Today was the day.
Sis, the Bro-in-Law, and G took E to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity. It was a beautiful ceremony, even it would have been better if the sealer had talked to my sister’s family before hand–he was honestly confused as to why E needed to be sealed, when Sis and the Bro-in-Law were married in the covenant. That is, until G and E came into the room, and he could see how little they look like Sis and the Bro-in-Law.
Okay, I tried to take the easy route, and find a page that would explain sealing. I couldn’t–at least, I couldn’t find a page that explained it in the way I wanted to.
We believe that temples are quite literally the House of the Lord. They are the holiest places on earth. We go to the temple to make sacred covenants and ordinances with the Lord. (Covenant: A two way promise between man and God. Ordnance: A ceremony with a sacred purpose–like baptism) When a man and a woman are married in the temple, if they both live worthy, they will be married for time and all eternity. Any children born to them are considered “Born in the Covenant” and will also be a part of their family for eternity. If a couple is married outside the temple they can later go to the temple to be sealed together. If they have children, or, in the case of my sister’s family, if their children were adopted, then those children can be sealed to their parents as well.
When G was a baby, he was sealed to Sis and the Bro-in-Law, so he wasn’t part of the ceremony, but was still able to observe. This surprised me a little–the age of 12 is usually the first time a child is allowed to enter the temple, unless, of course, they are being sealed to their parents.
E’s biological grandmother was in the temple with us this morning, and his birth mother was waiting outside. This surprised me–both women have a lot more guts than I do. I’m afraid that in their situation, I’d be sitting alone in my room crying. G was glad to see them, though, E has a biological half-brother who’s only a week older than G, and they are best friends.
It didn’t take long for them to start running around–including literally running circles around random people. Which of course happened all the way back to Sis’s house.
Which was a trick, because they were both strapped in car-seats in different cars.
The party was a success, but we learned a few important lessons:
- A corgi, or a mostly corgi mutt may look like a small dog, but when she stands up on her back legs, she’s tall enough to steal food of the table.
- White plastic table covers and bright sunny days aren’t a good combination. At least for those who like to see.
- If the recipe for your cookies tells you to store them in the freezer, there’s a reason for it. And they shouldn’t be left out on the buffet line on the bright sunny day with the blinding tablecloths.
Five of my dad’s eleven siblings were there–including an aunt who lives in Western Nevada, and an uncle from Wisconsin. (If I missed anybody when I was counting, I’m sorry.) It was good to see the family we don’t get to see all that often, even if after I ate and had a few minutes of conversation, I went to check on Max and Lulu and “forgot” to go back.
I have an uncle who’s in the hospital, he had a bad car accident a few weeks back, and while his injuries were being examined, the doctors found kidney cancer that had spread through his body. Most of the family had lunch here, then went up to the hospital in Ogden to see him. Dad says he’s in better shape than he was expecting, but still in rough shape.
Um, what else? I know I skipped yesterday, and it feels like a ton of stuff has happened since I last wrote, but I suppose I’ve covered all the important stuff. I don’t even really have anything on my mind–except the fact that I don’t want to do any baking for a very, very long time.
The lemon bars were a hit. I’d share the recipe, but that would require getting up and finding the cookbook.
I KNOW that every fourth Sunday I have meetings starting at 8am at the church. I prepared for it, I went to bed early, even though I couldn’t sleep, and Lulu kept me up even more than she usually does. I showered chose what I was going to wear–including accessories, the night before, and set my alarm for 7am. I woke up at 8:30. Crap. The last five minutes of my first meeting were really good, though.
I talked briefly with my Bishop, and he complemented me on what I had done in my capacity as the Temple Committee Co-Chair, I thanked him, then commented that I should be doing more. He just smiled at me and said, “Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.” Later, he repeated that over the pulpit to the Ward, and added “and you will be happy.”
Happiness tends to be a fleeting thing for me. For everyone I suppose. The depression makes happiness harder to come by, and it doesn’t stay as long as it would for a normal person. But Bishop’s comments made me think: focusing of shortcomings and failures, as well as thinking about what we can’t do is a surefire way to become depressed.
