Friday, August 25, 2006

For Whom Am I Crying?

I've been choking back tears a lot today.

Keryn is halfway through her pregnancy with our third child. We had our ultrasound this morning and discovered that our baby boy has spina bifida. This is a physical problem with the formation of the spine that can cause paralysis in extreme cases. Usually there is some form of nerve damage that will affect the lower body in some way.

Keryn and I have tried to keep on our brave faces, but breaking the news to our family and friends today has been challenging. I work with a lot of university students. Three of them were in my office for various reasons shortly after I got back to work. One of them cheerfully asked me how the ultrasound had gone. I wasn't able to keep my composure. (Awkward for him!)

Throughout the day I've wondered for whom I am crying. Am I really so godly that I sorrow for the pains of my child yet unborn? Or do I cry for more selfish reasons? Do I feel I've been robbed of the "normal" future I might have had with my third child? Am I crying for the pain my wife is feeling and for the great struggles that lay ahead of her?

Probably a bit of everything.

I hope my son won't be ashamed. I know there are deaf people who cringe at the label "disabled" and don't want to be pitied. It sounds like spina bifida is a condition something akin to being blind or deaf. Part of your body doesn't work normally but your brain is intact. I'm crying for my son today, but I hold out a hope in my heart for his bright future.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mysteries of Godliness

Two phrases occur several times in the scriptures. "Mysteries of God" and "Mystery of Godliness." I often use the phrase jokingly, but I think there is real confusion about the meaning of the phrase. While I'm not finished in my journey to understand it, the following represents my current understanding.

These mysteries don't constitute the body of trivia that only God knows. These truths are markers on the path of godliness. That we can become like our Father in Heaven is a mystery to the worldly. When we learn a mystery of godliness, we learn how to become godly.

Geoff J. at New Cool Thang writes, "I think God refrains from sending us angels like he did in the case of Laman and Lemuel because he doesn’t only want us to hear what he has to say, he want us to become what He is."

The mysteries won't be handed to us on a silver platter or delivered in the mouth of an angel. But they are, nevertheless, the things God wants us to know more than anything else because our exaltation is his work and glory.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Creatures of Eternity

You've heard the term "grumpy old man." You've also met old people who are sweeter than cream. Why do we tend to find old people at such polar extremes of personality? They can be especially kind or especially cruel. Some have theorized that it has to do with the removal of inhibitions as we age. I suspect that plays a role, but I believe that part of the equation has to do with what we've become over time. People who spend a lifetime becoming sweeter each day are going to be mighty sweet seniors.

I'm reminded of a snippet of a talk by Neal A. Maxwell when he spoke at a symposium about C. S. Lewis on the subject of discipleship.
Furthermore, since discipleship occurs in a tight mortal time frame, it is all the more a rigorous and ongoing developmental journey. No wonder Lewis stressed our need to persist: "Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse—so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years." (C. S. Lewis, The Man and His Message: An LDS Perspective. p. 10)
We don't have to make giant strides each day. We just have to creep in the right direction. We are creatures of eternity, and direction truly matters more than location. That's what Hugh Nibley was getting at when he said that anyone who is repenting is righteous.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"They don't pay me enough"

My wife has been struggling to keep all the slots filled to have a functioning Primary in our ward. On Sunday, she asked a former bishop of our ward to sit with a class that had only one teacher. Well, sit he did. And nothing more. Apparently, he might as well have been a bump on a log for all the help he was to the other teacher in helping the kids be quiet and respectful.

After Primary, my wife thanked him for coming in to which he replied, in essense, "Well, I guess I wasn't too much help, but they don't pay me enough!" He chuckled. Exhausted and exasperated, Keryn wanted to slap him and doesn't remember what she actually said in response, though I don't doubt it was very polite. She is such a good woman.

When Keryn recounted the story to me, my sanctimonious self knew exactly what to say. "You think that the pittance you give to the service of your fellow man (and children) isn't well enough repaid by the God who has promised to give us everything he has? You think that isn't pay enough?! *smack*"

When Keryn recounted the story to me, my other self knew exactly what to say. "I know what you mean."

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