

#3 - "Do you want the consequences of what you want?"

I'm pretty sure this statement would confuse my kids right now.  But I want to tuck it into my back pocket for when they are teenagers.  I want to write it on my palm for easy reference when I face difficult decisions in my own life.  Pretty much all of life's temptations boil down to wanting something that we probably don't want to accept the consequences of.

There's little stuff.  I want the brownie.  But do I want the consequences of the brownie?

I want to stay up late and hang out with my friends.  But do I want the consequences of lost sleep?

I want the new Xbox when it comes out.  But do I want the financial strain of a large purchase?

Sometimes, the answer is "No," but we still choose what we want anyway.  I want the brownie.  I don't want the consequences, but I am willing to accept them as trade off for chocolatey goodness.  And in those little things, that's probably just fine.

But when it comes to the bigger things, I think it is a great, protective line of reasoning.

I'd be exposing myself to much here to list the temporal things I find myself wanting that would come laden with spiritual consequences I'd be unwilling to accept.  But it's an important shift in perspective.  One I will try to make a permanent part of my reasoning.  Do I want the consequences?  If not, I had better not choose the action.

And I think it works in the reverse as well.  Do I want the "consequences" of the temple?  Of obedience?  Of paying tithing?  Well, if I want the consequences, I had better figure out how to want the action.

Three hours of half-decent attention, and I gained three nuggets of understanding.  Perhaps I can recommit to attending my own meetings with focused attention and allow the Lord to bless me with additional understanding.

We'll see... :)


Sarah said...

Loved this! Three bites that I completely relate to, and am glad that you not only heard for your own reflection but that you wrote down for me to "hear" too.