Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Caregiving and Friends

I just watched this talk by President Eyring while I was folding laundry:

The Caregiver, General Relief Society Meeting October 2012

And a friend of mine from high school recently wrote this about mommyhood and making/being friends:

On Being a Good Friend

Both of them got me thinking tonight. I am super guilty of being a bad friend/not making friends. I am guilty of talking more than listening. I am guilty of neglecting even the people in my stewardship because I am too wrapped up in being self-conscious, too frustrated with kids, too concerned with the state of my house or nap schedules or even just that it is a pain to get my kids into shoes and strap them in the car.

Some of the scaling back is okay and needed in this season of my life, but some of it has become a layer of excuses for not engaging the way I should, for not investing myself in others, for not reaching out and loving selflessly because, let's face it, I'm overwhelmed as is and we'll be leaving soon anyway.

Satan is so tricky! Always trying to convince me that extending my love to others will increase my load rather than lightening it. Always trying to tell me that I will be happier as a hermit because it is easier, as if ease were a desirable objective in and of itself. I didn't have kids because it's easy, why should I keep us all cooped up in the house out of selfishness because that is easy? And guess what!? It actually isn't easier because we are all happier when we don't fall into that rut!

So I have been dragging myself out of the house. Getting dressed so I won't be embarrassed to see people. Taking my kids to the park and playing with them to boot. Visiting my sister and her kids who live 20 minutes from here but we would go weeks without seeing. Writing sincere notes, chatting, and calling people when I think about them. Visiting the sisters I am called to visit and love. And each time I am so happy! I am happy now just thinking of a couple of recent conversations! I know there is so much more I could be doing, but for now I am just working on opening myself up so that when opportunities come I can actually take them and enjoy them. There is a reason the Lord organizes His Church in communities; we are happier when we go outside ourselves, even if it is hard.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Lord's Anointed.

I got another link to a well-intentioned but potentially contentious group of LDS women advocating for women to be able to breastfeed in Church meetings. To be honest, in general I don't care to voice an opinion on the matter. We all have different comfort levels and come from different backgrounds, and I think it matters much less if one side is right or wrong as it matters how we treat and consider each other in discussion and practice. So my personal take on breastfeeding in public isn't really relevant to what I want to say.

What always makes me a little uncomfortable about these "grassroots movements" that seem to keep popping up on the internet is that they may invite criticism and disparaging of Church leaders, and that is something that I have covenanted not to do. The Lord makes that point pretty clear:

“Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.” (D&C 121:16.)

As I was thinking about that commandment, something somewhat obvious occurred to me for the first time: every member of the Church who has received the temple endowment has been anointed. And there are probably even more uses and connotations for that word that would bring a broader range of people within its meaning. Of course you can say that the scripture is talking about Church leadership and specifically the Prophet Joseph, and it is, but in some form we are all part of that leadership. Our specific stewardship may change over time, but we are all called and consecrated to the work. So really, I shouldn't be speaking evil of anyone. And that is, of course, a given, but takes on more weight in light of the covenants I've made and the promises I've received in exchange.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tolstoy on Morality and "Greatness"

From War and Peace, p. 1267-8, speaking in regards to how historians treat the retreat of Napoleon out of Russia (and his exploits in general):

When it is impossible to stretch the very elastic thread of historical ratiocination any farther, when an action flagrantly contradicts all that humanity calls good and even right, the historians fetch out the saving idea of 'greatness'. 'Greatness' would appear to exclude all possibility of applying standards of right and wrong. For the 'great' man nothing is wrong; there is no atrocity for which a 'great' man can be blamed.

'C'est grand!' cry the historians, and that is enough. Goodness and evil have ceased to be: there is only 'grand' and not 'grand'. Grand is good, not-grand is bad. To be grand is according to them the necessary attribute of certain exceptional animals called by them 'heroes'. And Napoleon, taking himself off home wrapped in a warm fur cloak and abandoning to their fate not only his comrades but men who (in his belief) were there because he had brought them there, feels que c'est grand, and his soul is at ease.

'From the sublime' (he saw something sublime in himself) 'to the ridiculous there is only one step,' said he. And for fifty years the whole world has gone on repeating, 'Sublime! Grand! Napoleon le grand!'

Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas!

And it never enters anyone's head that to admit a greatness not commensurable with the standard of right and wrong is merely to admit one's own nothingness and immeasurable littleness.

For us who have hte standard of good and evil given us by Christ, nothing can claim to be outside the law. And there is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent.