Occasionally, I will have to spend careful time choosing the subject of my Sunday post. This is not one of those times. In fact, the subject of this post was “suggested” to me from no less than four different sources – three within mere minutes of each other. I’ve learned that it is not wise to ignore such shoves…er…promptings.
1) Friday night I took my EC to the ballet for her birthday. Romeo & Juliet, the story of a pair of star-crossed morons. While not a regular ballet attendee, I did appreciate the beauty and the extreme amount of strength, grace, beauty and skill presented. (The music, sets, costuming and lighting were remarkable, too.)
During one of the scenes where Romeo and Juliet were dancing around together, there was a series of lifts that would make Patrick Swayze hide in the corner. Romeo would pick up Juliet and spin her around in the air as if she were weightless. My interior dialogue went something like this:
“Man, that dude is strong.”
“Yeah, but she probably weighs like 80lbs.”
“True. Do you think his tights are tight enough?”
“I can’t imagine how much trust she must have in him to let him to do those lifts.”
Within seconds of making that observation – seconds – there was a stumble, a bobble, and then a graceful recovery. I’ll bet some people didn’t even notice. I was stunned because of the timing, but it reinforced my point. She almost came crashing down from high above her partner’s head. This reminded me that…
2) Earlier that day I saw a video clip of a UCLA cheerleader named Sophie take a scary fall off the top of a pyramid o’ cheerleaders during a time out.
One of the trainers immediately picked her up and rushed her off the court to have her checked out. To add insult to injury, the trainer tripped over a duffle bag and proceeded to full-out body slam the poor girl into the floor. (I’ll drop the video in at the bottom of the post.)
Fortunately, Sophie was fine, and returned to the game.
3) During the first intermission at the ballet – yes there were two – I was checking my social media and saw a post on Facebook from a friend that said this:
“You know that feeling you get when you think you’ve done something really awesome for someone, and it turns out that it’s actually 100 times worse than terribly wrong?”
Uh-oh. Somebody messed up. (I would tell you who it was, but some of you might be friends with Nick Newman, so I’ll keep it our secret.)
It turns out that this friend was being a super-great husband and getting the broken glass on his wife’s phone repaired. Little did he know that the thousands of photos on the phone would be lost forever when he told the repairman to go ahead and wipe the phone before he repaired it. (Yes, you may gasp.)
I’m sure the trainer and the ballet dude were doing their best to be careful. Thankfully, in both cases the girls shook it off and were willing to continue. Can you imagine if the ballerina stomped off the stage because she felt she could no longer trust her partner?
The thought also crossed my mind that the ballerina had probably been dropped by ballet dudes countless times in her life – yet here she was – trusting her physical well-being and her career to some guy in tights.
I’ve been married over thirty years now, and one thing I have learned is that marriage is a constant parade of stumbles. bobbles, drops and the occasional (metaphorical) body slam. Which leads me to….
4) During the second intermission, I checked my Twitter feed and saw a quote by Elder Lynn G. Robbins making the rounds:
“A happy and successful marriage depends on two good forgivers.”
This is true. That simple sentence carries more weight than all the marriage self-help books ever written.
Add to it this: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh” (Matt. 19:5–6.) It is far more difficult to be of one heart and mind than to be physically one. This unity of heart and mind is manifest in sincere expressions of “I appreciate you” and “I am proud of you.” Such domestic harmony results from forgiving and forgetting, essential elements of a maturing marriage relationship.” (President James E. Faust)
What we often forget is that a happy, healthy marriage is not merely an affair of the heart, it takes more that that. I’ll let Elder Robbins explain it:
“Too many believe that love is a condition, a feeling that involves 100 percent of the heart, something that happens to you. They disassociate love from the mind and, therefore, from agency. In commanding us to love, the Lord refers to something much deeper than romance—a love that is the most profound form of loyalty. He is teaching us that love is something more than feelings of the heart; it is also a covenant we keep with soul and mind.” (link)
Love is a choice.It is not a mystical thing that comes at us from the outside. If not, the principle of agency would be rendered worthless. We choose to love, just as we choose to hate. With love comes that mandatory and inevitable parade of stumbles. bobbles, drops and the occasional body slam.
Forgiveness is also a choice. A choice that enlightens, restore, purifies and binds.
Lack of forgiveness is a choice as well. A damning choice – not just for our relationships, but for our eternal outlook.
Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:9-10)
I have learned through successes and failures that the best things that I can do to maintain the wonderful relationship I share with my EC are,
Why? Because having my EC upset at me, or me being upset at her for even an hour is far too long. Because I am utterly incapable of walking through this life without messing something up. I am happy to say that I have never erased my wife’s phone, but I have had plenty of my own “body slam” moments. (I am also happy to report that my friend did not have to sleep on the couch – thankfully his wife understands these truths.)
