Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Do Big Tragedies Negate Small Miracles?

In a previous post (currently on hold while I consult with the source on what details I should share), I referred to the many small miracles that have blessed people I know and love. In one recent example, a mother I know was staying at a friend's home when she heard a voice say "Run!" That helped her recognize her bold little toddler was not at her side but in danger, and she ran to find a stairway door had been opened by someone else and her wobbly little son, a boy with no respect for gravity, was standing at the top, toes over the edge, ready to plunge forward toward bare wooden stairs leading to a concrete basement floor. She snatched him in time, courtesy of a small little miracle. I mentioned that we don’t know when and why these small miracles come, and recognized that life is often filled with pain and sorrow even for the best parents, but when the little miracles come, we should rejoice for those who receive them. When I wrote that, I expected to get the response that I have often received when referring to a miracle that someone experiences. Skeptics will point to some of the tragedies that occur and insinuate that that miracles can’t be real, otherwise why would God help someone with something minor when such great sorrows and pains exist in the world? But the response was more painful or bitter than I expected. I should have anticipated some of the pain that might have been stirred up:
..and yet my son died. Am I to assume that I didn't listen to the Spirit in some way to save him? Or that Heavenly Father just didn't care enough to send any guidance?

Good to know Heavenly Father was more concerned about the possible broken arm [that child] than about my son getting the organ transplant that would have saved his life. . . .

Stories like these are equivalent to a slap in the face for all of us who have [unhappy] endings to our fairytales. It's great that [one child] wasn't hurt...but surely you can see that what the flipside of it implies???
Ouch. I’m so sorry about this. The loss of a child is one of the great tragedies of mortality. There are no easy answers, except for the far-off answer that comes through Christ and the hope of resurrection and reunion. Another great tragedy is the spiritual loss that comes when a child ultimately rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel. Again, only patience and love can be offered with hope that there might be a return one day.

Do these tragedies, though, negate the reality of small or even large miracles? Can God help someone by answering a prayer, healing an illness, or helping a car to start, when many are about to die from accidents, disease, or even terrorism in Texas? Is God unjust or unfair because He sometimes reaches down and lets the current course of mortality be stayed in an obvious way for some purpose we cannot understand but can only gratefully accept?

Thousands across the earth were blind or going blind 2,000 years ago when Christ touched the eyes of one blind man to give him sight. Did God love the others less than the one rare man who was healed? Thousands, maybe millions, across the earth were hungry or thirsty as He attended a wedding feast in Cana and turned water into wine. Does God love the hungry and destitute less because they were not given miraculous drink? If not even a sparrow can fall to the ground without God’s awareness (Matt. 10:29), we must understand that we, His children, are known, noticed, and loved, regardless of what trials we must endure. Shall we be skeptical of God’s love or His miracles because their more outward manifestations are not commonly and uniformly distributed according to our sensibilites?

Mortality will leave all of us bitter and scarred if we cannot accept the diversity of gifts, blessings, trials, lifespans, ancestries, and genes that God lets us have.

Miracles, large or small, stand out. They punctuate the normal course of the painful mundane world to occasionally, even rarely, teach us or remind us of God’s reality or serve some other purpose. We cannot expect them in all cases, every day, for all of us. We have no basis to demand them by right. Remember, His love is no less, His presence no more remote, for the child that dies than for the one that is spared, for His work is not about keeping us wrapped up in our mortal shells and the little things of earth life, but in our ultimate destiny in His endless presence. His timetable and plans for each of us take us through wildly different routes in our journeys. Some routes are tragic and seem senselessly painful, especially when the cruelty of man is involved, men who have abused the cruel gift of free agency to hurt others, for a terrible consequence of the merciful freedom He gives us to choose Him is also the freedom to reject Him and crucify His son anew by abusing His other children also created in His image. But we are also promised that the Atonement of Christ is sufficient and in the end, as we come into His presence, all tears can be wiped away.
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25: 7-9)
I rejoiced that one mother was miraculously aided: a voice spoke to her, “Run!”–how obvious can you get? But as I wrote of that miracle, I recognized that other outcomes are possible. Equally deserving and loving parents with equally wonderful children have suffered tragedy under similar circumstances. Indeed, I left out one detail in the story I related. It was especially poignant for me because my wife and I faced a similar danger years ago at the home of some wonderful devout Christians. During a Christmas party there that we attended while striving to be good friends and missionaries, a door to their basement was left open and our little fearless toddler son waddled over to the top of the stairs. He was about the same age as the toddler that was the subject of my last post. My wife spotted him just in the nick of time – well, almost. As she rushed toward him and reached out to snatch him, she missed by inches, a fraction of a second, and watched in horror as he stepped forward and fell head-first down the hard wooden stairs and crashed against the concrete floor at the bottom. We were horrified. We felt like the worst parents ever. We wondered how this could happen, especially when we were there trying to do good and help others, and then this. We were so worried, afraid he might have broken bones, a damaged brain, or even face death. He survived and was soon well, and perhaps that was miracle enough. But we heard no voice to get us there in time, saw no miraculous delay in our son’s trajectory, no hidden angel’s hand to hold him back. He was hurt, but our pain may have been even greater.

The fact that one child was spared a similar fate was not meant as condemnation to those of us who have faced and suffered the normal course of gravity and dare-devil toddlers. It was a miracle, an unusual departure from the normal course. How else can you account for the vocal command to run, a command which appears to have been perfectly timed for maximum drama and gratitude. To me, it does not mean that one child is more precious than another, or one parent necessarily better or more righteous than another, or that God is unjust in allowing danger to be ever present without omnipresent angels imposing a record of perfect safety. What happened to one mother was rare, unusual, and a cause for rejoicing, not guilt trips, pain, and bitterness. It does not mean that one person or family was more righteous or more loved than another. We do not understand why, but can only be grateful. We could speculate, of course, and even wonder if part of its purpose was to help some of us consider the implications of small miracles in the face of large tragedies, especially when I had a contrasting event under such similar circumstances.

Referring to some Galilaeans who had been slaughtered by Pilate while seeking to worship God, Jesus said, “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 1-3). And regarding 18 people who died in his area when a tower in Siloam fell, he said, “Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 4-5). Towers fall, children fall, and people die, regardless of who is righteous and who is not. It is not death but rebellion against God that is the real tragedy.

If we only understood more and saw more clearly, we might recognize the hand of God in numerous things around us and rejoice more fully in the miracles of life, of love, of beauty, and of families. We might recognize small or even great miracles even in the painful trials he allows us to experience, some of which may have been tailored for us in His grace. We may be blind to most of the miracles that make our lives, but that should not makes us doubt or even be bitter when His kindness is more obvious to some.

Praise God for each child spared and for each parent given miraculous guidance. Weep for the larger number who are not spared. Do our best to keep doors to danger closed and children close enough to us that we will not need an angel’s voice to best fulfill our duties. And may we never judge or condemn those who are not the recipients of yearned-for miracles, or begrudge those who are.

Meanwhile, we must not lose our bearings and sail away from God because we journey in a world where oceans of trouble and islands of miracles coexist on a map wildly unlike what we would draw if we were the cartographer.


Anonymous said...

If we expand our focus a bit, there are also other reasonable explanations for the seeming inconsistency.

Joseph Smith had innumerable miracles to preserve his life. Then the miracles ceased. He had finished his mission on earth and the Lord brought him home.

Another possible explanation is that it wasn't about the child at all, but the mother that the Lord was concerned about. Perhaps the mother couldn't have handled the death or injury of her child at that point. Or, perhaps the Lord needed to teach her to listen to him.

When we have faith that the Lord loves us and is working on our behalf, it makes all the little (from our perspective) inconsistencies fade away into in-consequence.

Anonymous said...

Well stated Jeff. Coming from a family that has experienced both miracles and great heartache, the miracle that has meant the most to me personally has been the "miracle within" -- experiencing the change of heart of going from shaking an angry fist at God for what has happened in my life, to acknowledging that I do not know all things but God does, and finally coming to accept and trust in His promise that through the Atonement of Christ all broken hearts will one day be made whole, and all tears will be wiped away.

