Trouble in Paradise – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

You can read 2 Nephi 4:13-14 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After Lehi’s death, Laman and Lemuel are angry with Nephi – because of the Lord’s admonitions.
  • Nephi was constrained by the Spirit of God to speak to them – most likely a warning.

Trouble in Paradise

Well, it shouldn’t come to a surprise to any of us that as soon as Lehi dies trouble brews between Nephi and his brothers. We read:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.

For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death; many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.” – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

Nephi Was Constrained

First of all, a quick reminder on the definition of the word constrained:

Constrain: (verb)
appearing forced or overly controlled

Before blogging the Book of Mormon, I think that when I read that Nephi was “constrained” to speak to his brothers, I underestimated the severity of this spiritual impression. I also underestimated, or even forgot, Nephi’s responsibility to God.

I’ve never been in the Nephi was an annoying younger brother camp. Mainly because I think that it is an over-simplistic view, and it doesn’t match with what we know about Nephi. I’m even the oldest in my family. I have plenty of younger siblings. They have all excelled in various ways beyond my capabilities. My siblings are smarter, funnier, and more successful than I am. And rarely am in charge. In fact, I was shorter than my next sibling by the time I was four.

In other words, my siblings were the ones that were “large in stature.” Not me.

This isn’t to say that I don’t lead. Of course I have been a leader in my family. I had to babysit when I was a kid (like every oldest child – no big deal). I had the opportunity to be a cheerleader and help get my siblings excited about something or the opposite. Usually, I just “led” my siblings to do weird things like make potty jokes and sing weird songs that would annoy the grown ups of the house.

Often, I did treat my siblings poorly. We fought from time to time – especially when playing video games. I know I started some of those fights. I certainly didn’t prevent many fights. And, there may have been more punching (on my part) than I would like to admit.

My point is, I don’t want to make it sound like I was perfect. I wasn’t. I tried to be a nice sister because I loved my siblings, but we were also real.

Anyway, my family didn’t have the dynamic of Lehi’s family. So, it’s hard to really compare my family with his.

But I want to say that, as an oldest sibling, I have never been bothered or jealous of the wins and successes of my siblings. I was proud when my sister went on a mission. I love that my brother is a great cook. I know that my other younger brothers are much funnier than me. It doesn’t bother me that I have a brother that runs, we share this love. I went to a simple state college, and was not threatened (instead excited) when younger siblings were awarded entry and scholarships to really good schools.

The successes of my siblings have no bearing on my self worth. I love them and rejoice in their wins. Additionally, I know that the Lord doesn’t have a limited supply of blessings. We don’t have to compete for God’s blessings or love.

All of this shapes how I feel about Nephi. I don’t think that he was trying to be some annoying “know-it-all” younger brother. He knew the Lord. He loved his brothers. He forgave them time and time and time again. He never exercised power over them.

Instead, he was constrained by God to correct them.

Let’s think about this for a second:

One
Nephi was a special witness of the Savior. In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi sees the vision of the tree of life and its meaning. Nephi sees the coming of the Savior. Nephi sees a vision of Christ’s life on the earth. After this experience, Nephi doesn’t merely have faith, he has knowledge. Even before showing Nephi this vision, the Angel warned:

“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God.” – 1 Nephi 11:7

The knowledge that Nephi both sought and obtained came with responsibility. He not only had to qualify for such knowledge with faith, but he also had to have real intent – meaning that he intended to live according to the knowledge that he received.

If Nephi wanted to be nurtured by the Spirit, then he had to nurture the Spirit in his soul. This is done by obedience to the whisperings and promptings of the Spirit that we receive.

So, Nephi couldn’t be a wallflower. He knew too much. He couldn’t stand back while his brothers were plotting to kill his father. He couldn’t just pretend that Laman’s and Lemuel’s exceeding rudeness were okay. The Spirit wouldn’t let him.

It wasn’t Nephi that wanted to correct his brothers, It was a commandment from God given to Nephi to go and correct his brothers.

Think of how this usually ends for Nephi: getting beat, getting tied up and dragged into the wilderness, nearly getting pushed off a cliff, getting tied up on a boat. Do you really think that Nephi enjoyed these experiences? Do you really think that Nephi liked correcting his brothers – knowing that it would result in abuse?

nephi-laman-lemuel-ropes-d61da2-gallery.jpg

Of course not!

I wouldn’t have wanted to be Nephi.

But Nephi always obeys the Spirit. He corrects his brothers. He does this out of his devotion to God. And probably his love for his brothers. (Even though eventually he refers to them as enemies. But hey – he loves his enemies!)

The point here is, because Nephi was a special witness of the Savior and because Nephi was a devoted disciple of Christ, he knew he had to obey, or then he would be sinning.

Two
Lehi reminded Laman and Lemuel:

“Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious, and who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem; and who hath been an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing us forth into the land of promise; for were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness; nevertheless, ye sought to take away his life; yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow because of you.” – 2 Nephi 1:24

Laman and Lemuel can think of what they want about Nephi. Modernly, we can deride Nephi and imply that he was a know-it-all younger brother. HOWEVER, without Nephi, all of Lehi’s company – both Lehi’s family and Ishmael’s family – would have died in the wilderness with hunger.

Nephi got the brass plates.

Nephi made a new bow and hunted food in the wilderness.

Nephi built a boat.

He wasn’t just some know it all trying to correct his brothers at every chance. He wanted to get out of the wilderness and get to the promised land!!!!!! He lived worthy of the Spirit, and that Spirit constrained him to admonish his brothers.

Admonitions

I really should probably have ended this blog post already, but I want to say one thing about the word “admonition.” When I read the following verse, I think that I have misunderstood it in the past:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.” – 2 Nephi 4:13

For some reason, I don’t have the right connotation of the word “admonition.” I’m trying to think of where my misunderstanding stems. I think that it is from the 13th article of faith – when I think of the phrase “the admonition of Paul.”

In a way, I have kind of mistakenly signified the word “admonition” to mean something like “doctrine.” I tend to define the “admonition of Paul” as the directives or doctrine of Paul – to believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

I tend to mentally define the scripture in 2 Nephi as “…Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the doctrines of the Lord.”

