Monday, October 28, 2013

Crumbs From the Master's Table

Floating on the ocean
As sea-craft sail on by
For so long treading water
Too tired to wonder why
The few that let me rest myself
Resented it in turn
As though they thought me  negligent
To leave my aching churn.

Perhaps they thought they saw a ship
Not unlike their own
Where safety, love, and family held
And I like traitor flown.
But if there ever was such ship
My place was galley slave
To row or tug or slop or scout
But never freedom gave.

But now cut free the truth is such -
I've ever orphan been
To wander oft from home to home
In hope I'd catch them when
They had a crust of love to share
A welcome, word, or rest
'Fore they recall I'm not their own
And shoo me from the nest.

For orphans live on scavenged meals
And rags and scattered floors
So long as someone finds a need
In extra random chores.
Ever moving, shifting, change
Gives safety and makes stable
By making sure to glean the crumbs
From many a master's table.

<written 2/25/2013>

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The year after I moved away from home, I was at a friend's house for the holidays and came across The Pretender, a TV series from the late 1990s, while browsing their story collection. Since my work had an automatic week off built in between Christmas and New Year's, I had ample time to devour this new story.

With food for the body and food for the mind, I tend to go through a sort of seasons. At one time, I may always crave cheese, or tuna salad, or my veggie concoction... Then I'll hit a point where that item is no longer fulfilling and I'll rarely eat it over the next year or so. I suspect it has to do with particular nutritional needs at any given time. The same applies to stories. When I come across the right story at the right time, it become integral to my diet until whichever insight need has been fulfilled. This explains my pre-occupations that were so focused on Merlin a couple months ago and The Avengers a couple months before that. (I have long been aware of this pattern, I simply explain it for the reader's understanding.)

In the case of The Pretender, the most obvious connection is found in the back-story of a hero who had been held captive since, being discovered as a genius, childhood who finally escaped the people who only wanted to use and control him while learning and experiencing the normal life elements he had missed in captivity. Being in the process of breaking with home and extricating my identity and will from the messed-up manipulations and expectations and demands that kept me bound to it, the literal fight for understanding and independence and the joy of being free resonated deeply in my spirit.

The were many specific parts of the show that also left deep impressions, but the one that was most important was in an episode about identity. I do not remember the particulars, the season, episode title, episode details, etc... What I do remember is that Jarod, the hero, had reason to remember back to his time in 'The Center' (where he'd been held captive) when he refused to solve some puzzle because he'd become aware that he had never even seen his face in a mirror. He didn't know who he was or where he came from, where his parents were, even his last name. He knew they wouldn't give him any other information, but at the moment, he needed to know what he looked like - to see what/who he was.

During this same time period, I'd been struggling with the recognition that while the gospel taught me that God loved me and that I could find peace in doing my best, my dad's constant echoes and his perception of me (recall that these perceptions had me to the point of feeling guilty for even existing...) would regularly drown out that peace. It was a fair roller-coaster ride trying to handle the polar opposites. It was also greatly upsetting in trying to understand how the man who should be my protector was my greatest torment and how the one who should love me most constantly thought such evil of me. My nature has always been one to respond quickly to expectations and guidance so to be treated with such a heavy, emotionally rough hand left deeper wounds than might otherwise have been suffered.

Reflecting back, further in time, I have always had a talent for avoiding notice (surely made stronger by trying to avoid further negative attention at home) to the point that I'd be surprised to see myself in a picture. I'd also be surprised to see what I looked like since, even having a mirror, I'd never actually look at myself, just focus on the particulars that needed attention - hair, eyelashes for mascara, etc... I think I was scared to see that I really was the terrible, worthless person God surely despised the way dad always made me out to be. In fact, to see myself, having no intrinsic value, I had to look through the eyes of others. Furthermore, walking around the halls in high school, I often felt like a pair of floating eyeballs: seeing, observing, but never seen. Never part. All there was to see was either neutral or negative.

