Ahh how sweet it is!!

Ahh how sweet it is!! That is how I tend to sum up my life in a few words. Plain and simple, life is wonderful! This site will give you just a sneak peak at my thoughts throughout my life. Love, Mel

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Location: Bountiful, Utah, United States

Monday, January 30, 2006

Remember Who We Are (Delete The Bad Mental Models)

June 29, 2004

Today I began my walk as usual, only without my radio headset, as I wanted to hear what the Lord may have to say to me rather than all the mortal “experts” who have the world figured out. Within the first quarter mile I decided to “take the road less traveled” or, at least, walk my route entirely backwards to see what “aha’s” my new perspective might bring. I discovered a number of things. First, I was more intent on seeing what was around me, not having the radio helped to be sure, but I was seeing things from a different angle, and they were new and original—again I was consumed by love and respect for this beautiful land we live in. Secondly, I found it troublesome to find my way; I even got lost once and took a road that I had never traveled before, all due to the reverse nature of my hike and even though I had been in the same area hundreds of times. No panic set in like that of being lost on the deer hunt in the mountains, but nevertheless I experienced a slight twinge of excitement and my senses were heightened due to the “newness” of my position. Finally, I commenced thinking about perspective and perceptions and how they affect my senses and my life.

I, like everyone else, like to have things figured out and, to a lesser or greater degree, like to rely on perceptions already formed rather that risk the excitement or danger of having to see and judge things as though for the first time. With perceptions of people firm in place, either based on my own first hand observations of behavior or acquired from a respected other, I attach my permanent label to the individual and read and recognize it each time I happen to meet the individual. “There’s George again. He is so ____.” My labels are useful and I usually disregard any behaviors I see in George that do not fit my label. Not doing so would cause too much cognitive dissonance—bad stuff—confusing. In fact, what I normally do is look for the behaviors in George that conform to my label so I will know I am, again, right. “George is a ___.” “There he goes doing ___again, just like I knew he would.” A funny thing happens sometimes, especially with small Georges, in that he seems often to fit his behavior to meet his perceptions of my expectations. “Could I be contributing to George being so ‘George like’? It must be so for when I change my usual, comfortable behavior toward George, he often becomes less like the George I labeled. If this is true, a fascinating idea bubbles up. Could it be that if I am not accepting of the “labeled George” and would like him to be different, that maybe I could help myself out by behaving differently toward George? This might give me a new and improved George, one I can accept and even—dare I say it—come to love.

Let’s say this is all true. My world is still safe. I rarely come across the path of George. In fact, knowing something of his behavior, I could probably avoid a meeting with George for a long, long time. Wouldn’t hostility be a good reason to avoid George? I think to myself, “no one could fault me for that.” “George’s manner of behaving _____is his problem, not mine. Live and let live.”

Unfortunately or fortunately the mindset of “live and let live” doesn’t seem to be too practical nowadays, either in international or family relations. In fact isolationism is not a doctrine advocated by the Savior. Take missionary work for example, or consider this statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” TPJS:174

But does the love of God, that I am supposed to have, extend to those who are unlovable or unworthy of love? What if my label is accurate? I think the answer is clear. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matthew 5:45 - 46)

To be sure, this injunction requires some serious altering of my perceptions, shifting of my paradigms or reversing my “usual route.” Can I do it? Absolutely, it is a motivation not an ability problem. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23) OK, what can help me believe sufficiently to act? Maybe some thoughts from a great thinker and a prophet:

1. (C.S. Lewis: "It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . .. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit. . .” (The Weight of Glory, pp. 18-19)
2. J. Smith, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”

Recently I had an opportunity to test all this perceptual theory and what some may call “idealistic ravings” of an INFP. I met with Steve G., a former key member of our family, but one who perceives himself being outside our “circle of love.” True to the model, he has formed perceptions, some accurate; some inaccurate, as I do many times. And he has behaved, in some ways, consistent with his perceptions—again, as I do. I, of course, came to the meeting with my labels all arranged and with some anxiety at having chosen to take an “unfamiliar path.” But I came with armor: a sincere prayer for his well being, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that He would guide my actions, a knowledge that Steve is a son of God anointed to become a ruler in Israel throughout eternity, the certainty that Steve is the former husband of a precious daughter and father of a priceless grandson who will be in our midst eternally if I, Steve and Michael are true to our covenants. I knew going in that it is imperative that Steve feel my love for him and I his love for me so that his perceptions of me and the family I represent will be positive, uplifting and loving. Otherwise it would be difficult, indeed, for him to be the kind of example to Michael that would foster him (Michael) displaying to us the kind of love, respect and admiration we want and, hopefully, deserve. (Remember, 50% of Michael’s young life will be spent with Steve). In brief, I tried to go into the meeting with a Christ-centered perspective.

I am pleased to report that we are on a high road to something wonderful. Tragic as divorce is, this life event has the possibility of being a blessing of incomparable value to both Steve and Myla. (And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27) Our philosophical views are in harmony (what did you expect? We are both NF’s). Steve is committed to honoring his covenants—as am I. We are both realistic about Satan and his tremendous capacity to tempt and deceive us. We both want to be friends, and we expressed our love for one another and prayed together. We (Myla, Steve and I, at least) are planning future social events to further build and sustain relationships. So, at this point “we believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things. Where there is anything virtuous ……”

My challenge to us all is to remember who we are—Latter Day Saints—and the covenants we have made and to extend the hand of fellowship and love to our brother. I am convinced that if I do not, I shall never have the joy of hearing from my Savior the words, “well done thou good and faithful servant…”

Love, Mel


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