Bookslinger said...

Jeff, that was a very diplomatic response. You said things that most LDS know, but few of us would have had the patience to put together like that.

Tianna said...

Your post Jeff, nearly brought me to tears. Not because I have faced a great trial with children (as our first born is still on his way), but because I have recognized and have great gratitude for the many little miracles that have occurred in my life. Focusing on our Savior and His Atonement has brought me to my knees, on more than one occasion, in humbleness and gratitude for His love for me and everyone who walks or has walked upon the earth.

askin said...

"SMALL MIRACLES" by Askin Ozcan
ISBN 1598001000 (Outskirts Press)
Thirty very stunning miraculous incidents from the life of the author in different countries.
A special chapter: "Mormon Angels"-how two mormon sisters helped in a desperate circumstance.

Available at 200 internet bookshops
incl. www.bn.com, www.amazon.com

Mike said...

I think the root of this issue is the age old question -- Why does God let bad things happen to good people? We don't know. All we can do when these trials come in our lives is to keep an eternal perspective as best we can and hope in the after life things will be better.

Jared said...

I wouldn't refer to a voice speaking from beyond the veil (most likely the ministering of an angel or the Holy Ghost) a small miracle. It's actually a big deal, a genuine miracle.

Moroni warns us not to let unbelief create the loss of the gifts of the Spirit (Moroni 10:24).

Those who complain about miracles because they didn't receive one, and someone else did, are complaining against God. This is understandable, but unwise and needs to be repented of.

Those who relate a miracle and then take heat for it from those who complain need to be careful not to be offended. If they are, they will stop relating the miracle. This can frustrate the work of the Lord. We're taught to appropriately relate things of the Spirit to increase faith (Elder Dallin Oak, Miracles, Ensign, June 2001.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps an even greater tragedy is the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel..

Jeff, I liked the post. It was diplomatic, but sometimes you say things that just don't make sense.
If I am reading you right, you are saying that you would prefer your son to die than to no longer believe in your church. A dead son would perhaps be preferable to him leaving the church and not believing in God?
Jeff, are you under the impression that people that do not believe in your church or God are evil? And it would be better that they are dead? Any former member of your church, would be better off dead?

Please tell me you wrote that without really thinking it through.

Anonymous said...

to the previous commenter:
Those who complain about miracles because they didn't receive one, and someone else did, are complaining against God. This is understandable, but unwise and needs to be repented of.
That is a little flippant. To those that have children die and no miracle performed inspite of much fasting and prayer and then to hear someone stand up in Testimony meeting and tell of how they received a miracle of finding their keys in time to drive to an important meeting seems to pale in comparison.
So to all those that had children die, just bite your tongue when someone testifies of how a prayer was answered for them in finding their lost keys while your child died in pain and agony.
Lovely sentiments here on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I am totally at a loss for words, 1st becausr of the post and 2nd because of some of the comments that persist in trying to find something in this post that isn't there.

Jeff, if I didn't know better I would think you were a trained theologian - this post represents one of the best theological explainations of the mercy of God and the "problem of evil" I have ever read.

Why does God "let bad things happen"...I think some are still missing the point - mortality was a choice, and all that follows that choice is ours including death even though it can be untimely. The miracles of Jesus were to show forth the glory of God - maybe it is those who have little faith that get the greatest miracles because it is they who need to experience God's intervention more than others whose faith is strong.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks for some kind words!

To Anon @4:19 AM, I'm disappointed you would interpret my post as a pox on unbelievers. Christians, in approaching the subject of death and pain, often taken an eternal perspective. When I weight various outcomes, I must consider that perspective. You and I will still be around in a few thousand or million years. All of us and our children will have died, perhaps in great pain for some. The sorrows of this mortal journey, though, will then be like the blinking of an eye, so brief will it be in comparison what is ahead--but long enough to reveal who we are and Whom we wish to follow. When we compare notes about this short mortal journey and discuss our children, will we focus on how they died or at what age their last mortal chapter was written? No, we will consider their eternal state. Did they accept Christ and receive the gift of eternal life in the presence of God? Or are they elsewhere, incomplete and less happy than they might have been?

From the perspective of immortal beings tripping through a brief mortal interlude, death is not the ultimate tragedy. It is the exit to this phase that all of us must pass through. The ultimate tragedy is of a spiritual nature, and thus it is fair to be more considered with the things of the Spirit than the things of the flesh, as painful and as tragic as these vessels of flesh can be here and now.

Bookslinger said...

"Jeff, are you under the impression that people that do not believe in your church or God are evil? And it would be better that they are dead? Any former member of your church, would be better off dead?

Okay, so now your true colors come out. You're a bitter ex-member. This was all just games for you. The whole thing was just sick manipulation. Pathetic.

Hey Jeff, please restore your previous post, and just delete this sicko's manipulative comments. It was all an RFM game. They're probably cackling and high-fiving that they got you to delete a post.

slothdog said...

I have buried two of my own children, so I suppose I'm qualified enough to comment here. Jeff, I understand what you're saying and I know that for some people the finding of lost car keys is a miraculous solution to probably the deepest tragedy of the week for them. But to have such trivialities shoved in my face week after week by people who know my circumstances, with the implication, or sometimes outright statement that they know they received their miracle because of their righteousness, is downright insulting. Thanks, so glad to know my children died because I'm a sinner.

And to a previous commenter: Honestly, "bite your tongue"? Advice noted, but I'm in enough pain already. Perhaps people should heed the counsel to treasure their sacred experiences privately instead of using them as bragging points. Really, who is being served by sharing such stories? Whatever happened to "mourning with those that mourn"?

I really do hope that in the end it's true that I will be reunited with my precious children that were taken from me too soon. But for now it's a long and bitter road, and grief needs no reminder.

djinn said...
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djinn said...
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Jeff Lindsay said...

The scriptures tell us to mourn with those that mourn, but are also filled with examples of personal revelation and miracles involving small things. The brother of Jared was given marvelous revelation and divine assistance in seeking help to overcome the inconvenience of darkness for their transoceanic trek, while thousands remained blind. Nephi sought and obtained revelation about where to hunt to feed his family, while thousands were starving. Must we shut out these joyous small miracles and refrain from sharing them because the course of mortality left so many others blind or hungry, as it will, both among those who believe and those who don't?

If your grief makes you upset when others speak of small miracles, the problem may not be theirs, except to the degree they fail to recognize the grace of God and attribute the miracle to their own righteousness - something that might not be their intent at all, in spite of you reading that implication into their words.

I am so sorry that your have experienced such grief. I also suspect that some further healing and perhaps softening is needed for you to be able to accept other's blessings, however small they seem, without feeling insulted or slighted.

Jared said...

Wow, I'm surprised at some of the comments.

Regarding death of children. I'm very closely associated with a family that lost three of their children. Parents are active members, but like all of us, by no means perfect. Two took their life, and one may have. Depression a factor in all three cases.

In my opinion, having adult children die as they did is more difficult to cope with than young children.

I observed how the family dealt with these tragedies. They accepted the comfort the Lord provided them. I wonder if some reject the comfort the Lord sends.

The scriptures promise that the Lord will support us in our trails and difficulties.

Green Persimmon said...

Talk about looking for excuses to be offended! Now Jeff wants children to die, eh? Atrocious. Djinn, fair to assume you're a TBA? True Blue Anti.

djinn said...
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Jeff Lindsay said...

Djinn, come on. That's a pretty vicious way of spinning my desire for others to enjoy the blessings of eternal life. But to reduce the opportunity for deliberate offense or misunderstanding from those who are looking for reasons to be offended, I have altered the wording to say "Another great tragedy . . ." instead of "Perhaps an even greater tragedy. . . ."

