It is good to look at the leaders in freedom around us. We lost one today in Nelson Mandela. His legacy of forgiveness and leadership will continue to inspire us.
Here are a few of my favorites:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
(You may have noticed that the industrial and marketing world is all about changing the environment we “live in” thus blocking the awareness of the growth of the human consciousness and perhaps even limiting the ability to make significant growth as a person or a people. Note especially how it is done from one generation to the next and the propaganda that is spread by the media that creates the illusion of the “generation gap” and the division of people instead of the union and similarities, especially within the family.)
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Talk about faith:
“I’ve never had a single moment of depression, because I know my cause will triumph.”
This is my definition of a leader:
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
And this is not a bad definition of what I think of when I think of a saint:
“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Let us all keep on in our efforts to shine and build a world where peace may prosper!!!
I know that there are many things that I do not know about this man and that he may have had views that are very far from what I feel is correct and align with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not know that for sure and I am not inclined to want to go into it with a lot of further study. I know him from this page and the movie…and we all know how far that can go into propaganda, but just because there may be some things amiss, does that mean that I cannot celebrate what is good?!!! I do not think so. I will let this stand as a witness that I believe in these concepts as they are incorporated for the good of mankind with freedom for all and to the glory of the creator, our Heavenly Father.
I had an interesting question posed recently. When is the time that you begin to teach? When have you learned enough in Heavenly Father’s plan that you are able to teach? May I suggest it is when you desire to continue to truly learn. A principle in the gospel is that what you have will be added unto as you exercise what you have been given. In other words as you live by the light that you have. Part of that comes with the testifying of what you already know. It is part of the “gathering” and will allow the Holy Spirit to teach you greater things. Continually studying the standard works on a daily basis is absolutely necessary for continued spiritual health and growth. Those who have been to the temple will recognize that truth. Christ taught it repeatedly.
We are to love ourselves and know ourselves enough that we bring to pass a true repentance and through the atonement of Jesus Christ we are washed clean and caught up in God’s grace for the things that we do not understand as yet. None of us have all the answers but we can and must walk in the light that we have and testify of it, knowing that we look to God for all complete truths. The process of sharing and growing allows us to be perfected and continue into greater understanding of the core principles of the gospel which have meaning that goes to depths that we have not begun to understand as yet. (in my opinion)
If we did not teach until we had all the answers there would be no teaching at all upon the earth and that is contrary to life, growth, and existence. That means we might be wrong sometimes and that is okay. We need to be willing to forgive ourselves and others for that. Does this mean that we do not acknowledge it when we err or when others do? I do not believe so. Here again, is an example of Heavenly Father allowing us to grow our own spiritual muscles. I absolutely adore the gospel of Jesus Christ. I find therein life, eternal life, eternal truth, and eternal growth and joy. This is my testimony, in Jesus name, amen.
I had the opportunity to look at a business opportunity recently. It sounded promising and I was in hopes that it would be something that I could do. One of the key things that the preliminary introduction to the company included was for you to make a list of six things that you would do or want in your life if money were no object. It was fun to dream.
Here is my list:
- To see my children and grandchildren more often.
- To help with their educations.
- To travel and promote my books and theories.
- Purchase a nice motor home for traveling.
- Create my non-profit to teach Freedom Principles.
- Establish a healing Farm/Ranch/Get Away.
It was fun to consider and these things have been in the works for many years actually in my heart and travels. I found out that the company was promoting the sale of health drinks made with green tea. Green tea is not acceptable with the Word of Wisdom. End of story. Not the end of my dreams but the end of that road. You want to have dreams and reach for them, just be sure that the course that takes you to them does not throw you off course to your ultimate destination.
Jesus was a Follower. This is an excellent commentary on leadership. Personal leadership and self-mastery is what freedom is all about. Getting others to follow or being someone who is worth following does not take away our freedom but gathers us together into good and virtuous things. I would recommend this blog very highly! I find his entries on leadership very on track with what I feel the master taught. Solid principles need to be the core of our character and daily lives and finding those who help us obtain them and sustain them is important. We are all individual and unique at the same time we are united in the cause of liberty, truth, and life.
It is one thing to obtain freedom for oneself and quite another to live free among people. Especially people with varying capacities and understandings of freedom.
I have never been more grateful for the standard works (the scriptures) in my life than I am now because without them I would be so lost. Even though I have read them over and over they are like a life line to God’s will and his plan for the children of men. They help me steady my course and “man my ship” as I go through life, one day at a time.
With all that is going on I have had a major breakthrough in that the whole sum (meditation, tapping, family circumstance, job circumstance, church relationships, etc) has finally been able to get me to do something that I have not been able to do before and that is to be silent and be the observer and be okay with that, at least for a time. There are a lot of components to this because #1 speaking openly was the only way that I held on to my sanity in a world that was definitely wanting me to believe that I was crazy, and unimportant, so that the status quo of “harm one another, especially if they let you” was allowed to thrive. Number 2 is that the scriptures testify that we are to proclaim the truth boldly and warn our neighbors. Today the General Authorities are stating this profoundly.
