Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Like It Or Not, Gossip Is Real and Cliques Are Too

My fellow brothers and sisters... my answer to this growing plague which causes ones enthusiasm to dim is simply this...Gossip is evil and it exists and it hurts and it won't be going away anytime soon. People will continue to pass judgment and hold onto their cherished judgments made about you even even many seconds and minutes after you have partaken of the sacrament making promises to strive more diligently towards perfection. People in your wards will have their favorites and cliques will continue to exist. You will either fit in or you won't and at times, you won't fit in with ANYONE.

You may also feel as though the ward membership has only the power within themselves to only tolerate your presence vs provide the Christlike version of charitable fellowship and this, above all else, may cause your hearts to sink into despair and hopelessness. It hurts to feel alone or feel like you are outcast or that perhaps you don't fit in or that you don't belong. It hurts when people would rather talk with someone else than they would like to talk to you.

"One day you will prove to them all that they were wrong and God will prove to you that he was right about you all along." Now what do I mean by that? Well if you know your heart and that you are striving to be 'pure of heart' then you have no need to fear. God doesn't need permission by any of your ward members to allow your entry into heaven, PERIOD!

Turn to the Book of Mormon with me to "Jacob Chapter 3:1-2 and read the following:

1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. 2 O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Are people really just sometimes acting like jerks? Possibly. We don't know their past or their upbringing. If you dare, ask them some questions to find out more about them. It is often revealing to discover just how it is that they were brought up. Continue in those conversations by stating how you understand a little more about them and thank them for that insight. Then do your best to lock away their secrets. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, right?

I testify to you, brothers and sisters, that it is not part of the natural man to think well of others and no matter what society you are brought up in, people are taught to shun that which they do not understand and we as a human race are not very teachable when it comes to how one ought to be treated and how to treat one another plain and simple. Judge not lest ye be judge. If you feel that you have been ostracized or ignored or loved less than what you are deserving of then join the club. People do have their favorites. It's also human nature...it's also ugly.

There's really very little we can do about this looming plague over those who are members of the church as it is also a plague upon humanity. Wards may have the same attendance percentages and similar rosters of like-minded people for many o quarterly reports. Your Elders quorum presidents will cite Home Teaching numbers and about reactivity and perhaps one soul or two will find his way through the labyrinth and regain his zeal for obedience to the Lord's commandments and begin to once again strive towards the heavenly goal while moving on up in the straight and narrow path. One day, my brothers and sisters, you WILL prove to the world that they were wrong about you but only if you have the intestinal fortitude to say this: I have ONE being that I need to be faithful to above all and that is faithful to the Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, first and foremost. Then you have a responsibility to your family and those you have stewardship over. (Including your home teaching families and those who are recipients of your service included within your church responsibilities and callings.) The important thing to know is that God loves you. You do NOT NEED the approval or fellowship of ward membership. I personally have not had my worthiness come into question by the bishop enough to talk with him about anything however I assume that it is possible where my own behavior may have gotten me into trouble. I am a bit 'boorish by nature' and being thus endowed (also described as being a bull in a china shop) I may have done, said or behaved after a manner which could have been offensive towards others. Que sera sera.

Brothers and sisters, do also as Jacob suggests that we do at the end of his record by 'being wise' as well as humble. Charity faileth not and he who is possessor of charity, at the last day, will have so much more the advantage over the brother who chose to participate in gossip or 1-upsmanship or any other behavior that signifies, "I am better than you because..." and perhaps they've got a full laundry list of GOOD and VALID reasons as to why they are better than you! Believe NONE of them. They may or may NOT have made better choices than you but if one of their choices was to think himself or herself as better than you, then they've got something wrong for 'all are alike unto God and God is no respecter of persons. God will not hold a sword over your neck with a vengeance. Jesus Christ will have compassion on they who have compassion on others. One day, not only will every 'knee bow and tongue confess' but part of this confession is where people will come to you and plead for your forgiveness on how you were treated. They will not need this forgiveness for their own entry into heaven for Jesus Christ has ALREADY paid the ultimate price and providing for us our atonement assured.

