Personal Online Journal

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Come, Flounder With Us

Since then my experience as a church member, or as a father and a husband, has been much the same. Never an unmixed success. Never a performance that I could feel I hadn’t unnecessarily tainted with sins of commission and omission. I am a shabby Mormon. These failures are better than successes elsewhere. I have found more joy making a hash of things in the gospel path than would be possible on any other path pursued however flawlessly. I mean that. 
“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
C.S. Lewis, in Screwtape, showed us that the fear of death was harder to endure than death.
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.” 
One of the themes of this blog is that failure is always an option. I would almost say that it is the only option. Come, flounder with us. ("Being a Mormon is Hard", Junior Ganymede, Nov, 4, 2013 )
My experience is the same as Junior Ganymede. I don't think highly of my experience on my mission. I attribute nearly all of my success since to my wonderful wife who has inspired, and and times, prodded me in the way I knew was healthiest for me to go.

The last paragraph above contains a point that should not be missed. I think this life is designed for us to fail. I think that is the primary test for each of us. In the infinite variety of strengths and weaknesses were are all gifted with, the greatest is the opportunity to act in relation to our failure.

Will we, like my deepest tendency is, attempt to hide until we have fully overcome our most shameful attributes? Or instead, will we forge ahead and decide that we cannot be what we want to be, what the Lord has said we can be, without his hand.

Like Peter faltered so do we all. It is only through the hand of the Lord and the loving word of chastisement that we both receive his grace and recognize our failings and can therefore begin our work to overcome them, hand in hand with the Lord.

We must be willing to dare greatly and be the (wo)man in the arena. Not waiting until we are bullet-proof. Letting others see us, and hopefully join with us in a heavenly quest of evolving, growing, becoming like God.


Sherry Work said...

It is hard to live up to statements such as "A mission is the best 2 years of your life", or "Motherhood is the most divine calling you will ever have", because sometimes we don't particularly like being a missionary or a mother (fill in your own blank here). Some things are surrounded by a holy rosy hue, and when we get there, we sometimes see only grey, at least for part of the time. So is it all a fraud, or do we spend our lives thinking that we have missed something vitally important, or is this how at least some others feel even though they don't say so out loud? I have said in Relief Society that I don't particularly enjoy motherhood, and heard that sharp intake of breath that signifies shock and disbelief. While I love my 4 children, I take far greater pleasure in being alone. Luckily I have a friend who feels the same way.

So I love the phrase, "a shabby Mormon", because very little I do in the home or with my calling meets what I often feel that it "should". Most of the time I am trying, but sometimes I am phoning it in. I want to be better, but am not always willing to put forth the effort it takes. Instead my energy goes elsewhere, more self-centered pursuits which are not bad, but I can spend too long in those Elysian fields instead of doing things that actually help someone else. I continue to put on a good Mormon face, hoping that my less-than-complete efforts may be acceptable. I know my weaknesses, and the next step is to humble myself in the process of making them strengths. I even know exactly what I have to do, but I continue to stand still, too hesitant to take the step I need, because it will change me and change is hard.

Richard Alger said...

What you feel and have shared, I think is the crux. We all feel shame to one degree or another. But shame is not healthy.

"Shame is not guilt. Shame is a focus on self. Guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is 'I am bad'. Guilt is 'I did something bad' "

It is the very act of acknowledging our lack, our weaknesses, that is what I think is the primary reason we came to earth. We needed to experience a fallen earth and all that comes with it. And we needed to recognize our part in creating that fallen world, our own sin that effects those close to us profoundly and in reality every one else that has been and will come to earth.

As we take the hand of the Lord and draw on his strength and take steps to practice the faith we need,

Remember what Jesus said to Peter, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

As we take these steps, it will be like practicing the piano. Our thanks to God for the piano lessons will be a life lived at a higher plane.