Surely you know that I don't want any child to die, Mormon or not. But given that we are all surely going to die sometime, I prefer that each person go out of this mortal existence in the best possible shape, which means as one who accepts and follows Jesus Christ. You can disagree, but I do believe that our relationship with Christ matters greatly.

We believe in a just and loving God who goes out of His way to make a way for all mankind to hear and accept the Gospel. We believe missionary work goes on after death to provide fair opportunities even for those who never heard of Christ in mortality. It's a beautiful concept, in my opinion. But there is still that nagging problem of human agency. Some will choose to reject Christ, and they will not be able to receive the infinite gifts made available through Christ--not because God is evil and unjust, but because we are. A million years from now, the real tragedy that counts most will not be how and when each of us died, but whether we rejected Christ or not. That doesn't mean I wish anyone to die or any parent to suffer grief, and I'm genuinely bothered that you would reconstruct my thoughts into such a large stone of offense. Those are street preacher tactics unworthy of you.

Stepping back from that million-year perspective, here in mortality I want each child to live and have a full life, LDS or not, ex-Mormon or not.

djinn said...
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Shawn said...

Djinn… LDS theology represents one of the only Christian “religions” that does EXACTLY the opposite of what you imply. Maybe your comments are sincere and you are expressing pain caused purposefully or unintentionally by LDS members. I’m sorry if member / family members or otherwise have made you think you are not valuable and that your life is worthwhile… they have been flat out wrong. It’s no excuse but the Church is made up of imperfect people, many with very different backgrounds, trying to live a better life. The missionaries can help clarify LDS theology and doctrine. I hope you can explore some of its healing doctrine and come to a correct understanding of its theology.

I won’t speak for Jeff but to me the rejection of God (not the LDS Church like you imply) is a big deal, for any religion, period. Many other religions insist that failure to follow their belief system means damnation, hell, or complete ostracization (which many converts to Mormanism experience).
The LDS faith is the only one I have found that has a vehicle to reconcile Christ’s declaration that the only way to God is through Him WITH the majority of people on the earth who do not believe in Christ or God (yes, it is a majority). That vehicle is Temple work. It will not only save but provide the fullness of the Gospel to the “perfectly kind, perfectly decent members of society, but of a different religious faith.”

If you, or anyone else, think faithful members of the LDS Church would rather see someone dead than an active member, you are very severely mistaken.

Regarding the rejection of God… sometimes people reject God because “the religion”, whichever they may have believed in, fails. Many times God is rejected so that people can justify narcissistic, self-destroying behaviors. One example I learned about today. An ex-Mormon mother with a special needs child continuing to smoke pot and drink coffee and alcohol while being pregnant with her second child. Her grandmother is at her wits end worrying that her next grandchild will also require special care. To Jeff’s point about agency, God is allowing that mother to possibly damage her next child. Does God love any of his children less? I think not. Do some suffer undeservedly? Yes. Would it be more fair if God protected the innocent and immediately punished the wicked? That’s someone else’s plan. Again see the missionaries for more info.


Shawn said...


My previous post was only taking into account your first post. It sounds like you are in great pain and that pain is raw. Families can be our worst enemies sometimes. If I may be so bold, it also sounds like you may need to forgive others for their failure.

If you have a relationship with God and hopefully Christ, the opinions of others do not matter. If other people (also know as God's children just like you) have damaged your ability to have a relationship with God then you may want to consider forgiving them and figuring out the best way to develop that healing relationship with our creator.

Jeff means you no ill will. You are misinterpreting his statements.

If you are a "perfect kind, perfectly decent" member of another religion, good job recovering from bad experiences and may we both find paths back to God.

Nobody thinks it would be better if you were dead.


djinn said...
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Jeff Lindsay said...

Djinn, my post at 1:24 was not directed to you - I hadn't seen your comments yet.

And didn't you notice, I did back down and explained that I changed my wording to reduce the risk for misunderstanding. Sorry you missed that announcement in paragraph 1 at 2:01 pm. I hope it helps a little.

Again, if you haven't noticed, when it comes to life versus death, I'm on the pro-life side. Let each child live, let each person live. Someone may leave the Church and still find joy, which is great, and may even come back one day, in this life or the next, which is also great. I leave that to God. LDS parents do not go around thinking it's better for their children to die than to risk having them leave the Church. We just want them to be happy, and hope that in the long run, we'll be on the same team with all the joy that God and Christ have tgo offer us eternally.

djinn said...
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djinn said...
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Anonymous said...

Jeff, I'm a new reader of your blog, and I just want to say thank you for this beautiful post. It was a great reminder of God's love for ALL OF US, and I am saddened that some still choose to look at another's blessing as an insult to their own trial. God gives each of us daily reminders of his love for us even through our trials. We need to spend more time recognizing them than comparing situations. Everyone has their own specific experiences to endure here in mortality and it is not fair to say that someone else shouldn't share theirs at the risk of offending anyone. The offense is chosen, not meant. In addition to mourning with those that mourn, I think we also need to love each other enough to rejoice with each other, even when it stings.

Sherry said...

Recently, one night I was driving on a two lane highway with a lot of curves. Suddenly I nearly heard a voice screaming, "SLOW DOWN!" It shook me up so much that I nearly slammed on my brakes. Just in time, because a pickup truck was passing a motorcycle in a no-passing zone, and if I hadn't nearly slammed on my brakes, it would have been a head-on collision that would probably have killed me and the other driver, as well as the motorcyclist.

When my daughter was 17 months, she was suddenly afflicted with H Influenza Meningitis. It hit her all at once on a Tuesday night. I took her to the doctor on Wednesday, he called ahead to the hospital telling them to take her as an emergency patient, and then we sat for nearly two hours in a room with her convulsing and me ringing the nurses' station every ten minutes. Finally a doctor came in, but it was nearly too late. Her temperature was 106 and all of her blood had left her arms and legs to concentrate on her organs. Then someone from church came that I had called earlier, and gave her a priesthood blessing. She immediately recovered. Her fever broke, her blood returned to her arms and legs, and she started crying.

Okay, so I honestly believe both of those incidents were two major miracles, among many minor ones I've experienced. But at the same time, I've been divorced twice to idiots that for whatever reason I married (neither a member of the church), was inactive most of my life, have had a seriously tough time keeping a job, not because I was a bad employee, but because I didn't have a college degree and had a lot of bad jobs, so my financial bearing has had many ups and downs. I have two adult children. My daughter is autistic, and that was very hard to deal with, yet a challenge all the same. But I learned so much from her.

Everything is for a reason, and I know that. Miracles are everywhere. People sometimes just don't believe in them, and for that I am sad.

Anonymous said...

Sorry had to chime in here. When someone says it is preferable that their child die than to leave the fold that is sounding cultish. MHO only.
I wonder if all those ex-mormons that are more happy outside the church than they were inside are still loved by their parents whom most likely have the same "cultish" sentiments.
I would hope that in all these biased views being expressed there is some thought to the possibility that living outside the church could be wonderfully fulfilling as well. What a loss if those people had just died rather than find that happiness in their lives.
Sorry, I am pro life and on the side of finding your own happiness.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon @6:25 pm said, "When someone says it is preferable that their child die than to leave the fold that is sounding cultish." Sure, but who said that? Not me and not any LDS people I know. These words were an unfair interpolation of my comments regarding the eternal perspective in which what will matter most in distant ages hence will be our relationship with God, not when or high we died in this brief episode on earth.

For the record, I have loved ones in the scope of my family and friends who are no longer members of the Church. Some utterly reject it. Our religious differences NEVER made me think they would be better off dead. I remain as grateful as ever for their lives and for their friendship, and hope they will have many more years in this mortal journey. I am glad when I see them experience fulfillment and have happiness outside the Church, though I think they are missing something and could be happier still. I also think that a million years from now, they will be happiest if they will have managed to find their way back to Christ, the sooner the better. But don't you dare twist that sentiment with some horrid desire to have people die rather than be part of my religion.

