Sunday, April 09, 2017

Things of This World

I have struggled since the election with anxiety for the affairs of the world that has not abated in any marked degree over time. I truly expected it too. My perception of the new administration as a train wreck from which I cannot look away hasn't really improved with time. I find myself obsessing over the news in ways that isn't healthy; I find myself seeking solace in snarky talk shows that deepen my cynicism in ways that don't always sit comfortably with my best self.

In LDS General Conference last weekend there were many great talks. Two stood out to me, at least with initial impressions:

1. Elder Uchtdorf's address. He spoke about fear as the enemy of faith and goodness. He spoke about the dangers of acting in response to fear, particularly fear inspired in us by others. As I listened, my first impression was to be angry at all the Mormon nationalists (how distasteful is this phrase!) who voted in large numbers for Trump and those around him who encouraged his fear mongering and demagoguery as a way to win votes. And then it hit me--it is absolutely NOT my job to use the prophets' words to cast aspersions or others, or to point to others who must change. NO! It is my job to take in their words and seek to understand how I need to change. I realized, with great chagrin, that I have very much been reacting to the world with deep fear, and perhaps projecting my fears on to my children. (What mother of sons in this age of war can be free from fear??) So, yes, while I do believe the prophet was cautioning those in every land who would be ruled by fear and then react by electing strong-man leaders who claim to have an iron-fisted response to the fear; I know he was also speaking to me--that I cannot let my fear undermine my ability to keep pressing forward and improving the corner of the world in which I live. Doomsday prophecy serves no one. 

2.  Elder Holland's address.  Like Elder Holland, I think that a blissful sort of happiness is outside of my nature to achieve. I have spent the last 18 months coming to term with this. I think moments of powerful joy are attainable; I think gratitude is always within my grasp when I humble myself enough to embrace it. But carefree happiness eludes me, and it has for many years now. Like Elder Holland, even in moments that might otherwise be happy, I fixate on the suffering that it is beyond my control to alleviate or understand. The pain inflicted on this world through Satan's enmity and man's inhumanity is often overwhelming to me. I understand this . . . and the image of the world being full of songs that "cannot be sung" in poignant and heartbreaking. What might I do to help unlock their voices?

My family is such a good place right now. I'm grateful for this season of joy, profoundly grateful, even as work every day at my job to find ways to relieve suffering and to speak of hope instead of fear. I'm grateful of the work God has given me to do--both inside my home and outside of it. I am still anxious for the future, but I must trust God to be in charge.

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