In both cases, I realize, I’m wrong.

(This is why the dictionary is such an important tool in scripture study. If we misunderstand a word, then we can misunderstand an entire concept).

Instead, admonition means the act of admonishing. Okay…that already starts to feel different. Laman and Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael: they didn’t dislike God’s doctrine. They disliked God’s admonishing.

What is admonishing? To warn or reprimand someone firmly.

Paul’s admonition isn’t just some fun little doctrine. It’s a warning: Believe all things, hope all things, endure all things…It’s strong advice that will keep us safe!

Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael…they weren’t angry about God’s doctrine. They were angry because of the warnings of the Lord. They were angry with the warning words that Lehi left them with (keep the commandments and prosper; don’t keep the commandments, be cut off!). They are like toddlers, but the anger that they have against these sound warnings will have deleterious effects.

Wrapping Up

This is along blog post. I will wrap it up now. But I feel that these things are important for us to recognize. Understanding these things helps me to consider my own discipleship. Do I get angry at the warnings and gentle correction of God? Do I get angry at the messengers of God’s word?

Do I have charity, and rejoice in truth – even if the truth is I have made a mistake and need correction?

Nephi was NOT Micromanaged – 1 Nephi 19:1-6

You can read 1 Nephi 19:1-6 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi was commanded to write a record of his people. So, he made plates and engraved the record of his father and their journeyings in the wilderness. He also engraved many of his own prophecies.
  • At the time, Nephi didn’t know that he would be commanded to make another set of plates. (The record that we are currently reading).
  • Lehi’s record, the genealogy of their fathers, and their proceedings in the wilderness are, for the most part, on the other plates.
  • The first set of plates were made by Nephi—by way of commandment.
  • Nephi received a second commandment—to keep another set of plates. On this record, he would write the most plain and precious parts of the ministry and prophecies.
  • This second record would be kept for the instruction of Nephi’s people and also for other wise purposes that Nephi didn’t know or understand.
  • Nephi obeys. He made the other plates.
  • Nephi commanded his people that they should hand these plates down from one generation to the next until further commandments from God.
  • Nephi kept the second plates also – so that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of his people.
  • Nephi will not write anything upon the plates unless he thought it sacred.
  • If Nephi errs, he reminds us that they of old also erred. He isn’t trying to excuse himself, but to at least give a little perspective.

A Quick Catch Up

Nephi reminds us in 1 Nephi 19 about the various plates he is engraving.

nephi-plates

Nephi has given these little narrator-interjections from time to time. First, in 1 Nephi 6, he talked about his purpose in this set of records. I have blogged about it here.

Then, in 1 Nephi 9, he again tells us about his obedience to the commandment given to him of God – to make the plates. I also blogged about it here and here.

So – Nephi is catching us up. For today, I found one verse especially interesting:

“Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself. – 1 Nephi 19:6

Nephi was NOT Micro-managed

Sometimes I have the tendency to think that Nephi did everything by way of direct commandment. And yes, he was commanded to write this record. But sometimes, I think I imagine this scenario with a Heavenly Father who is a major micro-manager—who told Nephi every word to write, every conclusion to make, every punctuation mark to etch. I think I misunderstand.

Based on this verse, I am realizing that Heavenly Father probably didn’t micro-manage Nephi. And why would he?! Think of other experiences—when Nephi went to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, did Heavenly Father give him each direction step by step?

No!

When Nephi broke his bow, did Heavenly Father come down with a solution for them?

No!

When Nephi was building the boat, we read:

“And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.” – 1 Nephi 18:1, emphasis added.

Yes, the Lord taught Nephi how to build the ship, but He directed Nephi only from time to time. I suppose that there were a lot of problems and solutions that Nephi had to deal with on his own.

And now, here in 1 Nephi 19, we’re reading again how Nephi received this command—to write a record that was comprised of that which he found sacred. I don’t think that the Lord spelled it out for Nephi. We are reading the things that Nephi thinks are sacred and important.

Now, I don’t highlight this fact to downplay the scriptures. Not at all. Heavenly Father trusted Nephi to do this. And I’m sure that Nephi had the companionship of the Holy Ghost—which I’m assuming would testify to Him of the things He was engraving. I’m sure that Nephi was prayerful and thoughtful about this charge. I’m sure that Nephi didn’t think, I’m going to do whatever I want.

Nephi knew the future of his people. He had the right insight to be able to write that which would greatly help them. We can trust that he did a good job. In fact, I know that Nephi did a great job! I’ve been blessed by his record and the testimony he shares.

But I think that this concept stands out to me because there are times when I feel like we expect God to be more or less a micro manager. We forget what Heavenly Father said, Himself:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” – Doctrine and Covenants 58:26

Yes, God gave Nephi the commandment to write a second record – that contained the plain and precious parts of the ministry. So Nephi had a basic idea of what to write. But I don’t think that the Lord told Nephi the “what” of what he should write word for word.

In fact, in verse 6, Nephi reminds us, And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself.

Nephi has done his best, but he is also admitting that there may be problems. This is because he is the one who has done the recording! He is the one who has chosen the stories to include, the details, the conclusions! If the Lord would have done this, then I’m sure there would be no “err.” But the Lord commanded Nephi to write this record, so Nephi adds this little disclaimer. We need to remember that he is only a man!

More Patience and Mercy

I’m grateful for this scripture today. It reminds me to have more patience and mercy – with others and with myself.

We have gone through a lot of changes – as a church. And it might cause one to pause and say Why are there so many changes? Why are there corrections? Did we get it wrong? I don’t know if the answer is simply yes or no. Maybe it is yes AND no. The Lord gives us commands and then He lets us express our agency – which means he will not micro-manage us. He isn’t all that interested in whether or not we get it “right.” He wants us to do our best and then we go from there.

And what if we “err?” Well, I guess if God is okay with it, then I can be okay with it. Not to discount the pain that might come from these mistakes. But instead, this is a statement of faith – The Lord is powerful enough to right every wrong. Sometimes the “wrongs” we experience in life come because of a well-intentioned but mistaken person.

