Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On "Expectations"

As I continue to learn my way in the Lord's Kingdom, I've struggled with the difference between what I expect in the Lord's Kingdom - what I would expect it to be like, and people to be like and want to do - and.....reality.

So much so that I've found myself questioning where I wish to devote my energy in the Lord's Kingdom.  I've felt let down before, really disappointed with some things, and even had to walk away with a grain of salt on some things.

It has troubled me enough that I've had to turn to the Lord in prayer on these things recently and I came away with some bits of insight.

One of these bits was that I cannot do what Bishops do, or 70's or the 12 or First Presidency (Men are not called to the Primary Presidency, Young Women or Relief Society - more callings I cannot do, nor will I ever be called to do). 

You might think that it stings, being told I can't do what they can do.  But it didn't.  I see it.  They are at a place, spiritually, I have yet to reach.  But the Lord also reminded me that while it is easy to see their shortcomings, most of their successes I will not get to see.  They balance much I am not aware of!

And while that perspective brought me some peace, the Lord gave me other counsel, regarding "Expectations." 

I was told to avoid "Expectations" in the Lord's Kingdom.  Instead, I was counseled to:

discern what is happening in any situation I might be concerned about
study what the Lord has said regarding the matter
and then counsel with my fellow church members as needed
and finally follow the spirit. 

Expectations - and we all have them - are not enough to move the work forward.  If anything, they are passive and even self-centered.  Expecting things is fine and well, but it leaves so much to be desired.  And often, as is the case with me so often, they are wrong!

I received further counsel -  or insight.  Simply because we join the church, doesn't mean we are fully converted.  Some seeds take time to grow!  We need to be patient as the Lord is patient with us.

At any rate, all of this gave me a better plan to deal with things I've struggled with and I think....I feel like I will fit in better with the church if I do these things.




Monday, August 18, 2014

Random Spiritual Ramblings and Musings

oh....drooool....a beautiful set of ladies....
I love our military.  Served in her for a while myself actually.   I love the old warbirds from World War II and World War I, and enjoy checking out a smart military uniform.  The technology and innovation that accompany military machinery are unlike anything civilian mankind knows, so often.

And yet....as our nation faces an uncertain future, it troubles me that we seem to pine for those old Glory Days and look to the men and machines that won the war.

What about the Lord who made us free?  The Lord to whom our forefathers and founding fathers prayed?

Our Navy - our Fine Fine United States Navy with whom I proudly served - has just banned all bibles out of the military hotels in a bow to Atheist's superior intellect and out of "fairness" to heaven knows what.

Our military chaplains have been prohibited from offering prayer in the name of Christ.  Meanwhile, the religion of our enemies - or should I say - our enemies and their religion of hatred towards us - receives protected status by military law so as to not offend them in the eyes of the world, and our military is expected so cater to it while our enemies are incarcerated at a prison I once served at that is known worldwide in the war on terror.  It seems our enemies, while incarcerated, are truly the masters while our soldiers are their servants.

I love my country, but I'm tired of "my side" - the conservatives - calling for turning the enemy into radioactive glass or unleashing the full military might of the USA upon our enemies in some form of knee-jerk act of frustration.  

Bombs can only solve so much.  They have a point and a purpose, and so do militaries, but are only a part of the solution to our problems - they aren't the solution. 
I'm tired of the fear-mongering in the media by conservatives as well about how we need to man up and stand our ground or we are going to be taken over by some leftist regime.  I'm sorry, but I know something they don't know, and it is found in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ and in the words of the prophets of these last days.  Our constitution will be upheld.  They are not going to succeed in overthrowing it.  They are going to come close, and seem closer than they are, but they aren't going to win.  Anyone who says otherwise is....blind leaders of the blind.  So how do the conservatives hope to succeed then?  How can they?

Political parties aren't going to bring peace.  Military power isn't going to bring peace.  Political philosophies aren't the answers.  Economic plans aren't the solution.  New elected leaders aren't what is needed.

We need to repent!!!

Until we fear the God who made us, remember Him, and live by His precepts and His commandments, we are not going to have peace as a nation either nationally or personally and individually.

