The person behind the most obvious characteristic

I’ve been pondering how I can better love those around me. I have friends with all sorts of mental, physical, emotional, and religious challenges. From depression to anxiety to eating disorders, fibromyalgia, homosexuality, autism, substance addiction, to pornography addiction.

These things–especially depending on how often my friends mention or focus on it–often become the basis for how I perceive them.

“Jeff is a really good guy, even though he’s addicted to pornography.”

“Amy is super-productive for someone with depression.”

“Emily is really cool for a lesbian.”

“Alfred is the best divorced guy I know.”

And perceiving them this way is wrong.

Heavenly Father loves each of us because of who we are, not what challenges us. When we consider the eternal perspective, we must realize that what people many struggle with the most are not eternal aspects of their character.

The fact I spent the last six months incredibly depressed are not an eternal aspect of who I am. However, it taught me critical lessons about myself and empathizing with others and impacts my return to Father’s waiting arms.

My friends may experience pain and trials. They may be depressed, divorced, missing limbs, chemically imbalanced, same-sex attracted, or all of those.

They are children of a Loving God. They may or may not accept that fact. But I can. I can love them for who they are. I can love them for their eternal characteristics–characteristics that may be strengthened by their challenges.

So the way I perceive them, the way I love them must be informed that these trials are temporary. After mortality ends, none of these things will be challenges they face. Anxiety, depression, amputation, same-sex attraction, divorce, eating disorders, addiction, and so many other things won’t affect us any more.

Those then won’t be the things that define my perceptions of my friends. Nor should they be now. If I can change my above perceptions to:

“Jeff is a really good guy.”

“Amy is quite productive.”

“Emily is really cool.”

“Alfred is one of the best guys I know.”

Then I show the love Father does and I focus on their whole worth as God intended.

The people I meet are not defined only by their most obvious characteristic(s). Those characteristics and experiences might end up making them better people, but they are temporary. They will not last beyond mortality. And if I do not recognize that, I do myself and them a disservice.

Peace

As you might gather from reading the myriad things I blog about, there’s a lot going through my head.  It can get really loud in there.  Between over-analyzing almost everything I hear and thinking about far too many things, I find I need to do a clean-out nearly weekly.

I find the best thing for that is to attend an LDS temple.  The closest one for me is in Provo Utah, pictured below (link).

My appreciation to Kevin Miller photography for posting this picture.  He’s got a great eye.

Anyway, aside from being picturesquely located across the globe (an image search for LDS temples can back me up), temples provide a place where members of the LDS Church can go to worship God, perform saving ordinances for those who have died, and receive revelation.

I want to focus on the last point.  Because my mind is so busy, I face two big problems: (1) I have so much vying for thought resources (I’m describing my brain like a computer…) that it’s hard to take time to seek revelation, and (2) revelation comes so quietly that I often don’t recognize it, or I just ignore it.

Knowing this, I’ve tried to be more still mentally, but that hasn’t always worked.  At the temple, I choose to focus on only one thing: serving God and those who have passed before me.  In doing so, I quiet the other thoughts rampaging through my mind.  Peace comes.  Other important thoughts surface (think balls that have been underwater coming to the top–sometimes they surface and jump up, sometimes they just come to the surface.  Because I am at peace, the thoughts tend to come gently and one-at-a-time.  This allows me to handle each one in turn and set my thoughts (and my life) in order.

I leave refreshed and prepared to face another week.  I am grateful to live five minutes from one of the beautiful places of worship.  My consistent attendance and service therein have immensely blessed my life and have prepared me to face much more than I could have otherwise.

Experiences there and throughout my life have convinced me I have a loving Heavenly Father who cares about every experience I have.  And because He is a loving God, He loves each other person on Earth just as much.  We all experience different trials, but there are meant to prepare us to live with Him eternally.  Temple attendance brings me peace and clears my mind so I can focus on what is eternally important, and not just what my scattered mind tells me is important.

Jesus Logic

At first this may sound a little blasphemous. It’s not, I promise. (As an aside, I freaking hate toaster ovens. I can’t even toast things properly.)