I know that it feels like injustice. But I suppose we simply need to learn to have charity for the “offender.” And faith in the Atonement of Christ – that truly He will consecrate our afflictions for our gain. We need to have more charity for others – who are doing the best they can, as we also do the best we can.

“These … Were Our Examples” – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk “These … Were Our Examples” by Russell M. Nelson. It was given in the October 1991 session of General Conference.

At the beginning of the talk, President Nelson shared that he had toured Europe along with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It left an indelible impression on President Nelson.

About the choir he stated:

“Have you not learned that strength comes to an ordinary soul when given an extraordinary calling? The choir has! Indeed, each member seemed to be imbued with a real sense of mission, striving for those ten traits that missionaries are expected to possess and practice:

“Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” (D&C 4:6) – Russell M. Nelson

The rest of the talk is about the attributes listed in the scripture quoted above and how the choir exemplified these attributes.

These attributes are the attributes of any disciple of Christ…not only the Mo-tab…

Therefore, I will not necessarily write about the choir in this blog post. I will only write about what I feel like writing concerning the attributes listed, but if you want to read more about what President Nelson said about the choir, then I encourage you to read the talk.

Faith

Okay, even though I just said that I wouldn’t write much about the experiences of the choir, this one is really interesting.

A few logistical things to remember:

  • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is made up of over 300 participants. To organize a tour, you have to find venues large enough, you have to think about this large number traveling on buses. I’m going to guess that they might have had loved ones with them, too. It’s not like this was a tour of a quartet of singers. This is a big deal.
  • Because it is such a big event to coordinate, it is obvious that the planning for this happened before the event itself! As I said, obvious, but just keep that in mind.
  • The tour was in 1991. We have to remember what the world was like in the late 1980s. The Berlin Wall didn’t even come down until 1989. The Dissolution of the U.S.S.R finished up in December of 1991. (It was kind of a process).

With those points in mind, read what President Nelson shared:

“Their great faith was strengthened by the faith of our leaders. I pay tribute to the First Presidency and to leaders of the choir who had the foresight to plan as they did and when they did. How bold and inspired they were to conceive this tour many months—even years—before Europe’s unwelcoming walls began to crumble! The Brethren had the faith to believe that the choir could sing in cities such as Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Leningrad, and Moscow long before such dreams seemed plausible. Then in January 1991, hopeful plans were seriously threatened when war erupted in the Persian Gulf. Even then, our leaders decided against canceling the tour. They knew of its potential for good and had faith that countless obstacles could be overcome. Often they prayed that the choir’s tour might be successfully accomplished.

Those prayers were answered!” – Russell M. Nelson

In 1991, I was 13 years old. I have vague memories of the Berlin wall coming down a few years before. I vaguely remember my history teacher going crazy with excitement. We watched reports abut it on TV in our classroom. She kept telling us how important it was, and I believed her. I just didn’t have any context for it. I didn’t quite understand the cold war at that point – other than Russians were always bad guys in movies.

I was young.

I just wasn’t capable of understanding the miraculous nature of the history we witnessed. But it happened! And it was a miracle it was answered prayer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to be able to sing in the various parts of Europe where they performed. The idea of singing in Moscow had been simply impossible for decades.

President Nelson continues:

“Think of the timing. In one thousand years of Russia’s existence, its first popular national election ever to be held occurred in June 1991. Six days later, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed in Moscow! That very night, after the strains of “Come, Come, Ye Saints” had resounded from the Bolshoi Theater, the vice president of the republic announced that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been granted recognition in the Republic of Russia. On the eve of a supreme crisis that was yet ahead, Russian people heard songs of faith, courage, hope, and love.” – Russell M. Nelson

This is just a cool story. It is a story of faith, and I imagine that it would have been pretty cool to be there.

Virtue

President Nelson quoted Brigham Young:

““Learn the will of God, keep His commandments and do His will, and you will be a virtuous person.” – Brigham Young, as quoted by Russell M. Nelson

I love this quote on virtue. Virtue can be such a hard thing to really understand. It is easy for us to simply think that virtue=purity. But that isn’t really a good understanding of what virtue is.

Virtue is power. And we are blessed with this power when we learn God’s will and then keep His commandments. We are then empowered by God – full of virtue.

Knowledge

President Nelson explains that knowledge is crucial if we want to be competent missionaries and disciples of Christ.

We need to know what we believe in. We need to know about the world around us. Especially when it comes to sharing the gospel with others, ignorance can end up hurting us.

Does this mean we need to know everything? Of course not! We will not know everything at any point in our lives.

Maybe what this means is that we need to have the wisdom to recognize that WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. When we recognize our foolishness and ignorance, then we will seek knowledge.

And we can still share. We can share what we know. We may not know much, but there are some things we each know, and that knowledge can help others.

President Nelson stated:

“Just think of the good you can do if you accept a difficult challenge and pursue knowledge—then use it to bless others, as did the choir!” – Russell M. Nelson

Temperance

Another tricky one to really understand. Or at least potentially tricky, I guess.

President Nelson taught:

“Temperance suggests sobriety and self-restraint in action. It reminds one of covenants made.

Temperance can protect each of us from the aftermath of excess.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love these quotes! And how I need temperance in my life. I’m not living some kind of crazy, risky life. It’s just that I find that most of my personal struggles have to do with my own personal lack of discipline.

I’ll give one example. I’ve recently started Intermittent Fasting – basically on a daily basis. I still eat every day – just during a restricted time…so I’m not eating all day long.

Over time, I’ve experienced the benefit of a little bit of self-restraint. That is not my forte when it comes to food and sugar! Yet, I’ve also suffered from the aftermath of excess. Intermittent fasting has been a way to include more temperance in my life – which has helped me to feel more in control of my own hungers and less pulled by the world around me.

I can see how this would benefit any disciple of Christ. We are taught to be agents to act, not acted upon. By the way – the word is temperance NOT ABSTINENCE. By being temperate, we don’t get pulled by our appetites and hungers. Instead, we can choose when and how to implement them in our lives. So much more joy is to be had when we behave this way!

