My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the tag “Kindness”

Change Your Course

light house at night

On Mondays I go into work late. When my wife takes her lunch from work she drives the five minutes back to our home and we enjoy our Monday lunches together.

Today when Anna Melissa came home for lunch our conversation turned to our goals as a family, where we want to be personally in a few months as we prepare to be parents, where we want to live, our careers, and other imposing subjects. After a brief conversation and exchanging of thoughts and ideas she asked almost rhetorically, “What have you done today to get us towards those goals?” She then went on and shared some of her thoughts and aspirations for us as a couple.

The question got me thinking, even though it was asked in a passing and indirect manner, “What have I done today?” And I was happy to be able to affirm to myself that I was on the right course.

Yesterday I taught our priesthood quorum in our new branch. I taught from the talk given by Elder Ulisses Soares in our last General Conference, Be Meek and Lowly of Heart, and encouraged the brethren to change whatever might be in their lives that might be keeping them from the meekness that Elder Soares so beautifully describes. We discussed tempers, pride, family relationships, marriage, children, and how easy it is to get off course. In closing I told a story about once when my pride had gotten the better of me in my life. I told them how my arrogance led to a loss of the Holy Spirit, and how eventually coming to realize I was wrong and then asking forgiveness had brought a cleansing and peaceful spirit into my life. “Change your course brethren if your lack of meekness is causing a lack of the Spirit in your life,” was the gist of what I said.

Afterwards multiple brethren came up and thanked me for the lesson. It wasn’t me though. I hadn’t even wanted to teach from that specific talk. But a loving God knew what needed to be said to that group of people at that time and He said it through the weakest vessel He had.

You may remember the story about the ship captain who had a problem with his pride. One night at sea, this captain saw what looked like the light of another ship heading toward him. He had his signalman blink to the other ship: “Change your course 10 degrees south.” The reply came back, “Change your course 10 degrees north.” The ship’s captain answered: “I am a captain. Change your course south.” To which the reply came, “Well, I am a seaman first class. Change your course north.” This so infuriated the captain, he signaled back, “I say change your course south. I am on a battleship!” To which the reply came back, “And I say change your course north. I am in a lighthouse.”

Sometimes in our lives we just need to stop whatever we are doing and change. We need to change course. We need to let go of our pride, our intellect, and our own wills and admit that there is a better way. The greatest Way of course which is the Savior’s Way and example. Treating our family, friends, coworkers, and everyday associates with love, respect, and kind words is always the best path to follow. Jesus Christ is the ultimate lighthouse. The trick is making sure to change our courses according to His prescribed plan.

 

 

 

My Feelings About Today’s Supreme Court Decisions

supremecourtgaymarriage

In a pair of landmark decisions, the Supreme Court today struck down the 1996 law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage, and it allowed gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide the case regarding the 2008 California voter initiative Proposition 8, which defined all marriages in the state as between a man and woman.

The court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states, including Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family leave.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 5-4 decision, said that the act wrote inequality into federal law and violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of equal liberty.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he wrote.

In the second case, the court said that it could not rule on a challenge to Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California passed by voters there in 2008, because supporters of the ban lacked the legal standing to appeal a lower court’s decision against it.

The court did not rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage, but the effect of the decision will be to allow same-sex marriage to resume in California. That decision was also 5-4, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

I had eagerly awaited, along with many Americans, the outcome of these two cases, and wondered when the Supreme Court’s rulings might come. Shortly before 1PM I left work for the day and was on the phone with our full-time missionaries as I was driving through the local Taco Bell drive thru to grab some lunch. As I ordered and chatted with one of our missionaries I also began checking emails on my phone, and (since I wasn’t already doing five things at once) turned on the radio to catch NPR’s top of the hour news. It was there, while paying for my lunch, talking on the phone, and reading emails, that I first heard of the court’s decision regarding Propostion 8, and I was so surprised I nearly ran into both the car in front of me and the side of Taco Bell.

I have written extensively before in regards to my personal feelings in regards to gay marriage and civil rights, and the church released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the Supreme Court on the cases involving marriage:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

As the afternoon progressed I saw social media explode with people outspoken on both ends of the same sex marriage spectrum. Some of my closest friends on Facebook rejoiced and put up rainbows as their profile pictures. Some others of my closest friends decried today’s SCOTUS decision as a sure sign that Jesus will be coming back soon to burn the whole planet. It was interesting to see people from both ends of the spectrum interacting, commenting on one another’s posts, each calling the other side a group of bigots, and both groups of people being equally nasty towards one another.

My personal feelings are simply this:

Today the Supreme Court struck down a law defending traditional marriage nationwide and a voter initiative defending traditional marriage in California. As a Christian there are parts of this that trouble me. However, Jesus Christ at no point today struck down the Golden Rule. At no point did the Lord descend in a pillar of fire and say it was now okay to be uncivil and unkind to people who you happen to disagree with politically or on social issues. Christian love and charity of heart were not struck down. So my fellow Christians, although today is a day that many find entirely dreadful, that does not excuse us from showing love and kindness. Period. End of story.

Do I disagree with today’s Supreme Court ruling? Perhaps. But what the Supreme Court rules does not change how I live my daily life as a Christian and a Latter-day Saint. All are children of God, straight folks, homosexuals, and everyone else. It is the call of the Master to love everyone as He loves them. And perhaps the best way to show our love won’t be in mean spirited comments online, but then again, what do I know?

Stan Way

Miracles

Earlier this week I got an email from the member of our stake high council who is over missionary work. In it I was invited, as our branch mission leader, to attend the zone conference of the missionaries serving in our stake in the Alabama Birmingham Mission of the church.

Today was that zone conference.

I wish I had words to fully convey how I truly feel in regards to the things I heard, learned, felt, and saw today. Today was a scared day. And not just because I attended some extra church meeting, but because I had a great realization of how blessed my life really is.

My greatest friends, fondest memories, deepest love, and most hopeful dreams all revolve around the reality of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. When I wake up in the mornings I pray, as Nephi directed, and consecrate my every coming action of the day to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. I ask that my words might be the words that God would have me say, that my hands might perform the labors that would be most beneficial, that my eyes may focus only on worthy and holy things, that my feet might carry me where the Lord would have me go, and that even my thoughts might be reflective upon the things which might be of most benefit to myself, my family, my callings, and the world in general. I have consecrated myself, my times, my talents, and my everything. To use the worldly vernacular, I am “all in”. And I love it.

I am blessed to hear of, witness, and even on occasion be part of sacred miracles in the Lord’s work. Not because I am more holy, more righteous, or a better person than anyone else in the world. But I suppose because the Lord is merciful enough to show me just how awesome He really is and He is in very deed in charge of His church.

There are never enough hours in the day to do small acts of service, make visits, phone calls, write letters, or share the Savior’s love with those whom I know. But I pray to God that each and every day of my life might be literally worn out in service to Him.

Sometimes I honestly feel I am the most blessed man in the entire world.

The Church is true. Christ lives. And miracles happen each and every day. If we watch closely we can see them. And if we pray sincerely we might be a part of them. This is my testimony.

Stan

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