When I made it to this particular episode (perhaps on the second time through, I can't be sure), all these elements had been percolating for some time. When Sydney, Jarod's mentor/handler, finally obtained permission to let him look in a mirror, Sydney told him, "This is who you are." I'm pretty sure I paused the show for quiet because at the same time, it was as if a concept unfolded in my mind. It was symbolized by a tall, standing mirror that I knew was my dad's, with him in front of it. I was standing apart. To make the meaning more readily understood, imagine everyone with their own mirror. But I didn't have one. I had to go by the reflections in everyone else's mirrors. Returning to my image of just my dad's mirror, it was as though the Spirit told me to take a close look at his mirror. It was covered with dirt and grime and dust and stains. Suddenly I understood that dad's view of me was so negative not because I was so horrible, but because the means he was using to view me was filthy. When I heard, "This is who you are" I also 'heard' Heavenly Father say, "You need to use my mirror to see who you really are, not his, not theirs. Your own. Mine."

It was, for me, a revolutionary concept. Probably basic for many others, but then many others have not lived my life with my personal nature, either. I cannot say I have it down all the way, but with every passing year, my own mirror is clearer and the reflections of others less so. I still stumble and get distracted sometimes, but then something reminds me of this epiphany and I remember to look in the right mirror again. I'm writing this blog now because I just went through this process again this week.

This concept reminds me of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:12.
 12 For now we see through a glassdarkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Someday all the mirrors will be clear and we won't get distracted and confused by the distorted reflections of smudged looking glasses, dirty mirrors. Someday we will know, without question, the value God sees in each of us and in each other. Until then, we just need to be careful about our mirrors. Are we using our own, and are we keeping them as clean and clear as we can? It will affect how we judge others. It will affect how we judge ourselves.

(P.S. If any of you have watched The Pretender, you may have noticed it begins to leave a darker feeling the further it progresses. I did not realize that until trying to watch it again last year when I found I had to only watch a few shows at a time to avoid a build-up of home feelings and thought patterns in my mind. I can only assume that having come so freshly from such a negative situation and still freshly battling the wrong patterns, the show's 'vibe' meshed so well with what I had come from it was unnoticeable at the time. Once I was far more free of it, the distinction was much more apparent.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Original and Also-rans

The issue of 'original' and intrinsic verses extraneously applied value.

This is an idea that I have heard referenced directly and by implication multiple times in the past months, and I'm sure if you stop to consider it, you will will realize the same is true for you. Have you not heard the lament that, 'Nothing is new in the world', as if 'newness' is a core requirement for anything to be considered worthy of our short attention spans? Or what about the idea that if someone else 'discovered' or 'thought of' something before someone else, the second person's individual path to understanding has no merit because they weren't 'first'? Consider the following quote from Clive Cussler's Treasure.
'If Junius Venator's voyage to the Americas was absolutely proved ... history books needed to be revised and new chapters written.
'Poor Leif Eriksson and Christopher Columbus would be relegated to also-ran footnotes!'(p. 455 italics added for emphasis)
Granted, Cussler explores historical possibilities and modern implications of such fascinating possibilities in his adventures rather than known fact, but I think my stance on the matter shines through clearly. Why, why, why does a thing have to be the first one ever to have full merit? Two people come up with the same eureka moment completely separately from each other but one does it a few years before the other, so the second person's journey doesn't measure up? 

Or consider in the more mundane world as opposed to the cutting-edge of the arts and sciences. (Odd that they can be paired at all, no?) One community faces a difficulty and after much struggle, they come upon a solution that finally gets things back in order. Another community comes to be in the same situation. If so much value and worth is declared in doing something no one else has done before, do they ignore the solution right in front of them because it is devalued as unoriginal? Is the modern world so stubborn that we insist on seeking something different just because we can't respect or even see any value in something classic?

I know that there are places and venues where the drive for the new is something we all understandably appreciate. Most of us would abhor being bound to the original generations of the computers and cell-phones. I'm not saying that thinking should be confined to the list of what has been done before. They did that in the dark ages, and society rather decayed. I am saying that it might be good to consider the 'also-rans' in another light.