Patience

President Nelson taught that patience is a divine attribute.

Patience can be hard to cultivate, I know, but it really helps us have more happiness each day. Instead of getting frustrated with little problems in life, when we are patience, we learn to stop and smell the roses. Necessity is the mother of invention, but it is hard to be inventive if we are impatient about our necessities not being met.

So – patience. We need to breathe, smell the roses, and keep on going.

Roses

Brotherly Kindness

President Nelson stated:

“Brotherly kindness overcomes the rudeness of selfish intent. Each of us can develop brotherly kindness at home, at school, at work, or at play.” – Russell M. Nelson

This is an obvious attribute to cultivate if we want to be the kind of disciples that Christ wants us to be.

Love one another….which happens to also relate to the next attribute.

Charity

President Nelson taught:

“The Book of Mormon defines charity as the pure love of Christ.” – Russell M. Nelson

This is the love that does not fail. This is the attribute that gives meaning to every other attribute. If we show brotherly kindness, but we don’t have true charity for another, what is the point?

It’s a good one for me to to remember. I need to be kinder and more forgiving and that needs to be rooted in a true sense of love for others.

Humility

In the Book of Mormon, we read:

“They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts.” – Helaman 3:35

Interestingly enough, when we keep the commandments, when we have discipline and work hard – we are blessed. For some reason, it seems to be that when we are blessed we tend to forget that it was the Lord who blessed us. We are recipients of His grace, and yet it can be easy to forget.

By fasting and praying and really turning to the Lord, we will continue to be humble and cultivate our faith. It’s a really interesting paradox (and this world including the gospel is full of them). When we develop our relationships with God, we are simultaneously blessed with confidence and purpose while we also need to be humble! But both ingredients are crucial.

Diligence

All of these attributes are not “one time events.” I think that they are all cultivated when we practice diligence.

Diligence is careful or persistent work or effort.

Even diligence isn’t a one time “event”. TADA! I’m diligent. On to the next thing! Nope…diligence is a daily choice. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, brotherly kindness, charity, humility, and diligence – are all daily choices. If we diligently choose to develop these attributes, then we cultivate the final attribute.

Godliness

I love this quote:

“Godliness is not a product of perfection; it comes of concentration and consecration.” – Russell M. Nelson

Concentration and consecration. Godliness comes when we are just doing our best, then He can work a mircale in each of us. Then, HE will perfect us – making us whole – just as He did to the woman who touched His robe:

“And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” – Luke 8:48

***
There is so much to study and learn in this talk, but I just want to say that I’m grateful to know that we are led by a prophet who understands the attributes of a disciple of Christ. Not only does President Nelson understand them, but he recognizes them in others and is inspired by the examples of others. President Nelson didn’t teach these attributes like I wrote about them. He used the example of other people to demonstrate these principles. He is not prideful. He is humble and kind. I know that I can do more to find inspiration from others rather than fault. That through such examples I’ll be able to incorporate more of these qualities into my life.

What is the Relief Society?

Sorry I haven’t written on the blog for a couple of weeks. We’ve had spring break, and I’ve actually started teaching for the Pathway program, so I feel like I’m on the computer all the time. ANYWAY…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon Women lately. Here is a list of reasons why:

  • The Ordain Women group has been gaining traction in the media. While I don’t agree with their movement, they have been making me think about being a woman in the LDS church including my roles, rights, and blessings.
  • In what seems to be a reaction to the Ordain Women movement, another Movement has sprung up – Mormon Women Stand
  • I often get overwhelmed by my duties and the challenges of this world. I crave a sisterhood with like-minded women who are noble, nurturing, and strong.

As these three things swirl in my brain, I find that there is one common solution to them, and that is The Relief Society.

What is the Relief Society?

First of all, it is important to understand what the Relief Society is. According to mormon.org, the Relief Society is defined as follows:

“The Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. Relief Society was established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older. Its purpose is to build faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need.”

Now – onto how the Relief Society has been able to be the solution to the mind-swirling I’ve been having lately.

The Ordain Women Movement

According to the Ordain Women Group, their purpose is:

“Ordain Women aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of gender inequality they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.”

First, and foremost, I don’t necessarily agree with the assertion made by the Ordain Women group. I don’t agree that there is an issue of gender inequality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither do I think that the Family Proclamation perpetuates antiquated ideas or inequality between men and women.

This being said, I don’t deny the fact that some women might feel marginalized in the Church. I understand this. I have experienced being in counsels with men who won’t listen. I don’t personally believe that if I held the Priesthood I would have been seen as any kind of authority. I just think that some dudes are like that a little chauvinistic and kind of jerky – even if they don’t mean to be.

For some reason, this kind of attitude has prevailed over the millennia. I think that men have a hard time understanding why the women think that the way they do. Straight away, I think of Peter and Mary Magdalene:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.” – Mark 16:9-11

To be fair: these apostles didn’t believe the disciples who saw Christ on the Road to Emmaus. And Thomas didn’t believe all of the apostles that had seen the resurrected Lord.

But I’ve always found this striking: Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene. She didn’t hold any kind of Priesthood authority, but He came to her and revealed himself to her. And the apostles didn’t believe her.

Sometimes I think that all of this misunderstanding between men and women comes only because men have a hard time understanding women, and it may seem that they tend to belittle and downplay women. I hate making this blanket statement because I have met and known many open minded men. But let’s just say that I have had discussions with men about women and emotions.

Really quickly – so – some men seem to downplay women because we can be a little more emotional or intuitive. Some men seem to only be able to respond to logic and reason. I totally understand this. And I say, It is totally illogical and unreasonable to ignore our intuition, emotions, and spirits! We are people, we aren’t robots. We have emotions and unique Spirits how would it be logical to discount this side of who we are when making any kind of decision in life???

(Oh, and I have also found that men have an especially hard time with women who react emotionally. I, too, find that it is best to not react, but this isn’t because I want to deny my woman-ness. Instead, it is because I want to make a wise decision. AND BESIDES, sometimes I think that men forget that anger is an emotion, and reacting in anger is often more illogical than a woman’s weeping…Interestingly enough, in the General Relief Society Broadcasts, I have experienced listening to prophets compliment and comfort the women. My opinion – it just takes some men, even good men, about 80 years to really understand the value of a woman’s emotions, opinions, and intuitive nature).

anyway!!!