And yet here I sit with an understanding that is so profound, I have need to absorb it, and listen to the still small voice of the Holy Ghost, so that I might be able to understand how to proceed with this understanding. What was that understanding? That no amount or type of oppression from outside (or even from inside through sin) may take away my value before God, my power or ability to influence for good before man and God, or my voice before the children of man. So significant is the mere existence of the human being that even the mental or physical capacities of the individual do not destroy this reality. Now this was significant to my one heart because I felt the “social oppression” spread by the soft murmurings of jealousy within my one safe hold…the church. I rejoiced with this understanding for myself and knew that the whole of them could not take those things from me.
As days go by with this understanding, I realize, that this applies to all other human beings, including the precious children, brought into this world through my body as co-creator with God and their father, as well as their children, whom I hold so dear to my heart. There is no one though that I do not recognize for their value and their valor, their tremendous strength that is manifest by their place on this earth, no matter their circumstance, blessings, or limitations. Not even those who have chosen to follow the adversary are without that honor and privilege.
So that means, not only do I no longer have to defend myself and my right to be alive, but I do not have to step in the way and protect or defend others by my own limited means as I have tried to do, with little success, in the past. Rather, I am able to let go of the attachment…(You might say I have discovered the secret to the detachment sought for by the masters and gurus of yoga and meditation.)…What this means is that I can get myself out-of-the-way and let God have the reigns in my life.
I think of the Lord’s prayer and the part that says “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. I believe that when I go in with my own ego into the presence of another and seek to share a better way that I risk the sin of trespassing the territory of the Lord but when I go in representing Christ alone, having acknowledged myself and given up myself to represent him alone through, sincere and complete repentance, and covenants I can allow his will to be done through me and his miracles and glory to be manifest. May it prove to be so or may I learn what he has to teach me as I go on this journey. In Jesus name, amen.
Sometimes the challenges that we face in life are the very things that will open up new insights. Herein is the joy in life, even in its most difficult times.
I have learned that no matter what kind of oppression one faces or when they may face it, say as a child or an adult, there are three things that cannot be taken from you. The adversary and the world, as well as the circumstances themselves, will cause you to feel as if these things have been taken from you, but it is not so.
They are #1 your value, #2 your power, and #3 your voice.
The first is your value, worth, and importance before God (who is truly the only being whose opinion really counts). Your value is an intrinsic part of you that no one can truly remove. Even if you personally deny it, but you cannot remove it. When one denies his being it seems as if he may as well not be, but even this denial does not take it away. I would propose that this eternal fact may shed some light on why suicide or the taking of one’s own life is not acceptable by any means. Deeper contemplation suggests that this phenomenon may give us some insight to just whose we are at this moment or level of existence. Because the only one who has the authority to say your life is to end is God. God is, in a real sense, the creator and he has the final say in what becomes of you.
So #2 is your power, your essence, your strength, or your being. The mere fact that you sit, stand, or lie on the face of the earth in a human form magnifies your power and no oppression can remove that reality. Your power gives you an influence on humanity. I believe that this power is given as a gift from God. For the time being, while on this earth, your very essence or being is your power, given by God and no oppression may take that away. If we hold on to this recognition and do not give that up on your own, I believe, we may be thought of as “containing self-love” and this, Christ taught, was important to keeping the second commandment of “loving our neighbor as ourselves”.
The final component that was revealed to me was #3 your voice, your witness, your testimony. This may appear at first to be the same thing as power but I do not see it that way. It is distinct in that it includes your will or conscious choice and decision to come to earth and be here because I do not believe that God would force you to accept life or its responsibilities.
I believe that sin itself may not take away these three things: our value, our power, our voice. We may deny them, dispute them, seek to destroy or malign them but even we may not take them away. We fought for and “earned” the right to them in the pre-existence. We showed ourselves worthy and capable of upholding them into this realm and each of us by virtue of being here has been honored by God to be protected in that witness.
I shared the core of this writing with a friend. Having a daughter who is autistic she said this principle applies to her as well. This little 5-year-old has value, power, and a voice. She influences others that come into her sphere and perhaps many that she will never meet through the paper trail of her issues and perhaps in other ways only God is aware of. She has a purpose and she is a significant part of Heavenly Father’s plan. I totally agree and echo her thoughts that those who would consider abortion for a child who will face obvious challenges in life as if it were the merciful thing to do, might reflect on this a bit more.
Again, no outside influence, force, or circumstances may dispute your value, your power, or your voice, not even yourself. We are limited in our understandings of things for a purpose and perhaps many purposes known only to God. One of those purposes is known to man and it is to allow us the opportunity to choose to follow him of our own accord and in so doing we integrate the psyche, body, and spirit together and connect ourselves, by choice, to the power of God’s love for his children. We are also greater witnesses of that love and of his great mercy and long-suffering, and of his covenant in the pre-existence to allow us to have the opportunity to fulfill our mission on earth. Through sin we can turn our backs on him but he does not turn his back on us.
I believe that it is God’s love that is the power by which all things exist. I also believe that the closer we live to the commandments the greater degree that his love will be able to flow through us. Nothing, however, from outside or from inside us will destroy our value, power, or voice before God.
A few days ago I wrote this on my description for my “Courage To Be God’s Daughter” program on blog talk radio:
“I have been to the temple recently and seen the new film. The Spirit continues to pour out his enlightenment and I am beginning to feel that I must hold back on what I am learning as I read and share my testimony of these works and living a life with the courage to be God’s daughter.