I was feeling anxious during Sacrament Meeting, and would have slipped out to go home, except I had to teach the Temple Prep class in Sunday School. So I pulled out a piece of paper, and started making a list of the things that I can do. It included things like temple and volunteer work, helping my family, gardening in my little patio garden, and taking care of the dogs. There wasn’t anything too big or amazing, but it was a nice little exercise.
While I was writing this, a few other things came into my head–writing, and artwork. My writing has gotten better over the past few months–I always knew I could write, but have felt self-conscious about what I’ve put out. This blog has helped me overcome some of those feelings, and my writing has improved for it. My artwork–painting, drawing and photography, might not be that great, but I can do it. And with practice, those things will get better.
I have an eye for layout and design. I can create wonderful things that catch people’s eyes, and that they enjoy. I can cook and bake, I can sing, just not well, I can memorize songs and scripture and poetry. I can be happy.
Sacrament meeting was a little surreal today, I got the distinct impression of being told to work on my family history. I wish that such revelation would tell me where to start.
Okay, so the opening hymn. It’s not one we sing often enough for me to have memorized, so I pulled out the hymnbook. I noticed that it was written by a fifth great-grandfather on my mother’s side. Interesting, I didn’t know he had a hymn in the hymnbook.
So, sit through announcements, sing the sacrament hymn, then listen to the first talk, which happens to be about families–specifically, don’t do stupid stuff because it can affect your families for generations, but, if and when you do mess up, things can be made right through the atonement of Christ. And, even if you do mess up, if you’ve been sealed in the temple, you’ll still be a part of your family forever. (The concept of forever kind of freaked me out at this point. Not the being with my family part, I love my family, but existing forever–but that’s another post.)
Rest hymn. One I know, so I don’t need the hymnbook. One that also happened to be written by a fourth great-grandfather on my father’s side. Okay, that’s a little weird…
Now, it’s not like I’m descended from WW Phelps or anything–I checked, and Edward Partridge (the grandfather on my mother’s side) has only the one hymn in the book, and Joel Hills Johnson (the grandfather on my father’s side) only has two.
I know it’s not the connections to these two men I need to work on–frankly, I can rattle it off in my sleep (Edward Partridge had two daughters, Eliza and Lydia, who were sister-wives, both married to Amasa Lyman. Lydia had a son named Edward Leo Lyman Sr. Who had a son, Edward Leo Lyman Jr, who had a daughter, Eleanor, who had a daughter Louise, who is my grandmother. Joel Hills Johnson had a son, Seth, who had a daughter Mary, who married George Hyrum, and they had George Hyrum Jr, who had a son Ellis, who is my grandfather)
Did I mention that every single one of those individuals were/are Mormon? (at least for a bit. Some [okay, one] of them apostatized…) Family history is a big deal with Mormons, and we tend to have large families. What I’m driving at, is that I’ve had many faithful aunts and uncles (though I’m going to go out on a limb and say mostly aunts) who have plucked most of the low hanging fruit. While tracing my ancestry, most lines have been completed to the 1500s. I know I need to do this work, but starting in medieval Europe is more than a bit overwhelming.
I guess the best thing to do would be to talk to the family history coordinator for the ward and stake, and have them help me figure it out…
Things have gotten a little preachy lately, and maybe I should apologize for that. This blog was always meant as an aid to help me write every day, or almost every day, and has become a record of my thoughts. I’ve been trying to get my life back on track, and have started going to church, praying and reading my scriptures more, so naturally, my thoughts have turned towards God.
I went to institute last night. President has a way of opening up my soul, and forcing me to take a good look at what is really inside. We talked about overcoming the natural (wo)man, because,
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
We talked about how we can do what our body wants to do–the natural man, or how we can follow the counsel of the Lord–to put of the natural man, and become a saint. And, hey, look at that! The name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!
President mentioned, almost in passing, that we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. If we are hard on ourselves, we’ll be hard on our spouses and children. A quick reminder–the title of this class is “Marriage and Family Relations”, and is being taught for singles–really a range of people with me at one end–no hopes of marriage in the near future, and at the other end, engaged couples who will be wed in weeks or months.