According to, 'original' has five top-listed definitions.


belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning: The book still has its original binding.
new; fresh; inventive; novel: an original way of advertising.
arising or proceeding independently of anything else: an original view of history.
capable of or given to thinking or acting in an independentcreative, or individual manner: an original thinker.
created, undertaken, or presented for the first time: to give the original performance of a string quartet.
The modern world seems to have an obsession with definitions two and five while disregarding one, three, and four. They only want something new, ever looking, never satisfied, simply because as soon as the something 'new' is found, it becomes 'old' and invalidated. Rather, consider the terms 'independent' and 'individual'. If we chose to focus on the value of the person's journey for its value to them rather than whether it entertained our own boredom, we would discover a world overflowing with value. Lots of 'value' there, but then that is the point. I still remember the moment, around age seven, when I made the connection between 'pancake' and 'pan' + 'cake', i.e. a cake made in a pan. I was quite excited when I explained it to another but they just looked at me like 'Yeah, so? Duh. Why even mention it?' Despite being impressionable, I knew that my discovery was my own, even if all the adults already knew it. And truly, a young child making the connection between language patterns and etymology without help is worth respect.

Consider also, that the human race has a similar genesis and similar experience to draw upon. We are born, we live, we learn, we work to survive, we have families, we die. We have the same earth, and the same general resources. Despite local variations of climate and geography, the need for earth and water also tie us together. Ultimately, we are all pulling from the same bag of resources to create our expectations and interactions in life. While the more variables mathematically increases the possible combinations exponentially, there will always be themes of commonality, especially the more people there are to make the combinations. Rather than finding these patterns as distasteful and boring, consider the beauty implied therein.

A human does not need to invent something no one else has ever seen to be valid as a human. They are already their own unique person. No one else has experienced my combination of personality, history, thoughts, tests and trials, hopes and dreams, failures and successes. Others have experienced abuse. Others have experienced serious illness and death of a parent. Others are riding the disorienting roller coaster called dysautonomia. There is even a pattern of dysautonomia patients with traumatic childhoods and trigger illnesses. But rather than invalidating my experience, or those of another, having a community of shared experience brings strength, comfort, support, and courage. If it works this way with the hard things in life, why can we not see the creative and productive in the same way?

A sibling has a particular gift but feels threatened when another expresses interest in the same activity? Or the second sibling doesn't dare express their interest for fear of being a 'copycat' or trying to steal the show or crowding the first sibling's scene? If we learn to value each person for who they are rather than seeing everything as a competition for fleeting value, I suspect life would be much more fulfilling for everyone.

I first heard the term 'also-ran' in the lyrics to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His brothers resented the legitimate heir because they feared who he was meant they didn't count. Not having been there, I can't say much to the family dynamics involved, but the jealousy was real and it nearly led to Joseph's murder. The end of the story has Joseph testing his unknowing brothers to see if they still hold the biases that broke the family in the first place.

Sibling rivalry is only one manifestation of the obsession with all things original. The biases evident in the story are indicative of the larger picture, all the same. I have known those who are what I call 'purists' of the classics, such that only the six-hour Pride and Prejudice has any real value, for example. I have always loved adaptations of classic stories for how they allow another perspective on a previously one-dimensional picture. The more perspectives, the richer the possible understanding. In stating this, it occurs that adaptations are a combination of first-time/beginning original and fresh-take/inventive original. Not all adaptations are equally appealing, but to blame any failure on the fact that it was an adaptation, on the fact that it is patterned after something already done, is superbly short-sighted.

Likewise, not all similarities in stories are derivative. My creative writing short story about an underground culture could not have been inspired by The City of Ember for the simple reason that I'd never heard of it before the class workshop critique on my already written short story. I can't say it was the best story written, but to dismiss it because it was like another was to miss what value it had on its own merits. (Dr. P said it was a novel in disguise, so even if I think the point I was trying to express has value, my dislike for writing means it won't get attention for a good long time, if ever...)