It is not that what I understand is not true or in line with the doctrine of Jesus Christ, it is that the witnesses that I am receiving are tying together many other truths not usually acknowledged outright in the gospel and I may use language that is unfamiliar to the mainstream of the church.”
This makes people who are living by the “culture” of the church very uncomfortable.
The next morning I wrote this: The night before when reading the scriptures the Spirit was so strong and the witness of the depth of the meaning of the word of God was profound. I found myself in awe at what I understood. This morning I awoke and had witness of some deep principles. It just melded together like gelatin. These were teachings of Christianity and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some what might be called “new age” interpretation. I could see the truth in the whole of it and there was no conflict. It was very delicious to my soul. Now, my dilemma is, how do I share my programs without bringing these into play as well? I do my programs guided by the Spirit and include to the extent that I am able the teachings I am receiving along the way.
When people live by the culture of the church and not by the Spirit there are some definite challenges. They may hear only half of what you say and make judgments quickly, being unwilling to “listen” to what is being said and when a person is in a position of leadership it makes it all the more difficult to function in the organization. Often times these scenarios take place “behind the scenes” and others are not aware of the miscommunication which leads to the one being misinterpreted feeling all the more isolated. Except for the fact that they are aware of their relationship with the Holy Ghost it would seem quite impossible and has characteristics of the very common illness of our generation and perhaps past ones as well, of verbal and emotional abuse which leaves the one feeling they have power over the other and the other feeling they just might be a bit “crazy”.
We want to bow to Christ and give him our all. We do not do that to mankind. Joseph Smith Jr. taught that “As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand, let them be enlarged toward others; you must be long-suffering and bear with the faults and errors of mankind.” (HC 4:606) May I suggest that this counsel would be very good for times such as these? To expand out hearts so that we do not “throw in the towel” and walk off in a righteous huff or even seek to insist that they listen and understand when the Spirit whispers that they are not able to receive what you have to share.
I fear also, that the discourse among the saints may continue that the disciples had in Mark 9:33-37, where they discussed among themselves who was the greatest. It breaks my heart that I be involved in a discussion of this sort at all because we are all one and not separate so we ought to work together to fulfilling the will of God to his glory not to ours. But I am afraid I cannot control the thoughts or heart of another.
We are to sustain our leaders and it is important that we understand the meaning of this. Here is the dictionary meaning of sustain: 1: to give support or relief to 2: to supply with sustenance: nourish 3: keep up, prolong 4: to support the weight of : prop; also : to carry or withstand (a weight or pressure) 5: to buoy up <sustained by hope> 6a : to bear up under b : suffer, undergo <sustained heavy losses> 7a : to support as true, legal, or just b : to allow or admit as valid <the court sustained the motion> 8: to support by adequate proof : confirm <testimony that sustains our contention> It would be helpful to look this up at lds.org and see what the apostles have taught on the topic. I believe it is possible to sustain our leaders without yielding up our witness from the Holy Ghost. I am grateful for this witness and it sustains me through this time as I transition into a place where I can do the will of the Father among the children of men
I wish to set forth this caution about meditation. It is a powerful tool and will be used by the adversary with as equal “strength” as it can be used for good. The intent of the meditator must be purification and cleansing from worldly misconceptions and a desire to witness the will of God. Anything else, including the idea of “doing what no one else has done” or at least that few have done, will lead you on a path to the adversary’s fun house of illusions that may entertain the carnal mind but will have no real lasting value in knowing who you are and who God is and who he may be in your life if you accept his only Begotten Son.
(Begotten, not only by DNA, but by obedience to the commandments and principles of God and of true life and existence)
May God bless us in our journey to serve him.
Freedom begins with me living true to the principle of freedom and this begins with me learning to trust my own inner voice in any given matter. This is not something that is easily done or allowed. Following the commandments of God gives us confidence in ourselves to be able to trust that we will do the right and be true to who we truly are. Justifying of our mistakes and those of others creates a shadow and cloak behind which true freedom does not exist.
We desire unity in the church, but this unity should not come at the annihilation of the individual and their thought processes. Others should not be considered outcasts if they express a differing opinion or perspective. We are united under Christ, he is our center, our foundation, our unity, and from there each may have a voice according to his own conscience. Even in getting along with others; to put on the face of “we get along” when we do not, according to the impressions of either party is, to me, not honoring freedom. I do not mind saying “you do not like me” or “you do not agree with me”. That is okay, we can still be part of the same church before God and we can still recognize Christ as our Master. To have you give me a hug when I know full well you think me beneath you is not something I can accept. Jealousy is another sign of denial of freedom, your own or others. To be forced to say something different is contrary to freedom, in my opinion and I do not believe that this is what Christ teaches. To love one another does not necessarily mean that we like one another and I can accept that and allow myself and others to grow at their own pace as guided by the Holy Ghost.
This would apply in a family as well. Not everyone needs to like the other, but we do need to be able to interact civilly. This is a concept that I did not understand so well with a daughter of mine and when I saw the animosity and hate that she had hidden I let her have her way and let her have her own life. (She was 15 and had previously decided to live with dad and not me without any discussion. I had convinced her to return for her sake and so she could have the church. But between her desire to control my home and her animosity toward which she no longer hid, I could not support the hypocrisy.) I had the church and the government tell me that she had the power to control my home and to dictate to me what was going to happen in it. No, I still cannot condone that. As a parent I had the right to guide the goings on of that home according to my conscience and that is a freedom that I need to preserve as well.
