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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Come be how you want to"

I used to be sure that if I started zooming around on a broomstick- if I started disobeying gravity- that I would surely lose all those special spiritual feelings that we talk about so much in the church. But the last two weeks have offered the most spiritual and tender feelings that I have felt in over a year. Of course there’s no proper way to describe it- serenity mixed with joy, resolve and enlightenment is the best I can do. With all the extra time I had on my hands over the break, I had plenty to spare for self-reflecting, praying, deep meditation, and for reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull. At the advice of a good friend’s father, I went back to the beginning- searching for the most basic spiritual answers: Who is God? What is his character? How do I feel the Holy Spirit? What is my purpose? And I got answers! -answers that I believe wholeheartedly to be divinely inspired truths. Maybe one day I will share them. I will say that I am sure that God is leading me along and that He has great plans for me. It all flies in the face of conformity. Some people- well a lot of people- are going to tell me I’m letting go of the rod and following forbidden paths into the fog. I wish you could see me smiling; just beyond the mist, away from the rod, the river and the building, there’s a whole world to be explored with more than just one lonely tree.

25 comments:

Skyhawk said...

At the risk of sounding like a conformist...my goodness, that last line sounds like pure justification of the "natural man."

One of So Many said...

I'd be EXTREMELY curious to know what you experienced. I myself am going back to the basics to understand God and my purpose on the earth with all the crap I'm dealing with.

I'd love to learn what you found.

draco said...

Well I did say that it flies in the face of conformity ;)

And I would call it more of a justification of the authentic man.

Skyhawk said...

You're on dangerous ground, draco. Don't play the wrong card here - whether you have faith in it or not, you and I both know what the consequences are. Find yourself, but in the end, find yourself with faith and as conquerer.

Peter said...

If the tree represents the Love of God, then there is only one tree, but perhaps there is more than one way to get to the tree. I don't think that's justification so much as open mindedness.

In reference to the consequences you two both know . . . What are the consequences to finding your own (ie. non-LDS) path? I've thought of a few:

* You might get kicked out of the Church you joined as a teenager. (Thus proving to the relatives who didn't approve of your baptism that they were right).
* You will disappoint close friends, missionaries, and Church leaders.
* You may jeopardize your school standing or be forced to do things in secret.
* You might escape the debilitating attitudes of a society that believes your natural state is evil.
* You may start to love yourself as you are and no longer desire to change inherent inclinations.
* You could actually start to think and feel for yourself.
* Love songs that you have heard your whole life might suddenly, for the first time, make sense.
* You may not be able to control yourself from breaking into sudden bursts of smiling.
* You might feel like dancing for no reason.
* You might figure out what it is like to want someone as much as they want you.
* You might fall in love.

Calvin said...

Peter, I think you forgot damnation :)

draco said...

*Still smiling

Skyhawk said...

Calvin is a little closer to what I was referring to, I'm afraid.

draco said...

It's a good thing that God decides what is damnable.

Skyhawk said...

And it's a good thing He's laid the map out very clearly. Some people just don't like it.

Neal said...

"I will say that I am sure that God is leading me along and that He has great plans for me."

God will not lead you along paths that are contrary to the scriptures and truths he has already revealed. How do they stack up against that measuring rod?

I think this scrupture accurately describes the trend of the day:

2 Timothy 3:

"1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

Perilous times indeed ...

Neal

Skyhawk said...

Ditto, Neal. That's basically what I've been trying to say the whole time. You are hereby awarded one million points!

The problem is, draco, I think you are past the point of uncertainty...I personally think you have your mind made up already. Humility and a true desire to do the right, REGARDLESS of our desires, are always necessary; don't forget that.

P.S. Love ya, bud!

draco said...

skyhawk- It depends on whose map you're looking at.

neal- "God will not lead you along paths that are contrary to the scriptures and truths he has already revealed." In other words- God will not lead me away from the church.