I love President Hinckley’s way of making the profound sound so simple:
“The cure for most marital troubles does not lie in divorce. It lies in repentance and forgiveness, in expressions of kindness and concern. It is to be found in application of the Golden Rule.” (link)
Tuesday is Valentines Day. Can you think of a better gift that you can give your sweetheart than forgiveness? Complete, voluntary, purifying, healing forgiveness?
PS: Nick gave me permission to tell his story and reveal his identity.
“It’s Quiet Uptown.” Hamilton fans know this song well. It takes place when Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza are struggling with the aftermath of their son’s death, and Alexander’s part in it.
For the first part of my life February 5 held no special significance. It was just a regular cold, dreary day somewhere between Groundhog’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
Little did I know, but in a small town in Eastern Arizona, something happened on that day that would change the course of my mortal life and eternity. Yes, on February 5th, the baby girl that would grow up to become my Eternal Companion was born.
Think about that for a second. Sure, you could say that it is merely my wife’s birthday, but I would offer that is more than that. Much more. That day in February commemorates the single most important birth that has occurred in my lifetime. Am I overstating? Nope.
Not only that, but today on February 5, I commemorate the birth of the favorite person that I have ever met – and there are lots. This is the one person that I decided to spend my forever with and – even more astounding and inexplicable – she made the same determination. (I know, I know – it is hard to get your brain around that last part. Me too.)
It wasn’t until I was 24 years old that I found out about this important day, and I missed some things along the way. Specifically: I missed her riveting performance as “Miss Spring” in her elementary school class production:
Now we have been together for 30 years. I have the privilege of knowing her better than anyone else in the world, as she knows me. I’m honored.
To better celebrate her special day. I’m going to forgo my normal Sunday religious post as simply let you all know how much I adore my sweet wife. She is my world. She is a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and friend.
She is a gift.
As far as birthday stuff goes, I still am irritated that the NFL never got back to me about moving their little shindig to another day, but at least the baby back ribs were on sale.
I can’t tell you about her birthday presents yet, because we won’t open them until tonight, but I can tell you what I wanted to get her:
Six pillowcases with great big numbers 1-6 printed on them. I figure it could not only help her as she makes all the necessary pillow adjustments before attempting sleep, it could also help me make the bed correctly. (Maybe I should start a Kickstarter campaign.)
Have a great Sunday! My best to all of you. Make you all have a newfound appreciation for February 5.
That is it for today. I’ll start Sunday Night Check-in at 8:00pm, but I am not going to monitor it. I’m holding you to your own honor code.
Whoa. It has been an amazing week in the MMM household. As you know, we had a wedding Friday, but that is just part of the glorious flurry of events that we are in the midst of experiencing this week.
As I was trying to figure out a way to share them with you, I felt like I need to dig a little deeper. The flowers, the food, the clothes, the friends and family, the pomp and tradition is fabulous, but… we often get consumed by the worldly and material events that culture brings to the table. There is something deeper that can get lost in the whirlwind if we aren’t careful.
There has been a perfect storm of ordinances in our household this week that might happen only once, or twice in a lifetime. It is those ordinances that really matter. The rest is just window dressing and parties.
“As we are worthy, the ordinances of the priesthood enrich our lives on earth and prepare us for the magnificent promises of the world ahead. The Lord said, “In the ordinances … the power of godliness is manifest.” (Elder Neil L. Anderson)
The power of godliness? Have I seen it? Yes. And I have used the word “glorious,” more times this week than I ever have before in my life. Glorious.
On Friday evening, my new daughter-in-law entered the temple and received her endowment. As she made sacred covenants and ordinances were performed, we were there performing them on behalf of family members who have gone on before.
As I quietly sat there, I could look down the row and see three of my sons, my daughter, my two new daughters, and my sweet eternal companion. It was glorious. It was fulfilling. I sensed the power of godliness as the Holy Ghost participated with us.
“In all the ordinances, especially those of the temple, we are endowed with power from on high.This “power of godliness” comes in the person and by the influence of the Holy Ghost.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
There is a singular beauty and simplicity to a temple sealing/wedding. Yesterday, as we waited reverently in the sealing room (pictured above) I studied my wife’s face as I contemplated our almost 30 year union, and our wedding day in a similar sealing room. My heart filled with joy, for the memories, and for gratitude to both her and God. Valentine’s Day got lost in the shuffle this year, but everyday is Valentine’s Day for us. (Don’t believe me? Ask my wife.)
The ordinance of temple marriage is a radically unique concept, but the simplicity, and logic of such a union is so patently obvious that it baffles me that couples aren’t lining up outside to receive these ordinances – if they only understood.
