"And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be." 1 Nephi 13:37Everyone reads the scriptures for their own reasons, and reaps their own specific rewards when they do. I've recently committed myself to reading the Book of Mormon, and I've just finished the First Book of Nephi. I've come to appreciate the Book of Mormon as my own personal source of aphorisms. If I have a problem, chances are, there's a scripture in The Book of Mormon that talks about it. I've questioned lately what kind of author I would like to be, and what my purpose for writing would include. Orson Scott Card and Stephenie Meyer have been just about the only examples of popular Mormon authors that write for more than just an LDS demographic. Part of their appeal, I know, is that they established their line between obedient Latter-day Saint and Artist. As a prospective author, I need to decide where that line is for me, and how much my values will be reflected in my work. Then I found this scripture, and found my purpose for writing, the means by which to do it, AND the blessings I'll receive for my efforts. Never assume that the scriptures are just a book, because I testify that they are the User's Manual to this life.
"Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." 2 Nephi 1:23
At the end of July, I will have been training in the martial arts for 7 years. At the end of August, I will have been teaching my own classes for 2 or 3 years. I've not only studied the science of confrontation, but the art of self respect. From both, the most important lesson I've ever learned is the one of discipline, of controlling myself at all times, even when challenges seem to be too much to handle. But my Heavenly Father sees the strength that is in me--and in all of us. He knows I may be down, but I'm not out. He knows that all of us are capable of feats even beyond our own understanding, and He wants to take us there. He wants us to achieve our potential, and will provide us with opportunities to do so. All we have to do is put on that armor. And the armor of righteousness may be heavy, but the satisfaction of success is a blessing in itself, let alone the blessings we receive, in due time, for our obedience.
"And everything's holy-- everything, even me." John Steinbeck, The Grapes ofAnother question that has weighed heavily on my mind is what to do about the fact that some of the books I've read for my AP Language and Composition class are not exactly Mormon friendly. The language often reverts back to the more colorful words of the English language, and the subject matters are not always ideal. The worst was probably The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. However, it was a great book and I learned a lot about writing from it. Where, then, do I draw the line on what I read? What do you do when your Prophet tells you only to expose yourself to the PG13 when life is rated R?
Which brings me to this statement from The Grapes of Wrath. The second half appealed to my appreciation of the gospel, as have other parts of the book. But is everything holy? I'm not so transcendental that I will say yes, but I'm also Christian enough to know that Jesus wouldn't judge those who make mistakes, so neither should I. At the end of the day, we are all still children of our Heavenly Father, and therefore, I don't think anyone is truly evil. In that sense, everything is holy; rather, everyone. And while there is evil in the world, I don't think it's an inherent part of our nature. If that was so, and we are our Father's children, what does that say about him? I'd like to go on thinking that God is perfect, which means that, at the very core of things, we must be too because we were made in His image. How's THAT for self esteem?
"If the step were not being taken, if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive, the bombs would not fall, the throats would not be cut. Fear the time when the bombs stop falling while the bombers live--for every bomb is proof that the spirit has not died." John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Also comes back to how much a soul, a life, is really worth. So instead of meeting opposition with groans of protest like I do, perhaps I ought to remember that "enduring to the end" is more than just a statement, and not for the Sunshine Mormons. It's a promise; a covenant I made at my baptism, and something I've been teaching for 7 years. How, then can I gripe about trials when they're proof I'm still alive?
So that settles it. No more whining from now until after SAT's.
(I give myself a day. Tops. LOL)