It was interesting to me because in public she wanted to claim that she was pals with me and I could not respect that lie. If she wanted to be me an enemy, that is okay, I could live with that, but the hypocrisy I could not. (I had a roommate in college later in life who did the same thing. I could not support that either, but of course, I was looked at as the odd one who did not return her glowing smile of friendship when we met publicly.)
I gave my daughter the freedom she demanded. At 16 she could choose for herself. The courts condoned it and a Bishop and Relief Society President sat beside her in a court of law as she was given that right. Herein they used their position in the church to interfere in my home. As a single parent who grew up in a dysfunctional home they “knew for certain” that I could not make correct choices for her. It was very lucrative for her (trips, gifts, even a sports car were hers for the asking) and she received many entitlements because of this action. And for some in the “cult”ure of the church that is what it is all about. They took my freedom as a parent and also hers. This is not according to the doctrine of Jesus Christ or the teachings of the General Authorities but people make mistakes. I have maintained my relationship and standing in the church because I know the Holy Ghost bore witness to me that it is the true church of Jesus Christ.
I would not give my daughter my compliance to rule over me. I have paid a dear price for that freedom in loss of her association and in that of my grand children. It has ripped the heart out of the rest of my children as well and gaping wounds still exist today. But I would do it again. If we cannot be free to be true to who we are, then what is there? And do not let anyone tell you that there is not a price to pay for freedom. Basic freedom to believe what we choose and to live by that belief is essential to human dignity. To have beliefs and try to control another by societal conforming behaviors is manipulating and forcing another to live a lie. I cannot condone that. I see it done in church yet today, but herein is the long-suffering and meekness that Christ taught at the Sermon on the Mount. I do not mean to that we say it is alright but to just leave the church is not as the Lord has taught. Today I am in a branch where I will stand fast but I will also do what I can to testify of the principles of freedom under the head of Jesus Christ. My freedom in this case included not allowing them to chase me out of the church.
On another matter, I have lived in marriages where the man simply could not stand me, but we were together because he gained something from me, even though he did not like me at the core. What kind of freedom or decency or dignity does this allow? It creates a mockery of the very institution of mankind, organized and ordained by God to fulfill his work and glory. I tried to “fit in” to understand mankind’s ways but they are contrary to the laws of God and I will not support the hypocrisy. I do believe, with all my heart and being, in marriage, families, and in the gathering of the household of faith.
We need to determine what we believe and what binds us together. I firmly believe that it should be Christ. Christ is the only thing that gives me life and hope here and in the hereafter. I can value and serve all mankind, including my enemies with an open heart and great energy if I am true to myself and what I believe.
Dignity for human life could be a binding factor but do we have this truly when we can kill a child who could survive outside of the womb or when we do not even allow our own personal existence and acknowledgement in this life? We are not free to say “I have pain”. We simply medicate or silence the voices…suicide is rampant…PTSD not honored. Addiction is fostered by nearly all society outside the individual in the name of profit and “uhum”, freedom. Again freedom for the one must support freedom for all. So to claim “business” as a reason for unethical behavior is contrary to the principles of freedom. In the name of Art has been tooted as an excuse for immoral license and execution of that which destroys others freedoms as well and this again cannot be freedom if it overwhelms others including impressionable youth.
My age, my meditation, and, you might say, my losses, have brought me to a place where I value freedom above all in relation to my interactions with others. No position, role, certification, or calling supersedes this. It is fundamental in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I bow before him because I choose to, because I have a witness of his obedience to the mind and will of God in all things and that he chose to place God’s will above his own and won my ability to have freedom and growth into the eternities by so doing. I will give my all to him and his kingdom and glory. I will not bow to any man, woman, or child however. I will honor my own voice and protect it, and that of others by not keeping my voice hushed and conforming to political and local norms that allow control and manipulation of others behind closed doors. There are all levels of evil performed in this manner by forcing compliance to a code of conduct all the way to any evil or indignity the human mind can devise.
If one is not free then no one is free. So the fight for freedom will be with us for some time, because in mortality we do not understand it in its fullness nor do we allow ourselves to partake of it. Even as innocent children held in a place where freedoms are taken they will put themselves in a cage and slam the door on their feelings and the promptings of the Holy Ghost to conform and protect their physical and psychological existence. It takes a miracle…and these happen all the time…to be able to “see” that they are free to “be”. It can demand great courage to look at oneself and see if I may have trapped myself in this manner and it will take time and patience to prove to yourself that you are trustworthy in allowing yourself the freedom to “be”. It is worth the battle and the energy and whatever the cost. In Christ we have the ultimate victory.
May we fight for this daily because it means life to so many, beginning with ourselves. Any sacrifice is worth it to accomplish our objective and any one of us may not be able to set all of mankind free…I believe only Christ can do this…but we can set ourselves free and learn how to live and serve amiably among those we get along with and agree with and those that we do not.
God bless, till we meet again.
This meditation journey is very exciting! It is as wild as any roller coaster ride and at times as pleasant as a lazy day on the beach! All of it is joyous because it celebrates life! And life, is worth celebrating even with all its ups and downs, its ecstasies and its horrors.
