Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marriage and Faith

There are some days when it's really discouraging for me to get on Facebook. This week has had a few of those days which have been marked by the increase in conflict and propaganda. This week, it's about the constitutionality of gay marriage.

My first grief is for the conflict and strife that such sensitive topics engender. I'm tired of the war of words and philosophies that inundates such platforms for social interaction. It seems like there's no way to contribute without raising one's voice, or without getting messy from all the mud-slinging that goes on. No one seems interested in changing their own mind, or in understanding the other person's perspective. Involvement in (or observation of) this just doesn't feel right; it makes my heart queasy inside.

My next grief is specific to this issue, and is hard to articulate.

If I were like many of my classmates growing up, I might be mildly religious, but mostly bathed in the religion of acceptance and tolerance for everybody, no matter who they are and what they believe, without thinking much about God unless things go wrong. I see some of my friends who zealously and lovingly call out for marriage equality for everyone, and I firmly believe that God loves these people, His children, and appreciates their compassionate hearts that reach out to extend to others the same happiness and fulfillment that they feel. They have good, beautiful, wonderfully loving hearts, and that is Godlike.

Those values do resonate with me, and I would join with them except for a couple important differences in my beliefs. The most important one is that I believe that my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is headed by Jesus Christ, and that He directs His church by revelation given to church authorities. The church leaders have been clear for years that marriage is ordained of God and is an exclusive union between one man and one woman, and that marriages are about creating a loving family unit, and that children need and deserve both a father and a mother. These leaders and authorities have left no ambiguity about their stance on legalizing gay marriage, and when they speak in harmony, they speak for God. Sometimes their counsel doesn't make sense when it is first given, but clarity often comes with later, confirming experience. Even if that clarity doesn't come while I'm alive on earth, I will still do my best to stick close to the counsel of the prophets, even when it doesn't always make sense. It both confuses and saddens me when I see fellow Latter-Day Saints go in direct opposition to what God's representatives have passed on from Him; it just doesn't make sense to me when the church has been so clear on what the right answer is.

I'm just a young, newly-married, middle-class, college-educated, dessert-loving, Latter-Day Saint, Midwestern-American woman with limited experience in the wide variety of life there is in the world. There's just too much of it for one mortal person to experience and comprehend. I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about life. That's why I have to rely on faith, because there are so many things that I don't understand. When I decide what to have faith in, God's prophet seems like a pretty reliable source of information. I can directly pray to God Himself to get revelation as well, and use that to guide me. It seems like a lot of this life is about recognizing how little we can do by ourselves.

Anyway, that's my take on the legalization of gay marriage. Take it how you will. My point in sharing this is to hopefully promote understanding of one viewpoint, and maybe introduce you if it's one you hadn't considered.

On a related note, I'm really tired of "wiser, more enlightened folk" saying that because I'm religious, I therefore don't have a brain and cannot be trusted to make correct, informed choices for myself, unless those choices include "liberation" from my religion and aligning my views with theirs. Good grief, what kind of "tolerance" are they promoting? What hypocrites they are for their narrow-minded prejudice against religious faith! This kind of bigotry and disenfranchisement shouldn't be acceptable to our "enlightened," modern society. End of rant.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why I Feel Like A Superhero Tonight

Tonight I felt like some fantastic superhero duo with my husband. Why? Well, it went like this:

1. I decide for some uncertain reason that I should go home from campus early. I'm not really sure why, so I piddle around for a little longer, update my husband on my plans, and leave his office to go to the car.

2. Perfect timing: I see an old friend walking ahead of me whom I haven't seen in a long time. Normally I'd be shy and just keep walking because he wouldn't see me, but I was thinking about this earlier and decided I should be better at acknowledging my friends on campus. I call his name and jog a little to catch up.

3. I can see right away that this friend is really tired and really stressed. I've seen him like this before, and we chat about school and how we both feel as we approach graduation soon. He's feeling the pressure, but is thoughtful anyway and sympathizes genuinely with my struggles. It was good to talk to him.

4. After we part ways, I think about making a meal for him or something. It's the only way I can think to be helpful--to give him a little more time in his day for studying or sleeping instead of cooking. I text my husband and solicit his opinion on buying a couple special grocery items for the project and he gives me an enthusiastic go-ahead.

