Lesson #11

I've been thinking a lot about another lesson I'm trying to learn right now. I've realized it's been really easy for me to give in to the "chatter" that all marriages suck and that all men are selfish jerks. I've actually really been struggling internally with this. Debating with myself the question, "Do I even want to get married, ever? Why would I willingly submit myself to such misery?" Then, of course, those thoughts have been followed by guilt because my knowledge of the gospel and God have taught me to hope for a better world.

I had an awesome session with my therapist today and received a powerful witness that I indeed chose to be a part of this family. Maybe it was one of those last minute decisions...like how my mission president made a last minute change to the transfer list. I was friends with the assistants and one of them let it slip that I was scheduled for what would have been an ideal companionship and area for my last six weeks. Instead P. Haight called me into his office and shooed the elders away, put his hand on my shoulder and told me he was sorry, but he was throwing me a curve ball. I accepted that assignment, just like I accepted the call to come to this family--using my own free will. It's all part of the plan.

And no, I don't really think all marriages suck and all men are selfish jerks.


elizabeth said...

Good, I'm glad you don't think that. :) Because it's definitely not true. Being married to Collin is the most rewarding, not to mention fun, blessing in my life. Can't wait for you to find 'the one.' :)


InterestedReader said...

You are seriously such a special person. I think you don't realize how good you really are. In D&C 88:40, it talks about like things cleaving and embracing one another. One day you will find someone who loves and appreciates you for all you are. He will feel like he has been blessed by the Lord more than he deserves.

It's difficult for us men to be sensitive and understanding to women's needs and even to things of the Spirit. Elder Huntsman came to our stake conference and shared how his inactive father struggled. When Jon was leaving for school he asked his father if he could kneel with him in prayer. His father said to him, "I don't know how to pray." Jon wrapped his arms around his dad and walked him through a prayer.

I find it interesting that many of the Twelve came from inactive families: President Packer, Elder Nelson, Elder Scott, Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, and Elder Cook. The fathers of those families struggled to straighten themselves up to what their Lord and families needed. Why were these chosen servants of the Lord born in these less than perfect circumstance? Jacob 5:20-25 speaks to this.

I read the following piece that is long, but I think you will appreciate it vis-a-vis your recent revelatory experience.

"I first began to think in these terms as a result of counseling two women who had hard life assignments. The first had convinced her boyfriend to join the Church and one year later to marry her in the temple. Unhappily, the conversion didn't "take," and soon thereafter he returned to his worldly ways, which included all of the minor vices and several of the major ones. They had children who seemed to elect their father's life-style rather than their mother's. I watched this good sister struggle with her rebellious family over the years, and I am ashamed to admit that I had sometimes judged her harshly. For example, if she had asked my opinion, I could have told her before she married him that her husband-to-be was more committed to her than to the gospel. Also, I felt that she had been overly permissive with her children. In short, I self-righteously judged that if she had made better choices (as I had, for example) her life would have turned out better (as mine had, for example).

It eventually became necessary to excommunicate her husband, and in agony of spirit she asked me, her stake president, for a blessing to guide her as to what her duty was under the circumstances. In that blessing I learned a few things that even now make me burn with shame for my earlier spiritual arrogance toward that sister. The Lord told her that she was a valiant spirit in the premortal existence who had volunteered for hazardous duty on earth. Not for her was the safety of a secure marriage to an equally valiant partner. Not for her was the relative ease of rearing naturally obedient children. She had (perhaps rashly) volunteered to live her life in the front lines, as it were, of the continuing battle for men's souls. Twice, the Lord continued, she had been given the option of an honorable release from this difficult assignment. (After the blessing she confirmed this.) Twice she had been on the operating table at death's door and was given the free option of coming home or going back to face her challenging responsibilities. Twice she had squared her shoulders and returned to her difficult family. In the blessing she was told that the Lord loved her husband and her children despite their rebellious spirits and that if they were to have any chance at all it would be because of her Christlike patience and long-suffering with them.

When I took my hands off her head I bowed my head in shame, realizing that I stood in the presence of one of the Lord's great ones, truly a savior on Mount Zion.

True to her promise, she is succeeding against all odds in her mission. To everyone's surprise, her rowdy eldest son straightened out his life and went on a mission. He came back on fire with the Spirit and committed to the gospel. Her second son, who had often stated his intention of playing football instead of going on a mission, was helped by his elder brother and has also completed a successful mission and is headed for a temple marriage. Her daughters are slower to turn around, but I begin to see some softening there. Even her husband, the toughest of all, is beginning to mellow at the edges and to talk about putting his life in order (no action yet, but I am prepared to believe in miracles in this family).

(Carlfred Broderick, One Flesh, One Heart: Putting Celestial Love into Your Temple Marriage [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 50 - 51.)

Though I cannot justify our insensitivity and lack of devotion, I do think we men seriously want to do better. We want to love women the way that they deserve and the way our Heavenly Father expects. I see it and feel it in the brethren in the quorums that I have been in. I believe that sincerely.

Keep up the faith, continue having fun, live right, and things will work out. I know that they will.