With the “stuff” that meditation can cause to surface hidden in the sub-conscious it is challenging to stay alert and discern what is old thought patterns and what is new. I learned about the subtle concept of negating (nullify; make ineffective.”alcohol negates the effects of the drug” synonyms: invalidate, nullify, neutralize, cancel)
That means the inclination to cancel out something that we do not want to recognize is another form of being “unconscious”. Rather we want to be in the moment and let it have its place in our awareness and just observe. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that this negating or denying the existence of something/one else is not okay also. Christ teaches that we should pray for our enemies and do good to them who spitefully use us. The gospel shows us that we run to addictions and sin to void out things. Meditation shows we use many things good and bad to avoid being in the moment and dealing with what is including situations and people.
The problem with this behavior is that it separates us from God and it can lead to a physical manifestation in illness and disease. If we will take our pains and challenges and turn them over to Christ and ask what he would have us to do I believe that the Holy Ghost can inspire us to know how we can bring the greater light of the gospel into the world. It may be through a note or teaching, or a kindness shown and I believe it would always include prayer for the love of God to be felt in the situation and by all concerned.
Life is a wonderful journey! It is meant to be experienced! It is a gift, each and every moment.
Last week when I was trying to sort out my relationship with the people who were trying to decide what was freedom of speech for me and others in our congregation I kept thinking of “I Am A Child Of God” and I wrote this poem to follow its beat to remind me how grateful I am for all people and circumstances in this world.
“Love Thy Neighbor”
You are a child of God
And he has sent you here
Has given us an earthly place
With people far and near
Test me, prove me, challenges to me,
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
You are a child of God
And Heavenly Father loves you so
The circumstance of life you live
Must never be in control
Test me, prove me, challenges to me,
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
His Spirit guides if we will heed
His message he’ll relay
But only if we choose to hear
The promptings and obey
Test me, prove me, challenges to me,
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
Irritants from God’s enemy
Are blessings in disguise
For they bring sweet testimony
When we see their demise
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
Illusions all save God’s love
The word of God declares
And we shall bask in His holy light
When we see Satan’s snares
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
Praise to our God on high
The gospel of Jesus brings
A way to life, eternal life and
A way to serve our King.
This is what you’ll bring,
Teach me all that I must be,
That I may serve my King.
And this week when it happened a third time I put this on my Facebook….after I agreed to bear testimony as instructed. I will have to remove that agreement however because I cannot deny my own existence, that would be like denying Christ and I will not do that.
To my Facebook public and “friends”:
Beware….when viewing my facebook page you may see my opinions, personal history or story, my weaknesses and my strengths, you may be uplifted or you may be brought low, you may agree or you may disagree….and that may make you uncomfortable…it might make you either need to shut me up or grow a little…I hope you will choose to grow a little because I have been given a voice and someone paid my way into this life so that I could have these opinions etc and his name was Jesus Christ…he justifies me and gives me the capacity to testify from my place of experience without having to apologize to anyone for the privilege…you do not have to agree with me…but it is in your favor to sustain my right to have an opinion, especially if you want to have one of your own.
Freedom takes awareness, courage, and dedication to your god, who ever or whatever it may be. I believe that only one God leads to life and that is the God of Abraham. This is the God that I serve and the atonement of Jesus Christ makes that a possibility.
Till next time,
This past week we have celebrated the words of Martin Luther King Jr. He said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And from Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (exhort: intransitive verb: to give warnings or advice: make urgent appeals. Merriam/Webster)
Imagine a time near Galilee about 2000 years ago. “Let us find a way to shut him up.” “He comes from Nazareth; what good can come from there.” “He is stirring up the people so that they are thinking that they have freedom and capacity to understand God’s will.” “We cannot let this happen.” “We have established protocol after all.” “How would we be able to maintain order and control?”
Freedom of speech is a sacred opportunity and one that is threatened in every hovel of humanity. What I have to say today I do not say lightly or without a great deal of prayer. I understand the sensitive issues and do not have any desire to name names but I do intend to speak about a grave injustice and attitude that I believe is not uncommon in the congregations in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or in other circles where humanity congregates.
Two weeks in a row I have heard in my classes at church that someone is speaking too much. Someone is not giving others a chance to be heard. I have been in classes like that and have not heard it stated. We simply cringe as the monopolizer makes their statement knowing that we all must be given a chance to bear witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ from their particular place of experience and reference. And no, this does not occur frequently, but it does happen. I have lived in several wards and have seen it only on rare occasion.
I do know how uncomfortable that can be for the class. I take great care to be prayerful in church before I speak. For years I would race my speech when I talked in church as if I had no right speaking and indeed I did feel this way. My testimony was great but I was well aware that I did not speak as others did in my testimony. I have been 30 years studying this doctrine and “cult”ure from many angles. I sustain the doctrine, The Book of Mormon, The Prophet, and The Apostles with all my heart, but the “cult”ure could use some major improvement. I know that I speak boldly, my testimony does not come from being born in a place near the “Tree of Lehi” or even holding to “The Rod”, which we understand is the word of God. (See 1 Nephi 8 in The Book of Mormon) My testimony comes from the raging river of the world and treacherous torrents that seek to drown all who would seek the light of Christ.
People treat me and those who come from where I do (and the number is growing) as they do those who have HIV thinking that they will be contaminated by them if they talk to them. Where is our faith in Christ and our love for one another?
