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Monday, August 17, 2009

Eternal Family Dinner

Maybe it's not fair to slap up a poll like that without explanation. My polls are exhausting me. I need to go back to the diaper polls. They require no explanation. A friend of mine shared something to this effect, "I voted NO WAY, that I would not stand up for my beliefs if I would be knowingly jeopardizing my family's safety and security." But then she said, "Of course, it depends on what belief is in question." I thought about that for a moment and slapped my forehead, "Of course!" said I. "That makes perfect sense. I believe in modesty, but I wouldn't go about defending that belief until my family was in danger." Then my friend said that if I had specified religion rather than belief, she would have heartily clicked "ABSOLUTELY!"

But now that I think about it even more, and my brain is getting tied up in scrambled knots, I wonder . . . . I believe in modesty as is taught by the Prophets of the Lord. Basically, modesty is a principle entrenched in my religious beliefs. Right now, I have no need to defend modesty because there is not currently a movement to burn a government stamp of approval on immodesty (not that I know of, anyway). Of course, I will always promote and encourage modesty against an industrial tidal wave of so-called "fashion," but defense is not necessary . . . yet. Then I think of people like Joseph Smith, who died defending Truth, not religion, but TRUTH, and "safety" acquires a new definition. He had a family, a wife, children. What gave him the strength to submit himself to the angry mob as a testament of Truth? What gave any of the Savior's disciples the ability to do the same as they died gruesome deaths, one-by-one giving up mortality as a testimony of their lives lived in the preaching and defense of Truth? The best answer I can come up with is that they knew this life was short. That the existence of this earth is but a blip in the Master's eternal time line. What matters most here on Earth is what we are doing to ensure our safe return to Heaven and our Father. That eternal perspective is what lends weight to the weightier matters of life. While the natural man in me begs to be let loose on my belief system, to make me "cool" in the eyes of society - boasting persuasive arguments revolving around so-called love and compassion - the spirit in me understands that love and compassion cannot abide where Truth is discarded for sympathy and in the name of understanding. My family is safest when they are not only allowed, but encouraged, by all around them (including our esteemed government), to walk the path of Truth. How can I live with myself if I stand idly by as that straight and narrow path is hacked to pieces by a governing body that believes itself to be wiser than my Father in Heaven? How can I live with myself if I sit back and watch as my children stand at the start of that path, rattled by the steady thrum of machinery, tearfully watching as Truth gets mauled by man and their Father stands on the other side of the growing trench with arms outstretched and waiting? Could I face my Father if I didn't defend Truth with every fiber of my being? No. Absolutely not. I would be ashamed. As astounding as it may seem to some, my duty to feed my children, bath them, clothe them, make sure they are not hit by a car, stolen, or assaulted by an angry mob, this duty is but a secondary duty. My primary duty, my most exalted mission on earth, is to nurture their spirits, to make sure they know Truth and have the best possible opportunity to walk that path.* If I do not stand up for what I know to be True - as has been personally confirmed to me by a loving Heavenly Father - then how can I possibly hope that my children will choose to walk its path? For them to turn away from Truth would be the most heartrending experience I could ever have in my life. I know, because I have experienced it to a lesser degree with close family members. It hurts like the dickens.

My heaven is beautiful beyond imagining, with lush, green vegetation everywhere and no mosquitoes; beautiful, crystal aquamarine oceans with no sharks; dazzling blue skies with puffy, milky white clouds. My heaven has weeping willows hanging limp and vibrant over ornate, stone benches. It has hushed, babbling brooks and distant, thundering waterfalls. It has familiar faces, friends, acquaintances - all dressed in white and glowing with peace. But most important of all, situated right at the end of the path of Truth and Good Choices sits a large, sturdy table built of intricate woodwork, boasting a breathtaking spread of the finest foods you could imagine, delicate china, and steaming cups of hot cocoa. In beautiful, high-backed chairs surrounding the feast is every. single. one. of my family members from generations back to generations forward, laughing, talking, hugging, and basking in the glory of Those who sit at the head of the table - our Merciful Father and our Selfless Brother. My heaven is eternal family dinner and I have sworn to my Father that I will do everything in my power to get as many people to that meal as possible. I can't do that if I sit down and shut up when my inherent, heavenly knowledge (a knowledge that has been born in each and every one of us, by the way) is challenged by mere mortals. A wise man once said, "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Paul to the Hebrews; Hebrews 13:6). A sentiment which was later echoed by another wise man of the Book of Mormon, ". . . Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear" (Moroni 8:13). So, I stand by my answer. Though I do not, necessarily, have "authority from God," I nevertheless sustain and support those who do. Yes, I will absolutely stand up for what I believe in, even if that means I put my family's safety and security in jeopardy through such activism. Because perfect love is to care more about the welfare of the soul than the welfare of the mortal body. In my opinion, anyway . . . .