Some gossip is founded on truth, on partial truths and upon lies. The best way not to participate in gossip in your wards is to set the example. For example, if a new person comes into the ward and you've had the chance to talk with them and fellowship with them, then count your blessings if they are potentially one of your future, enduring friends. However, if another ward member decides to ask you questions about them, simply say this, "I don't know much about those guys so you'll have to go and talk with them yourself." Shift the responsibility of 'getting to know a new ward member' onto their shoulder because it is not up to you to do so. If they have something opinionated to say about them or perhaps they want you to agree on their assessments about them, then I suggest to you that you do one of the following: Excuse yourself from the conversation by politely saying, "I don't know enough about them to have an opinion about the matter." or simply say, "Well I suppose that's one way that someone could see them as being..." but reserve the right to get to know them yourself.

Brothers and Sisters... I testify to you that God loves us and he is keenly aware of how we're being treated or how others may have perceived or continue to perceive us as being. The important thing, above all others, is that you trust in the Lord. He will set things right and if at ALL necessary, he will send down justice upon those who seek your discomforts and want you to feel less than worthy. God teaches patience and he teaches humility. People will come up to you, in your lifetime, and tell you that they are sorry. Forgive them frankly and receive them as one of your friends wholeheartedly for you must... if you want to be numbered among they who are blessed of the Father in the last day.

I write these things and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, my redeemer, amen. Below: This was my rant but I decided to start over. If you enjoy reading and getting more in depth with the way I view the world, then read this unedited rant below. Otherwise, the article is done.

You decided to come back to church for the first time in forever and/or possibly you've been there for a while and haven't found your crowd. People go about their business and hustle off to class and yet, something feels missing. There hasn't been any fellowship. You sense something is missing but you just can't put your finger on it. It is my hope to write but a few words that if taken in the proper spirit can help save you from a downward spiral that could lead to bitterness and further inactivity and disenfranchisement from the church. For all of those who have felt lonely or outcast or for those who didn't feel like they belong, then perhaps this message is for you. A week or so goes by, and you begin to talk with someone at a mutual activity and their conversations with you are robotic and brief until you politely excuse yourself to then see that same ward member strike it up with one of their buddies giving handshakes with gusto and happiness. "What just happened?" you ask yourself. Did my breath offend? Did I let my hair go a bit too long before cutting it? Have I done something to offend the flock and I now begin to feel ostracized because perhaps something has been said concerning you either real or perceived that may or not be true? I have been the member of a ward for some time now and perhaps part of this is an editorial but in the end, or in the blog, I'd like to possibly answer some of those burning questions that I sometimes ask myself by also being the member of a ward family. We sure are an assortment of many different personalities both positive and negative. Before I begin making assumptions and then concocting solutions for assumptions both real or imagined, let me just clear the air and spell this one out for you clear as crystal. Gossip and judgment happens in the church PERIOD! Cliques are formed and judgments are made about you as to where you ought to belong. It's just human nature. It's not your fault or theirs, it's just how we are naturally bred to be. Even in the book of Mormon, it is discovered how the people would divide themselves into classes. If you want a fantastic read about Mormon's understanding on how the latter days would look like, then 4th Nephi is a very good read. It talks a lot about this. Now Mr LDSLIFE, you might be guilty of passing judgment upon others...beware on how you judge...and the measure in which you judge shall be added unto you etc etc... I get that. This is why I wish to tread somewhat carefully on the subject because whether I have all rhyme and reason or not, it seemeth me good to at least elaborate on my own experiences and then we'll let history decide whether they be of truth or may they be from out of my own imaginations. So once again, for all of those who have felt lonely or outcast or for those who didn't feel like they belong, then perhaps this message is for you and I believe that it is paramount that you read these words before considering to spend any length of time apart from coming to church and apart from renewing the covenant that you made with the Lord in being baptized because above all else, this must be observed. (I will explain a bit more what I mean by this below.)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Your words offend me not!