I love my religion and believe that faith in Christ is essential for the greatest blessings of eternity, but I also know that plenty of people lead rich, valuable lives here in mortality without my religion and even without openly acknowledging God at all, and they often have much I can learn from. We have some beautiful truths, but we don't have a monopoly on truth, wisdom, and fulfillment.

djinn said...
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le35 said...

I grieve for the mother who had her son die, and I hope this comment doesn't make her feel worse. However, I have noticed something that seems to be a pattern throughout my life. It seems that, for me, some of my greatest miracles come at the most tragic times of my life. When I was in High school, I was so lost in hopelessness, that I would have been willing to take my own life. I had a miracle of two of my friends, the same night, just having a thought and a feeling that they needed to come to my house. They saved my life that night. It's the greatest miracle, but it was in the deepest sorrow. Just a little while after that day was the day that I read D&C 19:16-19 and really had a converting experience and KNEW without any doubt that my Heavenly Father loves me. Those are the two biggest miracles. They came at my lowest point. Another huge miracle happened to me right after my first miscarriage. I was lost in grief after losing the baby at 3 months. Right then, were living in South Georgia, and Hurricane Katrina had just hit. The stake asked for men to go helpe with the hurricane effort, but they asked our little branch to go scout ahead for them. My husband was the first counselor in the Branch Presidency, and he was asked to go for a week. I had a two year old at home and I had no clue how I could take care of my daughter when I couldn't even take care of myself. I asked for a blessing, and I had a miracle. Suddenly, althought I still missed my baby, and the problems were the same, all of the pain, the hardship, and the burden of the problem was gone. I think that small miracles don't negate the big things. They happen because the big things happen. We couldn't have miracles at all without tragedy. There has to be opposition in all things. Therefore, when we have enormous tragedies, it may be time to start keeping our eyes out for the miracles.

genie said...
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genie said...
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Stephen said...

djinn, I'm glad you realized that no one here wishes you were dead, though you need to take the next step and see that your bitterness overlaps so much of how you react and what you say.

I wonder if some reject the comfort the Lord sends. -- well said.

the "miracle within" as the power of the atonement works within us. Zelophehad's Daughters had a wonderful post on that.

to have such trivialities shoved in my face week after week by people who know my circumstances, with the implication, or sometimes outright statement that they know they received their miracle because of their righteousness, is downright insulting.

Slothdog, what can I say. I've been through that myself.

There is a real difference between those who are celebrating the miracles they have experienced and those who are counting coup with them ...

Then, there are the Anonymous trolls, sheesh.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Djinn, something deeper is going on here. I'm sorry you're having such pain.

Recognizing that some could misunderstand my words, I already retracted one statement and replaced "Perhaps a greater tragedy . . ." with "Another great tragedy . . ." Though I had to remind you of that twice, you finally accepted it, so I thought, with "I stand, gratefully, corrected" @ 3:26 p.m. As if that exchange never happened, you come back and dig up a phrase no longer on my blog post and use that to create a horrid sentiment that I never expressed and have expressly disavowed. Though this offends me as an uncivil and, as you might say, "mean" act, I have to realize that you, as an intelligent person with some very painful experiences, must be facing something deeper here.

I want you alive and happy, in our out of the Church. Your life matters. You count. God loves non-Mormons, ex-Mormons, and even some of us Mormons as well, and there is purpose and meaning in each life. Though I believe that ultimate joy comes in following Christ, in no way does this mean that I think people are better dead than non-Mormon! It's extremely offensive to me that you would twist my words to create such vicious slander, but again, I recognize that this is not an expression of personal hostility toward me, a stranger, or an expression of inability to engage in civil dialog, but an expression of some great pain that you have experienced which may have been stirred up by my words. I mean you no harm and truly wish you well--but I will keep writing about LDS beliefs and doctrines, which appear to stir up a lot of pain in you. If something I say makes you think I hate ex-Mormons or want them to suffer, please understand that such thoughts are far from my heart and perhaps you have misunderstood.

I've called for Latter-day Saints to give ex-Mormons a little slack. I think it's fair to ask for the same from you. You may disagree with what we believe and how we do things, but looking for reasons to be offended when no offense is intended is unhealthy.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Sherry and le35, thank you for sharing your inspiring and instructive experiences. Some of these little miracles aren't easily explained away as just coincidence or imagination, and can do much to help cement our personal recognition of the reality of God and His help even in times of tragedy and loss.

In my life, many of the big miracles I thought were needed and prayed and fasted for did not occur. Disease and evil men have often had their way, and the legions of angels or skilled surgeons from beyond the veil that I would have liked did not respond to my call. But in much smaller things, clear miracles have been there. I have held the little glowing pebbles touched by the hand of God that provided a little miraculous light for a dark journey.

plaidspolitics said...

I prefer this response rather than Jeffs: http://bit.ly/1Fvg4k (Tragedy or Destiny?, Kimball)

I think Jeff is trying to get it, but really you just can't GET it unless you have passed through it.

In the parking lot, as my daughter was being air lifted away in critical condition, EXACTLY 6 years TO THE DAY that her older brother had been air lifted in critical condition to that same hospital, our friend told us of HIS miracle. He told us how HIS daughter was in the NICU & they gave her a blessing & she was still there & alive. His words were well meaning. He wanted to comfort me & to tell me to have hope in Miracles. But one week later, MY little girl died in our arms. I had buried my son six years before, & I would bury my daughter, too.

Until you REALLY experience these heartaches, trauma, tragedies... Until you are IN the "moment," you just can't GET IT. You can have friends who have gone through it, & you can GUESS what you will feel & do based on your current experiences, but you just don't KNOW. Isn't that the whole reason we CAME to mortality? We all could have said, "Yeah, God, I know I will handle this or that trial like THIS, so let's just call it good." No, God knew better. He understood that we can't possibly know what the experience will REALLY be like until we experience it.

I just am perplexed at the lacking of compassion posted in some of these comments & somewhat in the original post. I shouldn't be surprised because there has been a great lacking in compassion shown to our family. A huge hole where support should be, especially in a church where a "safety net" of support is set up through stewardships. But it's still surprising.

Is it really fair to ask those who are weak, whose hands hang down, & who have the most feeble of knees from the constant pleading with the Lord to help them endure such difficulty & trauma of the loss of children to use what little of energy & strength they have in joyous celebration for others whose miracles don't even involve the preservation of life? Isn't it more compassionate, more REASONABLE to think that those who have received the staying hand of God to extend that kindness to those who are all around them, struggling?

I am suspect of those who claim they are sharing faith promoting testimonies when they recount this miracle or that. Personal revelation- personal miracles- are not meant for all of us, or they would have been PRESENTED to all of us! These sacred gifts should not be mocked by holding the light up to shine on our own faces. There may be an appropriate time to share the sacred experience of a miracle, but for the most part people need to be more guarded in sharing these things with others. And yes, one important reason for being guarded is to show sensitivity to others who are struggling through an experience you *may* have been spared from.

I especially wonder when people recount something *almost* scary that COULD have happened & how they were spared (who knows if a mother who was "prompted" to reach her child before he fell down a set of stairs really saved that child from anything at all). Or like in a public disaster where the people who weren't killed say how they knew they were protected by God &d so were spared. Then what does that mean about the people who were killed? Why weren't they protected? Do we really just categorize things are "miracles" when they go how we want them to go (or how we expect them to go because of some "prompting")?

plaidspolitics said...

With EVERY miracle that I have ever read about Jesus performing, you get a sense of his great Compassion. THIS is the lesson we should get from miracles -- LOVE! God is LOVE! And we commanded to LOVE our neighbors as ourselves. We are told to lose ourselves. We are reminded to mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, do it unto the least of these, offer two cloaks, stop to help the wounded when others might pass him by...

I understand people are often well-meaning in recounting their miracles. But with more study, we can learn to be more discerning in what is appropriate to share, & also more compassionate in our communications.