I am not arguing this post because of my personal examples, but I am using them to demonstrate my meaning simply by virtue of them being the most ready examples for me to work with. I am somewhat creative by nature in that I don't see a purpose in recreating the wheel when others already do so and far better than I could. I get the inclination to find a new way to do things, to organize things, to present things. The creative urge is a means of introducing originality to our world. I think we just get hung up on thinking that is how things must be judged rather than being an indication of seeking growth. The very notion of the 'shame' of 'also-rans' is evidence of this flawed judgment. If we can encourage and praise growth in every individual, however repetitive it may seem, I think it will naturally lead to a creative world. And if we focus on our own growth instead of comparing and judging, I think we will find ourselves less bored, burned-out, and biased against the patterns natural to life.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

De-stressing and Refreshing the Hope Banks

Between health difficulties and the stress of trying to imagine how to actually manage the upcoming move when I'm doing good to concentrate enough to make a to-do list, let alone remember to work on it, I've been battling discouragement off and on over the past month. General Conference last weekend did much to lift my spirits, but facing a doctor that has apparently never thought to look for more information about my particular health problems kind of put another damper on them. Since my health problems are rather sensitive to stress, when it builds up to these levels, I have to focus on getting them to drop quickly or I'll be facing worse 'crashes' as time goes on. (It has to do with the system that manages autonomic functioning in the body, including the adrenal glands - the more stress, the more likely it'll trigger another function to falter.) It is, therefore, not surprising that upon waking this morning, my attention has been on how to refocus and refresh the 'hope' banks.

While I may not be able to do all that I used to do before the H1N1 vaccine skewed my body's regulator, even accomplishing a few small things is enough to help dispel the hated 'trapped/stuck' feeling. Remembering that my life is my own and I can act and make choices and have a say in where and how it goes is crucial to a sense of well-being. The hardest times of the past were when there was no sense of freedom, no autonomy from the demands of others and no sustaining connections to other humans who actually cared and wanted to be involved in my life because of me rather than because of how it would reflect upon themselves. Being able to say, 'No, I don't like that; I don't want that,' or, 'Yes! I am doing this even if it seems weird to someone else,' allows a person to retain and remember their identity and individuality. It is quite good for the health. Knowing people who sincerely care and love you and who are willing to talk even if it's just for random talking has also proven very helpful in lifting my spirits.

If you've paid any attention to my previous blog-posts, you know that stories are my passion! If I've had a PTSD trigger (yes, I'm admitting it here as one of my trials in life - read the Moriarty post and you'll have a good insight on how some of that came about...) talking about the story(ies) I am or just have consumed is the quickest distraction to help me out of the bad place. Right now, I'm debating between a Danny Kaye movie (laughter is the best medicine, after all) and watching The Avengers again. (It's been a month or so since last time...)

Meditation may or may not prove helpful for me. If the stress is too high, I'll just get caught in a down-spiral. Boyd K. Packer said that sometimes we need to pray and then get up and go about our lives - that extended time 'on our knees', as it were, won't always grant us the answers we are asking for. Rather, pray in faith and go forth with faith and the answer will come in God's own time and God's own way. So long as we are willing to accept the answer that comes, we will recognize that He does answer. This ties in with a pattern I noticed in the scriptures some years back.

Throughout the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, I kept noticing reference to 'prayers of faith'. Truly, praying, asking for help from anyone, really, requires a confidence that help is even available. But then I also began noticing the phrase 'faith in their prayers'. It shows up most distinctly in D&C 10: 47-52 where the Lord speaks of the prayers of those who wrote the Book of Mormon and their confidence that their efforts would have value for the future generations. There was nothing to indicate the records would even survive after they died, yet they acted in faith, kept the records, and prayed in faith, believing their prayers meant something to God. In D&C 10, He shows us that even that secondary faith has value.

I suppose that could translate into my efforts to finish my education after I got sick. Granted, I've been of the idea that the doctors will someday get a clue and I'll be able to function at least as well as I did before getting sick (there are plenty of clues I've had the dysautonomia since being a child but that my body was able to mostly compensate in functioning). As time has passed, however, one could wonder why it was so important for me to fight the sickness and finish my last semester at the university if I'm often left in such a low level of functioning that it doesn't appear to hold much economic value. Is not paying and striving for an education an 'act of faith'? Now, I'm the stubborn type who is trying to find ways to move on even when it's so *growling* difficult to move, so I look at the education as a victory in itself. But you see how the apparent lack of point, value, effect of the endeavor could be a frustration? I readily admit that another recent topic on my mind is sorting itself out in these terms as I type. (I don't actually share everything in my blog - deal with it. ;) )

