Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't Let the "Stuff" Get in the Way of the Big Picture

I was fortunate in many ways growing up, not least of which was being raised by very common, “salt of the earth” parents who will never attain any level of acclaim, but who taught us that the Church and the Gospel were up to us to figure out. They took us to church and taught us in our home, but they never claimed to understand everything - and they never expected anyone else to understand everything.

For example, my dad used to say that if he left the Church every time someone said something stupid or offensive, he would never have time to set foot in the church - since just about everyone says something stupid or offensive every single day. He said that prophets were very different - since they said something stupid or offensive only occasionally. He said that the Lord had never said the Church was perfect - just that it was “true” and “living” - and he never defined “true” as related to Truth (”correct in all things”) but merely as “conforming to or consistent with a standard, pattern, or the like: a true copy” or “of the right kind; such as it should be; proper: to arrange things in their true order”.

The interesting things is that my dad NEVER would have said what I just wrote. Those aren’t his words; he is not an academician or “intellectual” by any stretch of the imagination. He hated school and would have been a long-haul trucker if he hadn’t had a family and a wife who desperately needed him home. Instead, he became a mechanic, then a printer, then a school janitor. What I just described is how I interpreted what he said - how it was translated inside me. It gave me a foundation that just doesn’t care much about the details - even though I really like to study and consider and discuss them. I love the learning; I just don’t put much eternal stock in it compared to what I do and the attitudes I develop - what I become.

Finally, “a prophet is not accepted in his own country” for a reason. The people with whom he was raised have seen his humanity - his natural man, if you will. They know he isn’t unique enough to be a prophet, since they either gave him a wedgie as a kid and he swore at them, or they received a wedgie from him and swore at him. We hold our own prophets (and spouses and children and parents and friends) to a much higher standard than we use to measure others whose warts we don’t see as clearly, and that often keeps us from understanding the amazing characteristics that we take for granted as what they really are. That’s natural, but it also is too bad, since we miss out on so much when we let the "stuff" distract us from the big picture.

7 comments:

In The Doghouse said...

I love the interpretation of your father's teachings that explained how the "prophet doesn't make stupid mistakes as often". What a wonderful way to look at it.

SimplyMe said...

This is a great post. It's what I struggle with alot, especially in terms of languaging. In RS two weeks ago a member of the Stake Presidency's wife was in attendance. We began talking about today's society of women trying to exclude men and boys similar to what has been done to women and girls over generations. This lady began talking about how รค group of aggressive lesbian women were trying to establish UNICEF policies that excluded the word boys regarding children's rights. I understand her point that such a policy should be altogether inclusive, however, to specify these aggressors as lesbians only perpetuates the us and them idea and serves to label and separate rather than invite and unite. I responded by saying that these groups are not always lesbian and that these radical practices are not true feminism, as feminism is much more inclusive and, I believe, God's way of being in relationship with us. But I walked away feeling frustrated that she would throw the word lesbian in without recognizing that the issue had nothing to do with lesbians. It just made lesbians look bad. After thinking about it I thought I might drive myself crazy and find new reasons to leave this church again. I am really trying to stay faithful. I've been attending close to 3 months now. So I decided to tell myself that the lesbian/gay lifestyle is not my fight within the church. I will always be inclusive, accepting, and open to how someone chooses to live their life that is beneficial to them and to others but I cannot mentally and emotionally fight every battle of ignorance and offense displayed by some members of this church. I tell myself that. I hope that helps me to keep myself faithful. Your dad is so right; if he left the church everytime someone said something ignorant or offensive he would never set foot in the church. That is true. There are also alot of good that comes from people there; he probably knew that too and is likely one of them as well, from your description of him in a past post. Thanks for posting. I really feel I relate to it.

Papa D said...

Thank you, ITD.

"I cannot mentally and emotionally fight every battle of ignorance and offense displayed by some members of this church."

Amen - and I appreciate you sharing that experience. It is a great example of how we often let preconceptions and partiality keep us from charity and understanding - and how often we unconsciously attack those who don't deserve, in many instances, exclusive or even primary focus.

Jana said...

Each time I read one of your posts, I feel blessed to have found this blog. I've had to seriously curtail my blog reading of late -- I just can't read it all, and I don't want to anymore -- but I could never miss one of your valuable, thoughtful, and meaningful posts.

Anonymous said...

Amen.Will be using the wedgie quote with my 14 year old boy today.Yay for the real.

Papa D said...

Thank you, Jana and Anon. I don't actively publicize my blog, but I am very grateful that it helps in some way.

Matthew said...

I, too, look forward to reading your insights every day, Papa D. Thanks for taking the time to post them.