Tag Archives: Obedience

Asparagus, Now with 100% More Bacon!

A Bacon-y Balm in Gilead

When our family first moved to the Pacific Northwest, we were transplants. My wife and I had grown up in different parts of California, I’d served a mission in Hawaii, and we’d gone to school in Utah. That left us with almost zero connections when we finally arrived in Washington.

Luckily, a few of our friends from BYU also got jobs in the Seattle area, and we arrived in Washington not too far apart from each other.

We were having dinner with one of these couples, a BBQ in the glorious northwest summer weather that all the rest of the world should be jealous of, when the husband brought out something glorious. Continue reading Asparagus, Now with 100% More Bacon!

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Olive Garden Revelation – Part 3

Joseph Smith said, “Salvation cannot come without revelation.”  Just as we cannot survive physically without food, we cannot hope to survive spiritually without revelation. But what does revelation have to do with the Olive Garden? Here are some insights from a recent visit of mine.

Food Poisoning

Food can be complicated.  If something is prepared wrong, you can get food poisoning.  For those of you that have had the pleasure of food poisoning, you’ll understand when I say that for me it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. It far surpassed the root canal that I got in my early teen years, or the weightlifting routines my dad made me do when he wanted me to be a football player (I dance now, by the way. He failed miserably).

As we pray for inspiration, we should also confirm our feelings to make sure that we’re not consuming “bad food”. For example, we can compare our decisions with the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets.

This idea stuck out particularly because of the political clash over Proposition 8. I’m from California, and in support of Proposition 8, so I followed pretty closely the news and chatter about the it. I can understand that others might be opposed to it in the world in which we live, and I support them exercising their right to give their opinion and cast their vote. I have no problem with that. What I was absolutely floored by, though, is the opposition to Prop. 8 from among the membership of the LDS Church and mainstream Christianity, in and out of California. With all due respect, there is some major food poisoning going on in the hearts of some that are taking their social whims as revelation that trumps the word of God.

But it’s not just with gay marriage. It can happen with any principle with which we disagree, when we “kick against the pricks” instead of seeking to reform ourselves. We need to check our social and political opinions against the words of the prophets, ancient and modern.  If we have trouble accepting their counsel, there is nothing wrong with asking God for personal revelation that confirms their words and changes our hearts, as long as we ask with real intent.

If we find ourselves suddenly distant from God, it was not God that moved.

The Food Pyramid

pyramid1

What are the most important foods we need to consume?  There are important food groups, like grains, vegetables, and fruits that take priority.  Likewise, there are essential things we need to receive revelation about.

In Alma 33, the Zoramites ask how they should begin this experiment that Alma taught them about in chapter 32, and how they should “plant the seed“. In 33:22-23, Alma exhorts them to begin to believe in the Son of God, and in his atonement and resurrection in behalf of all men.

In our day, the reality of the Savior is interconnected with other truths of the Restoration – The First Vision and the calling of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the truthfulness of the Church.  Believing that Joseph Smith is a prophet is not the same as disbelief in the Savior.  Rather, it is belief in a Savior that continues to guide the world today through prophets, just like he has through the rest of human history.  That is the most spiritually essential food we can receive because it enables us to learn how to gain eternal life.

In the same vein, there is other spiritual food that is not as important. All the deep mysteries that God has not yet seen fit to reveal, or the tidbits found on the gospel periphery, are not worth crowding out the quintessential truths that focus on Jesus Christ and his gospel.

Continuing the Series

  • Part 1 – Breadsticks and Waiting Training
  • Part 2 – Dietary Needs and Rushing or Overeating
  • Part 3 – Food Poisoning and The Food Pyramid

Dreaming of Motherhood

“Do I have to give up my dreams to be a mommy, dad?”

A Lesson on Incredible Women

This was the question posed by a 9 year-old to her father, and “Dad” was telling us the story in Sunday School. We were going over the General Conference talk “LDS Women Are Incredible”, given by Elder Quentin L. Cook last April, and had come to the point of the talk about the importance of motherhood in God’s plan, according to the LDS Church.

And when I say “LDS Church,” I really mean “restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Just thought I’d clear that up, seeing as how this can be a controversial subject, even among Latter-day Saints.

Anyway, we reach the portion of the lesson where Elder Cook discusses the role of motherhood, and this father raises his hand. He’s a university professor, and his wife also works as an adjunct professor. According to him, she seeks validation outside the home. Conversation’s about Ben-10 and successfully pooping on the toilet can get old after a while, he says, and so his wife has chosen to expend some effort in ventures outside the home. He thinks this is great, and was torn up inside when his 9 year-old came to him, heartbroken that she might have to give up her dream of saving animals in the African safari to be a mother. Of course, his comforting answer was “no”, and that was his testimony to each of us.

Give Up Our Dreams?

I was very troubled by this. It may seem innocent on the surface, but perhaps a few more examples will clarify why I was disturbed.

