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Inspiration

17

crumpled paper

I woke up this morning with today’s post fully-formed in my head. After the normal ritual of waking FOML5 and settling down in the dark living room with my laptop, I began to type it out.

About two-thirds of the way through the post, I started feeling that something was amiss. By the time I reached the end, I was sure of something: I shouldn’t post it.  Not that it isn’t a fine post – I quite liked it, and plan on sharing it with my family – but for some reason, I feel like I should not post it here on the blog.  Why? I don’t know.

Rather, I feel prompted by the Spirit to not post it here on the blog. That is a distinction that needs to be made.

So there is no new post this morning. I apologize for that – instead I will include my favorite Harold B. Lee story, as told by President Lee himself.

As a young boy I was out on a farm away from our home waiting for my father to finish his day’s work. I was playing about, manufacturing things to while away the time, when I saw over the fence in the neighbor’s yard some broken-down buildings with the sheds caving in and with rotting timbers. I imagined as a young boy that that might be a castle I should explore, so I went over to the fence and started to climb through.

Then I heard a voice as distinctly as you are hearing mine: “Harold, don’t go over there.” I looked in every direction to see where the speaker was. I wondered if it was my father, but he couldn’t see me; he was way up at the other end of the field. There was no one in sight. I realized that someone was warning me of an unseen danger—whether there was a nest of rattlesnakes, or whether the rotting timbers would fall on me and crush me, I don’t know. But from that time on, I accepted without question the fact that there are processes not known to man by which we can hear voices from the unseen world, by which we can have brought to us visions of eternity. (link)

The key phrase in his story? “I don’t know.”

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Have a great day, and I’ll be back with something else on Sunday. (Unless my editor says otherwise.)

MMM logo small

17
Bear with me while I talk about music for a minute, then I’ll get to the meat – promise.

Years ago, when I was a college boy, a friend invited me to a fireside about music. The place was crowded with young adults – word had gotten out that the speaker had an excellent presentation about the dangers of music, and that Devil Rock n Roll.

I was happy to go. I was a big music fan and knew that there was a lot of music out there that was dangerous for the mind and the spirit. (That has changed – it is worse now.)

The presenter was good, and very passionate about the subject matter. He had a slide show that followed his talk – with slides, mind you, no PowerPoint existed yet.

We moved quickly through the predictable stuff – backwards masking on Beatles albums, satanic messages in Led Zepellin, etc. Stuff I had heard of before.

Then he put two albums on his screen that caught me off guard. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, and Rush, 2112.

I sat up and took notice.  He told us how both of these albums contained satanic messages and how the symbols on the covers were occult symbols.

What?  I was a big enough rock fan to know that he was completely wrong.
A) Pink Floyd’s album art was a picture of Newton’s Prism – as in Sir Isaac Newton.
B) The pentacle/pentagram on 2112 is a reference to an Ayn Rand story.

And neither album is remotely satanic, occult, or anything but terrific. In fact, anyone who knows Rush knows that their lyrics are not only clean, but brilliant.  And classic.

At that point in the fireside, I sat back and listened, knowing that this well-intentioned brother didn’t know what he was talking about. Sure, he was passionate in his cause, but his passion was not supported by the facts.

—-

Years later, Rush released an album called Presto. In the title track there is a lyric that stuck with me since 1989.

Can’t you see
My temperature is rising
I radiate more heat than light.

Heat vs. Light.

A concept I have thought about for years. What is the difference between radiating heat vs. radiating light?  Which do I radiate?  How are they different?

The best way I can describe my perception of the two is by using two different words.
Heat vs. Light
Passion vs Enlightenment.

The man at the fireside was definitely passionate about his beliefs, but he wasn’t enlightened.

How often do we see this in our lives?  Passionate people making a case for what they feel is vitally important – yet completely wrong about what they espouse. We see it in our conversations, in the media, in politics, and a lot on Facebook. People can get very worked up about things that aren’t even real or true.

Our society has adopted the culture that heat is more important than light – or that passion supersedes enlightenment. (Don’t believe me? Turn on any debate-style news program)

But that is backwards.

The idea is to get enlightened first, then get passionate about it.

But that enlightenment is something that cannot be forced upon someone else. It has to be learned and understood – and the harder we try to open the brain of the person we are arguing with,and pour in our viewpoint, the more we move from productive enlightenment, to unproductive passion.