5. I stop by the grocery store on the way home, and it turns out that disposable baking pans are on a significant sale today. Awesome.

6. After my husband has been home for a while, I lose my steam and figure it was just an impulsive whim that encouraged me to help my friend out; maybe I shouldn't worry about making him food today. I share this with my husband, and he thinks that it's still a good idea and that we should do it. So we do, and he does more than half the work in putting it together.

7. We finish the food and head over to my friend's apartment. I was expecting that we would have to ding-dong-ditch the food, and I forgot a pen back in the car for leaving a note. Miraculously, one of my friend's roommates comes up the stairs right then and lets us into the apartment and assures us that my friend is home right now.

8. My husband goes back to my friend's bedroom door and knocks. He hears my friend in there and, after hearing a response that he can't understand, just announces himself and comes in. Later my husband shared that he wasn't sure if my friend was going to come out and see us or not, so it was lucky that things went fairly smoothly in actually getting an opportunity to see him.

9. My friend comes out to the kitchen where I'm waiting and looks much brighter than he did on campus earlier. He checks out the food we made and says it looks great, I tell him what it was made of, and he graciously thanks us and fits it into his fridge. He's got to get back to studying, but shakes my husband's hand and mine before we leave (making a goofy face as he does so, because we used to squeeze-hug before I got married). I appreciate the gesture because I'm never sure if or how I'm supposed to hug guys as a married woman.

10. As we walk back to the car, my husband remarks how things worked together so well today so that we could help our friend. He's right; there were a lot of little miracles working together so that our friend could get a little extra love tonight when life is particularly hard. My eyes weren't open to see the big picture until my husband shared his thoughts.

It's bringing tears to my eyes now to think and write about it. It was a miracle that I left the office at just the right time to run into my friend on campus. It was a miracle that I was motivated to talk to him instead of being shy and introverted. It might have been a miracle that I ran into him today instead of yesterday or tomorrow. It was a mini-miracle that my husband approved of the project so readily (which is not unusual, but it was extra encouragement) and that the tools I needed were on sale. It was a miracle that when I lost the motivation to follow through today, my husband picked up my slack and did so much to make it happen. It was a miracle that when my friend wasn't in a mood to answer the door, his roommate stopped by just long enough to let us into the apartment and encouraged us to draw him out of his bedroom. Maybe it was a miracle that on hearing the ingredient list, my friend was enthusiastic about the casserole we made. Based on how full my friend's fridge was, it may have been a miracle that he found room to put the pan inside. It was a little miracle for me that my friend knew how to say goodnight in a humorous way instead of leaving me to do it awkwardly. And it's a miracle to me that my husband was able to pull all of these threads together from throughout our day and illustrate to me how involved God is in the details of our lives, and telling me that perhaps God knew that his son, my friend, needed a little extra tender loving care tonight, and worked through us to help it happen.

To be more accurate, I guess that a "superhero duo" isn't the right phrase. I felt like I was on God's team tonight, and that with my availability, my husband's serviceable nature, and God's intuition, awareness and love, we were able to do some good in the world together. It's a testament to me that God does indeed know and love every single one of His children, and that He is working to help us be happy. How wonderful it feels to be a part of this great purpose! I feel like a really dull instrument in God's hands a lot of the time (or like I've been dropped from His tool belt entirely), and it's amazing to me that He can still find ways to use me, as I am today, to help someone else. What a blessing to serve God and His children, and I'm so thankful that He gives us--gave me--a chance to help. God is truly great and good.


Just a brief thought.

I've noticed that when I have close friends to talk to and satisfactorily vent and discuss my feelings, I'm much less tempted to vent via facebook or blogs. Venting on my blogs is usually the middle ground between facebook and my journal because fewer people read it, and I can write longer posts than on facebook.

My husband is great, and I'm doing way better socially this semester than fall semester. I'm much more satisfied in my social outlets this semester, but it's still not back to pre-married levels (going from 6 people in a house to 2 makes a difference. it's a fact). I'm still figuring some of this stuff out, but it's nice to have a piece of the puzzle solved.