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Singing Through Rainy Days and Mondays

TheDiscipleMD

 

“Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old

Sometimes I’d like to quit, nothin’ ever seems to fit

Hangin’ around, nothin’ to do but frown

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down”

Rainy days and Mondays always seem to get us down.  Sometimes when it’s a rainy Monday, we don’t even want to get out of bed. Karen and Richard Carpenter captured the essence of this in their hit song from 1971, entitled appropriately, “Rainy Days and Mondays”. The interesting thing about rainy days is that they are associated with moods, such as; depressing, dark, somber, cold, and even death. One word that we often forget to associate with “rainy days” is life. We all intellectually know that rain gives life but somehow the word, “life”, takes a backseat to the more depressing adjectives. We normally associate life to the word, “sunshine”. So, sunny days are bright, encouraging and uplifting. We feel like getting out and doing something. It motivates us, whereas rainy days seem to make us withdraw. Again, we all know that too much sun makes for a desert or death. Nevertheless, sunshiny days are associated with the positive and rainy days with the negative. However, both kinds of days are not only needed, but are essential to life.

A few months ago a brother got up in Fast and Testimony meeting and bore a strong witness of Jesus Christ and his saving grace. You could tell it was heartfelt and I was moved by his testimony. I also know that he is going through some “rainy” days that are taxing his resources. I spoke with him after the meeting and told him how much I appreciated his words and also shared with him that its interesting how “tough” times, while not desired, are times in which our roots seem to sink deeper into the soil of the gospel. He agreed and we laughed together about the complexity of life.  Most of us don’t like the “rainy days” that fall upon us, but we should remember that without them, there is no “life”. Repeated throughout both religious and secular history is the sad tale of civilizations and individuals who have been under the constant rays of the sun. When given no “rainy” days, their spiritual roots shrivel and eventually die. Too much sunshine eventually leads to death, sometimes physical, almost always spiritual.

So, the next time we feel it is raining all over us, let us remember that without it, there would be no spiritual life. Let’s look at those days in a different way. Let’s not assign it words associated with death, but rather, those that give life.  There is another song called, “Singin in the Rain”.  Perhaps that song best captures how we should look at rainy days that come into our lives. Perhaps we should do as Gene Kelly so eloquently did; sing and dance! In so doing, the falling rain will invigorate our soul and give us the energy and strength to carry on! We should enjoy the sun when it is shinning, but we should never forget the hard lesson learned,  that it is the rainy days that strengthen our roots, and bring countless unrecognized blessings into our lives.  None of us pray for rain to come into our lives, but a wise and loving father knows that without it, we shall surely wither and die.

 

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We Are More Than A Common Animal!

TheDiscipleMD

“Religious myths are an invention of those seeking power and wealth. The power-hungry certainly have no intention of making life pleasant for others…They know religion is a fake, but use it to enjoy life at the expense of others. The few atheists I know are guided by the law and enjoy as much as possible without bothering others. Most are willing to overlook those religiously inspired fanatics misguided by mythology.”

The above quote was lifted by me from a letter to the editor and published by a large newspaper here in the United States. The words sounded familiar to me.

“O ye that are bound down under a foolish an a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ?…Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers…Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers…ye keep them down…that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges…and…if they did not so according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God- a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.”(Alma 30: 13,14,16,24,27-28).

It is a familiar complaint from atheists that “religion” is for the “weak”; created by men to give themselves “purpose” or a “meaning” to life. But I have always felt it was the opposite. A belief in a supreme being requires strength to overcome the naturally “selfish” man and become something higher than a common animal. A belief in God is uplifting and gives value to man, his nature, his origin, and his destiny; while the atheists answers only to himself and “his” law. There is no question that “religion” has been abused over the centuries, but this is due to a corruption of the “laws” of God by man and it’s “unrighteous” implementation. But, properly taught, the understanding of man’s personal relationship with God, can only elevate the soul.

Korihor, the author of the above quotes, later recounted his words with this explanation, “I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth…” (Alma 30:53). Indeed, it is “pleasing unto the carnal mind” to hear that we are not accountable to a Supreme Being for our actions, but only to the laws of man. Those laws can be manipulated, changed, and corrupted according the whims of who has the power. I place my trust in the prophets. I have faith in them, but more importantly, I have faith in the testimony that I feel so deeply, that God does live, and that I am His son. How much more ennobling can that thought be!

I read Korihor’s words while in my teens some 35 years ago. I don’t know the person who wrote the above “letter to the editor” but they sound hauntingly familiar to his! I didn’t believe Korihor’s words than, and I don’t believe this man’s words now.

 

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The Body Glove

TheDiscipleMD

A number of years ago I spoke at a church fireside on the subject of mental health. During my presentation I used the typical example of my hand being the spirit and a glove being the mortal body. I started by putting on a surgical glove to signify the uniting of the spirit, the hand, and the glove, the body. We have all seen this done. However, I advanced this theme by putting a dime on the table in front of me and then picked it up. It was easy with the surgical glove. Then I put on a glove that was a little bit thicker. I told them that some people are given this type of body. Then I tried to pick up the dime, and did so, but with a little bit more effort. I put on a thicker glove. It still fit my hand, the spirit, but it was clumsier. I tried to pick up the dime and I was only able to succeed doing it by picking it up while swiping it off the table. I then put on another glove. This one was a thick gardeners glove. I tried and tried to pick up the dime, but to no avail. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pick up the dime.

Often as parents, adults, or even church leaders, we expect the same out of everyone that we come into contact with, even though all are working with different gloves on. I once had an interview with a woman who suffered from panic and anxiety attacks. She was asked by a priesthood leader to speak in a church meeting. She desperately wanted to do it but told the Leader she just couldn’t. Instead of the Leader recognizing the issue, he proceeded to quote several scriptures to her about exercising faith till he essentially shamed her into accepting the assignment. I am sure the intentions of the Leader were pure. I am pretty sure that when the conversation ended, the Leader felt good as he had encouraged, and finally gotten the sister to comply. However, the sister’s compliance came strictly from shame. As she hung up the phone she told me that she burst into tears and felt unworthy of the Lords love. This had not been the intention of the priesthood leader, but it ended up being the result of their conversation.

Sometimes in our zeal to help others we lose sight of them, because we are too focused on our goal. I have learned that the Lord, indeed, loves each of his children. The gloves (bodies) we have been given range from the surgical to heavy work glove. The expectation is therefore different. Gordon B. Hinckley often said, “Do your very best!” Sometimes it behooves us to remember that “our best” is different from “others best.” If we learn this lesson, we will be more patience, more compassionate, more like Christ in our interaction with others.

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The World Can Break Your Heart…Yet Fill It To OverFlowing!

TheDiscipleMD

Who hasn’t , at one time or the other, felt  joy in this life that filled our soul to overflowing?  The immensity and grandeur of it all!  Who knows from whence it came or why it left, but for a moment in time, it was ours! Perhaps it was on a bliss wedding day, or the moment when we first held a child, our child, in our arms. Or perhaps it was a moment, when we exchanged a glance with our spouse, or a word of love with a parent. Moments of joy are plentiful in this life, if we open our hearts and let it in. Yet…

Who hasn’t, at one time or the other, felt pain in this life that left our heart-broken? The immensity and grandeur of it all! Who knows from whence it came or why it left, if it ever did. But for a moment in time, it was ours! Perhaps our heart broke on the break up of our marriage, or the moment when we first received news of the death of a child. Or perhaps it was a moment when we had an ugly exchange with a spouse, or words of hate with our parents. Moments of pain are plentiful in this life, even if we don’t open our hearts to it.  Yet…

“…it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:11-12)

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