"In the turmoil & strife of our society today, many are frustrated, overwhelmed by anxieties & fears. As an individual strives to regain stability & self-confidence, it is vital that friends put their arms around him & assure him that he is not alone, that he can succeed in the struggle to return. Too often we weaken such an individual through thoughtless remarks & failure to understand rather than building with love & sincere concern." (Royden G. Derrick, “When Men’s Hearts Fail,” New Era, Jul 1987, 4) http://bit.ly/48b3Js

plaidspolitics said...

And if you are looking for a raw view into the topic of miracles when the Lord's hand does not intervene, here is a long post I wrote only about two months after having to bury a child for a second time.

Yes, Jeff. You GREATLY underestimate the pain out there.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Jeff, you are amazing to do this. These are your thoughts and I greatly appreciate them.

I think it's sad that those of us who have suffered the loss of child feel the need to lash out on others. Comments like "You just don't know" because you haven't felt it do nothing but segregate and distance. I've noticed so many people hesitant to offer support because people who are grieving are quick to anger or point out that others suffering pale in comparison. I mean, what good does that do?

I love the title of your post. Because so many died during 9/11, does that make those who survived less of a miracle? 9/11 is the day my son died and I choose to find happiness. He died on a tragic day, but does his death have to be tragic? No! I choose to be happy for those who also miraculously find their car keys BECAUSE anything... ANYTHING that brings us closer to Christ is a miracle and we should joy with each other when we're closer to Christ.

Some people are going to be insensitive and hurt grieving souls. (By the way Jeff, I don't think a word you said was insensitive or hurtful) God understands and if we turn to Him then we will be healed.
But as for us who are in the grieving process, we have the opportunity to show patience and compassion also. We can turn to others for support, but they aren't perfect. Only Christ is. So if you want perfect comfort, you need to turn to Him. Quite simple.

President Hinckley said the only cure to grief is work...
So let's all work together to return to our Heavenly Father. Isn't that what Jeff is trying to do here?

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments, so I hope I'm not repeating somebody else.

My bishop's son was in a philosophy class at a university where the professor was trying to spark a heated debate by asking the age old question, "If there is a God, why does He let bad things happen to good people?" This student was the first to respond with something to the effect of, "How does He/we know we are good unless He/we see how we act when bad things happen?". The debate never got started.

I think that God tailors the lessons to what would give us the most opportunity for eternal growth. If it is to learn the lessons from a tragedy, then He allows that tragedy to happen. If we need to learn the voice of the Holy Spirit or see the saving hand of God in our lives, He might prompt us so that we avoid tragedy. Someday we will see the big picture, but right now we are lost in the details of the day.

- Dave D

plaidspolitics said...

Here are some thoughts from our Christmas letters the past two years since Bridget's death. The subject of miracles is one I ponder and study nearly every day. I hope we are ALL teachable (including myself).

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” (CS Lewis)

"Mortality is but a stepping-stone to a more glorious existence in the future. The sorrow of death is softened with the promise of the Resurrection. There would be no Christmas if there were no Easter." (Hinckley)

Bridget's unexpected death at 2 months of age prevented us from sharing the Christmas season with her. She has an older brother who died exactly six years and one day before she did, when he was 5 months old. We didn't have the opportunity to share the Christmas season with him, either. Even with the grief we have, we try to carry on in the everyday tasks and joys of life.

It is a beacon of Hope to know that He whose birth we celebrate at this time of year is known to be ”a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), and yet He is still the Promise and source of Peace– “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27) Often, it has been through kindnesses of others that we have felt His tender mercies. They may not always be the ones we ask for, but Miracles still exist. Through small and simple kindnesses we are all able to witness and grant miracles.

In the halls of the hospital, during a particularly challenging day, a quote taped up by the hospital’s Chaplain offered insight:

“What if the healing of the world utterly depends on the ten thousand invisible kindnesses we offer simply and quietly throughout the pilgrimage of each human life?” (Wayne Muller)

During the Christmas season, there seems to be an atmosphere that awakens something in us. Merrill J. Bateman wrote of it as “A Season for Angels”. In reflecting over the years, and the Miracles we have had of being sustained through some intensely difficult days, while also being able to feel incredible heights of joy, we see that it is through others that we have known miracles. Bateman’s reminder seems so fitting: “...miracles during this Christmas season require our faith and works. As we sing the hymns of Christmas and speak of angels sent to earth to witness the Savior’s birth in the meridian of time, may we rise to the occasion and minister to those in need in our day. ..may we, as angels of mercy, minister to other families and to those in need”

Our kindnesses, perhaps “small letters”, can add to the story– the True story, of the greatest miracle of all– the Resurrection of He who was born in a stable. Again, “There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection. “ (Hinckley)

Bookslinger said...

Another fallacy that some engage in is stating, or falsely accusing that Mormons believe/say that, leaving the LDS church is the same as rejecting God.

People who leave (or reject) the LDS church are not necessarily rejecting God. Plenty of good (and even great) people who believe in Heavenly Father and Jesus don't accept the claims of the LDS church.

Many who never join after hearing the LDS version of the Gospel, and many who leave, still go on believing in God and Christ.

So that was another "twist" that some tried to put into Jeff's words.

Many critics of the church like to twist the claim of exclusive _authority_ of the LDS church and priesthood by (falsely) claiming that the LDS state that no one but the LDS goes to heaven. That's another false claim on the part of the critics.

The whole purpose of temple work is to give opportunity to people who didn't hear the gospel, or the full gospel in this life. And, as many LDS have stated, if someone hears the Gospel, but doesn't hear it preached by the power of the Spirit, it doesn't count. And, even when Mormon missionaries do preach by the Spirit, the person listening may still not hear/feel the Spirit. That's we we're not supposed to judge who goes to heaven and who doesn't. Only Jesus can do that. Only God knows who really heard the gospel and all the necessary things that go into His judgement.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thank you, Bookslinger, for your helpful words. Your frequent participation and insights are always appreciated and make my life much easier!

~plaid and Slothdog, you two have been through far more than many with the loss of two beautiful children. Thank you for helping us to understand the unintended pain that can be stirred. Also thank you for the excellent resource you recommended at LDS.org. Yes, the insights from President Kimball on this topic come with high gravitas and depth.

I am sorry that my sentiments hurt you. I think I can understand your point, but also wish to point out that while notable miracles may not come to all, at least not when we want them most, the gift of personal revelation is intended for all and should be part of our daily lives. Perhaps you were referring to "big" revelation like visions of the future or hearing the voice of God or something--but quiet guidance from the Spirit in our personal and often painful journeys is a blessing available to all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just can't get past this statement that an even greater tragedy than the death of a child is the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel..
What tremendous pressure on children if a parent has these attitudes. How sad a parent would put church over the life of their own child.
Life is to live and grow, and if that growth takes a child out of the church and into a happier existence, how sad a parent would prefer that they had just died.

farfar said...

What statement? No LDS person here is saying that. Anon, are you Djinn again, trying to insert a malicious meaning into Jeff's words? Or did you just fail to read what Jeff said and explained?

Bookslinger said...

There you go again, doing the old switcheroo, saying leaving the church is the same as rejecting God.

"Sorry, I just can't get past this statement that an even greater tragedy than the death of a child is the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel..
What tremendous pressure on children if a parent has these attitudes. How sad a parent would put church over the life of their own child.

I'm calling you out on that. That's manipulation, it's childish, and it's sick.

Bookslinger said...

Farfar, no matter who it is, it's a pitiful bitter person from the rfm group. I feel sorry for the ones who were truly hurt at the hands of their LDS ward or family. But the snarkers from rfm who come here and make Jeff into an offender for a word, like to nurse their wounds such that they drip the ooze on to others so that others can know how much they are hurting. In effect, they are spreading their toxins and trying to make others as miserable as they are. (Remind you of anyone from the scriptures?)

But the problem is, they don't want to get better. They don't want to get over their hurts.