Be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Be hard to offend and even harder to sway from a cheerful disposition. I've read and re-read some of the latest stories on the internet and one of the words or terms or phrases I hear most about as it pertains to unforgivable offenses are these "irreconcilable differences" and "*blank* offends me." I'll never do business with this company again..." or other phrases of false anger like, "They should have known better than to say this!" when, for the most part, the issuer of the offensive phrases may or may not have even known that it was socially unacceptable or even offensive. Should he or she have to apologize? Since when did we become a society that has such thin skin and where we are so easily offended? Do we live in a world which by our very existence and our being here could be offensive to something or someone? We use air that gets polluted and it's that country's/state's,city's fault, water that belongs to a certain tribe or principality that is not being shared and other resources that may belong to someone else. We do not have a choice as to whether someone is going to offend us. Not even if we live alone as a hermit somewhere in the middle of the wilderness are we not going to be offended by something or someone. Someone somewhere and somehow is going to take offense about something but why? When do we learn how to be offended? Is it even REAL? or is it false anger or has it been taught to us by our parents and teachers as to the reasons we ought to be offended? Does someone gain anything by being or saying that they were offended? I personally believe that saying the words, "I'm offended" helps to release people from any personal responsibility for maintaining their own happiness. It makes it easy, I postulate, to say, "I'm not happy because of... and then, name a reason for the offense." Lives and the eternal lives of men hang on the balance, at times, from that one time they were offended and choose to stay offended, it may at times then seem. I shudder at times to think that something I may have said, insinuated or done at times may have forever altered people from a path which could undoubtedly lead them to happiness and yet they will not. Do we even have the right to say, "I am not happy because of him? or her?" or anybody but ourselves? I suppose that God will help us sort things out. I used to have high anxiety and passed through times of deep, dark depression thinking that the 'sword of justice was looming over my head and God was letting me say my 'goodbyes' and I was walking the earth as a dead man walking since the # of people I have offended should by about now have been TOO HIGH for God to continue letting me be. I'm a bull in a china shop and undoubtedly have said things that has offended someone else and it's MY FAULT that they won't now make it home to our heavenly, celestial home!" If any of you have thought about this, experienced the gravity of my words or otherwise, then I have one thing to say to you. CONGRATULATIONS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE ROLE OF 'TESTERS' IN THIS WORLD WHERE NOT ONLY ARE WE BEING TESTED BUT SOMETIMES, WE ARE THE TEST! We are the test? Well, we know that we are being 'tested' but are we also at times, being the test? I think so. But think about it for a moment, shall we? I'm not saying that by our words, we have helped the devil to tempt men or that somehow by being part of the problem has disqualified us from being part of any solutions which lead us to happiness in the future. I feel it is well within my authority to at least suggest that not only are we here to be tested, but at times we play the role of 'challenger' as we go head to head with others of our fellow brothers and sisters while on this earth. I could say this, and I'd probably be within my own to say this too, and I'd say, "My experience with Utah LDS has been less than favorable and I have experienced the worst of the worst of criticism and judgment and the uncaring callous of men and women who to me, at times, appeared not to have a SOUL when I would deal with them." Are they bad and not going to heaven because of my findings? Absolutely NOT! I would not be the person I am today had I not had a brush up or two against a couple of Utah Mormons. I won't EVER choose to live there even if I were to live for another 100 years. It's just not going to happen! The difference between myself and a few others who in life, have complained about their feelers being hurt, is simply being boiled down to 1 simple phrase. "I have been offended, which was not my choosing. I continue to choose NOT to remain offended. This much I do have control over" Am I probably going to develop and continue progressing while in this life despite the dozens or possibly 100's of people that my boorish behavior may have been party to in the offenses against my fellow men? Absolutely! Has my phraseology and language towards others been perverted and tainted because of the natural man/the state of the natural man that I find myself at times a party to? Absolutely! Would you not think that your words have been so horribly disgusting that you should just quit right now and hope that God will have mercy on you? MERCY is the MAIN thing that I am hoping for myself and others! Am I probably one day going to have fingers pointed at my face as to being the reason that "HE was not happy" or that "SHE was mistreated?" You bet! When I watch T.V. and see a guy on trial for bombing himself up and others, my knee jerk reaction is to want to pick up a stone and be one of