In the Book of Mormon we are told there is a covenant with this land - that whatsoever nation possesses it will be free from all other nations under heaven if we but serve the God of the Land which is Jesus Christ.  If we are in the service of our fellow beings we are in the service of God - so says King Benjamin, also in the Book of Mormon.

Our media constantly seeks to divide us - and make money off that division!  Our president is a racist-and-a-half who isn't even from here, whose very act of putting his hand on the bible to swear to uphold and defend the constitution, was breaking his oath and tearing down the constitution because he is ineligible for office.  Our schools are beyond useless.  Now we have rioting for the sake of rioting in the central US for the sake of....what?  Rioting?  So....where do we turn for peace?

Well, Satan's done a great job of stirring everybody up.  The spiritual danger of the age we live in?  We can become like the Nephites and Lamanites and visit horrors upon our fellow man as the spirit withdraws from us and we justify ourselves under the mantra of "they started it" or remembering past offenses done to previous generations. 

My challenge? To not get caught up in it all.  I suppose I have a good excuse to, but no good reasons.

In the list of virtues in Doctrine and Covenants 4, I've discovered I'm working on "Brotherly Kindness" - I still have to grow that into "Godliness" and then "Charity."    But that's a good place to be with my fellow man.

I can't let the sins of the dead against the dead affect how I perceive and treat the living - my brothers and sisters.  Nor can I let the sins of the blind dictate how I shall be.  Oh, I know, in standing up I'll be ridiculed at times like Abinadai was in King Noah's court, and other times my pacifism will be mistaken for weakness - but I suppose this is where I have to chart my own course.  Be secure on my own feet, and have confidence in my testimony and my Lord, and keep His commandments.

This will bring us freedom.  Living our true motto - In God We Trust.  He made us free.  He can keep us free.  He will.  If we but turn to him and put our trust in him, rather than in the arm of the flesh.

Those are just my musings for today


Sunday, August 10, 2014

On Women and Priesthood

As I was listening to this insightful and enlightening talk by a woman on the LDS faith about how this is a woman's church, many revelations and epiphanies occurred to me about the issue of women in the LDS church.

It is Satan who wants us to focus on what we don't have.

It is Satan who wants us to compare ourselves to others.

It is Satan who wants to distract us from what we do have.

It is Satan who wants to distract us from what we have been promised.

It is Satan who wants to distract us from serving others.

This world is in so much need!  There is suffering and danger and need on every hand.  How dare we get caught up on whether we consider ourselves equal to someone else, whether we're esteemed as important as others - how dare we stop working, fill our media with such contention just to gratify our pride, forget what we've been given, overlook the eternal promises, interrupt the proceedings of the church to inspire confusion and chaos, set aside our charges, neglect the poor and needy, accuse those who are led by inspiration of wrongdoing, stop pushing forth the work, just so we can bicker over who is more important and whether we are equal or not!  How dare we!  A rebellion in heaven was led on the very same precepts, and now, it is here under the guise of equality for women.

This work - the work of the movement of women's equality - is evil disguised as good inasmuch as it does these things and separates people from the work, causes them to esteem it as naught, tries to attach its self to the work while slowing it down or separating people from it - or making them willing at any price to adhere to the movement over serving their fellow man or families in the way they have been given and created to by the Lord in the Lord's vineyard.

It is not the questions that are evil.  It is the disruption and cessation of the work, the inflation of pride that accompany this movement that are evil.  Disguised as good.  

Even Paul wrote that the eye cannot say to the hand that it doesn't need it - neither is more important than the other - and even the more notable parts of the body cannot function fully without the lesser parts of the body.  So it is with us - neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord - we cannot ascend by ourselves.  Not by ourselves, not without our companions, not without our children, not without our parents. But this work is not going to go forth or be built by advocacy, by competition, or by community activism, legislative motions or seeking equality.  It will only be built by setting aside our own egos and seeking after our neighbors and humbling ourselves.  That is the way it can only be built.  The Lord has told us that the kingdom of God is only to be built by compassion, longsuffering, patience, love - never by compulsion.

Speaking of eyes and hands, Paul also said that if our right hand offend us that we should cut it off for it is better to enter the kingdom of Heaven maimed than cast into hell - he's talking about excommunication here.