I know somewhat what it's like, because I got hurt in the church and stayed away for 15 years before I finally came back. It can take a mighty sea change to get someone to come back. And coming back (and all that repentance stuff that has to go along with it) can be as painful as what caused the person to leave in the first place.

So, oftentimes, it can seem easier to blame the church and everyone else (and some people even try to blame God), and keep nursing those wounds instead of actually going to the Lord to heal the wounds.

I used to read some RFM stuff, and they consider someone like Jeff to be a real enemy to them. It's like the saying goes, they can't leave the church alone. And church defenders like Jeff are a lightening rod that draws them. They talk about Jeff's posts and his web site on their forums, and have even played "false flag" games in the comments.

One of the excuses they use to nurse their wounds is to "protect" investigators and non-members from Jeff's explanations.

Some of the things they are even true. Members, and even some leaders sometimes make mistakes, say the wrong things, do the wrong things, and people can get hurt. But like Nephi and Moroni said, if there are errors, they are the mistakes of men, not of God.

I know from personal experience, that you can get hurt in the true church. But hey, getting hurt is part of life, stuff happens.

But God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Atoning One, the Savior. This is His official church, Joseph Smith was a prophet, Thomas Monson is a prophet, and the Book of Mormon is true. And if someone's LDS family hurts them, or their bishop hurts them, or the ward members hurt them, well, all the aforementioned are still true, and the sins are on the head of the sinners, not the victims.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks, Bookslinger. The "false flag" concept explains some of the strange behavior I've encountered here. People who say there are LDS or potential converts just looking for an honest answer to some favorite question of antis, and when it is answered, they begin dumping a litany of other arguments instead of showing any real interest in obtaining an answer. But that's to be expected.

djinn said...

It's djinn again. Bookslinger, the problem for many of us is that the difficulties with our families not wishing we died young, but feeling that our existence is merely "a great tragedy" (quoting Jeff Lindsay correctly and in in context, I think) is an ongoing problem.

Thanksgiving approaches. So does Christmas. How shall we handle the fact that our family sees us, no matter what our (non-religious) accomplishments, as (quoting the latest update of the original post ) "a great tragedy?"

My life is not a tragedy except to my family and my (Mormon) people. My kids, well, they are also treated with "great kindness," which, and this is the point that I cannot put across clearly, is different, is completely different, than treating someone as an actual family member. We're not either 1) not only evil, butcontagious to be avoided;

and 2) be convinced by your completely fake conversation whenever we're in earshot that you're all perfect--problem 2a) falls in here, you can't have a relationship (even someone I've known, for, say 25 years) if they refuse to say anything of substance to me.

The pain is so real because it is so ongoing. I am not a project. I don't need to be treated with "kindness" let alone "great kindness," I would simply like to be a member of the family.

It seems pretty much impossible.

In all honesty, I do have family members that treat me ok, one even Mormon. So it can be done. But Bruce Lindsay here, unlike the persona he clearly truly believes is part of the problem.

The completely (invisible to the condescendor) condescention coming off these posts reminds me so much of my own family I think that by explaining, maybe I can keep a few of you from having your family members, perfectly decent people, but who have taken an oh-so-slightly different path than you, from ending up scared to death of you.

But perhaps not. Sigh.

You may think, as seems so common, that I spew anti-mormon rhetoric; nothing could be farther from the truth. The only time I mention anything even remotely reated to Mormonism is when genealogy comes up, and I I'm discussing relatives, not religion.

OK, Jeff Lindsay, what do I do? I've tried love (I'm still trying love) I've tried bribes, I've avoidance, I've tried asking for help; how does one penetrate the Active Mormon shield? Perhaps a light-sword or two?

djinn said...

And please notice, Jeff Lindsay, that I am not bringing up any Mormon issues other than how to handle Mormon family members who treat me (well, me and my kids) like we're contagious.

They approach us "nicely" but there is nothing remotely like friendship offered--rather, it's like smile fakely, tell faith-promoting story and exit stage left-taking kids prior to any chance of them hanging out with my evil little well-behaved polite bookwork quiet darlings.

After years of Me inviting my Mormon family to major events like Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas (lots of work), of coming to their houses (I call and ask), of writing letters--I'm still that evil evil phrase referenced say, in every single conference; I'm "of the world," as I commit the crime of not going to the church of their choice.

My family might catch something from me. My children don't know their cousins. I've tried, I've plied them with pastries (and let me tell you, I can cook) but still, we have nothing like what I see in other families as a normal family relationship.

Jeff Lindsay, I think you're perfectly positioned to give suggestions to both sides as to how we can, you know, just hang out, be friends. I assure you. I am a quiet bookworm whose idea of goofing off is hoping for rain so I can read all day. Not scary.

So my Christmas wish is for you to suggest to me how I can approach my pretend-nice, actual hostile family so they'll treat me like a human.

Also, I really do think you have a real understanding of the gulf people born into Mormonism who stayed who left. Could you suggest to those families such as mine (wonderful people doing their best--and I do understand their behavior is meant well--they want me converted, the best gift they could give me, in their eyes) some way to treat me and my kids as actual family members rather than evil apostates, potential converts, or some combination of the above?

Suggestions to me would also be welcome; I never speak of Mormonism with my family; I try to keep all such areas of difference to a minimum, so I can't do more of that. But other suggestions would be welcome.


You know, as pathetic as it sounds, why can't we jut be friends?

djinn said...

One of which should hundreds of addenda:

Also, I really do think you have a real understanding of the gulf people born into Mormonism who stayed **and those** who left.

Eileen said...

I came late to this post, but wanted to add my thoughts. I have experienced small miracles in the midst of great trials. While God neither eliminated nor even reduced the trial, the small miracles made it clear that He was mindful of me and that everything was in His hands, giving me strength to endure.

Anonymous said...

I was the poster at 8:44
I do not follow this blog not the comments posted on it every day.
What I do see here is that if someone does not agree with the Author of the blog or asks something about the embarrassing past of the Church they are labeled, Anti or an RFM ( I had no idea what RFM was, I had to look it up) follower. This bookslanger guy says I am an RFM and Jeff then dismisses what I have said because BS labeled me as such. Great detective work there guys. I guess it is easier to just dismiss someone's criticism. You know, forget the content of the criticism and just knock down the poster.

Sorry, I just disagree with this statement:
Perhaps an even greater tragedy is the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel.
Jeff, your blog and you can post whatever you like. You lose a lot of cred when you say such 'crazy' (my estimation of your post) things though.
Seems some of your commenters agree with you though, as the poor family's that have not have miracles performed for them in saving their children have been told to repent and or, hold their tongues.
Sorry, I don't see the Love of Christ anywhere near anything that was said here by you or these commenters. I won't comment again about this.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, that statement does not exist in my blog post. Read it for yourself. Read my reasons for correcting it when I realized how it could be misunderstood. I totally disavow the malicious intent you wish to read into my words. Sorry you're unable to recognize that.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Djinn, thank you - that was helpful. You're absolutely right that LDS people need to step back and recognize that it is not our lot to judge or run other people's lives, and when their lives depart from the path we think they should go, that it is their right to go that path and our job is to love and help, not to badger, belittle, condemn, or convert contrary to their desires.

LDs people need to remember that we do not have a monopoly on truth, righteousness, joy, or fulfillment. We need to accept that others on completely different paths are finding value and fulfillment and we should be content with that. It can be difficult when the path of loved ones not only departs from our theology, but from our moral compass. A couple living together, or a family member in a homosexual relationship can be especially challenging as LDS people struggle with a loved one living lifestyle that we disagree with, and being not sure how to respond and deal with it. This is where graciousness and suspension of moral judgment is needed above all (assuming there that the parties involved are adults and it is no longer a matter of parental supervision).

I am grateful for the example of my parents in dealing with this issue with inspired love and kindness. I am grateful for my relationships with my own family members, not all of whom are on the paths I would recommend, but all of whom, both in and out of the Church, are living lives with accomplishment, fulfillment, love, and even occasional small or even large miracles.