I ruffle the feathers of those who think that because they are in the church they are in a place “literally” where “all is well”. They forget that Christ’s fear and warning was about the wolves in sheep’s clothing that would be among us and those that would flatter us off into false truths and tell us we are doing well, there is no harm in a little sin, etc.
They get frightened by the way I teach as if we were in a war or something! Guess what?!! That is where we are. We are in a war and there is not safe place on earth. Safety is in the presence of the Lord and that is found within the heart and soul of each and every man, woman, and child who accepts the atonement and offering of God’s sacrifice to mankind in his Son. It is not a place. And it must be preserved and protected and God gave us one another to help us do just that. We are to warn one another and look to see if that is something that we need to adjust to walk in his path and it is to be done by all, each and everyone who has entered the waters of baptism, not just a chosen few. If we allow a chosen few to do this we will be as in the time of Christ and can be led into false teachings but if we all participate under the leadership of the General Authorities we will help ourselves stay close to the Lord’s teachings.
I often ask a question or make a comment that sheds light from a different angle on the topic or scripture and it rings with truth even if it makes us aware of the dangers in the world in which we live. It is hard, sometimes, not to believe they view my witness as “offensive or threatening” because I do not come from the stock of Mormon pioneers or those who are willing to bow to those who do. And this is heart-breaking from my point of view.
I have learned different things from the scriptures because of the places I have experienced in life. I do not come from what could be called a place of privilege and it shows in my testimony. There are those who would have me hide that away and pretend it was not a part of my life so I can fit into their idea of a comfortable society but is that really what Heavenly Father wants us to do? See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil was an interesting adage in its day but does it really fit the truth of the gospel? Another one is “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. That is fine in a world where deceit and manipulation and “destroying our neighbor” as a sport is acceptable but is that what the scriptures teach us? Is this how Jesus Christ lived?
I believe our histories are to be used to share our testimonies. That is exactly what the scriptures are, isn’t it….yes, I know, as defined by the Holy Ghost but how do you know that the Holy Ghost has not given me a witness that my history is valuable to the progression of the kingdom of God? I believe that there are many more that feel the same way but society has used “politically correct” and “polite company behavior” to put a gag over the mouths of so many who would be prophets and help us understand the character of God and the process of repentance and how to overcome the offenses of others and forgive and so much more. We are all called to do this, but how can we when we cannot speak of life and its challenges and realities of pain and discomfort in the world, especially spiritual and psychological pain?!!!
I consider all of us pioneers in this journey into the darkness as we seek to be a reflection of the light of Christ for others. And because I am willing to share testimony from my place of experience and struggle instead of privilege or heritage, I do not fit the cultural norm for the latter day saint who typically speaks in class. I was 27 when I joined the church and had no desire to “fit in” culturally. I wanted to know Christ and how to fulfill what I was sent here to do and to overcome my weaknesses.
I really do try my best to speak only as the Spirit prompts and with intent to bring the light of Christ to the class and not just to impress somebody else. There was a time when I wanted others to understand me so they could help me, but I have no need or desire for that any longer. I am able to glean what Heavenly Father is trying to teach me through others or circumstances on my own because I have aligned myself with his will and have learned to listen to the Holy Ghost. That is the “confidence” in God that is promised in his word.
However, when the dignity of the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be maintained and testified of in church we are in some serious straits. Jealousy toward me has always been a big issue. Most of it seeming so irrational. It continues today and is often over such issues as who is more spiritual!??! That breaks my heart because this should not be a contest. We are each on our own journey and it is our opportunity and privilege to bring the light of Christ into a dark world. There does not need to be any competition in this. There is work enough and light enough that we all need to be voices and examples. The gospel is a living, breathing, life-giving entity. And it is to be defended today as it was in days past. Also I, and perhaps you, have made sacred covenants in the temple of our God to do just that.
So what am I to do? Listen to the goals or direction of the teacher or conductor rather than the witness of the Holy Ghost? That is not something that I look forward to doing. Someone told me, just before announcing that we want to be sure that our comments are short and that we give time for all, “it is not you, there is someone else who is monopolizing, just wanted you to know”. I felt in the pit of my stomach that something very wrong was going to take place, but I thought if it is not me and this is a leader in the branch then I should be still. I feel ashamed that I let it go. I feel as if I betrayed not only my sister -whoever it was they wanted to quiet down-, but the Lord as well.
I had not heard anyone speak in the classes that has been out of line. There was a newly baptized sister though who maybe did not speak with the finesse of the culture of our fine LDS environment. Tears filled the eyes of this newly baptized sister shortly after the announcement was made and she claimed allergies but I suspect that she felt like she was the one they were speaking to.
If she was perhaps they forgot the adversary does not lift you when you decide to “chose the right”. Instead he comes at you with everything that he has and so it had been for this sister on several accounts. Had these “well-meaning” sisters forgotten this? Perhaps they forgot what it is like to be new in the church or in unfamiliar surroundings. I do not believe that they intended to harm her or threaten any of us but I certainly felt the sting.
Even more so when a week later the message was repeated and this sister was not here. It came from a different source and she had not been privy to the whispered statement that these words were not meant for me. It was clearly stated that someone is monopolizing the time in the classes and this would not be tolerated, at least not by this teacher.