I just want to say that while I don’t necessarily agree with the Ordain Women women, I don’t doubt that they honestly feel the way that they do. Additionally, I don’t think that it is necessarily wrong to feel confused, belittled, or unequal. That happens sometimes! And sometimes that happens for a good reason.

However, there is one thing that I do disagree with – and that is the way that the Ordain Women group has gone about their purposes. I believe that the best way to take an issue up with God is by taking it up with Himand praying! I know that God answers our prayers. I know that He listens to us. I know that He will influence our prophet and apostles if it is the right thing to do/pray about.

I mean, think about it this way – when members of the church desire to have a temple built in an area we are taught to pray, we are taught to pay our tithing, we are taught to attend the temple. We are not taught to write a letter Salt Lake and petition the prophet to have a temple. He isn’t in charge of the Church, the Lord is. Priesthood or not, every woman, every man, every child has access to our Heavenly Father. We just have to get on our knees. Heck, we don’t even have to get on our knees! Just Pray!

And now – to the Relief Society, I think that the Relief Society is the answer to this problem. When we understand our role in the church and in our family, and when we understand the blessing and honor it is to be a member of the Relief Society, we will understand what we need to do in order to have our concerns addressed.

The motto of the Relief Society is charity never faileth. Can you come up with anything more inspired, more enabling, more beautiful, more Christlike? As members of the Relief Society, we will seek to understand Charity more. We will be cognizant of the fact that Charity is a lot more than quilt tying and giving service. And as members of the Relief Society that understand the meaning of charity, we will also remember that Christ’s love never fails. Mormon teaches us about Charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” – Moroni 7:45-47

It just seems to me that if we, members of the Relief Society, understand what Charity is, then, when we have questions about the church – legitimate questions, when we have qualms, when we are wronged, when we have issues that come from our hearts, then we will address them with faith and with charity.

Relief Society can help us when we struggle.

Mormon Women Stand

I was invited to be a part of Mormon Women Stand. This is a group that seems to have sprung up in reaction to the Ordain Women movement. Here is their mission:

“Mormon Women Stand is a collaborative online effort to join like-minded female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who share a desire to make a public stand as witnesses of Jesus Christ and in support of ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’. We believe standing together will reflect the divine nature and power that LDS women are endowed with to influence others for good. We unequivocally sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—commissioned by God and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. We support how the Lord has delegated priesthood authority to organize and administer the gospel among all of His children.” – Mormon Women Stand

Like the Ordain Women movement, I believe that this group is thoughtful. They want to stand up for their beliefs at a time when they believe that their beliefs are being assailed.

Initially, I went ahead and “liked” the Facebook group. I, essentially, agree with them. I believe in standing as a witness of Jesus Christ. I have promised to do so …in all times, and in all things, and in all places [I am in] even unto death.” (See Mosiah 18:10.)

But I started to think about this group. And I wondered, Why isn’t my membership in the Relief Society and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enough. As I just mentioned, because I’ve been baptized and have covenanted with Christ, then I have already committed myself to being His witness.

Additionally, as a member of the Relief Society, I have also decided to live up to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth, which means that I wouldn’t really be provoked or threatened by other groups or adversity – whether it comes from an external or internal source.

My membership in the Church and in the Relief Society is enough, and instead of singling myself out (whether with the Ordain Women group or with Mormon Women Stand), I ought to simply seek sisterhood with all saints in the gospel. I feel like Satan is trying to destroy us by dividing us, and even if our intentions are good, if we aren’t careful, then we might stop being charitable. And if we aren’t charitable, then we will fail.

I Crave Sisterhood

This leads me to my last point, and why I love the Relief Society, and why I need the Relief Society.

Yesterday, I read an article about Peter Lanza and Sandy Hook in the New Yorker. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it. I also read An article about the rising generation and problems with p*rnography. It was sad, terrifying, horrible, depressing, you name it.

Both of these articles, read within hours of one another, had me wondering, how do I do it? I have four little children. I have three beautiful girls, and one delightful son. I see the good in them, and I want that to shine throughout their lives. I want them to know the good in themselves. I want them to know God, and to know the truth.

But there are so many lies. So many difficulties. What do I do???

And, I realized, the answer is The Relief Society.

Through the Relief Society, I have been able to meet like-minded sisters who also are striving. Some of the sisters are young, married mothers; some of these sisters are women who have never married; some sisters are women in the middle of their lives like me. Some are old, some are divorced, some are tall, some are short, some are thin, some are blonde, some are white, some are black, some are from Mexico, some are from Croatia, some are just like me, some are nothing like me. but we are all sisters, and we are all striving to obtain charity – that pure love of Christ which never fails.

This Saturday evening at 6PM MDT, the General Women’s Broadcast will be aired. We will be meeting as women – as sisters – ages 8 and up – to be taught by our leaders, the apostles, and prophets. We will be able to attend this meeting, for the first time, with our mothers and young daughters. All together!!! We will be reminded of our work, we will be edified, and we will be able to leave the meeting resolved to keep striving and overcome the sad, terrifying, horrible things that the world is trying to throw at us.

***

Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.
Moi, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and the Relief Society.

I am so grateful for my membership in the Relief Society. Ironically, the longest I’ve ever been in Relief Society was when I was a teacher for about three or four months. Otherwise, I have served with the children or youth. But this doesn’t nullify my membership in this divine group of women. I love knowing that anywhere I go, I will find women that I can call my sisters. I’m convinced that we, members of the Relief Society, can change the world – little by little. I don’t think my claim is outrageous, either. After all, the Relief Society claims that Charity never faileth, and we have the opportunity to live up to this standard.

Through my membership in the Relief Society, I have become a better woman. I have come closer to my Heavenly Father. I have been able to better understand the meaning and purpose of my life, personally. At Relief Society, I have felt camaraderie, I have laughed, I have cried, and I have been elevated.