the first to cast it however the older I get, the more I want to let that stone fall off my fingers onto the ground and to drop down onto my own knees and weep to then say to myself, "I pray for mercy for him, and for me, and for all others who have discovered or have yet to discover the lost and fallen state that we now should most definitely be conscious of which is our current reality! But aren't I worried about the judgment for having offended so many of your brothers and sisters and that you won't make it in? Well for one, if you knew me and my past, you would have been able to see both the good and the bad and we'd probably be able to come to some sort of understanding that my own life (if classified) probably doesn't look that much different than yours. Brothers and sisters... life is TOO SHORT to spend it worrying about the past! "All you can do is all you can do and all you can do is (or at least I hope it will be) enough - Art Williams. I think that the disgust we feel when we see the mistakes of others happens for 1 or more reasons: 1) We are also offenders and we do not like to observe this behavior in others or against us. It's only natural. 2) We have been taught both in our conditioning and environment to accept or reject certain behaviors as 'inappropriate.' 3) We discover the deficits that exist in ourselves and fail to realize that we too are 'beggars' and depend on the same being, which is God, for our support and our daily bread. Our happiness stems from knowing who we are and not only becoming all who we could possibly become but to acknowledge that we DO have a savior and a mediator between us and God. Jesus said that we should be 'faithful in but a few things' in order to be rulers over many. When I read in the scriptures on how certain men, who are now my heroes, have handled this topic. I think of King Benjamin, most especially, when I look for hope and reasons to hope. King Benjamin was a laborer... he set forth his hand on a great number of occasions to work on behalf of his people and to publish peace. The weight of responsibility which rested upon his shoulders, as king, is something I could barely imagine for myself. Wouldn't he think at times, "Did I put this man to death in vain and was he innocent and will God judge me thus?" In the book of Mosiah, we get these two insights. For we are ALL BEGGARS! Mosiah 4:19 19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? It is very important that when we fall, we should seek mercy. The world would have you believe that you should seek justice and punishment for the wrongs that you do but this is not the way that the Lord would have us do it. Jesus himself went on record saying that we should 'judge righteous judgment or judge not at all' because the same rules that we apply to others may one day be applied against them and this indeed would be nothing short of a travesty for any good man or woman who probably has been keeping the commandments but have been discovered later on as men or women who 'have not charity' which is the pure love of Christ, it may not be well with them. No wonder why the Lord was so content with his parables about the 'Samaritan' in the various stories that he told. He would rather we be our very best version of those who speak kind words and give meaningful service to others. He would rather we be keeping the commandments of our father in heaven and not only out of duty but out of the love that we have towards our father in heaven and our yearning to become more like him. Having written all of this, I must also include that yes, we should offend less. I am not a fanatic about political correctness or any of its falseness. I don't feel any higher up on the totem pole for giving someone a pleasant label or adding any sweetness to an already bitter taste regardless of how much the world would rather that I do so. I may actually call it a shovel or a spade and it doesn't matter to me if this has offended someone else. That's their problem and not mine. Will they choose not to deal with me or will they refuse to talk with me? I don't care! If that man or woman chooses to stick to this and for the rest of their lives shun me then so be it. I've got 6,999,999,999 others in the world that I can go and form warm, personal relationships with and I won't lose much sleep over that and I may only mourn the loss of one potential friend but a little. The Savior, in all of his perfection, still managed to leave his life with enemies, his friends betrayed him and left him alone in his hours of need and suffering. I am no greater than he... rather, I am no where even close to his greatness... but if I leave this life with my sealing intact and with my forever family and having done some good and done some thing to positively touch the lives of others and help them on our way, then perhaps the Lord will remember that above all... that I may feel the joy with the one or more who choose to press forward and onward and great shall be our joy and hopefully all will be forgotten. It is my hope that I can forgive more than I am forgiven. I will not forgive others because they need my forgiveness... I'll do it because I need it for myself. I need to remove the weight from my heart and set aside the stumbling block of stubbornness and unwillingness to be gentle with others. I am grateful for my children and my daughter. It has been many many months since I have written in this blog and I am grateful for this day. I woke up again and I didn't die in the night so it's possible that God has yet more for me to do and learn. In Jesus' Name, Amen. #clorox