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Friday, January 12, 2018

You're Just Being a Pollyanna!

When someone angrily accuses me of being a "Pollyanna"*, I reply with a polite, "Thank you".  I know they are trying to make me admit that "life isn't just roses and lollipops". Being nearly seventy years old, I'm well aware that roses also have thorns and lollipops raise blood sugar. I've raised four children, had a painful restricting illness for 45 years, and known many sorrows and disappointments, and, yes, I'm proud to be a "Pollyanna". 

Why? The character, Pollyanna, shows amazing courage, strength of character, and optimism.  This little girl has lost her mother, never had much materially living on charity donations while her father served as a missionary, and then when he died, she is sent to live with a spinster aunt who gives her little love or attention. Instead of letting her life get her down, she looks for the good in every situation and in every person.  She looks for the good even when she is hit by a car and her legs are paralyzed. Through her determination to appreciate what she has and hope for a better future, she changes many lives, making the whole town a better place to live.

Yes, many people think such a reaction is unrealistic. It's true that many people dwell on the negative, giving up hope. They view this as "accepting reality". I've been in some pretty deep pits, and I can assure you that sulking over life's unjustness, grieving endlessly for what you do not have, and bitterly enduring your "thorn in the flesh", isn't going to make you feel better about what has, or has not, happened to you. It is well accepted that thoughts proceed actions and positive thoughts are more likely to result in positive outcomes. Being depressed makes any pain MUCH worse, I know! 

You will say that you can't go around smiling inanely at all the terrible things that happen in your life. No, you will not always be smiling in life. You will feel pain; the pain that comes with loving deeply. You will experience sorrow and grieve. But if you have a big picture of the purpose of life which is to grow toward our full potential, then you can see challenging situations as opportunities for growth - then you can continue to hope and love;  then you can follow Pollyanna's example, and even in tough times, uplift not only yourself, but others. This is why my goal for this next year is to be a "Pollyanna".

*Pollyanna is the main character in the novel Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter, published in 1913

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How are Mormons Trying to Make the World Better?


 A friend of mine commented that though the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are providing good emergency help, that is not enough to really solve the problems the people are experiencing. She gave the Caribbean area as an example. This is my response to her:

I agree that the Caribbean area is a shambles and it has been for a long, long time. The hurricanes have just made it worse. Yes, it is necessary to give emergency aide, but that is just a temporary band-aid approach. You need to do things that make long term changes in  peoples lives and hearts. Around the world, Mormons provide immunizations, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, educational loans, loans and training for small home businesses, dig wells and build houses, demonstrate how to grow crops, give sanitation and nutrition education, health and disease training, provide elementary and secondary schools in Mexico and the Pacific Islands and assistance for higher education, give self-reliance training (managing finances, preserving food, job training), maternal and newborn care, refugee help, job training, provide employment centers which not only help to find jobs but help in learning how to write resumes and interview, communication skills, education on family relationships and problem solving, teach English, family counseling, and more.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How Could I Believe in Prophets?


https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-04-15-we-need-living-prophets?lang=eng&_r=1

When I was in my mid-teens, I met a girl who was a "Mormon" (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). There was something different about her and her family; a sense of strength, peace, and love. After asking her many questions about her faith, she suggested that I talk to the "Mormon" missionaries. I did and had many, many questions for them.

One thing that I believed was that God must speak with someone. I had always assumed that at least the Pope talked with God. I was very surprised and disappointed to learn that he doesn't even claim to receive direct revelation from God.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Courage

This video showing women with courage, strengthened me and helped me face eye surgery. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-03-004-courage?lang=eng

Facing surgery, I prayed for courage. For most people these surgeries would be only a minor inconvenience, but not for me. My adrenal glands had failed. For 15 years, I was completely dependent on adrenal medication to keep me alive. For the last two years, I no longer needed medicine, but how healed was I? Could my body handle the stress of surgery? Was my immune system strong enough to deal with all the medicines that would be used? Over and over in the past, I had passed out after just a whiff of a chemical. What would happen to me when I had surgery?

As I prayed and was given a Priesthood blessing (https://www.lds.org/topics/priesthood-blessing?lang=eng), I was assured that all would be well; and it was.

I have always felt inspired by the courage of Queen Esther ever since my husband read the story to our family. Here is a video which shows more of Esther's story. https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-03-30-for-such-a-time-as-this?lang=eng

You can read the rest of the story here. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/esth?lang=eng
I love the justice of the ending.

Monday, October 9, 2017

"Dirty Windows"

As my eyesight dimmed, I thought of this funny video. It is about a woman who judges her neighbor, only to find that it was her own dirty window that was at fault.  I've felt as if I have been looking at life through "dirty windows".  After my eye surgery, I left my blurry, dull, yellow-gray existence behind me, waking the next morning to a world filled with stunning beauty. This emotional experience has reminded me to look for the good, to clean my own negative "dirty windows", so I that can not only see the the outer beauty, but the inner beauty in the people around me.

Looking through Windows - https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-01-004-looking-through-windows?lang=eng
 Read President Monson's full address"Charity Never Faileth".

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Could I leave the "Mormon" faith?

As my father was dying, he begged me to come back to our traditional family religion. He claimed that since all religions were about the same, it wouldn't make any difference. Though I knew it would mean so much to my dad, I didn't do it. Why?

To answer, I must go back to my college days. I lived just down the hill from the University of California at Berkeley. It was in the 1970's, the age of Hippies, and "Flower Power". Youth were questioning. They were tired to just being admonished to do as you are told. They didn't want to merely follow some traditional religion. They wanted answers. They wanted to know the meaning of life. Some sought "enlightenment" in Far Eastern religions and some in LSD drug highs. For most it was just a "fad", but for me it was not.

I studied the major world religions and found some truths there. I looked at Christian religions and found some truth there. But it was not enough for me. I wanted more than beliefs that some people had decided would make good guides for life. I was looking for more. I wanted truth; what was real. I was looking for something that felt right.

One day I began to study the "Mormon" faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I found again the real God, a loving Heavenly Father, who I had known as a child until I became lost in all sorts of religious "mysteries". I learned that my life had purpose -- to learn, grow and become like my Heavenly Father, and that our Savior could help me reach my full potential. I had always felt that loving relationships could not just end and was thrilled to hear that we could continue in families after we left this life. It all felt right and true. It felt like I had rediscovered truths that I had always known.

It was like going from candlelight into the sun. After years of searching, I had found not some man-made set of beliefs, but the truth I was seeking and could never leave.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Should "Mormon" Church Members Question?

Of course!  Questioning is how we learn. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in these latter days because a young man questioned the traditional Christian teachings. Joseph Smith prayed and asked God what church was right? Which church should I join?

But many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are very concerned that they are showing a lack of faith if they question their leaders. Though we are warned to follow our leaders to help us be safe in these perilous times, that does not mean that we are to blindly follow them like unthinking robots.  We each have a responsibility to carefully study the things our leaders say, then we must pray to know what they are saying is right.  It is only after own own effort that we can gain our own testimony, our own witness from God, of the truth of what our leaders are saying.  It is only when we act on what we have learned to be right,  that we will grow and progress.

Some members can feel OK about asking for a confirmation that what leaders are saying is right, but feel that they are doing something wrong if they question Church doctrine.  What confuses members and is causing their concern is that there are seeing two different things. One is the honest questioning of a person who is looking for answers. The other is people who are looking merely for a quick way to discount the Gospel teachings and live a less demanding life.