***
Are you a member of the Relief Society? How do you feel about being a member of this sisterhood? What can you do to commit yourself to it’s motto – that Charity never faileth? What are your feelings of Relief Society and being a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

If you are not Mormon, what are the questions that you have about the Relief Society and about women in the LDS church. I am open to a kind and honest dialogue, so ask away!

Why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Antidote to Sociopathy

Okay…I read an article in Psychiatry Today titled, Confessions of a Sociopath. It sounds pretty interesting, right?

I have to admit that I’m pretty intrigued because I feel like I have been very close to a sociopath in my life. I’ve been reading a few books lately on the subject, and I have had thoughts swirling in my mind. I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but then I came across the following quote in the aforementioned article:

What Is Evil, Really?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sociopath’s dream. Mormons believe that everyone has the potential to be godlike—I believe this includes me. Every being is capable of salvation; my actions are what matters, not my ruthless thoughts, not my nefarious motivations. Everyone is a sinner, and I never felt that I was outside this norm.

When I read this, I’m not sure if I was incredulous or simply entertained. I started to laugh. Really!? Does this author even go to the LDS church?! I came to realize that my I was so surprised because prior to reading this article – as I’ve been reading other literature on sociopathy and psychopathy – repeatedly I’ve had the thought, “These people need the gospel.”

I’m not going to take the time to describe sociopathy or psychopathy now. If you are unfamiliar, you can find some good, general information here. I want to make a disclaimer, that I don’t really think I personally know how to help an individual who is seeking healing from such a disability. Obviously, I don’t have the training. However, I know that the gospel can help put anyone on the right track. Above all, I know that the claim that this author made is untrue. The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints isn’t a “sociopath’s dream.” The connotation of this statement is that the LDS church breeds sociopaths. The rest of the quoted paragraph is flat-out false. The author should, perhaps, read the scriptures. Of course, the author claims to be a sociopath, so I shouldn’t find the statement to be all that surprising. 😉 Additionally, Psychology Today might do well to fact-check statements made by a self-proclaimed sociopath before publishing as if it is true.

Learn more about how to be Christ-like here...
Learn more about how to be Christ-like here…

Enough of that. Here are a few points on why the gospel is actually anti-sociopathy:

Jesus is our Exemplar

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, Redeemer, Creator, King, Master, Messiah, and more. We believe that He is our Example to follow. We have been bidden to follow Christ-not only in where we go, but how we live. We are taught to follow His example.

We are taught by Nephi:

“And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.” – 2 Nephi 31:10-13

We have been invited, by Christ to follow Him. In doing so, we must be repentant and be baptized. Nephi teaches us the qualifications – we must follow Christ with full purpose of heart – which means that we cannot pretend our motivations. We take on Christ’s name without hypocrisy or deception before God. We cannot follow Christ unless our intent is real. It is a matter of heart. Following Christ is not made up only of outward performances.

It is the LDS belief that we can become like God. Not only do we feel it a belief, but we feel it a commandment. Jesus Christ, himself taught:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” – 3 Nephi 12:48

We are commanded to be perfect, or whole/complete, just as both Christ and Heavenly Father are. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we know that we are not capable, in and of ourselves, of keeping this commandment. Yet, we also know that the Lord gives no commandments unto the children of men save He shall prepare a way for them to accomplish the thing that He hath commanded them. (See 1 Nephi 3:7.) Becoming perfect, or like God, is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is only possible as we do what Nephi described above – when we repent, and are baptized. And these covenants only take effect in our lives when we do them with real intent, without hypocrisy, with a full heart.

In modeling our lives after the Savior, we will see that we need to be full of Charity. Honestly, as I’ve begun studying sociopathy (and I will admit that my “study” of sociopathy is rudimentary), I have seen that Charity is the sociopathy’s polar opposite.

Mormon teaches us about charity:

“And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” – Mormon 7:45

As you can see, each trait of one who has obtained charity is completely antithetical to the traits commonly attributed to sociopaths. Charity is the pure love of Christ and can only come through His grace (See Ether 12:36). To receive the blessings of Christ’s grace, we need to follow Him, and then – (Again!) as Nephi teaches: repent, be baptized, and – well – you can read the rest of it at the beginning of this post.

If we seek to keep the command given to us to be perfect and follow Christ, then we must understand what He is teaching us. God isn’t a power-hungry God. He isn’t a psychopath. He isn’t arbitrary or unfeeling. He doesn’t destroy without care. God is a loving God. He is merciful and kind. Everything that the Savior did was for the benefit of the world (See 2 Nephi 26:24). In our pursuit to be like God, we shouldn’t be confused by a worldly idea of an arbitrarily omnipotent being. We must remember that God is motivated by His pure love. When we seek to be like Him, we will be moved by charity.

Actions Matter…So Do Thoughts and Motivations

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin taught:

“And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.

But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” – Mosiah 4:29-30

If we aren’t watching our thoughts and words, then our deeds will often follow the darkness of sin that might lurk in our minds and hearts. Even if we try to be good on the outside, having a rotten core isn’t acceptable. We have been taught to cleanse our inner vessels. Christ doesn’t really have much patience for hypocrites.

I suppose that this idea of what we do being so important comes up because Mormons believe that we must qualify for the healing balm of Christ’s Grace through our works. (See 2 Nephi 25:23). Obviously, what we do is important. The Lord expects us to work hard and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. But the works aren’t enough. Mormon teaches:

“For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.” – Moroni 7:6-10

We can give gifts all day long. We can, like the Pharisees, cast our money into the treasury at the temple. We can broaden our phylacteries, and show off our supposed devotion to God. Yet, when these “good” deeds are done without real intent, or, in other words, with “nefarious motivations”, then it is as if the “giver” retained the gift, and he is “counted evil before God.”

Our hearts, our intents, our motivations–they matter.

***

This is long, but I have to say – sure, LDS people can become sociopaths. I have known a sociopathic Mormon. I don’t know the conditions of what causes a person to be a sociopath. Perhaps they are born with different brain patterns. Maybe they are raised in a bad environment. But I know that ultimately, we exercise our own agency. We make the choice to lie, manipulate, hurt, and even destroy. The Lord does not sanction such action no matter what religious organization we affiliate with.