Anyway, that struck me. I’ve had friends, family members, mission companions, and psychologists tell me that I’m too hard on myself. The immediate (if rarely vocalized) response to that has always been “If I’m not hard on myself, then who will be?” President talked about how men tend to elevate themselves up above their true position, and women tend to be too self-deprecating.
I realized that I need to get to the place where I can see myself the way the Lord sees me. So when I got home, I hit the scriptures, then hit my knees. After a heartfelt prayer, I needed to read my Patriarchal Blessing.
Um, Mormonism note. There is a calling in the church, on a Stake level, (a stake is a collection of wards, a ward is the congregation that meets together each Sunday. A calling is a [unpaid] job or position in the church) of Patriarch. Among the duties of the Patriarch is to pronounce a special blessing upon the heads of the members of his stake, one by one, as Isaac blessed Jacob, (Jacob may have tricked Isaac, but he was the rightful recipient of that blessing, or else the Lord would not have honored it), and as Jacob blessed his 12 sons. A Patriarchal blessing is deeply personal, and shouldn’t be shared with the world.
Okay, back on track. There were two parts of my Patriarchal Blessing that really struck a chord last night. The first was in a section that I though discussed a portion of my life that had already past, the second was describing blessings yet to come. Before the second part were the words “in time.”
In time. Two simple words, but they left me sobbing. The blessing that follows these words is something I’ve ached for for a long time. Those two words reminded me to be patient. The part of my life described thereafter may not come when I want it to, but it will come when I am ready. I had wondered if I had missed the time frame in which that portion of my Patriarchal blessing could be fulfilled, if I was off following my natural woman, doing, as President is fond of saying, dumb stuff that was keeping me from feeling the Spirit of the Lord when that blessing should have happened. I wasn’t. It isn’t my time yet, but it will be, someday.
I woke up this morning at peace with myself, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Never mind that it happened at 5:30, and I didn’t make it to bed until close to midnight, then spent time disagreeing with the dogs over who got to sleep on the bed.
I hope I can make this feeling last. I’m actually starting to feel like I’m getting my life squared with the Lord. It’s a good feeling. I wish I could remember that when I start to wander.
At church today, I ran into a girl who I have contact with perhaps once a month. I can never remember her name, but she annoys me. I realized today why–she is very concerned about appearing perfect, and, the natural shape of her face and nose makes it appear that she is always looking down at the world around her.
We chatted for a bit–small talk, which I totally suck at, and I realized that she is quite a nice person, one who probably has a lot of the same neuroses that I do.
Mormons are very concerned with perfection–we are taught that the purpose of this life is to become perfect, like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see Matthew 5: 48 and 3rd Nephi 12:48) When perfection is discussed, we are reminded that perfection is impossible to obtain without the saving power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and we will not be perfect until after the resurrection.
Granted, I know more Mormons than any other denomination, but it seems like we are more concerned with showing the world a perfect face than the rest of humanity. We have to be the most humble, the most sincere, the kindest, the most generous, etc. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and, quite frankly, depressing.
I’ve talked about this before from a personal viewpoint. WHY do we have to put a perfect face forward? Everyone is human, and everyone who has ever lived (besides Christ, of course) made or makes mistakes. We are not perfect. We are flawed, we mess up, we do dumb stuff. The beauty of the Plan of Salvation is that as many times as we mess up, we can repent and start fresh and new.
I know full well that one of the biggest challenges I face is overcoming the need to appear perfect. I know that no one thinks or expects me to be perfect right now, but I get mad at myself when I fall short. When I am fully aware of my shortcomings, I don’t want to go to places where I think they will be highlighted.
It doesn’t matter, I suppose. All we can do is keep moving forward.
I made it to Institute tonight, for the first time in way too long. For my non-Mormon readers, Institute, or Institute of Religion is a class for adult members of the church–sometimes provided in conjunction with a college or university, and sometimes put on by the stake. Since I’m not in school, I should be attending Stake Institute.
My Stake President, who is also a licensed psychologist and professor at BYU is teaching this institute class. The topic? Marriage and Family Relations. Did I mention that this is a class for singles? President is very pro-active about getting the members of his stake married and moving on with their lives.