Getting a fresh perspective, or as we Mormons like to say, 'an eternal perspective', on things often helps whatever feelings of lack or failure or disappointment fade to the background. Often, things take far longer to completely resolve, but when they aren't overwhelming out attention, we are far better able to handle life as it comes. Since I spent so many years feeling trapped, it is logical that I respond the quickest to the things that helped me escape those situations - action and stories. I am a person of faith and it has served me just as well, so I must remember to bring my perspective into balance with the eternal perspective by using the patterns taught by the scriptures and by church leaders. Another might find their relief in running. Or painting. Or yoga. Or cooking. Or working on a car. Or journaling. The point is simply that if we pay attention to our personal patterns of stress and relief, we can actively pursue restored balance. And I much prefer living with a hopeful outlook on life. :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Devil in my Mind: Moriarty and Master Manipulators

I just finished watching the BBC Sherlock shows again and have been entertained with pondering such things as putting the various versions of Sherlock in a room together, Cumberbatch and Downey, or adding characters like Stargate Atlantis' Dr. McKay or Bones' Dr. Brennan into the mix. Also, how well would Sherlock and Spock relate or would the one drive the other nuts? There was, however, in the final episode, an interlude that struck a different chord.

I had already noticed a parallel between Moriarty and Sherlock, but realized a huge difference, at least in the BBC interpretation, in their egos. Sherlock may have a seemingly absurd level of confidence, but he doesn't care for public attention or opinion. His only concern is that he have a true challenge to his mental powers. He could easily have gone into some sort of science, but I suspect he found it as dry a long-term all-encompassing focus as I did... (Yes, I'm well aware he is a fictional character, but all characters are simply case studies of real humanity.) Instead, on some level, he recognized that the true puzzle is in people. While I am content to watch and interact and piece together details and patterns of people in general, he did that so quickly and automatically that there was no challenge or long-term interest. Kind of like how playing Sudoku over and over eventually trains your brain into the patterns so that it is no longer an actual exercise and therefore becomes a bit boring. Sherlock found his outlet and exercise 'on the side of the angels' by coming in at the end of a play, a crime, and using the scenery and props, the set dressing, costumes, lighting, and details the average person only vaguely notices to piece together the story of the the preceding acts.

Moriarty, on the other hand, is a far different mix of genius and ego. Where Sherlock really only needed the younger sibling/best friend stand-in of John Watson, Moriarty needed the challenge plus the whole world and Sherlock to see him as he saw himself - the best, smartest, supra-ordinary being in existence. He tested himself against Sherlock and found a fairly even match. (Thankfully he didn't try to pull a stupid Joker and claim in was Sherlock's fault he existed - the dumbest excuse for bad behavior I've ever heard!) Instead, his ego ruled out and he decided he was better than Sherlock and was going to 'prove' it to everyone.

And herein lies the issue of interest for this post. Moriarty runs a campaign that the viewer can follow and that Sherlock figures out, but he orchestrates it such that (he thinks) he's left Sherlock with no escape but to fall to his manipulations. The way he does this? By messing with truth, reality, doubt, distrust, jealousy, confusion, and human emotion in general. He uses a mass of truth to obscure a basic, but huge lie. He plants doubt in people who know they aren't as smart and uses the jealousy of others who don't want to have to admit they aren't as smart to build a web of confusion. He uses the sources that everyone chooses to accept as truth to spread these twistings and knows that most don't bother stopping and thinking things out for themselves. And in his own mind, it just proves to him that he really is so far above the 'ants', the 'common', 'ordinary' people he plays with. He knows that if he lines things up just so, people will conveniently choose to act as he wants them to and be too vacant to recognize it's even happening. He even plays it so that Sherlock himself is faced with wondering if Moriarty's lies are truth.

[I know I'm mixing tenses, but considering that the characters are archetypes and also that I'm a bit out of it, you'll just have to live with it.]

If you didn't follow my 'ants' reference, that is the term Loki uses in The Avengers. (Favorite movie, remember? Whole post about it!) Loki, Moriarty, Haman in One Night With the King (about Esther) who uses political machinations against the best, twists accepted protocol rules and intimated public perceptions and judgments to convince the king that a whole population, the Jews, should be exterminated... Where have we heard that story-line before??? A bit reversed, but it's the same thing Hitler did to convince a nation they had the moral right and superiority to do the same.