We don’t need to be fooled that sociopathy-life with “power” and without conscience-is desirable. Read the scriptures. God expects us to become as He is. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t start fights or feuds. He doesn’t manipulate to get what He wants. He doesn’t arbitrarily destroy for entertainment. He loves. He blesses. He teaches. He guides. He builds us up. He weeps for us. He corrects us. He has laid down His life for us. He is full of charity.

When we truly follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then we will one day become God-like: full of love, kindness, mercy, charity, and happiness. This is the antidote to sociopathy.

R.S. Dinners and Feeling God’s Love

As a member of the relief society, I have had many chances to serve. A lot of women who have been members of the Relief Society have made (and even received) a dinner or two when another family finds themselves in a time of need.

yummm….dinner

In the past, I have been tempted to think, “I don’t want to do the same old thing, and just make a meal for someone. I need to do something that is more special.” Of course, I have yet to find something more universally appreciated than a meal – cooked with love – brought to a family that is grieving, healing, or struggling through a hard time.

Not only that, but I have been the recipient of many meals. There is no dinner that tastes better than the dinner someone brings you on the night you return home from the hospital! It is such a relief to have something hot and ready to eat – without the fuss of preparation and clean-up.

Okay, so these are practical reasons why meals are great. But that’s not really what this post is all about.

I have had a few great experiences with bringing people meals lately, and I want to share a few insights from each experience.

One
A few months ago, I took a meal to a woman who had undergone surgery that week. My in-laws were visiting, but I knew that I could make some pasta, red-sauce, a salad, and some cream-cheese brownies relatively quickly. It is especially fun to involve the kids in cooking and bringing the meal.

We made the meal and delivered it. When I brought it over, I was able to meet the woman who had the surgery. As I set the meal on her counter, she was brimming with gratitude. She complimented me on my generosity, and I insisted that it was nothing, it was the least I could do, and I hoped that she was feeling okay.

I set the food on the counter, and looked at her, and I could see her – I didn’t know her, but I knew that Heavenly Father loved her. I felt it as soon as I looked her in the eye. I could immediately see that she had gone through a lot of pain and physical suffering. Her life had been in danger (the reason for her surgery). I felt so much sympathy and love for her in those few moments. I realized that making a dinner for her not only helped by giving her something she needed, but it was helping me by cluing me into the love that Heavenly Father has for all of us. I felt happy, knowing that in a simple way, I was easing her burden.

I wished that I could do more for her at that moment, yet there wasn’t much to do other than comfort her, hug her, and care. I asked her how her surgery went. I asked her if she was feeling better. She explained to me, in great detail, the cause of her surgery and the pain that she was still suffering. I realized that she only needed a listening ear. I could relate – I have been in pain. Sometimes, the best service someone can provide is a validation of that pain and hurt. I guess that what I’m saying is that sometimes, we can mourn with those that mourn. Sometimes, that’s just what we need – what will comfort us.

I was deeply touched by her – testimony, hope, but most of all – for the intense love that I knew the Lord has for her.

Two
Another woman in my ward recently had a baby, and I signed up to bring her a meal. I was fortunate to be bringing her the first meal that she had back at home.

What a joyous moment! Even though I didn’t know this woman or anyone in her family, I could feel a bit of the joy that they were sharing – that inexplicable joy that accompanies the birth of every new child. They were still in the haze of becoming new parents. They were proud of their tiny daughter. They were tired. They were spent.

We brought a home-made pizza. It wasn’t much, but I knew what it was like to be in her shoes: thanks to a simple meal, she could stay on the couch, holding her little one, with dad at the wings and without worrying about cooking, cleaning, and everything in between.

They brimmed with gratitude and that sleepy-eyed-pride of parenthood.

And I was blessed – I saw the little girl, amazed that my own kids were once this small. In an instant, I recalled each time I came home with my own children – overwhelmed with emotions, happiness, and exhaustion. I remembered the way that they cried, and how quickly all of that changed. I didn’t long for another child (we’re done with that for now!), but I was happy for them. I was so happy for them, and grateful to get a little glimpse in on the happiness of another family along with the reminder of my own blessed experiences.

Three
A few weeks ago, a woman was thrown from a horse. She needed to have a lot of medical treatment. I don’t remember the extent of her injuries, I just know that they were bad!

I signed up to bring her a meal. We were planning on making enchiladas, guacamole, salsa, and some brownies, but we would need to go to the store. When we got to the supermarket, I had a thought to make lemon bars instead of brownies. I figured it was just because I hadn’t made them in a long time, and it would be fun to make something different.

I bought the things I needed for lemon bars, and I also found this really cute plate – with lemons on it. Perfect for her dessert! Plus, she wouldn’t have to remember to return any dishes. So, we bought the lemons and the lemon plate, and we went home to make the dinner and dessert.

When I dropped the food off to her, she was delighted to see the lemon bars. My oldest daughter was with me. Before I had even set the food down on the counter, the woman had taken a lemon bar. She excused herself for being so impatient, explaining, lemon bars are my favorite! I didn’t tell her this, but at that moment, I was overcome with a realization – of course they were her favorite, Heavenly Father knew this, and that He not only wanted to bless her, but that He was happy with me for listening to what seemed like a pretty inconsequential impression.

My daughter – Tiger – was also able to be there for this experience. When we got in the car, she said, “It was cool how excited she was for the lemon bars.” What a perfect teaching experience. I was able to tell Tiger that I had been prompted to make lemon bars, and now we knew why. Heavenly Father loves us, and knows us individually. He loves blessing us – even with something as simple as our favorite dessert.

Four
Today, I delivered a plate of brownies to a family for their upcoming funeral. I didn’t know who had died until only a few minutes before I left to deliver the brownies. The brownies ended up being for the funeral of this woman’s two-week-old grandson who died of SIDS.

