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If Only I Had Married Another, My Life Would Be So Much Better!

TheDiscipleMD

Almost every decision we make in this life has consequences, be it good or bad.  None more so than the person we choose to marry and spend our life with.  Our partner becomes the mother or father of our children who has tremendous influence on their happiness and the moral values they are taught. Often our economic place in the social structure will be determined by the industry of each other. Indeed, almost all aspects of our lives are affected by this most important decision.

During the mundane course of life, a woman may find themselves pondering if she shouldn’t have run away that night when she was 17 and Jimmy was waiting in the car with a pocket full of promises and exciting dreams of far away places. Or a husband might be thinking, “If only I had married Janet, she would have supported me in my entrepreneur endeavors.” That kind of thought process is not only dangerous, but it is usually based on unknown circumstances and hypothetical thinking.

Every road in this life has it twists and turns but since we never took the ‘other’ road, we have never had to experience what it ‘would’ have been like to have made another choice in who we married. From a distance perhaps Jimmy or Janet looks like their life turned out great, but reality is not always what it seems. I am reminded of a long ago song sung by Harry Chapin.  In it he meets up with an old highschool girlfriend when she gets into the Taxi he is driving. They reminise and then when he drops her off at her mansion he sings:

“And she walked away in silence, It’s strange, how you never know, But we’d both gotten what we’d asked for, Such a long, long time ago. You see, she was gonna be an actress And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights, And I took off for the sky. And here, she’s acting happy, Inside her handsome home. And me, I’m flying in my taxi…” (Taxi)

Fantasizing that the road not taken would have been a road free of pain and suffering is just not reality. It would probably strike us as funny that in reality, our spouse is the “Jimmy or Janet’ for someone from their past. The better thing for all married couples to do is hold tight to each other, look for ways to smooth the path ahead, and learn to love the person we have made sacred covenants with before God, angels, and witnesses.

 

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A ‘Married’ Man On A Mission! (A Modern Day Story of Faith and Love)

TheDiscipleMD

I have often admired the stories of early church leaders who, in the 1800s left home and family, by responding to the prophet’s call to serve missions abroad. How could they have left behind their wives and often children to serve! What courage, faith, determination and testimony, I thought! Such stories litter the rich history of the church. It wasn’t till I became a man that I recognized how the history of such courageous men and women was so closely woven into my own life.

In October of 1946, my Father, 19, married my Mother, 17, in the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A couple of months later he left her in her parents care and departed his Southern Idaho home on a full-time church mission for two years to the Northwestern States Mission. Once there, he was informed a few months into his mission that my Mother was expecting. I can’t imagine what passed through his mind when the letter arrived bearing the news. Having served a two-year mission myself to Argentina, I was upset when I heard my baby sister was getting married! I really can’t fathom receiving news of becoming a new father while out in the mission field. A few months after my oldest brother was born my mother made her way out to the mission field with their new baby boy. Once there, she stayed a few months and then made her way back home only to discover later that, again, she was expecting.  Fortunately, my Father was able to make it home in time to witness the birth of his second son. If it wasn’t my own parents, I’m not sure I would believe such a story. But, as they often say, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Why would a man and a woman sacrifice to do such a thing?

My Mom has long since departed this life, but my Dad once again told  me the reason he ‘would do such a thing’ when I sat down this week and asked him about why he believed in the restoration of the gospel. As I listened to him, I wasn’t listening to a man who was just saying words. This was my Father! A man who I know has dedicated his entire life to the preaching, teaching, and the living of, the principles of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. He has walked the walk! He pulled out the Book of Mormon and read me this:

“And now, it came to pass that when King Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them. And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord…which has wrought a mighty change… in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually…And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments… all the remainder of our day…And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant…And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name…” (Mosiah 5:1-2, 5-9)

A year earlier, and though raised in the church, as an 18-year-old Navy seaman, my Dad had been truly converted by reading the Book of Mormon and was most impressed by the above verses. Since that time, he has dedicated his life to the building up of the kingdom of God here on earth.  He, like many before, had come to a determination that he did not want to have a “disposition to do evil, but to do good”.  The reading of the Book of Mormon had ‘wrought a mighty change” in his heart that exists to this day. My mother, full of faith, had a similar experience but at a younger age. And that is why a 19-year-old man, leaves his new wife, and goes on a two-year mission for the Lord. And that is why a young woman of 17 marries and then bears two children while supporting her husband in such a glorious cause.

So, as you can see, I don’t need to read the history of the ancient church nor the modern church to draw inspiration from the lives of those who gave their all in building up the kingdom of God here on earth.  I need only kneel over the grave of my Mom or embrace my Father who turns 89 today. In life and death they both understood and knew that they had become “sons and daughters” of Christ. They have lived and believed in the promises stated that day by King Benjamin:

“Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all.” (Mosiah 5:15)

My Father came home from his mission, graduated from Brigham Young University, and George Washington Law School.  He was later appointed an administrative law judge.  Both he and my mother have been faithful to the covenants they made as a young married couple and have spent their days in building up the kingdom of God.  All the while he and my Mom raised ten kids. Although my two oldest brothers were born under unusual circumstances I stand as a witness that all ten were born to a married man on a mission!

