Tag Archives: Are my faith and religion really real?

Choosing to dance in the sun

Our son Nick is in Peru on a mission. He’s pretty much hitting the half-way point this week. His mother and I knew that he would exceed our expectations in things he learns and the ways he grows, but even our wildest imaginings have been left in the dust by what this young man has gained in experience and how much he has developed.

He continues to share with us some pretty intense thoughts and observations on life; what is leaving us speechless is how closely his learnings mirror our own. Here we are a world away from each other, and yet we feel closer than ever as we share incredibly similar experiences and lessons.

Anybody wonder how that could happen?

I don’t.

And the knowledge of it brings me to my knees in gratitude and humility.

There was something he had written that I had misunderstood, so I asked for more explanation. What I got back was an incredibly mature, yet vulnerable self-awareness.

In a nutshell, he shared how over time he had come to embrace our family motto of “learning to dance in the rain.”

bombs

For quite a few years we seemed to take hit after hit and I think we felt a bit shell shocked. To not let each volley of ammunition knock us back over again we learned to stand in a bit of a crouch with our heads down and shoulders squared.

We were ready for the next bomb to hit.

And for quite some time, they just kept coming.

But Nick realized that after a while, with our heads down like that, we kind of missed so much of the great stuff that was also coming our way. Continue reading Choosing to dance in the sun

What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

While the kids were young we always had a family book that we read after dinner and the kitchen was cleaned up. Some were single volumes, others were entire series. We loved quite a variety. We made it through hundreds.

book

Sometimes we’d stay up later than we should, cuddled on the couch, and reading “just one more chapter, please!” This was true as we worked our way through the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

I remember one evening particularly when the power had gone out and we were reading by flashlight. We ended up staying awake past 1:00 a.m. to finish the book. That memory is dear to all of us.

We did the same thing with the movies. We all waited and saw them for the first time together. Kind of a fun family tradition. Since then, watching and reading again has always made us think of each other.

Over the weekend we were watching the final Harry Potter movie together before Alex leaves for graduate school in a few weeks. So, when we came close to the end of the film, we all knew what was coming before it happened.

It’s one of my favorite conversations, in both book and movie. The scene takes place after Harry has willingly let Voldemort kill him in order to save all of the others. After the wand blast, Harry finds himself in a clean, white, between-life conversation with Professor Dumbledore. As Harry makes the choice to go back and continue the fight against evil, the scene ends with this last interchange:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Continue reading What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

Why do we leave the greatest tool locked in the toolbox?

This article is part 5 of a 5 part series.

For part 1, click here.

For series summary, click here.

We’ve been asking a lot of questions about the mental health care system in this series. Nothing wrong with that. Questioning can lead to answers and solutions.

Digging a little deeper into what happens that someone ends up in the system in the first place, realizing that those who are there are certainly not lost causes but real people with real stories, and evaluating the reality of the mental health care system versus how we wish it would be has hopefully brought the picture into a little bit clearer focus.

Or at least helped us to ask more questions.

Being honest about things I learned about myself while there certainly exposes me a little (or a lot), but I believe if I want to make a difference in the world, I have to start with me. I can’t really expect people to be willing to be more honest than I am willing to be.

Neither can you. Continue reading Why do we leave the greatest tool locked in the toolbox?

How come we search for a heavenly society while excluding heaven?

While working in the yards today I had my IPod going in my ears, as usual. Work is always a little better with songs that make your heart sing a bit, or your toe tap a bit, or put a bit of a spring in your step.

music

You know what I mean.

At any rate, I noticed a theme in the songs. By the third one in a row with the same message, I stopped to actually listen and let the words soak in.

Each singer was wistfully searching for a society where we were all kind to each other, where we didn’t harm each other, where everyone was being taken care of by everyone else. But the tone of the music and the melancholy voices made it all seem like a pipe dream – something we all wish for, but know it just can never be.

I stopped right there in the middle of the backyard and asked “Why not?”

Why do we harm each other?

Why aren’t we kind to everyone?

Why don’t we look out for the needs of those around us? Continue reading How come we search for a heavenly society while excluding heaven?

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Anyone who knows me can state that I am a bit naïve, my wife being number one on the list. I didn’t even know we were dating for months. You can imagine the dumbfounded look on her face when someone commented and I turned to her and asked “Oh, are we dating?”

It’s kind of amazing that we are now such a happy family.

Over the years, I still have my moments where it is obvious that I have been flying under the radar and not clearly grasping reality around me. It’s part of the magic of being me.

At least, that is what I tell Ann.

But I feel like I am going through a bit of a learning curve lately.

I watched a presentation by a man with a PhD on “what Mormons believe.” I listened carefully and, even though it was pretty obvious he thought the beliefs were outrageous, he had probably more than 90% of it right.

In my naiveté I found myself asking the screen, “Why doesn’t that make sense to you? It makes perfect sense to me.”

Then I did some reading on what others feel that it means to worship the Savior Jesus Christ, to take His name upon us, and to be a Christian.

I will admit my jaw kept hitting the desktop.

Really?

Really??

I guess the situation had now completely reversed and I was like the man with the PhD. Even with an understanding of the technical aspects of his beliefs, it felt so foreign to me.

We should have been the same; yet we really couldn’t have been more different.

Here’s another thought.

While talking about this same thing Sunday morning, our daughter made an incredibly insightful comment. She said that there are many people of the Muslim faith who are good, kind people who are simply trying to help their fellow neighbor. There are people of the Jewish faith who are filled with love and make the world a better place each day. We can go around the world and find people everywhere who live lives worthy of emulation.

They exhibit behavior that is very, well, Christ-like. Very Christian.

Kind of a topsy-turvy world.

Christians telling other Christians that they aren’t in fact Christian. Non-Christians behaving Christian.

My little naïve mind could probably burst at the confusion of it all.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Obviously there is not just one perception out there; there are many.

It made me wonder, what is my perception? What is my understanding of what it means to be a Christian?

Am I offended or angry when someone who doesn’t know me, has never met me, tells me that I am not a Christian?

I took the time to let this go through my head and bounce around a while.

All I could come up with is, no, I’m really not offended at all.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about it.

But maybe I’m not asking the right question.

Am I offended or angry when someone who knows me, has worked with me, has watched me through the years, tells me that I am not a Christian?

This is a harder question.

No. I am not offended or angry.

I am ashamed.

And I think I have a little better understanding of what it may actually mean to be a Christian.

The Savior Jesus Christ is real. He lived. He lives.

To behave, as closely as we can, as he behaved, as he behaves, takes a lifetime.

There will be days that you watch me and witness things that I am not very proud of. On those days, I wouldn’t deserve to be counted among those who profess to follow His example.

We all have those days.

Perhaps part of being a Christian is not focusing on each other when we stumble, but rather holding out a hand and helping each other to stand back up.

 

To all the Christian-behaving Muslims, and Christian-behaving Jews, and Christian-behaving Buddhists, thank you for the example you show in helping us to be better Christian-behaving Christians.

There is a lot of good out there. Maybe through looking at each other with compassion and gratitude, it will help us to see ourselves as we hope to be.

And people won’t be so worried about what each other is or isn’t, but will just want to be more like Him.

That’s a win for everyone.