Who are we to say what God will and will not do? Please prove to me that the peace, the reassurance, the joy, and all of these uplifting feelings are hell-sent and misguided and I will happily hang up my black hat and stop chasing after those darned ruby slippers. Please prove to me that all that the church authorities say is true- your proof will ultimately come down to your testimony of faith based on personal spiritual experiences and feelings. Please prove to me that your experiences and feelings are more valid than mine.

As for your 2 Timothy 3 scripture- which of those lovely adjectives were you assigning to me? lol

No hard feelings neal- I respect your positions and your beliefs; I only ask that you respect mine as well.

draco said...

skyhawk- And you have already made up your mind as well. If I have to question my decisions then why shouldn't you? Why do I have to doubt? Why isn't it you who should doubt? Again, what makes your belief more valid than mine?

And I love you too :)
We need to get together sometime- this is a conversation that I know you've been wanting to have with me and it would be so much easier in person.

Potentate said...

You might escape the debilitating attitudes of a society that believes your natural state is evil.

You may start to love yourself as you are and no longer desire to change inherent inclinations.

You could actually start to think and feel for yourself.


For these, at least, you don't need to leave the church. No comment on the rest of Peter's list.

I can't see God punishing anyone for doing what they think is right, but I also can't see him excusing us from the consequences of our actions, no matter how right they may feel at the time.

You remember Bridge to Teribethia? As right as it may have felt for her to swing across that day . . .

Hi, by the way. It's been a while. ;)

draco said...

Leslie Burke- she's one of my literary heroes :) Hmmm- that would make a great list!

Elphaba
Samwise Gamgee
Johnathon Livingston Seagull
Anna
Fraulein Maria
Angel Dumott Schunard
Lucy Pevensie
Josephine March
Charlotte

That's a good start- but nowhere near comprehensive.

Calvin said...

Draco, I hope I don't sound too hostile or anything. In my previous comment, I was just pointing out that when Skyhawk talked about consequences that "you and I both know," he obviously wasn't referring to most of the consequences on Peter's list.

One thing I know you're right about is that God loves you wholly and perfectly. (I like you a lot too!) I just completely disagree with your conclusions in this post, though you probably knew that before you even wrote it.

draco said...

No worries Calvin :)

Neal said...

"Please prove to me that your experiences and feelings are more valid than mine."

I would ask why your testimony of the Gospel, which was based on the spiritual experiences you had previously, has suddenly changed to this new paradigm? Wasn't your first testimony a valid one?

A lady in my Ward (who was married) got a crush on me, and started having "revelations" that her husband was going to die and that she would be free to marry me. She felt very strong promptings about this. Obviously she was mistaken, and it was a littel comical in way since she had no idea I was a MoHo. Anyway, in counseling thsi woman the Bishop found a quote (which I don't have) from Brigham Young that said when we yearn for something intensely the Adversary can twist those feelings into false "spiritual experiences" and use them to decieve us. This woman eventually recognized that these promptings, which seemed so authentic, really were not. So I would take a good step back and ask myself if something similar were happening in this case. You started out with a testimony that caused you to change your life and even to go against your family's beliefs. Now you're saying you have proptings to do a 180? Both testimonies can't be right. So, which is more likely to be wrong? The one that goes against the scriptures and the teachings of the Prohpet's, or the one that says to stay ont he straight and narrow?

No, I can't prove anything to you, only God can. I respect you as a person, I respect your free agency, and I can love you no matter which choices you make. But I don't have to respect the choices themselves - this is a big mistake, and I think deep down you probably know it. You have the Light of Christ just like the rest of humanity.

Think about it.

Neal

P.S. I still love ya!

draco said...

"So, which is more likely to be wrong? The one that goes against the scriptures and the teachings of the Prophet's, or the one that says to stay on the straight and narrow?"

What reason do you have for completely trusting the scriptures and the prophets? Is it because you have had spiritual confirmation that they are true sources of knowledge? Again, what makes your experience more valid than mine? How do you know that YOU have not been deceived?

"when we yearn for something intensely the Adversary can twist those feelings into false "spiritual experiences" and use them to deceive us."

How can you be sure that things aren't the other way around? Maybe you want so badly for Mormonism to be true that you have contrived your feelings into "spiritual experiences."