What were your thoughts as you submitted your answer to this latest poll?

*Please don't take this to mean that I neglect the temporal needs of my children, propping them up at a table half-starved and exhausted, forcing them to listen to hours of scripture reading in order to earn their food and sleep. Seriously. If you think this of me, you do not know me.


Note: When commenting, please remember to refer to my family members by their pseudonyms to help protect their privacy. Thank you!

17 comments:

LeAnn said...

I clicked no way, but that's not really how I feel. Not completely. I just think it's a lot more complex than a simple yes or no answer.
So complex it makes my head throb and my legs weak to even start to think about it. That's why the exhausted mommy in my clicked "no way" and I had to fight the urge to crawl under my pillow for the rest of the day. :)

Lizzie said...

I hear you, LeAnn. I didn't give enough options. But then, I'm a black or white kinda gal, so maybe that helps explain it a bit. :0) Don't crawl under your pillow. I'm sure your answer would have been much better than an "ABSOLUTELY" anyway.

Sara said...

Hm, but what about turning the other cheek? The Savior wasn't out there yelling at people, or smacking people over the head with signs, or throwing tea parties. :) He was, quietly and calmly, going about doing good. I think that is what is missing. Those of us who can serve and love ALL people, regardless of beliefs, and thus help them on their way to God. I am nowhere near this ideal person, but I'd like to try someday...after I smack my kids on the head with signs. HA!

Lizzie said...

Well, while I don't condone violence in any way, I think the phrase "turn the other cheek" is misconstrued if it's meant to spurn people to inactivity in the face of losing freedoms. You're right, the Savior wasn't out there doing those violent things, but He was out there. And He was out there teaching Truths that were not popular among the leaders of the people at the time. He did this at the peril of His own physical person.

But, it's like you said, I am not that ideal person, either. I'm just grateful that such a person once existed to provide us with an example to strive to emulate.

Lizzie said...

P.S. An argument could be made that the Savior was the Master Tea-Party Thrower. He taught so-called "fanatical" principles that did not align with the popular religious persuasions of the day. And people flocked to Him in large groups to hear what He had to say and learn from Him. Of course, they ate fish and broke bread instead of drinking (or dumping) tea . . . .

e said...

i love the title of this post.

Scott and Karin said...

Before I tell you why I voted the way I did, I want to comment on what Sara said. While the Savior was most of the time calmly going about doing good and teaching there were a few instances where it was needful for him do act more...how shall I say it?...vigorously. Remember the money changers in the temple? I don't think he was too calm while overturning their tables and throwing them out. I think there are times when it is appropriate that we act with righteous indignation. Although, it is true that most of the time we should be going about doing good. I voted "absolutely". I am of the same faith as Lizzie, and there are lots of things that we believe that don't run in the same direction as the world, and in the same direction as some of my family members. As difficult as it is, I believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, that God really speaks to him. If Pres. Monson asked me to do something to defend our faith and it put my family at risk, I would do it. I would do it because I believe that it would be the Lord asking me and I've made the choice to do what He asks, no matter what. I can do hard things, and I will do them.

Erin said...

lovely post, liz.

Lizzie said...

Thanks Erin!

Karin, can I transplant you and your family to the house next door to me?! :0) Wish we lived closer to each other.

Sara said...

