Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More Stake Conference

Our General Authority was Elder Bruce Porter, and he gave two fantastic talks that were very nourishing to me. (I also really enjoyed his wife’s talks.) He said just the kinds of things I always pray to hear at stake conference. Here are some of my favorites:

We spend too much time in the church talking about lesser things. Too much time as individuals sq1ueezing every minute to get stuff done. We view ourselves as machines. His father wrote to him while he was on his mission, “Dear son, are you paying enough attention to rest, exercise, good food, prayer and scriptures? If you don’t, you will simply spin your wheels. You will be relying on your OWN mind.”

The song, “I Did It My Way” will be sung by those in the Telestial Kingdom.

This is not a gospel of guilt. Sometimes no matter what choice you make (like whether to go to stake temple night or back to school night or help your ailing mother) you feel guilty. DON’T. “If one of your kids needs you and the Holy Ghost tells you you should miss temple night to spend time with him, you would OFFEND THE LORD by going to temple night.” “We need never feel guilty for not doing things that are good so long as we are doing other things that are good that we feel prompted to do.”

They were both great talks. So keep the little suggestion I’m going to make here in perspective.

He was talking about how women in particular struggle with too much guilt. As an illustration, he told about a woman he knows who has ten children and who “keeps an impeccable household” (at this point I nudged Rog) who was discouraged because she felt she fell so short of what she should be. He, of course, reassured her that she was doing fine and needed to lighten up on herself. I told Rog, “That story would be so much more powerful if he would mention that her house WASN’T impeccable.”

And another comment was that he believed that “all mothers who try should get a free pass into heaven.” Probably that’s true, because everyone who tries should get to heaven, because the act of trying shows which way their hearts yearn. But NOT just because she is a mother. I buck at the age-old angel-mother stereotype that just because we’re mothers (or women) we are naturally more spiritual. This kind of rhetoric doesn’t help those of us who are hungry to be told HOW to measure (the Lord’s way) how we are doing, and how to know when and how we need to improve. The hardest thing about parenting is that there is no way to tell how you’re doing, no discernible relationship (at least at first) between effort/intention and results. Obviously, there must be a way to be doing things wrong and a way to be doing them right, but it’s so hard to tell what that way is.

The answer, of course, is that the only judgment anyone should make of themselves is just to assess how we are doing in our efforts at discipleship. Nothing else really matters.


Michelle said...

Thank you for this-- "the only judgment anyone should make of themselves is just to assess how we are doing in our efforts at discipleship"

And I agree the 10 children story would be much more powerful w/o the impeccable household!

Anonymous said...

My visiting teachers came over today, and I had the living room clean. But one of them has a toddler who wanted to jump on our trampoline, which I was very happy to let her do -- but chagrined when, to get there, we all had to walk through my VERY dirty kitchen and dining room. (Among other things, our unused dining room table still has camping gear on it from Isaac's Scout campout a month ago; somehow putting it all away seems a Herculean task.) I AM getting good at being only slightly dismayed when my dirty house gets exposed, though, rather than being mortified.

I can kind of go along with his statement about mothers who try, in that I do think that motherhood can throw women into straits they never could have imagined, which seems to warrant being given a little extra credit (you might be someone who can appear very successful until you introduce a wiggly, willful little one -- or big one -- or three or four of them -- into the picture.) But of course, as you say, the statement is just as true for any disciple of Christ, whether a parent or not. And everything hinges on what is really meant by "try." I suppose every mother tries some, but there do seem to be some who, shall we say, go up some very blind alleys.

P.S. It just occurred to me that Sister Beck's talk was good for some specific ideas of where to focus our parenting efforts.

Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury said...

I submit that one way we know we're heading in the right direction is that we are worried about it.

People who have decided to go the wrong direction don't wonder if they are making the right choice. They do what they want to do and they don't even bother to think about it.

If you are trying to figure out whether you're doing the right thing or not, you are obviously concerned about the right thing, so your heart is in the right place.

Trust in the Lord and keep plugging away as best you can at what He has asked you to do. Even Joseph Smith had to figure things out. I really don't think the answers are HANDED to any of us.