Right now the Lord does not need a replacement for his priesthood.  He needs the priesthood he has to be faithful, and he needs those who have been charged with and covenanted to sustain it to do so, rather than faulting it and abandoning their own duties leaving God's children to suffer while members go on an organized quest to fulfill personal pride at theirs and the world's expense. 

When we begin the Pharisaical quest for equality, we miss the point of our true eternal potential - it is God who decrees what we can truly be.  Our potential will not be achieved by advocacy, by legislation, by populism - it will only be achieved and realized by humble service in the place we have been appointed and most certainly not by comparing ourselves to others and crying that we have been wronged.   

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be respected or be considered equal or to want to help further the work.  But when those things become our quest, and we set down the tools God has given us and leave our callings we have been given to seek after another, and it consumes us, and we incite others to leave their stations and to follow us...we can be assured we are not acting under inspiration, nor are we on the Lord's errand.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Be The Oil

When we look at cars, we generally tend to ask questions like "what kind of engine does it have" and "how many people can it carry" and "what style is it".   We look at the more noticeable features as symbols of the car's might, power and capability.  And yet, there are a lot of other things seemingly insignificant without which a car simply can't run.

Like....oil.

Oil dissipates heat, reduces friction and allows the car to run.  Even though pistons and cylinders and parts are finely machined, there are still imperfections in their surfaces that increase the friction between the parts rubbing together.  Without oil, the pistons scrape fully against the cylinders and cause the metal to heat up to the point it expands, and becomes distorted, magnifying imperfections and causing even more friction and more heat until the engine seizes up.  It actually locks up.  And once this happens, there is no saving the engine, and often the car its self is "junked" unless the owner can afford to put an entirely new engine in.

Oil.  Not quite glamorous.  Not really fancy.  Not exotic.  Not what we think of in making a car go, but without it....they simply won't go.

Me...I guess....or trying to be....
You need lube!  Something to handle the friction of the entire operation!

So it is with church as well.  We think of the Bishop and Apostles and Missionaries who make things go as the most important parts of the organization - the engine if you will.  But what about the oil?  The lube that allows things to slide?  Are there imperfections in our bishopric and missionaries and such?

Is Thomas S. Monson a Mormon?

Do these guys need a bit of slack to do their jobs, an allowance for their imperfections?

Do chickens come from eggs?

Is it possible to annoy your readership with too many rhetorical questions like this?

Did Joseph Smith restore the true church? (Ha!)

I've had more than a few encounters with priesthood leaders that shook my confidence in them as individuals and left me shaking my head going "what the heck?" Had one today in fact.  But while I found myself annoyed this was a case where I was thinking I have the choice to consciously "be the oil" in this instance.  Not only that I've found these encounters are opportunities to learn and grow more than anything.  Learn about myself, learn about the church.  Again, they aren't fun, but they are learning experiences.

I want to help the work along, I really do, but I'm starting to think that pushing the work along is far less glamorous than I would have ever thought.  It is about being patient, listening, overlooking things, ducking your head, rolling up your sleeves, going to work and....being the oil.

Until I get called to be the motor or something else, I guess I'll try to keep my rough edges from making me "the sand" in someone's gears and rather strive to "be the oil." 



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why I Won't Do Marriage Counseling

The Therapist's Office....
***Warning****Depressing! ****WARNING**** 

I've chosen to go into the field of forensic pscyhe - criminal psychology.

Let me give you a brief rundown of things, mental illness aside - which is so prevalent in criminal cases - people do what they do in criminal cases because: they want to.

Factors, needs and influences aside, the reason people commit crimes is because: they want to.

I'm by no means an expert criminal counselor - I'm fairly new to the field - however I do have a few strengths that put me very far ahead in the field that you can't pick up in any classroom: people trust me, and we build rapport together. 

I'm not saying I'd be their first pick of people to talk to, but since talking with the psychologist is mandatory in a hospital or prison setting, the fact that we can build a therapeutic alliance is a major bonus for them, and for me professionally.   Patients can hate you.  And they can work to destroy your life and career.  So!  It is better that they like you. Or at least not hate you.

Criminal psyche?  It can be depressing.  You deal with some dark stuff.  Most of the time its dealing with thinking errors and helping people overcome psychosis and delusions and engage in treatment.