We need to be able to bear our testimony’s from many places and a challenged background or circumstance does not need to make the congregation hide its head in shame. Life is just life. That’s all. My witness is just as valid as someone’s who has not had molestation in their background.
I personally believe that rape and child abuse are able to be so prevalent because we are not allowed to talk about it at church or anywhere else. Let me tell you something, in case you did not know, they are talking about it everywhere else. In church it is made to be “dirty or titillating” instead of the great sin that it is. Do I or should I talk about the “details”? No! And I do not appreciate anyone who asks me about them or who tries to “visualize” it in any way. But to say that I cannot acknowledge where I have been is not okay. We need to be able to say this happens and life goes on and it can be washed in the blood of Christ just like every other aspect of living and turned to his glory. I do not speak because I need to drudge up what happened to me. I speak for many reasons, the main one being because it may be and probably is happening to someone else in any given group where humanity gathers and they need to know that you at least live through it and God can still bless you.
I repeat: Why is my witness of the truth of Jesus Christ not acceptable? My witness may just help someone who is experiencing it or has experienced it to have a greater witness of God’s love for them and isn’t that what this gospel is all about? Lifting others up to Christ. Likewise if I share my witness, after living here and serving among the community for an extended period, perhaps they will see that not everyone that goes through these things is so horrific. Then again, maybe that is what they think and if it is, all the more reason for me to stand and state who I am experience-ally and bear witness of the atoning power and mercy of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
If one were to look at this without being on the “inside” and knowing that it was not the intent of the sisters to do this, it would truly seem that we are behaving as a group of snobs or a “cult” that demands that we “fit a mold or shut up”. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly what it claims to be in doctrinal teaching. I believe that it is the one place that, in principle and doctrine anyway, the ideals of liberty and freedom are upheld.
This is something that I have struggled with most of my life. To be allowed “to be”, to honor that God that I know and to know that I have a witness of his truth through the study of his word. I have seen people be willing to speak that have not before in our classes, the women’s and the combined class, in part I believe, because I am willing to speak. I also know that there are people quite afraid to speak and I am beginning to see why. There is a lot of difference between economic and sophistication in the community. Working class, farming people, transients, and many graduate students or professors. But that is irrelevant to God. He sees only the heart and the desire of the person to know his will and to serve him.
I needed to go through 30 years of my own repentance and get to the place where I am today and know that I would stand before this Church and declare that it was not made for the “righteous” and “cult”ured. I will speak for the poor and down trodden and declare that Christ can lift them up. The church was established for me and my neighbor and my children and my brothers and sisters throughout the world. It was put on earth for the sick and infirmed and it is to be a place where all mankind may gather to learn the will of God and not the “cult”ure of man. We need to allow each other to bear our witness of the gospel from where we are today and not put parameters on it that dis-allow the Holy Ghost to reveal his testimony, because HIS is the only one that really matters anyway.
I believe that we get uncomfortable in the presence of pain and unless we have been prepared for it such as, “You are going to hear from someone who lived through the genocide of Rwanda or the holocaust” we are not willing to hear about pain. Well, pain is experienced and lived on a daily basis and immoral pain is awful and maybe if our children, husbands, and wives heard more about its effects they would be less inclined to turn their heads when they suspect or do it in the first place.
It is not a goal of mine to “fit in” with mankind. It has been made very clear to me through the scriptures and through life that this means I have to separate myself from the will of God. I wish to come into the light of Christ and by my own life bring others unto him. If I cannot do this I can do nothing. I would be living a lie. I will not stand in the congregation or with my family and allow insult and abuses to occur once I recognize them. I did not do it with my family or my children and I will not do it with the church.
I would love to be able to do this with finesse and decorum but if I need to be a Samuel on the wall then that is what I will be. And I will make no apology for it.
Between my meditation and my radio shows and my other work and challenges my confidence is growing and I will do what I can to lift the poor and the needy, to succor those whose arms hang down and to challenge those who are privileged and may be growing in apathy toward those things that will give them courage to carry on the work we have all been called to do. My voice and stamina are not diminishing, they are growing. By their fruits ye shall know them. You be the judge and decide where you stand on the issue.
Functionality in this earthly realm is not the ultimate state that the human being is able to achieve. To stop there in the place of “comfort” or lack of “stress” is a sad state of affairs. We were sent here to do great things in the name of the God who sent us, even as Christ was. Even more sad are those who live their lives in those places and look at others who are struggling and say “Oh, I am so glad that I am not one of those”, as if it were their “doing” that made the difference. This life that we have been given is for one purpose and that is to glorify God by testifying of his love for each of us and being a manifestation of God’s love on earth.
We cannot do this sitting in our “ivory towers” or “in the depths of our addictions”. It is interesting how the Christian world suggests repentance is our purpose or the end of our responsibilities and yet when we really get there, I believe, we discover it is only the beginning.