I WAS thinking about Prop 8 Lizzie! That's funny, because it applies to the health care debate too, but the "kiss-ins" were on my mind while reading your post. I thought about how the Church wants us to stand up and vote, but in a Mandela or Ghandi way, not with violence. Yes, everyone always brings up the money changers...that was different- true evil, not deluded, and Jesus was perfect, we're not. I really believe God wants us to be educated because we can state our beliefs and listen to others beliefs so much better. I would really be disappointed if Church members were out there in front of temples, screaming and swearing, and making our point by lowering ourselves. I love how missionaries are counseled not to argue or get in shouting matches, but just to love and serve, and testify of the TRUTH. And personally, Lizzie, I would get an alarm system or move to a safer place with my boys!! Just because of the previous break-ins and your visibility on the Prop 8 radar. :) Just a few thoughts.

Lizzie said...

I think you've confused any comment readers, Sara. They weren't privy to our private correspondence. :0) You see, friends, I sent her an email saying how funny it was that I wrote this post with Prop 8 in mind and she responded with (what I thought to be) Health Care Reform in mind. I see now I was wrong.

I agree with you about violence, screaming, and shouting. But sometimes testifying of truth requires taking a stronger stand than just sharing personal testimonies with those closest to us. Actually, scratch that. I just realized something. While you're talking about testifying of truth; I'm thinking more about defending truth. I'll have to ruminate more on this distinction, but I like the President McKay talk in this month's Ensign. It's good. He talks about how defense of Truth has to start on an individual level, and where the individual fails, the whole is weakened. I actually wrote an entire blog post on his talk, but I'm still fine-tuning it. :0) As I continue to do with my own, imperfect self as well.

Travis and Ashley said...

Liz, you are always making me think!! Haha! I don't know if that is a good thing. :) As a new mom, I can't bear the thought to have my child be in any pain at all (as we were discussing as we walked through Sea World) and I think at this point in my life I would do anything to protect him. But I know that I am not being realistic and there are going to be times in my child's life when I not going to be able to protect him but if there is one thing that I would like him to know about me, it's that I stood up for the things I believe in because that's something I want him to do. So even though, I clicked No Way, I think it is only because I have not yet found something that I am so passionate for that I would risk my family's well-being, but I can't imagine that that won't happen one day. Maybe modesty will be my thing ... :)

Lizzie said...

Ha ha ha! You just take that modesty and run away with it, Dearie! The women of this world won't know what hit them. :0) Just kidding. I agree that it's hard to imagine doing anything that might bring harm to your family. I would die for my children. In a heartbeat. But is that the easy way out? Is it harder, still, to LIVE for our children? To be a LIVING example? I don't know. I make my own brain hurt with how much I think about things. Feel free to take breaks from my blog, but come back sometime, please! :0)

P.S. I thoroughly enjoyed your trip down here and hope you'll come again soon. We have so much fun with you guys!

Scott and Karin said...

I'm going to respond to Sara again...mostly because I know you don't know me and I want to clarify my point a little bit...I agree with everything you are saying. We should not get into shouting matches with everyone and we definitely should not resort to violence. Personally I'm not a violent person and I even tend to err on the side of passiveness. The fact of the matter is I don't believe the Savior was really violent with the money changers, he threw over their tables, but he didn't throw them over they probably ran away themselves. I'm not sure they were "pure evil" as you put it. They themselves were probably deluded and were just trying to make money off of the people. The Savior was making an example of them. You are right, the Savior was perfect and knew how to handle every situation perfectly. I definitely don't. I just believe that sometimes we do need to be bold. Bolder than just bearing our testimonies or turning the other cheek, as it is most of the time necessary to do. We shouldn't shout and drive away the spirit with violence, but we should be firm and bold. Being firm and bold can put us in harms way sometimes, as Lizzie can attest to. I think we all have to use the spirit to direct us in how to handle each situation.

ado said...

Turning the other cheek and defending God are two different things, in my opinion. :-)

ado said...

When Noah said he would kill Abinidi for telling him to repent, Abinidi continued to preach what God had made him passionate about. That, to me, is turning the other cheek. Of course, turning the other cheek can also be defined in other situations, and not just ones in which you accept physical danger by defending spiritual truths. It's just that in my opinion, turning the other cheek should never be defined as looking the other way while God is being mocked. There aren't too many things that I would die for, but I can guarantee that there are a few that I would give my other cheek for. :-) -Adrianne

Lizzie said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Adrianne! That's definitely a different way of approaching the "turn the other cheek" mentality. I had never thought of it that way before. My favorite part of what you wrote is "turning the other cheek should never be defined as looking the other way while God is mocked."