Every now and then we head into the dark stuff and have to deal with the details of a crime and pin someone down to fess up that they actually did do it, get them to describe how they did it, and find out why they wanted to.  That's when I have to go outside for a walk afterwards - but otherwise, it isn't usually that way, though that lurks in the background.

Now you might think that marriage and family counseling would be a better bet.  Nope.  I dabbled in that a bit over this past week and I've decided...I never want to do it again.

Ever.

Criminals?  They know what they want (or at least think they do) and they go for it and damn the consequences and collateral damage on the way.  When they start blaming people, is when they don't get what they want, or they blame people for them "having to" get what they want at all costs.  But either way, they go for it.

Divorce?  Now I know many of you out there are divorced or are in an unhappy relationship - so if you feel like this is pointed at you - take a step back.  You might learn something.

That's part of the problem in marriage counseling is the partners are both quite defensive, both are looking to feel validated, and if the counselor says something to one or the other, it is either ignoring the one and vindicating the other, or visa versa.   Usually the counselor is seen and used as a pawn in the relationship by the couple to harm the other or justify their point of view.  And the case with so many couples, not all, is that one member seriously wants to save the relationship, the other is only going because they are expected to be there and just passing time. 

And that....is why I never want to do marriage counseling.  You think criminal psyche is sick?  I deal with them after they've been arrested.  Try sitting in a room with two people who profess to love each other but are really in the act of committing a crime in your office against each other, leading each other on, and trying to get a professional to slam their spouse just to gain emotional satisfaction out of the proceedings.

DON'T TALK WHILE I'M INTERRUPTING YOU!
And in all situations, one person is more than likely to be doing something worse than the other.  One often has a higher profile....issue (e.g. alcoholism) and the other spouse often has the mentality that because they aren't an alcoholic, they are doing absolutely, zero, zip, nothing wrong in the relationship and it is entirely the fault of the other spouse.  They are above the relationship!  The relationship is beneath them!  Go back to what was said above about them looking to vindicate themselves and use the therapist to do it.  Often, they aren't ready for criticisms or anything that sounds like criticisms, and come into the therapy setting, defenses high and expecting unrealistic outcomes - be they unrealistically high or simply pessimistic.  One may think that because they are being emotionally abused they are justified in doing whatever they want to "survive" and.....you can see how much of a mess this can be.  It is appropriate to point out that for some reason, the....lesser-guilty? spouse picked the abusive spouse.  So clearly there is a need for recognizance on both parties parts.  Neither of them is in a relationship all by themselves, and both are affecting and affected by the relationship.  But when you're sitting in a room with them both...good luck pointing that out.  Not only that, the "Well what he did is worse!" argument is most likely to be true in many cases, but...does that make other things that are bad....okay?   (The correct answer is one word here and it is "No" and yet millions of people struggle with that reality which is why they are in the office in the first place.)

However, there is a question that I really like when it comes to sorting things out though as you get to know a couple and that is: How did you two meet?

Often the question its self is therapeutic as it is the first time, often, they've thought about those times when they loved each other before things got complicated.

At any rate, going back to what I was saying earlier, criminal psychology or marriage counseling?  At least my criminal patients aren't in the act of committing the crime that is causing them problems against their victim right in the therapist's office.  And I don't have to worry about my feedback to my patient being used to inflate the ego of my other patients thereby harming them.

I would rather work with my patients one-on-one and keep there from being more victims in the future rather than sit in a setting where they commit the very crime that brought them in, in the first place, or be used myself as an accessory to their crime as they continue to try to hurt each other while professing to want to fix it.

I have heard it said by the general authorities "any righteous man can be married to any righteous woman" and I believe it.  And unfortunately, the lack of righteousness is, in many cases, the problem.
Now there are people whose relationships are saved by counseling.  ABSOLUTELY!  It can and does help millions of people!  But it just is not my thing and walking forensic psyche's tightrope is tough enough in a group therapy setting, I'm not about to walk into the potential lions den that is so often (not always) marriage counseling. 

Cynical?  Absolutely - but that's why I'm not doing it.

But that's...just me.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Right.

