The Other Side of the Coin

Disenfranchised members of the church, ex-members, non members who have family in the church often relate feelings of anger or rejection?Ǭ† from family members who can’t seem to accept their choice. Often what happens is those family who reacted so strongly, come around, and attempt to repair relationships, and often after much time ( years, commonly) things are back to a kind of truce, as love can overcome so much.

What often isn’t addressed is when family members who leave the church reject those family and friends who stay; cutting off contact and having such a hatred for the church that it transfers to family members who are unwilling to deny their testimonies, and who have to endure the ridicule and condemnation of family who they love who can’t seem to separate their parent, sibling or other extended family from the church. It is all lumped into one big pool of hatred and anger.

There is nothing you can do to fix it except to leave the church and denounce your testimony. That would bring back your loved one. But you can’t do that, because to do so would be to deny who you are, and so you would lose yourself.

I know this doesn’t always happen, but it does sometimes and it is possibly the most painful experience someone can have. It really hurts and you can’t do a thing about it except the most offensive thing to the family member, and that is pray.

How to learn great things from the Lord

While reading my scriptures tonight, I was reading about Nephi and his brothers building their ship to sail to the Americas. For example, see 1 Ne. 18:2

Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.

But it was the next verse that stuck out to me. Not only for the insight it gives us into how Nephi was able to build the ship, but how we might apply it in our own lives.

I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.

What’s interesting here is that Nephi showed us to learn great things from the Lord, he went often into the mountain and prayed often. Perhaps if we want to learn great things, we too should pray often and go to the mountain ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù in other words attend the temple ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù often.

Religion and a learning disability

A few years ago, I went to see a psychologist in order to have an IQ test done. I will not say what the score was, but it was fairly high. Higher than 98% of the population in fact (but still much lower than others I have met).

Anyhow, while in the 90-minute assessment, the psychologist noticed something different regarding the way I responded to some questions and pressed further after regarding some background. She later determined that I have a slight learning disability. Without further tests, however, she was unable to diagnose me or say specifically which it was.

What she did say, however, was it was likely trauma induced (I received a concussion during a skiing accident in Saskatchewan when I was 14) and it affected my ability to concentrate.

Up to that point, I had never really thought about it before, but I did find it difficult concentrating after that. I did well academically in elementary school, but relatively poorly once I hit high school. I often daydreamed in class. And that was in the classes where the teacher wasn’t boring; in those classes I would fall asleep.

It sure made sense why I hated school so much. It was not because I was too stupid to learn anything. It was because I found it difficult to concentrate. It also explains why I did so well in college compared to university. My college programme was all project-based and required very little lecturing.

Anyhow, I am digressing.

This limitation in my ability to concentrate or focus also affects how I interact in church meetings and other religious activities. I find it difficult to focus on most speakers in Sacrament. I have a hard time simply reading the scriptures. I can easily fall asleep saying silent prayers at night.

I have not been able to find ways to cope with sacrament speakers since I cannot really change how others present sermons. In that regard I just bear through it and try taking in the occasional sound bite or story. Stories usually help because they allow me to imagine the event being retold.

Scripture study and praying have been easier, however, since I have control over what I do.

I found three things that help me study my scriptures. The first, which I tried for the first time several years ago, is to rewrite the verses I read in my own words. I went through the entire Book of Mormon this way. It helps because it forces me to focus on one verse (1?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú2 sentences at a time).

The second is to use a commentary. Good commentaries are Institute manuals. I will read the commentary, including the scriptures on which it comments. While easier than trying to read straight through the scriptures, it still requires a fair bit of concentration.

The third method ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù and the one I currently use ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äù is probably my favourite. It entails me reading only a verse or two at a time and really digesting what is in it. I ponder messages in the verse and questions that it prompts in my mind. I also follow the footnotes in the verse providing me with context and further elaboration. I like this method because it helps me focus on a short selection of verses and it helps provide more depth to my understanding of gospel principles. In addition, it is a method that is guaranteed to provide me with gospel study for years to come (it can take a month to get through a single chapter).

Finally, the way I have found to cope with saying my prayers is to say them aloud, or at the very least to mouth the words if I am saying them silently. My morning prayers are often the most difficult since I say them at breakfast while the rest of my family is running around as the morning starts; it easy to get distracted. Prayers at work are easy since I have my own office and prayers in the van before I go on a visit or to a meeting are easy as well.

By speaking aloud, it helps me to concentrate and prevents me from day dreaming and forgetting what I have already said.

I am just glad I am not a bishop. That is the last thing a ward needs: their bishop falling asleep during Sacrament or having glazed over eyes during an interview.

Gratitude

“Expressing gratitude brings us humility. In a world where we have been given so much and might be severely tempted to pride, gratitude stands as a barrier, for one cannot fill pride and gratitude at the same time.”

–S. Michael Wilcox, “Gratitude”, January 2005 Ensign pg. 47

I saw this in an email I received this morning (LDSNuggets) and it really struck me as a truth. I can’t add much to it, except I believe gratitude is something our world is sadly lacking in, and something we are in dire need of.

Several years ago my Institute class was challenge (as I know many others have been before that and since) to offer a “gratitude prayer” in our personal prayers. I took up the challenge and it turned out, spent a lot of time on my knees, in tears of humility and thankfulness, unable to end it. The reason was, everything I gave thanks for brought new blessings to my mind. More and more, the reality of how blessed I have been in my life overwhelmed me.

Anyway, gratitude and pride. They cannot co-exist. And what is more valuable to our personal growth? Gratitude.