Personal Online Journal

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Angels Envy Men

I love this quote from Hugh Nibley:

...above all the two things we can be good at, and no two other things can we do: We can forgive and we can repent. It's the gospel of repentance. We're told that the angels envy men their ability both to forgive and to repent, because they can't do either, you see. But nobody's very clever, nobody's very brave, nobody's very strong, nobody's very wise... We’re not tested on those things; but the things the angels envy us for, we can forgive and we can repent. So three cheers, let’s start repenting as of now.
(Emphasis is mine "The Faith of an Observer," 2 from Of All Things! Classic Quotations from Hugh Nibley by Gary P. Gillum, Film Documentary)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Giving Ourselves in Love

I read a good article today on the difference between covenants and contracts.  In it, Jeffrey Thayne points out that covenant is not a word in regular use today.  Sometimes an economic contract is used to try to explain what a covenant is.
A contract is formed when two parties, each with particular needs or wants, make an agreement to supply the other’s wants in exchange for their own... If conditions change significantly so that one member of the contract can no longer hold up their end of the deal, the agreement is dissolved.
One example he gives to contrast the meanings of covenant and contract is how I approach my marriage relationship.  If I am consumer-oriented or if I approach my marriage as primarily about personal fulfillment, I may take a 50-50 approach.  I expect my wife to contribute 50% and I the other half.  On the other hand, if I treat my marriage appropriately, as a covenant, I think of what I may do to serve her.  My focus is on her and not myself. I like the quote he gives from David Lapp:
In courting and choosing whom to marry, we would do well to focus on the person and to remind ourselves that marriage is about giving ourselves in love to another person, and not primarily about individual fulfillment. … Marriage isn’t necessarily a ticket to our own version of individual fulfillment. What if your future wife becomes severely paralyzed? What if your child has Down syndrome? I suspect we have not adequately wrapped our minds around the meaning of marriage until we have considered the possibility that at any moment, whether during the honeymoon or in mid-life or in old age, tragic circumstances could call us to give up almost everything—our dream career, our comfort, our “happiness” — for the sake of the beloved.
I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and the phrase "But if not, … we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up"*  Jeffery concisely put this principle as,
The only blessings that are unequivocally promised us in this lifetime for strict obedience are peace of conscience, companionship of the Spirit, and discernment.*
The sermon of King Benjamin describes very well how our covenant relationships are not always profitable.  There is something of a pay it forward principle that is not included in a strictly contractual relationship.

I covenant because I am grateful to God and his mercy and his generosity.  I trust that He will continue to bless me in His own time and in His own way to my eternal benefit.  I love the way Jeffrey closes.
When we truly understand the nature of a covenant, we will realize that the first solution to difficulties in our covenantal relationships is not renegotiation or even communication (which connotes a two-way contractual agreement). It is to realign our hearts towards service, compassion, commitment, forgiveness, and love. Each of these terms connote a one-way submission of the self to the Other, which is what I believe covenants are all about.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Emotional Bank Account

My good friend Buzzz shared this recently.  I don't want to forget it.

"For any relationship to succeed, five positive things need to be said to every one negative. There are NO exceptions!"

Another friend said that this particularly applies in conflict.  I have also heard it described as an emotional bank account.  You need to be focused on deposits and withdraw less.  Not that you use it as a score board.  Just thinking about what can I do to make this experience more meaningful and positive.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Learning to Hope

Steph and I met Mariama Kallon on our trip to Utah.  She is from Sierra Leone.  She told an incredible story from her life in Learning to Hope in the New Era of Nov 2006 pdf

It was a great reminder of how blessed I am with the security and clothes and home and food I have readily available to me.

Gratitude and Paying it Forward

A few years ago I watched Pay It Forward.  It has had a profound effect on my life.  In it, a boy growing up in a less than ideal situation is challenged by a grade school teacher on the first day of school with an assignment on how they would make the world a better place.  (Spoiler alert: I don't think the following spoils the movie but perhaps you may)

He takes the assignment to heart.  He decides to do something for three people that they cannot do for themselves.  Something that is meaningful to them.  When the person wants to pay them back, you have to tell them that they cannot pay it back.  You have to pay it forward.  The person is then challenged to so the same.  Pick three people and do something meaningful for them that they cannot do for themselves.  And the chain continues.

The boy only has a mom at home.  He finds a homeless, heroine addict and invites him to his home and feeds him.  The man sleeps in the bed of the truck in the garage.   His mom finds the man and just about shoots him with her shotgun.  The man ends up fixing up the truck for his mom.  The movie actually starts with a few of these meaningful acts of kindness.  At the beginning of the movie, a reporter has one of these things done to him.  The movie is about how the reporter traces these acts of kindness back to the boy.

To me this movie was a power story of the principles of gratitude and paying it forward.  I first learned of these principles from the sermon of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon.  One of the things he teaches his people is that all are beggars before God.  That He has granted us our life and that He blesses us when we obey His commandments.  He always blesses us. We are forever in His debt because of this.  We cannot pay him back.  The only way we can try to pay him pack is to pay it forward.  Bless the lives of those around us in meaningful ways.

It is one of the geniuses of the plan of salvation. God provided that we could live on earth where there is the opportunity to choose between good and evil.  When each of us (except Jesus) chooses evil we place ourselves in eternal jeopardy.  We separate ourselves spiritually from God.  It is only through the grace and power of God that we have the opportunity to accept His salvation.  His plan is the ultimate pay it forward story.