The Football Player

Let’s say I have a son one day who is an incredible football player (for some of you who know me, this may seem a bit far-fetched, but bare with me). He has a dream of going on to play college ball, and eventually of starting in the NFL. There’s just one problem. He’s almost 19, the age young LDS men are asked to go on a mission. This mission, for the sake of this thought-experiment, will effectually end his football career.

This son of mine comes to me in a huff and asks, “Does God expect me to give up my dream to serve a mission?”

And do you know what my answer would be? “Hell yeah.” Serving a mission is far more important that any short-lived sports career, no matter how fantastic.

The Perfect Career

Let’s say that I’m an adult (another far-fetched adage), approaching the pivotal decision of choosing a career. Let’s say that this dream career – perhaps for me it would be as an organizational consultant on people and change – will mean that I cannot fulfill my family responsibilities like I should. I would be traveling and away from home far too often. Yet this is what I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I’m good at it, and I can make a difference doing it!

I go to God in a huff and ask, “Do you expect me to give up my dream to change diapers and read storybooks?”

And while I can’t speak for God, I imagine his answer could be paraphrased as “Hell yes.” It doesn’t matter if I wanted to be a museum curator, a marine biologist, or a musical genius; if my dream career took me too far from my wife and children, I would be expected to give it up.

Hugh B. Brown

Let’s say that there was a man named Hugh B. Brown, a member of the Canadian Army and a commander of a cavalry unit. He rose fairly quickly through the ranks, and had the opportunity to become a general. This certainly would fulfill a dream of his. And yet, when meeting with the officer deciding his promotion, he was told this:

“I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You’ve been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer. Someone else will be made a general.”

Let’s say that the senior officer left the room, and this Hugh B. Brown sees on his file the words, in all caps, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” That for which he had been hoping for and praying for, for 10 years, suddenly slipped out of his fingers, and because of his religious affiliation.

Hugh B. Brown goes to God in a huff and says,

“How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done — that I should have done — that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?”

In reply, he hears,

“I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.”

In effect, Hugh B. Brown asked, “Do you expect me to give up my dream to be an active follower of Jesus Christ?”

And in effect, again God says, “Yes. That is what I expect.”

Being Obedient

What is the principle here?

When our dreams are in conflict with living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are expected to give those dreams up, regardless of what they are. We are expected to be obedient.

But the good news? Invariably, God rewards that sacrifice with something much better than we would have gotten had we decided to go our own way. In the story of Hugh B. Brown, God is the Gardener, and we are the currant bush. In the words of Isaiah, God is the Potter, and we are the clay. Either way, He knows what He’s doing.

The Commandment

Keeping the above principle in mind, let’s take a quick look at what prophets have taught regarding the importance of motherhood.

David O. McKay said,

“No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Elder Cook, in the talk referenced above, said,

“No woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan (emphasis added).

And The Family: A Proclamation to the World says,

“By divine design… mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

What is the commandment? The commandment is that women can accomplish nothing of greater importance or worth than what they can accomplish in the lives of their own families, as wives and mothers. Because of this, modern prophets have counseled that, whenever possible, women should primarily focus on fulfilling this role.

What if they have dreams that conflict with this? We return to the question first posed by that 9 year-old. Does God expect them to give up their dreams just to be a mom?

Clearly, the answer is indeed “yes”.

The Exception

If we only recognize a few patterns in the gospel as a whole, one of those few should be that extremes are avoided. In the vast collection of “Thou Shalt”s and “Thou Shalt Not”s, there are very few cases where God does not allow for exceptions or individual adaptations. The admonitions above are anything but direction for women to be barefoot and pregnant all of their lives.

I’ll leave finding exceptions to you for the most part, but in this case, let’s take a look at what the Lord’s servants have told us.

In The Family, we’re told,

“Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

God isn’t interested in so strictly defining “other circumstances” for us. In fact, those other circumstances may very well include “the need to seek outside validation” by accepting a position as an adjunct professor. That’s not my position to judge. Elder Cook offers, “We should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that sisters are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances.”

In other words, I’m not this man’s home teacher, bishop, or stake president, and it’s not my place to judge his decision. And really, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not he and his wife have chosen to make an exception to the commandment stated above. My problem was how he made the exception the commandment.

The Caution

Still, we’re not just left with a “loophole”. We can’t just scream “Other circumstance!” and be okay.

Elder Cook cautions,

“Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.”

In The Family, we’re told,

“Individuals who… fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”

We may decide that something like “the need for outside validation” justifies us to violate the counsel of multiple prophets. And we may be right! But we will be called to stand one day before God, and will have to defend that exception to Him. Do we consider the seriousness of that when we go against prophetic counsel? I would wager that, sometimes, we do not.

And so while I couldn’t care less about what this man and his wife decide to do with their lives, I care when he brings his exception into a Sunday School setting and preaches it like Church doctrine. I care when he infers that it’s okay to break commandments when our dreams are at stake.

That is just not the case.