So why am I, a good Mormon girl, so attuned to the manipulations of the devil characters? If you know me, you know why. If you've paid attention, you could guess why. If you're new here, you'll hear the coming sentence for the first time with the rest of the readers. Once I realized there was something wrong at home, I came to think of my dad's voice as the voice of the devil. I began to recognize that the thought patterns, the manipulations, the constant mind-twisting were all the same tools, the same words the devil would/did use against me to undermine me and my confidence in self, my belief that I had a right to exist, and ultimately an effort to undercut my person-hood, my sanity even.

First I started realizing that the beliefs I had learned at home didn't mesh with what I learned at church. Then I traced back where those beliefs came to be (as a defenseless child) and recognized they were placed and regularly reinforced by the should-be-protector. It literally took years not to hear my dad's way of thinking and judging against everything I did after I cut contact with home, but I did it and as I've been digging out his 'retarded-ness' (as I like to call it), I have become highly aware of the patterns and application of the same in story villains and even normal-people interactions.

I would not want others to experience the trauma of having to fight against childhood programming just to learn to trust your own senses. I do not, have never had, the inclination to rail against God for the 'unfairness' of it. There are many trials, some from Him and some from 'retarded' humanity and why shouldn't I have to face that reality like everyone else does? I do think, however, that one very positive element of having survived and fairly overcome the father/family I was born to is that I am probably more aware than most people and this brings a level of defense against others who would try to manipulate.

So why I am writing on something of a darker subject than usual? My last conversation with my youngest sister before dad banned me from talking to her (just before I realized there was no point in further associations, and banned because of these points made in that conversation) the two points I was anxious to impress upon her mind were 1) that she should build a strong connection to God. That had, after all, been what had helped me through all of it. 2) That she has a right to decide what she thinks - she doesn't have to think something just because someone else tells her to. Her mind is her own and it doesn't make her wrong to think or feel differently. I was quite anxious to pass that one on since I had wished, for years, that someone had told me that same thing. Dad, on the other hand, was quite upset about it since it undermined his authority. It had been so useful against me, after all. She doesn't know it, due to how everything's played out, but I have prayed often for her. She was quite young when he married a woman after his own heart (NOT a compliment!) and she was raised with a very distorted version of the truth. I know she doesn't understand, and probably won't be able to for quite some time. I hope, sometime in the future, that will change and maybe then the sister relationship I've craved (consider how many of her age I've connected with on twitter - very much an unfulfilled older-sister issue evident) can actually come to be.

I would enjoin those same two points on you, my readers. Being connected to a pure and higher being gives a clearer gauge by which to measure and judge truth. It is a true protection. Also, while it sounds like the words of a skeptic, consider that not everything you hear or are told is being represented accurately. This could be malicious, or it could simply be skewed by someone's bias. Either way, learn to consider what you don't know. This does not need to lead to self-doubt, but rather, as Sherlock says - jumping to conclusions without sufficient data obscures the truth (paraphrasing). Sometimes just recognizing that things are probably not all they appear to be allows you to take in more information objectively and make a wiser decision.

The funny thing is, Moriarty's final digs at Sherlock were completely bogus. He taunted Sherlock to prove he wasn't 'ordinary', that he wasn't 'boring'. Like those who have chosen the darker path, he wanted the evidence that it didn't make him less than the good guy by bringing the good guy to the dark as well. Only he had already convinced himself he was better in his own denial and so, taunting from hell, as it were, he claimed that Sherlock was only 'as good as him' if he joined him. So do those like Moriarty. They claim they are above by pulling strings, when truly they stand below. We don't have to give them that power. They may pull strings and make life as miserable as they can manage in their efforts to control, but what we choose to think, what we choose to do, is our choice, not theirs. Please, don't ever forget that.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"To Hear My Soul's Complaint..."

There was a tweet, last week, that expressed annoyance and disgust that people (Christians) could complain when others in the world have nothing. While it is good to remember gratitude for our true multitude of blessings, I think this misses a critical point.