Ini the movie Amadeus, Mozart desperately attempts – almost begging – to convince the Emperor to allow his opera to be performed.  The Emperor cooly suggests to him, “You are passionate Mozart, but you do not persuade.” 

I remember in the mission field, a good bible bash was always exhilarating, but ultimately unsatisfying. No matter how passionately I tried to disprove someone else’s beliefs, no progress would be made.

Yes, it was wrong, and I would encourage anyone to distance themselves from that way of thinking. Better yet, I’ll let Elder Robert D. Hales enlighten you:

“Paul reminded the Corinthians that his preaching was “not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). Because that power resides in the Spirit of the Lord, we must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith. As almost every missionary learns, Bible bashing always drives the Spirit away. The Savior has said, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me.” (3 Nephi 11:29) (Link to Conference talk here)

I have seen conversations in real life, and online that have descended from an attempt to enlighten to an all out war.  Just last night I had a rather intense discussion with a good friend that other people interpreted as a “fight.”  If that was how they saw it, then I was in the wrong, and was radiating more heat than light.

We all do it – we argue “in the heat of passion.”  But that is where it gets difficult – how do we disagree, or try and help someone understand a different point of view, without chasing the Spirit away?

Because we know that the Spirit hates contention. Here is a quote by Elder Richard G. Scott that I found fascinating:

“The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape, while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Link to Conference talk here.)

The Holy Ghost can be overcome by strong emotions and passion?

About a year ago, I wrote a series of posts making the case that anger is never justifiable. I would like to thank Elder Scott for his support.  (Here are the links to the Anger series: One, two, three, & four.)

The influence of the Holy Ghost is not only important in the process of enlightenment, it is vital as well.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.” (D&C 11:13)

That is the role of the Holy Ghost, to enlighten our minds – right? Neither should be limit His influence to just “churchy” stuff.  ‘And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)

–Yes, this topic has the potential to turn into a gigantic post, so I will cut to the chase…

What I am taking away as I write this is the following: If I am trying to “enlighten” someone, and I start getting worked up about it – then the Spirit has left me, and I am making the case by myself.

My passions and emotions get in the way of carrying the Spirit, and communicating spirit to spirit with other people.

So the point of arguing with someone is….?

Help me out here…..

Somebody…?

I can’t figure it out – but I do it all the time. I argue with people, I use emotion, passion, manipulation to “enlighten” those who aren’t as “enlightened” as I am. Is that going to stick?

Dave Barry said this:
“I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of respect, they don’t even invite me.”

One last thought: Walk into a cold, dark room. Turn on a space heater and a light.
Which makes the quickest impact?
Which uses less energy?

Some things I need to work on:

• Enlightenment is spiritual, and voluntary. I can’t force people to think like I do – even when I am right.

• If I find myself resorting to passion, or emotion when trying to persuade, I have already lost the battle.

• I need to make sure that the things I share with the world are based on light, not heat. There is a lot of false information out there that people passionately espouse to be true. I must rely on the gift of discernment through the Holy Ghost to help me see what is what.

• I need to recognize when I am radiating more heat than light.

• Sometimes, I need to just smile…and walk away.

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Note:  I am honored to run this guest post on my blog. Please read it with an open heart  I will follow-up with some comments.  -MMM-

Ryanne

The Why

Almost two years ago, I began praying about serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A mission was some thing that had never appealed to me before, but I was coming up on my 21st birthday and I was confused about what I wanted for my life at the time.  But I knew I loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I knew I wanted to tell other people about the “good news!”  I spent a couple months praying and thinking about it.  I got my schedule in line for the next semester so that I could get my associates and work to save money to go. I would worry about all my nursing aspirations later, I was going to be a Missionary!
I pondered this for a few months.  I got no real answer which I mostly took to mean I needed to proceed. Than, as I began driving back to what I thought would be my last semester, I felt, very strongly, “Ryanne, you need to get going on this nurse thing.”  I recognized this as the Holy Ghost, so I dropped my guitar class (still bummed) and retook Anatomy.  I was okay with this, it felt right, but I always wondered why the Lord didn’t want me out with His other valiant servants, spreading light and truth. I thought maybe I just wasn’t righteous enough or that I wasn’t cut out to proselyte or learn a new language. In the back of my mind these thoughts were present, but I went forward with what I felt was inspiration.

This same semester, my cousin and one of my dearest friends, was in a car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury.  For a while, we didn’t know what her life would be like as a result of this accident. There was a period of unknown that was terrifying for our family.  I prayed a lot during that time, and though I had no real reason, I knew it would all turn out okay, no matter the results, because I knew that Heavenly Father was in charge. Somehow that was good enough for me.