My last post expressed my frustrations with working with my ward on genealogy projects.  I admit, I have very little patience for excuses and holdups on something as important as the Lord's work.  Ask any of my mission companions (unfortunately).  I have very little patience for people who simply wish to keep the peace at the expense of the work going forward and wish to sacrifice truth for comfort.  I just don't have the stomach for it.  To put it in context, my patients at the State Hospital are sharper in many cases at identifying a line of nonsense and excuses faster than most of the people I encounter in public.

However, I think there is a lesson in all of this.

At my last company I was their top performer and innovated a solution to most of their problems and it was working. I  was fired for whistleblowing by a corrupt organization.  You can have the best ideas in the world, and people may just not want it.  Like Jesus Christ in the year 33 A.D.  Or Joseph Smith in 1830.  I won't equate my work to either of them, or my ward to the Jews or Gentiles, but my point is - I think a bit of humility is necessary on my part.

In the movie "17 Miracles" Levi Savage was publicly excoriated, wrongfully, by one of the priesthood leaders for his assertion that their handcart company was leaving too late in the year and they were going to suffer casualties if they left and he encouraged them to all stay and wait until the next year.  He was accused of apostasy, rebellion, and you know what?  He took it on the cheek.  He sustained his leaders.  And nearly died with them.   

I'm not one for wanting to take it on the cheek or the chin.  Who wants to be?  But I do admire the fortitude that enables one to do it.  The confidence.  The security.  The strength.  The self-assurance.  The conviction.  The testimony. 

And how amazing that when we want these things, we are given plenty of opportunities to gain them.

And so it is with so many things.  We may be right!  We may have a great idea!  And that's all well and good.  But the test of life isn't only whether we are right on...whatever the issue is.  We also need to be right on what follows.

But in closing I will say that Moroni was right in Mormon 8:35-41 regarding our day.  And I don't always know what to do about it other than repent myself, but I do hate feeling like I'm wasting my time.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Frustrated in Zion

here come my thoughts.....everybody watch!
I don't know where to begin, as my thoughts race through my head like the cars at the Daytona Speedway, going round and round, chasing each other, jockeying for position at high speeds, only taking a break to refuel before they chase some more.

Faith, family, finishing school, finding a career and employment.  But where to start?  Perhaps I'll say "I'm extremely vexed and troubled" and pick a topic. I'll leave my personal life out of it right now.

I am generally careful not to criticize the church in my blog.  We all know the church is full of imperfect people striving to be perfect in an imperfect world as perfectly as they can.  Everyone's under pressure.  Everyone's struggling and striving.  The gospel is perfect, we strive to live up to it.

But does that mean we should never have a complaint? 

The counselor in me says that would be extremely dysfunctional.  To live in a relationship where you aren't allowed to criticize yet you recognize flaws and faults, constantly strive to overcome your own, and yet are expected to contribute, but be silent when you need help or see issues?

No, that's a disaster in the making for human misery in any situation.  We have jobs like that.  We don't need a church like that which professes to be the true church of God.  And yet...that's where I am.  But let me be careful how I vent in my blog so that I am not criticizing the church's inspiration and practices.  Neither do I wish to be seen as holding myself aloof.  No, I know I have sins.  But just because I have sins, doesn't mean I don't have complaints or that they aren't legitimate.

I am extremely frustrated with my ward leadership.  Several years ago I was inspired to ask for a calling in genealogy, I know because I was told to by the Lord. At the time I was baffled because I have never been prompted to ask for a calling. But I did, and I have taken it to teach genealogy in our ward.  I have put together a website second to none in teaching genealogy for our ward - it is that comprehensive and that focused and useful.  It exceeds the church's publications on so most fronts.  I put together a two month curriculum complete with homework and tests and note sheets.  I even put up an announcement on the ward bulletin board showing people where to find it.  All inspired!  And yes, they are that good.  I wouldn't say it if it wasn't so. It is a few thousand hours of work honestly.

