Monday, August 19, 2013

Ta-dah! My new blog series

Okay, so I'm writing this blog and I'm reconciling my renegade agnostic beliefs with my desire to be active in the church. Sometimes I'm straight up rejecting church teachings, other times I'm doing complicated brain gymnastics to make things fit into my own world view. Some people find it disingenuous at worst, pointless and silly at best.

So what is the point of it all?

You may have noticed three things that pop up in a lot of my posts about why I value the church and why I'm pursuing this tricky path of agnostic Mormonism: 1) It makes me a better person, 2) It strengthens my family, and 3) It enriches our lives. In fact, these things are the only things I KNOW about the church. I actually know these things are true. They are my testimony.

Well, I've decided that in addition to listing them all the time (super useful, huh?), I'm going to provide evidence of them. Starting today, I'm going to share specific ways that the church (and my participation in it) is making me a better person, strengthening my family, and enriching our lives. This series is called, "Ta-dah!"

For my first post in the Ta-dah! series, I just wanted to share how our Relief Society lesson yesterday made me evaluate the way I treat my husband and my neighbors. It was on Chapter 16 in the Lorenzo Snow manual, about unity. One of the quotes:

"And the father and the mother should be very careful. The wife should never in the presence of her children speak disrespectfully of her husband....And the father the same. He has no right to speak disrespectfully of his wife in the presence of her children."

This quote is not earth shattering, either in content or language. We all know we shouldn't belittle our spouses, right? Especially in front of our children (or anyone else, for that matter). Please tell me everyone knows this. But it was a good reminder for me. For one thing, it made me realize that my husband never, ever does this. He never speaks disrespectfully to or of me in front of other people. Oh, we have our knock-down-drag-out fights, for sure, but he is very respectful of me, especially so in front of our kids. It made me more grateful for him.

It also helped me see that I could probably be better in this area. I honestly don't disparage him in front of the kids very often, but I probably do sometimes. And it never hurts to have a reminder to be vigilant about these things, you know? My family is strengthened just a little bit, and maybe--hopefully--I am a slightly better person than I was on Saturday.

The lesson also talked a lot about unity within the church and with our neighbors. This was especially timely for me, because we have a rather difficult neighbor. We haven't even officially met him yet (we moved in fairly recently), but he has done some crazy things to our other neighbors and even to our daughter! He's just a little bit nutty. He has been keeping to himself lately, and so we've been tempted to just ignore him. But after yesterday, I feel like maybe we should try to reach out to this man--in some subtle, safe, discretionary way. Being able to forgive this man's strange and confrontational behavior will make us better, happier people, and having a functional, neighborly relationship with him will probably enrich our lives.

So, basically...Ta-dah! It's working!

*Just to ward off some inevitable reactions, of course I realize that I don't NEED to go to church to encounter reminders or ideas like this. But the thing is, as someone who spent six years trying to find another system for regular self-improvement and relationship inspiration, I can tell you that DIY-ing self-improvement just isn't as easy as having it built into your life through a community of people working together to help each other be better. It just isn't. I also realize that I don't necessarily need the LDS church for this, but I tried others, and this one just fits me better. That may or may not have something to do with the 25 years I spent completely immersed in it, but either way, this is the place where I feel most comfortable and the program that is most effective for me. And this blog is kind of about me and my experiences with religion, know. :)

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