 

 

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When Death Is Welcomed!

TheDiscipleMD

“Death would be welcomed” is what he said to me as I sat next to him on his bed the month before he died from pancreatic cancer.  My brother was in terrible pain and he grimaced in agony just saying the words.  My brother always had a positive outlook,  no matter what was going on in his life. So to hear him say that, was an indication of how much suffering he was going through.  I was reminded that, no matter the life we live, none of us are exempt from the natural laws of this world.

Over twenty years ago Boyd K. Packer said this:

“The very purpose for which the world was created, and man introduced to live upon it, requires that the laws of nature operate in cold disregard for human feelings. We must work out our salvation without expecting the laws of nature to be exempted for us. Natural law is, on rare occasions, suspended in a miracle. But mostly…like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda,  (we) wait endlessly for the moving of the water.” (GC, April 1991, “The Moving of the Water”)

All of us should take great comfort in the above statement. It provides for me at least, a reinforced understanding that this life is a testing ground and that the laws of nature are rarely superseded by the hand of Deity. Indeed, none of us would expect that after driving our cars off the side of a mountain road that the laws of gravity would be suspended and that somehow our autos would float to the ground below. That is why we drive on the road and not over cliffs in order to reach our destinations. Over the cliff is quicker, but on the road is proven to be safer.

We have faith for miracles, but more importantly we have real hope in the understanding of the Lord’s grand plan of salvation. In this life all of us suffer to some degree or another.  Some suffer a lifetime. In the above address by Boyd K. Packer, he makes mention of the pool of Bethesda in the Savior’s day. Mentioned by John in his gospel, the waters of this pool were said to have healing powers. Tradition had it that the first in the water after it ‘stirred’ would be healed of their infirmity. Many, because of their handicaps could never be the first in the pool. But still they waited and hoped. Be it allegorical or factual, many, as quoted by Elder Packer, “wait(ed) endlessly for the moving of the water.”

There are many, like my brother, who are only relived of their pain in this life, by death. As I sat next to him that day, and heard his cry, I caught a glimpse of his agony and also of his faith. Death is not the end and my brother knew it. His hope and faith was best expressed in something he said to my sister. “When I pass to the other side, do you think Mom will be the first one there to greet me?” he said.

For my brother, and for all faithful followers of Jesus Christ, it isn’t a question of there being an afterlife; when death is welcomed,  it is just a question of procedure.

 

 

 

 

driving in fog

But Complaining Is So Much Fun!

TheDiscipleMD

Complaining about church leaders is so much fun that some of  us develop the habit of doing it our whole lives.  It’s just so much easier to be a complainer rather than a supporter.

I think a good rule of thumb regarding complaining is that we should be willing to volunteer to be part of the “solution” rather than just pointing out the problems.  A humorous story was printed several years ago in the Washington Times. The column, written by Daniel Gallington was entitled, “Lazy, But Good At It.” In it, he related this story:

“It reminds me of the story about the lumberjacks who always made the new guy the cook — until someone complained — then the complainer became the cook until somebody else complained, and so on. So, one new guy was the cook for a very long time despite serving really awful food — but no one dared to complain. One day he went into the woods and scooped up some fresh moose poop and put it in a pie shell, baked it up and served it for dessert. As the lumberjacks ate their dessert, they trembled, turned pale and broke out into cold sweats. Finally — after he couldn’t stand it any more — one lumberjack screamed: “My Gosh, it’s a moose [excrement] pie — but a really good one.”

Perhaps we should be more like the lumberjacks who recognized that the food served was not the best, but being served is oft-times better than being the servant.

I am reminded of an incident that I shared in a church meeting a few years ago:

I was driving down Interstate 95 to my church building early one Sunday morning. The road was laden with heavy fog. I had no one in front of me so my vision was heavily impaired. I was driving very slowly; almost at a crawl. I noted headlight beams closely behind me in my lane. The car following me was riding my tail and continued to do so for a number of miles. It was very irritating to me as the headlights were glaring in my mirrors. Finally, in frustration, I pulled over and watched the speeding car go by me. I pulled back behind my friendly “tailgater”, and within a few hundred yards; he slowed down and started to crawl just as I had done. But for me, it was great. There he was, in front, easily providing a guiding light for me in the thick fog. My stress had been relieved and I enjoyed the rest of my drive. I remember thinking to myself, it’s easy to follow in heavy fog, but very difficult to be leading.

Such is life. It is so easy to follow and criticize, but it is not so easy to be the leader! The beauty of life is that at times we are called upon to follow, and at other times we are called upon to lead. I know all of us would like the prayers and support of others on our behalf when we enter the fog to lead. May we learn to be good followers and supporters of those who lead us! It might be enjoyable to complain, but it is more godlike to sustain.

 

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