Do you think that the high priests will follow up on any of this to make sure that this program is progressing to teach the teachers they've been called to teach to make sure this is being taught?

my life
No.  They forget there is class.  Forget their computers.  Forget to follow up. Forget to find their students. Forget their keys to the classrooms.  Stand around waiting for keys that they never arranged to show up.  I even asked our bishopric if I could put the webpage in the ward bulletin so people would know where it is at and could look it up if they got bored in sacrament.  I got told to modify it to make it compliant with church standards, and I went through a ton of work to change all the URL's to make it compliant, and redirect EVERYTHING, re-did graphics, you name it, and this is on a grad school schedule because....this is the work of the Lord.  We sacrifice for these things.  We covenanted to.

At one point I got frustrated and fired off a letter to the bishopric trying to express my frustrations.  I got told "I don't do email, schedule a meeting with me."  I fired right back "Reading my email takes less time than scheduling a meeting."  More wastes of my time.  Then I got a meeting with a bishopric member that was nice and all but had a few condescending tones to it that "yes, we have other things to do besides genealogy or we'd be doing it allllll the time."

No, that's not what I want.  I don't want us to do genealogy ALLLLLLL the time.  Come on.  My patients at the asylum know not to pull that one.  Yet here I am in the Lord's church...high priests....keys....authority....inspiration.....wasting my time and stressing me out.

Going back to the ward bulletin.  Do you think that the high priests will follow up on getting this in there so people can find it?  No.  So finally I do.  I get back some terse, condescending letter (even my wife thought so) telling me (after all the editing I did after a meeting with them per their instructions) that they can't do it and to post it on facebook instead.  Oh, I also got told my page isn't an official church webpage as well - like I didn't know that.

If this was a company, I would walk out.  If this was a business they wouldn't be in business very long because I don't know anybody who would put up with this.  Good thing we're only in the business of souls, cuz if it was something more valuable like money, we'd see people take it more seriously and yet we'd be in more trouble for our debts (sarcasm font).

my calling in my ward....
Of course, we are trying to do something different here - we aren't in the money business.  We are in the soul business - and genealogy is unique in that it deals with souls on the other side of the veil.  So at any rate, as I've expressed in my blog before, I'm not the most graceful when I'm frustrated.  I get very very very impatient with people who stand around with the "Duh face" and then wonder why people are getting ticked off at them when they aren't doing what they are supposed to do.  Or what they are reasonably expected to do. And in a church whose leadership largely consists of business men it makes me further go "What the heck? Why don't they get it?"  I don't want women ordained to the priesthood.  I just want a bit of help and some straight answers and not to waste my time.  So what do you do when you're me? 

Well I have learned that long, fiery emails aren't the way to go.   So I just sent a short email telling them I'm frustrated as I spent a lot of time on that and I get it, there are more important things they got to do than this.  I don't have patience for meetings as this is so simple it doesn't and shouldn't require a meeting.

 I decided to shut down the website and am taking down my bulletin on the bulletin board directing people how to learn to do genealogy - why waste my time?  Is this a good use of my talents?  You could say, "Yeah but you could touch SOMEone."  No.  Not on this.  That's what Sunday School is for.

This isn't about touching people, it is about teaching people because genealogy is a skill more than it is a mindset and spirituality.  You're either doing genealogy or you aren't.  And I just....feel at peace stepping away from an aggravating calling in an aggravating ward that keeps wasting my time and stringing me along.

I've seen I'm powerless to change it.  I need peace in my own life and for now that mostly consists of getting my kids to primary and getting them the sacrament.  Aggravation by the Lord's church and his leaders?  Not inspired.  And not what my life needs.....so for now....maybe I'll wait till I'm in a more fertile part of the vineyard, but I do know I gave it my all and have no regrets.
sorting wheat from chaff with all of this.....

After further thought, I'm going to change the name of the website going forward to something LDS sounding ish (Elijah's Genealogy?) and am going to keep control of it rather than turn it over to the ward.  In prayer I was told they aren't going to do anything with it and aren't going to progress the program.  It is much like those people who say "YEAH! I WANNA BE BAPTIZED!" on your mission and who never show up to the discussions and forever make excuses as to how bad they want to but never do anything.  I'm just a lowly Elder.  I'm not a high priest.  I'm not a bishop.  I've tried pushing from the bottom now for years and across three Bishoprics and....it isn't working.  There's a time to call it quits.  Let someone else try. I followed my promptings, have given it my all and I feel at peace letting go and stepping back.