I love to be taught by my Stake President, but the topic of the class kind of put me off for too long. I’m glad I went tonight, though.
The topic of discussion was “Moral Cleanliness”. We talked about sexual purity, of course, but President went beyond that–talking about our morals, and how, if we expect our hypothetical children to be moral, responsible people, then we need to be moral, responsible people.
We talked about addiction, to drugs, alcohol and pornography. We also talked about stuff like anger issues. While I don’t have a problem with any of the issues that President discussed, I did start thinking about the places in my life where I am weak, where I do need help. And I was astonished to see how far I’d slipped from being the person that I want to be.
I made a list of things that I need to do to recover myself, and fortunately, it was all in areas that I knew I needed to work on anyway.
I’m going to do better. I don’t know if I’ll ever marry or have children, but if I do, I know I want to be the best wife and mother that I can be. I also know that I won’t be successful as a wife or mother, or, for that matter, as a human being, without the help of my Heavenly Father. I can’t will away my depression or neuroses, but with my Heavenly Father’s help, I can deal with them.
I will do better. I will. I have to. I think I’ve been staring at the kind of person I’ll become if I don’t, and I don’t like what I’ve been seeing.
I’ve had Canada on the brain recently. I suppose the whole world has Canada on the brain right now, but I’m not thinking about Vancouver (much), I’ve been thinking about Saskatoon.
Saskatoon was the first city I served in on my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When you’re a missionary, you go where the Mission President tells you to go, and are never more than three feet away from who the Mission President tells you your companion is.
Saskatoon was my favorite city that I visited on my mission. Yes Regina has the temple, and Winnipeg has…stuff, but Saskatoon is special. If I were to move to Canada, Saskatoon would be the city where I’d want to live.
I’ve been thinking specifically about three people who live in Saskatoon, or at least did when I was there in 2002 and 2003.
The first is a man by the name of Tony. I never knew his last name. We met him while we were out tracting (that’s what we call it when missionaries go door-to-door, soliciting appointments and handing out literature, or tracts). He was sitting in a lawn chair in his driveway, so he had to see us coming. In his benefit, he didn’t hide inside like most people do when they see Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses coming. He was very friendly, and talked to us about how he had gone through a difficult time in his life recently, but had found religion in another church. (I don’t remember what religion he found, but it was a main-stream one). He wasn’t interested in hearing our message, so we left him with a pass-a-long card. (cards that missionaries hand out, with a phone number or a website where someone can find more information on the church, or order a video, Bible or Book of Mormon free of charge.)
The next was a woman named Danielle. She wasn’t very old–about 28 when I knew her, and had been a model, but her life was a wreck. I think she kept working with us because she wanted friends–she was distraught when I told her I was leaving after the first time I was transfered out, even though I knew I’d be back. She was one of our contacts for the whole two and a half months I was in Saskatoon the first time around, but dropped the discussions sometime in the six months I was away from the city. When I was called to Saskatoon a second time, the first thing I did was call her to let her know I was back, and asked her to return my call if she was interested in continuing the discussions. I never heard from her again.
The third person I think about is a man named Leighton. Leighton was a teacher at a seminary outside of Saskatoon. He lived a few blocks from our apartment, and I think he was in love with my companion. Teaching him was very intense. We even had the chance to visit the seminary, and meet some of his students. I thought he was a solid investigator (someone who is investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and thinking about being baptized), but he had dropped the discussions between the times I was in Saskatoon.
I don’t know why these three people are the ones that I think about (in my head I just pronounced that aboout. I love Canada.) when I think about my mission. I should think about people like Marjorie and Jaime, people I worked with who eventually got baptized (I do, quite a bit, actually, but I don’t wonder about them like I do Tony, Leighton and Danielle). I should think about Gerta, Darcie and Ann, the sweet members of the Church who helped us so much. I should think about companions, and the friendships made and the lessons learned. And, really, I should be thinking about Winnipeg–I spent twice as much time there as I did in Saskatoon.
I don’t know how much of an impact I had on Leighton or Danielle’s lives. I don’t know if Tony even remembers me–I don’t even know why I remember Tony. But these three people had a huge impact on me–and I don’t think I’ll ever forget them.