The promises that come with the sealing ordinance are godliness manifest. As my son and his new wife knelt together and became a new family, with the glorious potential of eternity, they sparkled with the brilliance of purity and hope. They are now an “US,” in all the glory of that uniting word and concept.
From my vantage point, I could see my son’s face as it radiated excitement and goodness. Purity is attractive, He also struggled in vain to fight back the tears of joy that welled in his eyes as he stared across the altar into the eyes of his very own EC.
(The Sealer spoke to ordinances and covenants, and if I can get his permission, I’ll share some of his thoughts in a future post.)
Now, at this very moment, I am sitting in the hallway outside the bishop’s office as my youngest interviews with the Bishop. If all goes well…in a few hours I will have the opportunity to lay my hands on his head, joined by his brothers, and ordain him to the office of Teacher in the Aaronic priesthood. That ordinance will provide him with opportunities for service and growth as he learns to understand and increase his priesthood power.
And he is 14. And I get to ordain him. I sense godliness in the father/son pattern as authority is shared. I sense mercy and kindness that the Lord would allow an imperfect father to perform such a sacred ordinance.
But before that ordinance takes place, my immediate family, much of my extended family, and my brothers and sisters in the gospel will gather and collectively participate in the wonderfully individual ordinance of the sacrament.
“We are commanded to repent of our sins and to come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and partake of the sacrament in compliance with its covenants. When we renew our baptismal covenants in this way, the Lord renews the cleansing effect of our baptism. In this way we are made clean and can always have His Spirit to be with us. The importance of this is evident in the Lord’s commandment that we partake of the sacrament each week.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks)
What a gift it is to essentially be re-baptized every week! To regain our purity and standing before God! The godliness found in the ordinance of the sacrament is also God’s mercy brought about through the atonement of Christ. And for us, the result is a continued striving for potential godliness in ourselves.
After we participate in the ordinance of the sacrament, my third son will be speaking, as he is due to depart to serve a mission in Mexico. While being set apart as a missionary does not constitute an “ordinance,” it does harken back to the ordinance he received last year when he was ordained to the office of Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood. He will spend two years of his life bringing the ordinances of salvation to others.
As you can see, this month is all about the ordinances. Sure, there have been events both huge and intimate, wonderful reunions, great food, lovely decor, and lots of love and laughter. And photographs, DId I mention those? (And a smidgin of work, worry, stress, expense and fatigue.)
But the overall importance of these days are those quiet moments when an ordinance has been, and will be performed by the authority of God’s priesthood, in the name of Jesus Christ.
The ordinances, and the covenants that attend them are not just “check-list” items. These ordinances define what we are about, what we are striving for, and how we spend our very lives. They are not ever “finished.” They are part of who we are. Most of the key elements in my life revolve around ordinances.
I feel God’s love in the ordinances of the gospel that he allows me and my loved ones to receive. Ordinances that help us grow, help us serve, help us thrive, help us repent, and help us draw closer to Him – all with the ever-present promise of an eternity together.
As many of you already know, FOML3 is getting married and sealed next Friday to his sweetheart. We are thrilled for Alex and Madi. Great kids, and a great couple.
When it comes to marriage advice, all of you know that I’m full of it. Wait – that came out wrong. What I mean to say is that I am more than happy to offer my advice on how to have a happy marriage. I consider myself a sort of a non-professional, non-degreed, non-stewardshipped expert on the subject. But, I readily acknowledge that other people have marriages almost as good as mine, and have plenty of insight. And that makes me happy.
Have you been to a wedding reception where they have asked you to offer some wedding advice on video for the young couple? Think of this as an MMM blog version of that.
Today, instead of reading my thoughts on how to have a happy and enduring marriage, I’m throwing it open to all of you. I cleared this with Alex and Madi, and they thought it sounded like a great idea. (I figure that they aren’t going to remember much of what happens this week, but they can go back and read this stuff later.)
Please submit your thoughts and experiences on marriage as a comment below. Your advice doesn’t have to be only spiritual. It can be whatever you feel has been of worth to you in your marriage. (I do reserve the right to screen them before they get posted.)
Also, if you are in a marriage, or are out of a marriage that was not so great, you still might have something to contribute in the way of caution, retrospect, or hope. Just leave out any references to hit men, someone being drawn and quartered, or how much you have grown to hate the institution of marriage. (Time and place, people.)
Share your advice. Don’t ramble. I like the suggestion that writing should be like a woman’s skirt, “long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.”
Include any supporting links or quotes if you have any.
Include how many years you have been married.
If you choose to be funny, make sure it’s funny.
Submit the comment. It might take me a little time to moderate and post it, because I will be at church part of the day.
Check back and read what people are contributing – you might learn something.
Give your spouse a big, passionate kiss and start gearing up for Valentine’s Day.
This is gonna be fun. Thanks for your contributions in advance – from both me and the cute couple.