Thursday, July 22, 2010


So, I have a lot of fun things I could post about. Happy developments, fun trips, good times, noodle get the idea. But what is on my mind is the nature of life, and particularly the hard things in life. It is common to hear people talk about God "giving" us challenges for a reason. After wrestling with some of my own challenges over the past couple years, I've decided I don't believe that at all. I don't believe God gives us challenges. In the scriptures it says how everything that is good comes from God, and I just don't buy that we are supposed to look at really sad, heartbreaking things as "good" because we can learn from them. I think it is okay to say, "That is a terrible/bad/sad/heartbreaking thing," and NOT feel like we are somehow not acknowledging God's love for us. The crappy things we have to deal with in life are simple a result of living here on this earth, which, for all its bounty and fabulousness, is not perfect. What I think is God's gift to us, is the strength to handle our hardships and heartbreaks, and the gift of the Savior not to have to do it alone. I don't believe that God looked down on some friends of mine who had conceived after a decade of trying and caused her to miscarry. I don't even think it is His "plan" for them not to have kids. I think it just is part of the whole package deal of life, and some of life stinks. Big time.

In Doctrine and Covenants 122, the Lord told Joseph Smith that no matter what awful things happened to him (and He listed a good number of the possibilities), that all these things would give him experience and would be for his good. I used to interpret that as a, "See, the blessings will come later," or "You will learn important lessons from this trial," but I don't see it that way anymore. It isn't a promise of better things in the future (Joseph Smith sure didn't have better things in his future), nor is it a "Everything is good because you learn from it," thing. The whole point of life IS THE EXPERIENCE, and THAT is where the good comes in. Before we came down to this earth, I imagine we got a pretty good idea of all the awful, terrible, disappointing, sad, miserable things that could happen to us. But we still wanted to come. The goal on the other side of this life was so magnificent that nothing would deter us. And even though we were made aware (probably painfully so) of all the crap we might have to wade through, we also knew that this life would provide a vast array of theretofore unexperienced wonders. The wonder of having a body, even a very imperfect one, and experiencing so many things for the first time was certainly something to look forward to. It's easy to be overly critical of our bodies here on earth, and other people's bodies, too. But every body, even the ones that might be viewed as less attractive or the ones that can't do everything that others do, is pretty awesome. If only we could remember that and celebrate it.

I wonder where we'd be if we didn't have ideas of physical beauty. I think its definitely hardwired into our biology, as evolutionarily, many organisms (especially birds and mammals) have criteria on which to judge potential mates, symmetry being frequently a key indicator of "fitness" (which as a biology term means ability to successfully reproduce, not hours spent at the gym). And if it is a "thing of the flesh," perhaps after this life there won't be a concept of physical beauty. With only perfected beings, I don't know if it is so much that we will all be beautiful (if judged by mortal standards), or that we will be freed from the biological limitation of seeing physical differences as negative.

There is something to seeing the real beauty of an individual. It's definitely something I can improve on, and something I'd like to be sure to teach my children.

"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." -- The Little Prince


Katie said...

Amen! You put to words so many things I have been thinking lately. I VT this lady who is going through a lot yucky stuff and she keeps looking for The Lord's hand as to why she was given this or that trial and I think, God is an obedient God to the laws of Nature and sometimes bad things happen. And He will also not take away another's free agency, so bad things happen sometimes b/c of another's agency. But He will give us the strength to endure all things. Thanks again, very insightful.

mindy said...

Katie, thank you for your comment. I woke up this morning thinking of removing this post, if only because I worried that my late night ramblings (well, late night for me, anyways!) would be too incoherent. Sometimes I feel like we don't really nail down some ideas in the church like we should. Maybe there is more ideological "wiggle room" on some of the main ideas, but it seems unlikely to me. I guess some things we don't have a perfect knowledge of, even in the church, and there is room for independent discovery. Which is probably a good thing. (Hm, now I'm rambling in the morning...I'll chalk that up to only 4 hours of sleep last night.)

Mary said...

Hmm...I think I agree and disagree with you. I agree that God doesn't custom make and "give" us all our challenges and trials. But I do think He knows what trials will stretch us in the best way and He will allow us to experience some trials while protecting us from others, not that He always does. But I do agree with the main point that God will bring us through those trials if we turn to him.

I think that is the key to trials. If our challenges turn us to God, whether it's for repentance or just coming to know Him as we all need to, then those challenges are definitely for our good. We can acknowledge bad things in our lives, take them to the Lord, and He will mourn with us and show us the way beyond them.

I think I understand your point about the experience being part of this necessary earth life. I have to say, though, that I hope to learn something from my negative experiences. I'm learning that the hard things I've dealt with sometimes take years to mold me into a better person, but I can see how I am being refined in the process.

My opinion on your comments about physical beauty is that when we are perfected beings, our hearts will be so pure that physical traits won't matter. We will know each other intimately as brothers and sisters and will love with charity and the love of Christ. And this life is definitely a good time to begin learning to do that.

Thanks for your thoughts.

mindy said...

Mary, I definitely agree that we do "gain experience" from the negative experiences. I just don't think that is what the scripture is meaning by the word "experience." I could be wrong, though. I know that I am slowly improving due to various trials, and I am grateful for them because I can see the value in being the better, improved person.

I like how you expressed your thoughts on physical traits and loving with the love of Christ. I find that when I look at others with more love, I am also able to look at myself with more love, too. Both physically and otherwise. There really is something to this whole "charity" thing. Which is a topic for another post, as it has been rattling around in my brain for a while, too.

Thanks for your comment. :o)

David said...

If God is Omnipotent in the traditional way then God made all and caused all and is to blame for all. However, I propose matter precedes God, in the same way that time precedes our comprehension (or as Hawking likes to say "what is south of the south pole). So, God is Omnipotent just as I am when it comes to all that I understand and control. Abraham implies that God controls (understands and hence is more intelligent than all that is intelligent...are black holes, plasma, quasars, and suns intelligent?

If such is the case, then God has been taught much from His experiences and has indeed learned more than anyone else in existence. He is omniscient in a realm superior to time; hence is present to all things and condescends to experience all that we experience. He experiences all our pain, anguish, and joy; and hopes that we will soon join Him. In short I think God is not a wizard but a farmer. God, the farmer of the cosmos. Weeds appear and are extricated. Our life is fraught with peril and yet we can be harvested, in time, to a season finally freed from the travails of the kind we experience as we grow in this season of our existence.

Or maybe God really is to blame?

David said...

Oh, and as far as physical traits go... When we're perfect and powerful and in the presence of God I'm guessing we can look like whatever we want; at minimum we can be at our best physical state.

Eternity would be just down right cruel if we are doomed to have a sanctified spirit, healthy mind, and a hairy mole growing out of the middle of our forehead just because genetics and environment dictate it so in this life.