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Keeping Up with the Joneses

Do you play that game? You know the wonderful game of jealousy, coveting, envy, greed, and eventually passing judgement so as to make yourself feel better about your own life? More importantly do you play that game in relation to the gospel, church life, covenants and personal relationships with Christ? The haphazard blessing of my youngest child last year gave me pause, and caused several months of pondering and reflection on the culture that is Mormonism.

My youngest child was born with a disease that makes it nearly impossible to take him places. When we can, it is happenstance and cannot be planned. Since his birth (18 months ago), I have attended church only a handful of times, and he the same. When he was about 4 months old we happened to make it to church. It also happened to be fast Sunday. I also happened to remember that he had not been blessed yet. It’s amazing what you can forget when your life is turned upside down. It’s also amazing what you can remember.

I pulled our Branch President aside and asked if we could squeeze a naming and blessing in. He graciously agreed and things were hurriedly set up. It was a beautiful ordinance performed with no less reverence or eternal significance than any of our other children. There was no expensive white blessing outfit. There was no family in from out of town. There was no food or party afterward. There was a baby, a circle of worthy priesthood holders, and reverent faith from our loving and supportive church family.

Reflecting back on that day I can see there was no “just so happened” about any of it. It was a tender mercy of the Lord and it allowed me to see that the gospel really is simple. I learned many things about myself, the Lord, and the significance of having a relationship with Him that transcends every opinion and practice that is not directly related to salvation according to His word.

In the months since I have pondered this; these moments are of course special in our lives and the lives of our chidlren, but…are the motives behind the events surrounding these significant moments pure? Are the big parties, special outfits, and all stress involved in planning and pulling off the grand event necessary? Does all the hubbub hinder the ability to plan and prepare for the covenant about to be entered into?

I can see how I have done things in my own life because it was what everyone else did, and therefore what you were supposed to do. Faulty reasoning in deed, but it can be difficult to make those distinctions when immersed in a culture. It has been liberating in many ways, and encouraging in my pursuit of happiness and spiritual growth, to ponder these things and come to understand more fully the differences between culture and gospel, as well as common practices and saving ordinances.

That is not to say that an “event” baptism, blessing, priesthood ordination, and so on, are not relevant, or that somehow the ordinance itself is marred by the show surrounding it. It is simply to say that culture may be dictating an inclination toward making an outward and tangible deal of things that are meant to be inwardly significant.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • MB July 29, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Well said.

  • kramer July 30, 2012, 4:18 am

    I am tired of the “great and spatious” events surrounding priesthood ordinances. I am tired of peoplevieing to have the most people and best refreshments.

  • jks July 30, 2012, 6:18 am

    Very interesting thoughts. I grew up in different places and I must say that my favorite thing about it was being able to view cultural things objectively and realize it is a choice whether to get caught up in it. It was simple, really. In one place no one would be caught dead with a backpack, in the next everyone had a backpack.
    While I sometimes mourn my lack of home and lack of identity (I was American but lived outside the US for a long time), I appreciate more my objective view of my life and that my experiences helped me see what really is important about the gospel.
    I struggle to try to provide that for my children, since they are growing up with roots, but I do my best!

  • jennycherie July 30, 2012, 12:02 pm

    I think this is a lovely perspective you have from your situation. I have to say, we must have really low expectations. 😉 For us, the church events have always been pretty low-key. I’m not sure if this is because we were not raised in the church (and also have no extended family in our church) or because the people we would invite anyway are just our ward members, but we have never had any big celebration to go with a baby blessing. We did have a little bit of one for the baptisms of our two youngest, but it was largely because both of them shared their baptisms with two other children and we had a bit of a party together (and we did get a grandparent to each of those baptisms!) but it was a joint effort, fun and not stressful.
    jennycherie recently posted…Joy to the WorldMy Profile

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