I read the email containing this information, and was comletely heartbroken. As I drove the brownies over, it didn’t seem fair to me that my children have all been born healthy. It didn’t seem fair that this woman’s daughter was experiencing all of the after-effects of giving birth to a child: Hormonal changes, more body changes, healing, and pain – all without the benefit of the child. No child, yet constant reminders of the baby who had come and left so quickly. I’m not sure if I’d be able to bear a challenge like this.

I dropped off the brownies. The woman I delivered them to knew me – she remembered my records being read into my ward, but I had no idea who this woman was. I brought her the brownies, and expressed my condolences on her front porch.

She was sweet, hopeful, and grateful. I was flooded with the emotions as I thought of the grief that this sweet family had to endure. I was also overwhelmed by the love I knew that Heavenly Father had for her. I hugged her. She kept insisting that she wouldn’t cry. She was busy, so I let her go.

I wonder if she could feel the love that Heavenly Father has for her. I know that I felt it so strongly.

And I realized something – service helps us develop charity – not only because we learn to put others before ourselves, but because we learn to see how God sees others. In each of these instances I shared today, I had a feeling, Heavenly Father really loves these people (family, etc). I knew that it wasn’t my own feeling towards anyone – I didn’t know a single person. I was reminded – these are God’s children he loves them so much. He loves all of us so much.

All of this because of a silly little dinner.

What do you do to find opportunities to serve others. What have you learned from giving service?

Overcoming Clutter through Charity

I recently read a book about hoarding. It was really fascinating. I was drawn to this book because I know and love someone that I believe to have a problem with hoarding. I know that this person is faithful, but I can see how their possessions have become a true disruption in their lives.

Going to the home of a hoarder is difficult. Whenever I go to this person’s house, I’m filled with shame, anger, and I have an extremely difficult time paying attention. The house is chaotic. There is no order, whatsoever. It is as if I feel the Spirit leave my body before I enter into the premises.

The interesting thing about this scenario is that the person I know who is a moderate hoarder is a faithful person. They go to church! They have a testimony. There is nothing, in particular, in the house that would drive away the Spirit. Instead, it is the number of objects, and the lack of order that makes this place feel like some kind of insane prison. I feel like I’m developing ADD when I am in the walls of this home. I can see that not only am I affected, but that there have been many ramifications to this person, too. They have been adversely affected by their “stuff”. In the home, there is no feeling of peace. Nothing can be nurtured in such an environment. Because of my relationship with this person, I often begin to feel overwhelmed by frustration and even anger when I think of the house and the stuff. It is no way to live.

Hoarding is becoming a more prevalent issue (especially in the U.S.). Perhaps it is because so many people have so much now. It is hard to let go of our stuff. For some reason, we attach meaning to it. We feel like if we give up something – even if it is essentially trash – we are giving up a memory, an opportunity, or a choice. We become attached to these things, and the stuff accumulates to the point where we have a hard time following Christ because his Spirit is drowned out by the chaos created by our stuff.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, we are given a piece of valuable advice:

“And if any man shall give unto any of you a coat, or a suit, take the old and cast it unto the poor, and go on your way rejoicing.” – Doctrine and Covenants 84:105

When we get something new, we need to let go of our old stuff. There is no need to keep accumulating more.

I love this pattern of advice, too. Because we can help other people amidst our own prosperity. This is the best way to be grateful. And, as far as being resourceful, when we give our old things (that are still in good shape, of course) to be used by someone else, then we are not wasting as much! The item is getting good use, and now two people can rejoice.

King Benjamin, likewise teaches:

“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.” – Mosiah 4:21

It seems to me that the key to overcoming clutter, and even hoarding is charity. It is simple, but maybe not quite as easy as it sounds.

I am reminded of the story of Christ and the rich young ruler.

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler, Index of Armenian Art. (Click Image for source)

The story is basically about a guy – a faithful guy. He asked the Savior how to obtain eternal life. He was interested in the promises of the gospel. He knew that eternal life was something to seek after. He also recognized that Christ was the Son of God and would know how to obtain eternal life. So he inquired of the Savior.

Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. He reiterates some of them. The rich young ruler had kept the commandments his whole entire life. He was a good guy. Yet there was still something he needed to do in order to obtain eternal life:

“Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” – Luke 18:22

This advice isn’t easy for the young ruler to hear.

“And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!

For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” – Luke 18:23-25

It is easy to look at the rich young ruler and chide him for not being charitable. It is easy to judge him, and say, If I were rich, then I would give up what I had and follow God. It is always so easy to judge these people! Yet, I think about clutter – the things we are hoarding – and are we really that much different than this rich young ruler? Are we letting our “things” cumber us to the point where we cannot follow Christ?

When you think of this in regards to a hoarder, following the advice of the Savior will not only help you to inherit eternal life in the future, but will make your life infinitely better in the present. A hoarder lives in a prison – made up of stuff. Many of us, even if we aren’t hoarders, also imprison ourselves with our stuff. We imprison ourselves before we even own it by getting into debt. We become so worried about our stuff, and obtaining more of it, that it gets in the way of our charity and support of others. We begin to assign more value to the items than they are worth. They become symbols of opportunities, knowledge, and maybe even happiness, and we think that if we give the item away, then we are also giving away opportunities, knowledge, and happiness. We begin to fear that we will regret giving something up. This fear creates a shackle of lifeless goods: books, clothes, toys, papers, electronics, etc.

In order to break free from this pattern, we simply need to remember that our stuff is just stuff, and that Christ offers us so much more than what we have now. We need to remember that when we support others, we will both rejoice. We need to remember that our things aren’t truly opportunities, or happiness, but that they’re just things. Above all, as difficult as it may be, in order to break free from this pattern of fear and chaos caused by hoarding and clutter, we need to keep the commandment that has been given of us: to impart of our substance to the poor. It is when we give to others, that we begin to see the true source of happiness and opportunity in our lives. The Spirit sanctifies us as we give to others, which helps us to have a better perspective on our possessions.

How do you keep a good perspective on your “stuff?” What do you do to impart of your substance? What are ways that you keep your eye on the true goal: of inheriting eternal blessings rather than get sidetracked by the shiny things we accumulate in our homes?