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Friday, March 24, 2006 

Doling out height

The truth is that I, like most people, am really good at giving up. I haven't played piano or volleyball in years. I have a list of friends who I am "meaning to get in touch with", but whom I will probably never contact. I can think of a thousand opportunities that I haven't pursued because I could see my eventual failure coming from a mile away. Why bother? Don't start and you won't get hurt.

God doesn't ask much of us, really, but he does ask us to not give up. I attended a Zen Meditation Session once in Salt Lake City led by a man with the title Genpo Roshi. His basic idea is that we are all already perfect. Within our self is the complete person and if we could just quiet all the white noise of life, we could be that person. I think that there is a healthy dollop of truth in that and that it relates.

How often have we given up on ourselves? I, for one, do it all the time. When I eat junk food, instead of some fruit or when I watch TV instead of playing with my kids I give up. Whenever I do anything that is less than what I think I ought to do, what I am saying is, "Don't start and you won't get hurt. It'll all fail anyway."

Belief in God entails risk. You have to enter a relationship whose boundaries and responsibilities are undefined. Some people find this overwhelming; others fulfilling. No matter what, it seems, like all relationships, to risk pain. Giving up feels safer, because the pain you know is better than the pain you don't. You have survived this; that may kill you.

Christ uses the image of the yoke. I think this is because we often feel ourselves beasts of burden, carrying not only our problems but also all those relationships along behind us. We are the glue that holds our world together; without us, things fall apart. Christ, in offering to share or replace the yoke (depending on how you read the promise), isn't freeing us from our burden, he is just shifting it slightly. He can bear our burdens, but only to the degree to which we let him. He will keep the cart going forward, but only to the degree that we trust him to take over for us.

So, should we give up? I don't know what that means. Giving up to God seems laudable. Giving up in isolation seems like a failure to be responsible. The church is meant to relief burdens, not multiply them; nonetheless, many find only additional weight in our church. I wish I knew how to relieve their weight and am reminded of my inadequacy in their struggle.

The promise of the gospel is not to those who have it together; instead, Christ calls to those who are messed up and in pain. Where you place yourself on the spectrum of self-sufficient to screwed-up says a lot about the meaning and the necessity of Christ to you. That we are all screwed up is my testimony. Giving up is the proof.

To give up is inherently human; it isn't something that God does. The long history of the house of Israel is one of God's constancy and humanity's deviance. There is a verse I like, that may apply:

But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them. (3 Nephi 17:4)

No matter where we are, no matter how much we have given up, God knows us and loves us. He does not give up, because he knows us. There is something real and divine in each of us. If we will return, he will have us. No matter what.

That's a wonderful post, John.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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