I was brought up in a good, wholesome LDS home where abuse wasn't even thought about. I didn't even know abuse was a word until I learned about it from others. I went to church, had a good time, and generally enjoyed a wonderful family life.
During my teenage years, I started thinking about spirituality for no apparent reason. I started reading the Book of Mormon regularly and decided I wasn't going to listen to any music at all which wasn't uplifting. My dedication to this decision caused my friends to generally think I was a prude and I found myself being the subject of much whispering and snickering. This didn't really affect me any, because I had a wonderful family, and my family loved me. That's all that really mattered.
Fast-forward 15 years and I now realize how incredibly odd I must have seemed. But honestly, and truly, I didn't care.
Why didn't I care? Probably because the fulfilment I received by striving with all my might to do what I thought was right, for my
sake, was all I needed. Because of this, I knew at a very early age that God loved me, and would show me He loved me by filling me with peace. Quite frankly, that peace was much more fulfilling than anything anyone else could have possibly given me. It still is.
A few Christmases (is that a word?) ago, my family decided to start a tradition of putting on skits or programs on Christmas eve in front of our parents, siblings, and children. My wife and I jumped on the bandwagon and did things such as enacting "Baby, It's Cold Outside", which caused people to laugh and enjoy themselves. It is fun. Everyone does "fun" things, and I have to admit, I really enjoy myself each year.
However, it also is missing something.
My parents have always tried to be spiritual with me and my siblings, but for some reason, as we've grown up, it's been hard for my mom to do so while getting reactions which aren't what she expects. Sometimes her grandchildren go nuts while she tries to read a spiritual story, or people aren't paying as much attention as she thinks they should, or whatnot.
All of this is completely rational, but I find myself questioning why we do "spiritual" things with other people?
Is it for our sake? Is it for theirs? What are we trying to accomplish?
About a decade ago, I came upon a thought which was brought on by a scripture found in Alma 29
. It goes something like this:
I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
Now, this comes right before Alma goes preaching to the Zoramites and has both much success and quite a bit of suffering. D&C 18
also gives the same reason to declare the Gospel - "To save souls
Now, with these scriptures in mind, and also knowing that God gives to those who ask
, I contemplate the question,
Why should we care how people react to our preaching of the Gospel, bringing the Spirit, or doing God's will?
The answer comes simply by referring to the previously stated scriptures. How did people react to Alma? They spit upon him, cast him in prison, stripped him naked, beat him, mocked him, killed those who believed him, and made him watch while they died.
Although extreme, I believe it makes the point quite clear. Bringing the Spirit into peoples' lives isn't necessarily for the fun and games of it all. Sometimes it might be downright difficult and seemingly pointless. But... What is the value of creating a spiritual moment in someone's heart, midst others who toss it away or even laugh at it?
So... With that in mind, and with a bit of trepidation, I do my best to keep the spirit alive in me which was very much alive with me during my teenage years. In so doing, I've come up with a formula which helps me deal with spirituality amidst people who don't appreciate it:
- I keep in the forefront of my mind the eternal fact that God loves his children.
- I remember that my doing something "spiritual" might bring about change in someone's life to the tune of saving their soul. Maybe, maybe not.
- I say a prayer before trying to do something in God's name, be it sing a song, or bear my testimony, or give a talk, or teach a lesson. God knows if someone will be touched by it, and if just one person feels the Spirit, it's worth it.
- I prepare myself the best I can for whatever I'm going to do.
And that's it.
This Christmas eve, I decided to sing "Away In A Manger", solo, for my portion of the program. I followed the 4 steps, and felt I should do it. I did it quickly and simply. I felt the spirit while performing. Did the Spirit touch someone? I think so. Did I care about how my siblings might react? Yeah, but not enough to keep me from trying...
...and "trying" with God's seal of approval is always