Thanks for your comments Neal. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on how you look at it) my recent spiritual experiences have been so clear and have provided me with real peace. They have been just as clear to me, if not more clear, than the promptings I had to join the church.

"Both testimonies can't be right."

I think they can- but that's a whole other blog post. ;)

Neal said...

Well, how do you know we're not just in the Matrix hooked up to a bunch of electro-chemical energy pods?!? Maybe this is all just an illusion! Maybe I should go out and buy a long black coat?! LOL

Belief has to start somewhere. I do believe in Christ and in the restored Chruch. I got there from a protestant upbringing, conversion of my whole family, and my testimony has developed on its own to what it is today. I know how I feel when the Spirit is bearing witness to me of the truth, and your words don't bring that feeling. No one can make you listen to counsel, Draco. The fact that you're being so defensive to those who are concerned about you is not a good sign. But I've seen this all come down before, and you're following a typical pattern of apostate thinking. I've been around a LONG time, by the way. And I've been through several seasons of doubt myself.

Have you ever met the Prohpet? Have you ever talked with an Apostle? I have, and I can tell you it was a life changing experience. There was no doubt in my mind after leaving their presence that this was all real. When my testimony is weak I remember back to those and other experiences that I can't deny, and I know I need to stay on the path.

You were one of the brighter ones, Draco. *Sigh* I'll have to put you on my prayer list. There is always hope for the prodigal.

Love ya,

Neal

draco said...

That is wonderful Neal! I'm glad the church brings you the happiness and warmth and spirituality that you need.

Yes, belief has to start somewhere, but that doesn't mean that we always need to end up in the same place.

"I know how I feel when the Spirit is bearing witness to me of the truth, and your words don't bring that feeling."

That's fine- I also know how I feel when the Spirit is bearing witness to me of the truth, and your words don't bring that feeling. Isn't is possible that God just has different plans for us? I know you can't believe that because the Mormon church teaches not to believe it and the Mormon church is always right.

"The fact that you're being so defensive to those who are concerned about you is not a good sign."

You're being just as defensive about the church. Again, you only think that justification is bad because the Mormon church teaches that it's bad. But who does anything without justifying his actions? Unjustified and indefensible behavior is just foolish. And the only people who are concerned about my "apostasy" are Mormons.

"you're following a typical pattern of apostate thinking."

Apostate is only a bad word to you because the Mormon church says it is a bad word.

I agree that President Hinckley and the apostles are inspired men. I have felt the spirit many times as I've listened to their words. But I do not believe that this indicates that the church represents the end all be all of truth. I'll explain this more in my next post.

"You were one of the brighter ones, Draco. *Sigh* I'll have to put you on my prayer list."

Yes- those were the good old days- when I was one of the brighter ones... when I was part of the rank and file, never questioning, thinking and feeling just like everybody else does.

But thank you for praying for me. I have lots of people doing that :) and I think my name has been in one temple or another ever since I started investigating the church. But the first one who started praying for me was my mother. She has always prayed that God would lead me to truth. While I was home for Christmas and we talked about all that I have been going through, she told me that she feels like her prayers are being answered.

One of So Many said...

I'm still waiting Draco...

Anonymous said...

Hi Draco.. I enjoy your talent for writing in such a dreamy, stream of consciousness manner. However young friend, please, please heed Neal's truly inspired words and skyhawks concerns out of sincere love for you and your welfare/future.

Please read: Alma 37:37-44. to paraphrase: "it is easy to give heed to the words of Christ which will point the way to happiness beyond this vail of sorrow." I believe you sincerely want to know what your Father in Heaven wants. It's easy to rationalize to try to fit our desires into a mirage-like view of what we think God would accept from us. But I do know that you will have true happiness and peace if you do seek that Love of God, and forsake all else, including temptation and the world...along with the mists of darkness which can make us curious at times to what exactly those mists hold.

God bless you, and keep you protected from evil and harm. Love, Kittywaymo

draco said...

Yes- that's all I'm doing- popping in and out of pictures and flying kites.

I appreciate your concern, anonymous, but I just can't deny what I've felt as I've prayed and meditated.