Not Free Willy
My wife and I watched Blackfish a few months ago. Going into it we knew it was about SeaWorld and orca whales and the issues that arise from their captivity, but we didn’t know much more than that. Thinking that our two year-old son might find it interesting to see killer whales, my wife invited him to join us.
“Hey, do you want to watch a show about whales?”
*turns on Blackfish*
(From the television) “…Um, we need someone to respond… the whale just ate one of the trainers…” *ominous music*
“Oh! …let’s watch a new show.”
That was a close one, though. In trying to accomplish something good – bonding with our boy over cool animals – we made what seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, what we got was actually counter-productive (thankfully, we didn’t scar our child for life – with that incident, at least). Once we realized that, we backed right out.
In this month’s First Presidency Message, President Monson tells a story about a church operated poultry farm. He writes,
“In the vicinity where I once lived and served, the Church operated a poultry project, staffed primarily by volunteers from the local wards. Most of the time it was an efficiently operated project, supplying to the bishops’ storehouse thousands of fresh eggs and hundreds of pounds of dressed poultry….
“I shall ever remember the time we gathered the Aaronic Priesthood young men to give the project a spring-cleaning. Our enthusiastic and energetic throng assembled at the project and in a speedy fashion uprooted, gathered, and burned large quantities of weeds and debris. By the light of the glowing bonfires, we ate hot dogs and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.
“However, there was just one disastrous problem. The noise and the fires so disturbed the fragile population of 5,000 laying hens that most of them went into a sudden molt and ceased laying.”
He concluded with what I think is a great “thus we see” observation:
“Thereafter we tolerated a few weeds so that we might produce more eggs.”
What was the lesson that President Monson learned from this experience? In trying to accomplish something good – clear the farm of troublesome weeds – he made what seemed like a good choice. Unfortunately, what he got was actually counter-productive – the ultimate purpose of the farm was to provide, and molting hens certainly wouldn’t. Once he realized that, he backed right out, tolerating the weeds.
Finding a Purpose
When I set out to write this blog, I tried to set a fairly focused framework around what I wanted to accomplish. I’m not an apologist, or a subject-matter expert in Church history or Egyptology or Middle Eastern studies or human behavior. I have less to contribute in those areas.
I do, though, have a growing testimony of the gospel, and a number of life experiences that have shaped my perspectives and contributed to my overall happiness. When it comes to this, perhaps I have something to contribute.
That doesn’t mean I’m not distracted or annoyed by the occasional goober. I’ve felt a pull from time to time to take certain criticisms head on. Those that have followed this blog might think that I’ve given in to that pull once or twice.
Perhaps they’re right, though I think you’ll find, more often than not, that even my posts which deal with critics are less about the issues themselves, and more about following the prophet. I could even start adding something like this to the bottom of most of my posts:
tl;dr – Follow the prophet. Therein lies happiness.
And I absolutely believe that! I can say “follow the prophet – therein lies happiness” because, in my experience, I’ve found that to be true. There is safety and happiness in following the prophet, even when it’s unpleasant.
That’s a message worth sharing, I think. That’s a drop worth adding to the growing flood of online conversations. If I were to miss sharing that message because I got distracted by a weed or two, that would be unfortunate.
Remember, weeds are anything that keep us from our primary purpose. As Latter-day Saints, one of our goals should be to invite others to come unto Christ. Your weeds, your distractions, your challenges may be different than mine.
But the message of the Restoration, and the blessings that come from living the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, are worth skipping weeds for.