Monday, October 26, 2009

Again and Again

The other day my Mormon husband, Mormon son and I, Mormon Mom, raked leaves. And raked LEAVES. And RAKED LEAVES. AND RAKED LEAVES. I would go on, but I've run out of words to capitalize.

You get the drift. And so did we, when the next wild Wyoming wind came up two minutes later and reminded me that we would be out there raking again sooner than I cared think about.

I began pondering all the things in life that we do, and then have to re-do. And re-do.

Make beds. Wash dishes. Vacuum floors. Fix meals. Get dressed. Go to work. Rake leaves.

My kids used to argue the ridiculousness of making their beds every morning. After all, the same beds would just get unmade that night when they crawled back into them. In a way, they had a point, and I'm not talking about the ones on the tops of their little Mormon heads. Bed-making in and of itself is a rather futile exercise.

What then is the value of repeating such mundane behaviors? I think it lies in what that repetition helps us become:


It then follows that the repetition of much more meaningful things--prayer, scripture study, repentance--helps us become something even greater:

Full of love.
Submissive to God.

In the words of Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks,

"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."

Practice makes permanent.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blessed by Mormon Teenagers

This is my tenth year teaching Seminary for the LDS Church. No, I am not one of those truly celestial teachers who arises before daybreak during the school year and, without compensation, teaches sleep-deprived teenagers the doctrines of the Bible, Book of Mormon and Latter-day scripture. I have a cushy job: I teach three classes daily to students who walk across the street from the high school to my small modular-classroom Seminary building and yes, I am paid for my efforts. So it's not been much of a sacrifice for either me or my students.

The real blessing in this has not been the pay. The real blessing has been teaching and testifying to young people, as well as having them teach and testify to me, about eternal truths.

Teenagers can be remarkably wonderful. For instance:

When the high school history teacher was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the students prayed for him in every opening and closing prayer for the rest of the school year.

This year, one young man runs over to the building every day in order to arrive first and hold the door for each student as they enter, smiling and greeting each one out of love, not assignment.

A current freshman comes up to me after class every day to shake my hand, thank me for the lesson, and wish me a great day.

Last year a young lady shared a scripture from the Apostle Paul as part of a devotional the year we studied the New Testament and told how she had read it the night before and it pricked her heart, teaching her she must do better. When I asked if that was how far she was in reading the New Testament for our course of study, she said, "Well, actually it's where I am on my second time through." And she lives in a home where no parental example leads the way in spiritual living.

Not all Mormon teenagers are celestial--probably because their parents aren't. But the great majority I have taught respond to things of the Spirit, desire to be more Christlike, and are much, much better than I was as a teenager.

And I am blessed by them.