We must share our witness from the place of our understanding and experience to lift and to warn others. I have hesitated to share my personal story for several reasons. I do not want this blog to be about child abuse, I want it to be about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the principles of freedom that he taught. I believe pain is a universal thing that most of us can relate to. Whether it is forced bondage as in slavery, child abuse, the horrors of combat in war, or the subtle cuts of verbal and emotional abuse. Pain inflicted on another is typically recognized, unless one has deadened ones own pain, in which case one seeks to cause pain in another so that one can have the sense of being alive at all. This is the concept of masochism and sadism that I will discuss in grater detail in Volume Three of Portrait of a Harlot/Saint. (Volumes One and Two are available on Amazon.com)
I will share parts of my story so that you know where I come from and what gives me a place of empathy or compassion for another person’s pain. I do this with the witness that is the only way I can fulfill what I have been asked to do here. I will do my best to keep identities of anyone else out of the discussion.
I entered life in a crazy place. Born to a 20 year old woman who had two children about four and five years of age already by another man. She and my father had a son 15 months later. Two months after that they were married and then things are sketchy as far as I know. I have some memories that seem to back up some of what I was told and some that I was not told.
I was treated somewhat like a princess and dressed up with bonnets and gloves and lots of frilly dresses, I remember those. My brother, on the other hand, did not get such nice treatment. Dad said he thought he was his brother’s son. I know he fought himself on this because he desired to have a Father/Son business and he spoke of it many times. Sadly, it was my brother who received the abuse and neglect, as consequence of my father’s attitude and struggle.
I remember a burning love and affection for my brother. I believe that the emotional scars I had at seeing his abuse were psychologically damaging. And my heart breaks for the years of physical abuse and neglect he endured. (Luckily, he had a good -as far as I know- foster home when he was eight or so and was adopted by them and they left the state and changed his name. I still hold him close to my heart and pray on his behalf.) I was told I changed his diapers when he was two and a half and I was four.
My understanding is that our parents separated for good soon after the marriage, probably due to my father’s abusive and jealous behavior, his story was that she was unfaithful. And life did not get a whole lot better from there. I was told that mom brought us to dad one day saying that the man she was going to be with did not want somebody else s children. Dad said when I cried as she left that she slapped me across the face and walked away. My memories of affection or anything else towards her do not exist really; I had no feelings or thoughts about her in my growing up years that I can recall. I guess they got locked away somewhere. (Meditation may bring them out and I must be mindful of this.) I always valued her existence though; she did give me life after all. My father moved us from home to home and he had over 12 siblings. I remember being fondled in private parts by a male on a porch at one place. (I suspect there was more molestation though I do not recall it, nor is it important at this time. Just knowing the possibility was there tells me what I need to work on in my journey to health.) I was four when dad came with my step mom to pick us up. My little brother had scabs on the underside of his ears from having tee shirts pulled up over his head with little regard and that were obviously too small for him. Fifty plus years later I can see those thick scabs on his ears.
I was made to call this new woman mom before I was even comfortable with the term. Then my dad made it clear that I was his kid and she was to have nothing to do with me but to tell him when I did something wrong. We were spanked/beaten many times for things we did not recall doing.
About six years later one of my worst childhood memories was when my dad wanted to use me for masturbation and I said no and he bribed me with going to the fair that was in town. I asked him if he would let my brother go and he said yes. We went and I remember getting out of the truck and seeing my brother looking out of the window from the back of the truck as we walked toward the fair. It was sheer torture. I remember nothing else of that day. (I was too young to understand the concept of bargaining or the capacity I had to just say no.) I was forced beyond my control into an outright betrayal of my little brother. Psychologically I had to seek refuge somewhere and I did it in “fragmentation”. I could have locked into the bitter but I wanted to retain the ability to love.
Because of the crazy places, emotionally and otherwise, that I lived in as a child, I fragmented my life. Compartmentalization is what they say men do as they focus on one thing at a time. Fragmented would be a better term for what I did to survive. (In the deep meditation that I am doing I can feel that way of thinking surface. I am able to observe it in myself. I also know that the meditation can help it heal and “connect the dots” so that I am able to live a more “fluent” lifestyle.) Moment by moment.
It is curious to me how life as adult follows a similar pattern that does not allow me to embrace a happiness in this world very long without plunging me to the depths with a sorrow at nearly the same time even if I do not find out about it for years later. (The same three weeks I was being led into joining the church and baptism while out of town, was when my three daughters were being molested by their step brother, it continued for one of them which I found out two years later at our first Family Home Evening.) When you come into this life with a boxing glove in your face, sometimes it never ends and you just need to know that Heavenly Father trusted you to be able to overcome the trauma of such a life. He can give you respite. I testify of this with all my heart and when the pain becomes too much to carry he will carry it for you. He cannot take it away. All must be allowed their right to choose the wrong. He will send angels to help you though and prayer is needed by everyone who believes to facilitate this.
People look at me and know that I am different. They want me to be the same. It makes me laugh because every “same” they want me to be is “different”. I have found sanctuary in the gospel of Jesus Christ and I have found the ability to grow and understand and forgive myself and others. It is a source of great joy for me. I still have much work to do and am finally beginning to realize that this work is a real part of life and may even be considered the essence of life itself. The witness of the love of God for me is my greatest treasure, it is one I wish I could share in some other form but as the prophets of old in this I err because each of us must seek out and desire it of our own account. It cannot be handed over to someone or forced upon anyone. And that is just and right and commanded of God. Besides that, it is against all truth to give it out or to force it that would be like plugging the cord into the light socket without flipping on the switch, it has no desired effect.
May God bless you in your walk and may you seek his love through the light of the world, His Son, Jesus Christ.