Jeff Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

First, can someone please tell me what an "RFM" is?

Second, it is amazing how the comments evolved far from Jeff's original post.

Third, I, too, am amazed at some of the bitterness expressed by some of the parents. Although I pray that I never have the experiences you have had, I also pray that I will accept the Lord's will and the understanding that bitterness will never heal.

Fourth, Jeff, your paragraph, starting with "The fact that one child was spared a similar fate was not meant as condemnation to those of us who have faced and suffered the normal course of gravity and dare-devil toddlers," says it all. I do not understand how anyone could misconstrue what you said. The only way is if emotions are clouding their thinking.

Fifth, for those like ~plaid who are offended by other's experiences, relatively small according to your judgement, you are allowing the weaknesses of members (which are many) to influence your testimony and your understanding of God's love. My testimony is not going to be based on the actions/inactions of others. Who is to judge that that "finding a key" experience, trivial to you, wasn't a major experience in their life because they realized for the first time in their life that God actually knows who they are? (Members are not trained orators that always express accurately what they are feeling.) Are you really qualified to judge how the Almighty God works? The mere thought makes me shudder. Making accusations of "You don't know what I'm going through," is judgemental (How do YOU really know that someone hasn't experienced what you have? Maybe they are keeping it to themselves.) and also is a close relative of the "holier-than-thou" attitude when you stop to think about it. I'm sorry to come across as berating a grieving parent, but your attitudes do not seem harmonious to what the gospel is all about and what it is offering. People--Latter-day Saints--have weaknesses. That's a given. But how are you going to live YOUR life? Instead of being grateful for the knowledge of where your children are, what your future with them holds, you are lashing out. How about that sister that Pres. Monson told about in April Conference? ("Be of Good Cheer") She lost her husband and all four of her children, buried them with a spoon and then her fingers, was starved nearly to death. What was her attitude? She was grateful! And that saved her life.

Sixth, ~plaid, by your first couple of posts, I would absolutely agree that no one knows your pain unless we've been through it. And therein lies the problem. Not just Latter-day Saints, but any people often do not know how to handle a friend's loss. They do not know what to say or do. So if you know that "no one knows because they haven't experienced it" you should also know one reason perhaps why you haven't received the "support" that you feel you seem to be deserving. (Which I feel is also an incorrect attitude.) No, I do not know your pain. What you and your wife experienced is tragic. I truly am sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, that's about all I can say. And I hope you do take it as a sincere expression. However, I pray that you will understand that the Savior HAS experienced your pain and HE DOES know what you are experiencing and therefore able to take hope in that and receive succor from Him.


Brad said...

Seventh, ~plaid, if I am reading your emotions correctly, perhaps those are surfacing towards your ward family as well. If I were in your ward, I would almost be afraid to approach you to give any support because of your negativity. Or perhaps you have been approached, but you turned them away because "they don't know what you have been/are going through." I am in no position to judge, either, but just some rhetorical questions are "Do you have a bitter countenance at church, therefore, repelling anyone from approaching you?" and "Do you receive any attempts of support with gladness and appreciation (even the "botched" efforts) or do you show disgust and turn them away?"

And finally, ~plaid, I really liked your last post. THAT showed that you have faith, hope, and charity and a desire to endure to the end. It was quite uplifting, really.

I hope to give a talk in church someday entitled "Christmas Messages Lost." The first part would be about why is it that whenever we hear "Scrooge" we only think about the pre-ghost visit Scrooge and not about the transformed, converted, goodly man that he became. (After all, that was the whole point of the story.)

I also want to address, ever so carefully, the parents who grieve for their lost children at Christmastime. I would wish to say to them it is OK to grieve and miss their presence during this holiday season. However, you should also rejoice! As you referred to in your last post, we celebrate Christmas because we celebrate Easter, and therefore we know that we can be united as families forever! That is the great gospel message, to be reunited with our Father, our Savior King, and our families for eternity.

May Heavenly Father bless you ~plaid and others who have posted who are grieving. I cannot empathize, but I can sympathize and grieve for your loss.


Anonymous said...

This is the anon quoted by Jeff in his post.

I would respond in full, but its too long to fit in the comment box, and I don't see an e-mail anywhere for Jeff.

I will only point out here, that no one really knows me..but some have simply decided that I am just bitter, unwise, unbelieving, complaining, choosing to be unhappy, rejecting God's comfort on purpose, that I don't have enough faith, that I am SINNING and need to repent, that my trial is not as bad as others, and that I'm frustrating the work of the Lord by grieving the loss of my child.

None of the people saying those things have any idea what its like to lose a child, and yet they are all SO SURE that *I* am the problem for feeling so much pain in the loss of my all, my sunshine, my son. It couldn't be that my feelings are valid, it must be that I am doing something morally and spiritually wrong. (strange how not one person who has actually lost a child has said anything like that)

I think people, including you Jeff, have forgotten that in our trials of fire, the fluff of our testimonies are burned away and whats left is beaten and molded into something strong and unbreakable. But that this very process takes a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and yes, questions, doubting, pain, anger, fear, and in the end...faith.

But if anyone ever expresses the pain and fear during this process, you are immediately looked upon as a faithless dissenter. LDS people don't like to hear about the gray, uncertainties in life...and when faced with it, they lash out with judgement. Its just too scary to admit that sometimes things just plain suck and we don't understand why God would allow it to happen. Some things don't fit into pretty boxes with shiny ribbons, as much as we want them to.

~plaid...there are angels among us. *hug* ;)

Anonymous said...

And if you don't believe me about the knee jerk reaction of those who witness others' pain and frustrations, just re-read Brad's responses to ~plaid after her first & second post, then compare it to his response after her third post. Not until she repeats the safe, understandable, black and white doctrine of the church is she met with compassion. Before, she is only met with judgement and pointed finger. (Sorry to throw you under the bus, Brad, no harsh feelings, but it really did just illustrate my point so well. I'm sure you didn't mean to do it.)

Anonymous said...

and I just want to quote this, because really, this is the heart of it:

"Is it really fair to ask those who are weak, whose hands hang down, & who have the most feeble of knees from the constant pleading with the Lord to help them endure such difficulty & trauma of the loss of children to use what little of energy & strength they have in joyous celebration for others whose miracles don't even involve the preservation of life? Isn't it more compassionate, more REASONABLE to think that those who have received the staying hand of God to extend that kindness to those who are all around them, struggling?"

Brad said...

Anon, I believe that my response was anything but a "knee-jerk" response.

My point is simply this: Adversity is a given in life. Period. It IS an integral part of the Plan of Salvation. Adversity may mean losing one's loved ones. So how are you going to deal with it? By lashing out at others who haven't "felt your pain?" To me, that is totally an antithesis to what the gospel means. If opposition is a given in life, then didn't Heavenly Father provide a way to deal with it? I do not believe that He meant for you to suffer horribly for the rest of your lives from this.

None of my posts meant to demean any of you in that situation and I do not believe they did. However, in the many posts that I read from parents who took offense at Jeff's post, I saw a common thread. And that thread was bitterness. Bitterness towards different things, maybe, but bitterness nonetheless. It was mostly directed towards "callous" members of the church.

I am surprised at how it seems that you took my response and twisted its meaning. I'm very surprised at this same manner of response to Jeff's post. He didn't mean anything of it. And yet you and others attempt to vilify him for it.

And that was my other point, which I will say that you illustrated for me quite well, is that those of you who lost children are quick to post that we are bad people for not "supporting" you or for being "insensitive" or whatever you imply or want to accuse us of.

I think that that is insensitive name-calling yourself. And I'm sorry, but I am not going to approach someone who seems to be bitter and wallowing in self-pity. You all on this blog seem to be oversensitive to what others say, regardless if there was no harm intended.

You accuse us of alienating you for not fitting in our paradigm, yet it seems to me that you and others are creating your own gospel paradigm which you expect us to fit into.