In Toronto I met a lot of people whose opinions about Jesus varied. “He was a good guy.” “He was a fraud.” “He taught good things.” “He was the Son of God.” “He was a charlatan.”
While opinions are well and good, we can know Truth. We can know exactly what Jesus was/is/will be. The Spirit will guide us to this knowledge as we are prepared.
However, what helps me is whether things make sense. Regardless of what my mother claims, I feel I am a logical person whose opinions are based in fact and reason. Thus we shall take a lawyer-influenced look at Jesus and His claims.
We know Jesus taught many things taken as truth and as beneficial. However, are they really? Can we really trust a man who claimed he was the Son of God? In a court case, if a witness is proven to have lied on the stand, even once in hours of testimony, the entire testimony is often discounted and the witness is assumed to have lied about everything. This must happen because picking truth from lies is impossible.
Similarly, we can put the testimony of Jesus on trial. Without doubt, the claim that he was the son of a God and a mortal woman is the most questionable he ever made. If someone can disprove that claim, the entirety of his teachings falls apart. Thus the Beatitudes become useless–for they are obviously taught by a liar, His commands to love one another become unnecessary, etc.
Following that track, any teaching that has come since derived from Jesus’ words is also false, any teaching from other perceived great men (Ghandi, Confucius, Mohammad, etc) agreeing or citing Jesus must also be taken as false. As you can see, claim Jesus is only a great man and not 100% what He said He was leads to the disruption of much of the moral code the world follows.
However, if He is the perfect Son of God–a knowledge any willing person can gain–all of His teaching (even the ones you don’t like) must be true (because He could not lie) and must be followed in order to gain the Eternal Life He promises to His disciples. This is the case because the Son of God would have full authority to speak on any subject, and His words would be eternal law. Thus evaluating Jesus’ claim to divine sonship is the crux of most arguments about Christianity.
So the decision comes to you. Will you throw away the morality of the world by believing He is less than what He claimed to be, or will you discover whether He is the Son of God?
My knowledge is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died and was resurrected so each person who ever lived may gain Eternal Life by following His teachings. Logic supports it and the confirmation of the Spirit irrefutably confirms it.

What is a Right

This was written by the father of a good friend:


Homosexual Marriage is Not a Right

 

Despite the financial crisis this nation now faces, the most important issue is the moral issue facing our state of California. The passage of Proposition 8 is essential for the well being of our children for generations to come. The traditional family structure is absolutely imperative for the continuance of our republic. Sadly, opponents to Proposition 8 have masterminded great deceptions to convince the voters of California against it. One of the greatest deceptions has been fostered by our own state political leaders including Debra Bowen (Secretary of State) and Jerry Brown (Attorney General). The official voter information guide published by the Secretary of State of California contains erroneous and incorrect information about Proposition 8. The proposition is falsely titled as: “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.” Homosexual marriage is not a right.

 

This falsehood about a homosexual marriage right is rooted in a misunderstanding of the origin of rights. Rights come from a divine source, not from government. This is very clear in our national birth certificate, The Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence contains the fundamental doctrines of government upon which the U.S. Constitution was designed. The Declaration states that everyone is endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights including life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These rights must come from a higher source than human governments; otherwise they would not be unalienable. The text of the Constitution does not even contain the word right; this is because rights were already defined in its source document: The Declaration of Independence. Thus, in reality, what we call Constitutional rights are really the inalienable rights from the Creator defined in the Declaration. The duty of any government is to protect these pre-existing rights, not to invent or manipulate them. In summary, since rights come from the Creator, an alleged right must be traced back to the Creator before it can qualify as a right.

 

The Declaration of Independence also contains a formula for determining rights. It states that all law and authority come from the Laws of Nature and the Laws of Nature’s God. The laws of nature are all of the laws of the universe discoverable by man; the laws of Nature’s God all of the revealed laws in Holy Scripture. Thus, it is very clear that in order to qualify as a right, it must be demonstrated within the Laws of Nature or Laws of Nature’s God. Homosexual marriage DOES NOT qualify as either a law of nature or a law of Nature’s God; therefore it is not a right.  Furthermore, since the Declaration is the blueprint for the Constitution; homosexual marriage is also contrary to the spirit of both the Federal and State Constitutions. Jerry Brown and Debra Bowen, supposedly law professionals, are ignorant of the most elementary principles in our organic founding documents: the origin of rights. Both should be recalled for this gross deception perpetrated upon the voters of California.

 

Joseph Andrews

The Center for Teaching the Constitution

www.teachconstitution.org