And it did turn out okay 🙂 It was, however, a difficult semester, but I finished my prereq’s for nursing school and did well in all my classes. I applied to three nursing schools. I didn’t get into any of them, and with nothing left to take, I left my beloved Rexburg, hoping that I would nab one of the coveted nursing student positions I worked so hard for and return.

I went to live in Montana with my mom’s side of the family. This was one of the greatest times of my life! I made wonderful friends there. I grew a lot spiritually.  I  had some time off from school and relax.  My two cute cousins were both having baby girls and I was going to be there for all of the excitement!

Then came some of the most horrible news I had ever heard. My sweet cousins baby was going to be a still born. Our hearts were completely broken. She was their first. We were so excited for her to come and be with her cousins and aunts and her mom and dad! I remember sitting outside the hospital room after she was delivered, crying and asking God, “Why, why did this happen?! She was ours, she was supposed to be ours!!”

And the answer came, clear in my mind, “She is still yours.”
Suddenly I remembered. Temple covenants have bound her to our family. She is ours forever.  I was washed with peace knowing our sweet McKinley was never lost to us because of the temple and Heavenly Fathers great plan.

While in Montana, I applied again to nursing schools. This time I was accepted to Dixie State and I was pretty excited, but I waited to hear from BYUI.

On a stupid technicality, my application was rejected though I was (what I felt,) more than qualified. I had wanted so badly go to BYUI. My friends were there, it was close to the ones I had in Billings as well. There had also been potential for a relationship with a boy whom I had really liked. It was somewhere I was comfortable. The tuition was cheap, not to mention it is a great nursing school!  Yet again, I didn’t understand why the Lord didn’t want me there, a place that focused greatly on his gospel, a place I desperately wanted to be. I felt a bit rejected and unworthy.

So I went down south were I was accepted and tried to adjust.  It was very different.  I had a few family members I knew and I made a few friends and had some great roommates, but often I was lonely and sad.  I stayed for the summer thinking it was a good way to make friends, but I spent most of my time alone.  I called my mom and dad often and told them how I wished I was somewhere else. Deep down I think I knew this was where I was supposed to be, but had no idea why.

July 14th, 2013.
My parents died.
My heart broke.

But in thinking about the last two years, my life made more sense.

I was being prepared.

Had I gone on a mission, I would not have been there for my sisters right away. I would not have gotten to see my parents the day before their passing.  I would not be in a position where I could make sure they are taken care of.

Had I not been there for Ashley’s accident, I would not have learned to have faith that Heavenly Father really is in control and no matter what the outcome, it really will be alright.

Had I stayed at BYUI and not been in Montana when Kaitie and Adam lost McKinely, I would not have had the experience that gave me a strong testimony of Temples and the Plan of Salvation that I now cling to.

Had I not been in St. George, I would not have had the immediate family support I had when the news broke.  I would not have been able to get to my scared and lonely sisters in the hospital as quickly.

This all tells me several things.

1.  God has a plan for my life.
2.  Things that happen might not make sense now, but we will know the meaning of all of this eventually.
3.  My best interests are always His motivation, even when it doesn’t feel that way.
4. He prepares the way when he asks us to do hard things.

So, I guess the whole point of this is that I don’t know why this has happened to me and my sisters.  I am living between hoping this isn’t reality and the heart breaking truth that it really is.  I question why the Lord thought it best I should have this burden on my shoulders, or why He thinks I can do it at all.

But I am not angry. I am not afraid.
Everything works out.
In time I will know. Maybe in two years, maybe in forty. I probably won’t even fully comprehend why until I get to see Mom and Dad again.

Until then I wait  in faith.  🙂

Forever
••••••••
-MMM-

This post was written day before yesterday (7/26), and forwarded to me by a friend. It touched my heart.  So, I reached out and asked Ryanne if I could run it on my blog so more people could find it. She graciously accepted.