There is, I think, a misconception among Christians that we should be 'good little soldiers' who are unaffected by trial and adversity and are most certainly never so ungrateful as to feel burdened by and sorrow over afflictions! For surely, if we did, we would be showing a lack of faith in God's will and plan! I confess that I have feared at times that I must somehow be failing because I found things particularly difficult and somehow that meant it was my fault. It sounds a bit silly, but I know I'm not the only one who has found myself in this position. I would like to propose that feeling the reality of a burden does not constitute a defect on the part of the 'believer'.

In the final months before my ultimate break with home, I had a sometimes hour long commute home from work depending on traffic and construction. One day, rather than bother with the frustration, I pulled off early in Salt Lake and went to visit Temple Square. I had gone with youth groups but it had been some time and it seemed a nice idea to just wander and take in the information and atmosphere at my own speed. I was, after all, quite stressed, tired, and overwhelmed with a number of elements of my life. After some Sister Missionaries rescued me from a too-attentive gentleman, I began talking of feeling this very guilt that I was failing for feeling stretched beyond my abilities and anxious that I would falter and fall. One of the sisters opened her scriptures and read this verse to me:

 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. 
Helaman 5:12
After the basic questions of was I living right, reading scriptures, praying, etc... she pointed out that being built on the foundation of Christ does not mean that there is a magical force-field making it impossible for the devil to reach you. The verse clearly states that he'll throw everything he can at you. Feeling the force of the winds, the hail, the shafts in the whirlwind (which was brought forcefully home years later by an image of a telephone pole that had skewered a billboard in a tornado) does not mean you have failed in your foundation. It just means that you have to deal with the trials of life like everyone else. What it does mean, though, is that by being built on the foundation of Christ, we are promised that we have solid footing and will survive the devil's storm.

Furthermore, consider the hymn "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" (one of my favorites!). Pay close attention to the first two verses, particularly halfway through the second.


  1. 1. I know that my Redeemer lives.
    What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
    He lives, he lives, who once was dead.
    He lives, my ever-living Head.
    He lives to bless me with his love.
    He lives to plead for me above.
    He lives my hungry soul to feed.
    He lives to bless in time of need.
  2. 2. He lives to grant me rich supply.
    He lives to guide me with his eye.
    He lives to comfort me when faint.
    He lives to hear my soul's complaint.
    He lives to silence all my fears.
    He lives to wipe away my tears.
    He lives to calm my troubled heart.
    He lives all blessings to impart.
  3. 3. He lives, my kind, wise heav'nly Friend.
    He lives and loves me to the end.
    He lives, and while he lives, I'll sing.
    He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
    He lives and grants me daily breath.
    He lives, and I shall conquer death.
    He lives my mansion to prepare.
    He lives to bring me safely there.
  4. 4. He lives! All glory to his name!
    He lives, my Savior, still the same.
    Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
    "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
    He lives! All glory to his name!
    He lives, my Savior, still the same.
    Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
    "I know that my Redeemer lives!"
Being a Christian means striving to be like Jesus. Have we not all heard the acronym WWJD (what would Jesus do)? Indeed, in Alma's preaching of the Savior's gospel to the Nephites, he speaks of the characteristics which evidence a follower of Christ.
Mosiah 18: 8-10
 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 
 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— 
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
If it is Christ's nature to care about our burdens that he might help us, and if it is the responsibility of Christians to care for the same of others, then why would we think He would turn from us in scorn that our mortal frames might struggle with the various elements in life? I cannot think that the tweet which triggered this post can be reflective of the Savior's spirit. This life is a time of testing and a test, by definition, is going to gauge our limits. We are promised we won't be broken by God's plans, but that doesn't mean they won't be difficult, even painful. If something hurts, are we not supposed to go to the healer for help in treating it? To expect to push through and ignore the effects of reality, mortality, appears very close to living in denial. It is inaccurate, unproductive at the best, and allows great harm at the worst.

It seems this all boils down to a series of judgments. One - are we judging our own and others' situations fairly? Two - do we judge that there is a true Source of succor and aid available in Christ and His teachings? Three - do we judge that it is ok for us to turn to the succor the atonement (His sacrifice) provides and promises? In the end, are we letting go the need to judge ourselves and others in a way that cuts us off from the Savior's atonement? His mercy is not just to correct the mistakes of sin. His mercy is there to help us through this oftentimes confusing, bewildering life. When you think you have to handle it all on your own, please remember: "He lives to hear my soul's complaint."