While it is not spelled out in the post, Ryanne’s parents were both killed in a car accident, leaving behind three daughters – Ryanne being the eldest.
I don’t know Ryanne, or her family.  But I love her.  I admire her for her tremendous strength and her faith.  It is important to note that her parents were taken from her less than two weeks ago. She is in the middle of this difficult process – yet she shows such wisdom, grace, and faith.
Her story brings up some thoughts I will blog about later in the week. But for now, I would like to point out how rare it is to see the importance of why things happen when we are in the midsts of them. Often things happen and it takes years or a lifetime to understand the “why.” Sometimes we never do, and we have to trust in the Lord that one day, when we meet, the answers will become clear.
My heart goes out to Ryanne and her sisters.
I also found out that there is a Memorial Trust set up for the girl. Contributions can be made  through PayPal using the email address mayfamily1989@gmail.com.
Also, there has been an account at Wells Fargo established under the name May Family Memorial Account.
Also, here is Ryanne’s blog. She’s awesome.
Please show her the love.

17

I lost it.
I lost my blessing.

No, not in “Esau traded it for a mess of pottage” sort of way.  I mean I lost my actual copy of my patriarchal blessing that I got 34 years ago. So don’t get all worried about my soul. (But I do enjoy a nice bowl of lentils.)

How does one lose his patriarchal blessing?  It baffles me. A few weeks ago I felt the need to read it again, and went to get it. It was gone. My EC had made me a small copy to fit in my scriptures, and it wasn’t there.

So I went to Option 2: The original copies of all our family’s blessings are in a folder locked in our safe. They weren’t there. My EC looked all over, but couldn’t find the folder. The plot thickens…

Option 3:  Years ago I typed it into my computer so I could have a digital copy. It was gone too. Granted, that was many years, and many computers ago.

Both back-up plans failed.

I have read my blessing so many times that I could probably recreate it with about 75% accuracy. (Hmm – that might be an interesting thing to attempt.)

Of course, not having access to it made me want to read it even more, so I ordered myself a new one. (Not a new blessing, but a copy of the original blessing. A new blessing would be cool though, for comparison sake. I do have a friend who is almost 90 years-old who is preparing to receive his blessing. I’m curious to know what the Lord would say to someone He is going to be seeing relatively soon.)

Where was I? Oh, the correct pronunciation of “Patriarchal.”  I wrote an entire post about it here: “Looking for the ‘Art’ in ‘Patriarch.'”

(I know I wasn’t really talking about pronunciation, but I had to slip it in as a public service.)

My EC offered to order a copy for me through LDS.org, but I wanted to do it myself. It took about two minutes.  In case you were not aware of this option, here is what you do.

1) Go to LDS.org.
2) Find this:

3) Click the link, and fill out the form. Ta-dah!
It took less than a week for the copy to arrive, and now I have a fresh copy, of a copy.

If you have never received a patriarchal blessing, or have not read yours in a long time, you might be asking yourself what all the fuss is about.  Elder Russell M. Nelson described it like this:

“Jesus Christ’s Church provides patriarchal blessings to give each recipient a vision for his or her future as well as a connection with the past, even a declaration of lineage back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 

President Monson said, “A patriarchal blessing is a revelation to the recipient, even a white line down the middle of the road, to protect, inspire, and motivate activity and righteousness. A patriarchal blessing literally contains chapters from your book of eternal possibilities.”

That quote comes from a great talk entitled, “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light.” I recommend that you watch the whole talk, it’s bonafide. (Link here.)

Who wouldn’t want that? A vision of our future? A personal Liahona for protection and motivation?

That’s why I needed to recover my blessing. I missed it.

Do you want to know what it says?  Fat chance.  I hold it sacred, and very personal.  I flinch whenever I hear someone quote their blessing in a talk or lesson. (yes, the irony of me losing mine has been pointed out. Thanks.)

I have had friends and family members serve as patriarchs. It has been so impressive to me to witness the dedication and efforts these brethren and their wives go to to remain pure vessels so they can do the Lord’s work. It is a 24/7 responsibility to be worthy enough to  serve as a conduit between the Holy Ghost and other people. I am grateful to them, and their efforts.

If you already received your patriarchal blessing, give it a look. If you haven’t read it for a while, see what it says to you today. It is a lot like looking at the ocean – depending on the day, the light, and where you are standing, it can appear very different.

If you haven’t received a patriarchal blessing, get to it. Call the Executive Secretary in your ward and make an appointment to see the bishop. Get on LDS.org and read everything you can find on the subject. After the bishop gives you a recommend for the blessing, contact the patriarch and make an appointment.  I would suggest that you prepare yourself leading up to it by praying like crazy, doing things that bring the Spirit into your life, and fasting the day of.

You’ll be glad you reached out to the Lord. He has something wonderful waiting for you.

It is a gift. (And keep track of your copy.)