Tell, me. What exactly do you or any of you others mean by "support" anyway? After a period of time passes, what can we possibly do to help anyway? Please educate us, then maybe we can understand your point of view better. We all have to move on in life some time--so do "supporters." I honestly cannot think of what else we could possibly do to help you, especially when your solace can only be found from the Lord. And if you only say something like "Quit saying insensitive things," I feel there is nothing we can do for it seems that you will only take offense at anything said.

I mean really, past the loaves of bread and bringing over casseroles (which I'm sure some of you would take offense at receiving anyway) what can we possibly do? Give a listening ear? Glad to, except I'm not going to listen to someone unload negativity on me. No one does. So please--define "support."


Brad said...

Sorry to go on--this will be my last post and I'll just listen...

I will only point out here, that no one really knows me..but some have simply decided that I am just bitter, unwise, unbelieving, complaining, choosing to be unhappy, rejecting God's comfort on purpose, that I don't have enough faith, that I am SINNING and need to repent, that my trial is not as bad as others, and that I'm frustrating the work of the Lord by grieving the loss of my child.
"Bitter?" Yes. But everything else, I nor do I think anyone else, have accused you of these things nor do I even think it!

None of the people saying those things have any idea what its like to lose a child, and yet they are all SO SURE that *I* am the problem for feeling so much pain in the loss of my all, my sunshine, my son. It couldn't be that my feelings are valid, it must be that I am doing something morally and spiritually wrong. (strange how not one person who has actually lost a child has said anything like that)
I never said any of those things nor do I even think it. I do feel that your expectations of others are not correct and that you yourself are being judgmental towards me, Jeff, and others.

But if anyone ever expresses the pain and fear during this process, you are immediately looked upon as a faithless dissenter. LDS people don't like to hear about the gray, uncertainties in life...and when faced with it, they lash out with judgement. Its just too scary to admit that sometimes things just plain suck and we don't understand why God would allow it to happen. Some things don't fit into pretty boxes with shiny ribbons, as much as we want them to.
I do not feel that way at all. On the contrary. And I do not know anyone in the several wards in which I lived that feel that way, either. Pain and fear would be expected emotions and experiences.

If that is what you mean by lack of support, then I totally understand. If you mean that you feel vilified for your experiences, then I can see how that happens. There are some pretty "imperfect" "saints" out there. Ones that can hurt feelings deeply. Intentionally or unintentionally. Either way it is just as bad. I wish you could live in our ward and receive the acceptance that you want and need. I think I understand where you are coming from, but again, I just counsel you and others to not let church members' shortcomings determine your testimony or happiness or healing for that matter.


Shawn said...

Hello Djinn,

I hope I may comment on your recent posts and offer a few suggestions. It's just food for thought as I doubt anyone can help (not even Jeff) without personally knowing your situation. But I feel your pain and I sincerely wish things were better for you. A "hang in there" surely does not suffice.

I would suggest you speak of Mormonism with your family. You said you avoid the topic. I suggest you look for common ground. There are elements (aka truths) that are universal such as honesty, charity, peace, serving others, not being judgmental and (believe it or not) family relationships.

The reason I mention this is based on some of the things you've said in your most recent posts. If you see you family as hypocrites and you dearly wish to squeeze some honesty out of them and have "normal", happy family relationships, I believe it is going to start with talking about what you want and where you think things are… Is there at least one member of your family that you can trust, that you can start a dialog to define how your family should behave?

A gentle dialog combined with long-suffering patience and love for your family might be the only thing that changes things for the better. (Long suffering, patience, and love are also things you can talk about).

Something else to think about are your contributions to your family state of affairs. Is it possible you say nice things to your family but your non-verbal signals project dislike or disgust towards your family? In other words, you say "Hi Mom! Merry Christmas" but your body reads "You disgust me with your goody two shoes Mormonism and blatant hypocrisy". I'm not trying to offend or say anything that may be hurtful. I'm just wondering if you may be reciprocating their lack of genuine love and respect with a flavor of your own. If their religion (which you said you reject) is a very important part of their lives, any mixed signals will only amplify their confusion on how to properly behave.

Also, is it possibly you have shifted the responsibility for your relationships onto your family? Sometimes people expect those that they blame for messing things up to fix things. It rarely works. Again, if you are sending mixed signals your family will just be dazed and confused.

I am the only member on my side of the family that has joined the Church and my wife parents are both converts. Most of my direct experience is with families that aren't lifetime members or aren't members at all. That means apart from failed expectations, rejection, family feuds, and misunderstandings that permeate my family relationships (like other Mormon families, I expect), there's also alcoholism and lifestyles that have absolutely no moral compass. Makes things interesting. All I know is families relationships are handwork but worthwhile. It's why we keep coming back for more.

You can't make people feel a certain way. BUT, you should definitely hang on to your hope that they will come around. Some would happily say Mormonism is at fault but what you are describing happens in all types of families. I hope you find things that work. I hope this holiday season will be different for you. God bless.


Anonymous said...

Brad, I am truly astonished and pained by your response. I wonder if you would be willing to repeat those words if you were face to face with the pain of a grieving parent. I have to assume that you have never been close to someone going through this tragedy. There are plenty of things to do to help those suffering such a loss, of which I will not go into here, but the internet is full of resources. Also, Deseret Book has many books on the subject.

You are wrong about my personal life. Most of our ward, family and friends are extremely supportive of us actually, which we are so grateful for. However, even those who love us still say and do things which are insensitive and hurtful, not to mention others who don't know us personally or are just naive. Usually they have no idea, but only because they didn't stop to think about it first. Or if they do, they simply believe that they shouldn't have to make changes to the way they live so as to be sensitive to others, like yourself. They believe if someone is unhappy, it is because they are unrighteous. Either way, they are still hurting others in the name of God. That was the point of my original post.

I didn't said people couldn't be happy if I was unhappy. And I wasn't referring to every misstep and mistake others make when faced with others' tragedies. You have no idea how many times I have turned the other cheek, swallowed my tongue, bit back tears, and had to forgive others for they know not what they do. Even when those things hurt, logically I know they didn't "mean it". (it still hurts, but that is not the point of this post)

I specifically said when people bear their testimonies about something good that happened to them (especially when they are small, trivial things), and then attribute it to their faith, goodness, or God's love for them, its insensitive and hurtful to those who also had faith, but did not receive their miracle. Its offensive on every level to hear someone say that God would choose to stretch forth His hand to help them find their keys, or heal them so they could attend the superbowl, or bless their house to sell...while choosing to allow others' loved ones to suffer and die, or allow their home to foreclose, or their spouse to lose his job.

Regardless of whether God did perform a miracle or not, that is not the point (because none of us can ever truly know). We do know God does perform miracles. No one is arguing that. If someone believes that something that happened to them was truly a miracle directed by God, I would say to them to speak of it in detail only in sacred situations, and only with certain people, while being mindful of the personal experiences and trials those people have been through. That is not to say they shouldn't testify of God's love or personal direction in their life, but perhaps they don't need to specify in detail from the pulpit.

Yes, every one has different trials, which is why its so important to be sensitive of the things we proclaim from the pulpit or in the name of God.

And to close, Christ never said "mourn with those who mourn, unless they are annoying to you" and He never set a time limit to how long we are required to help them. Perhaps a review of the book of Job is in order. It lays out how people should respond to those in grief quite clearly.

I will say you are right about one thing. Nothing you do will ever change the fact that their child is dead and that it hurts, so, so, so very much. But your kindness and willingness to listen, love and learn, without judgement, can help in ways you can never truly understand.

Anonymous said...

And to put the arguement to rest about the whole "it would be better for a child to die then to turn from God" debate...

No, it would never, ever, EVER be better for a child to die in his innocence and to procure a celestial place in eternity than for him to grow into adulthood and to lose his testimony of the gospel, or his belief in God altogether.

Since we believe in eternal progression, and our children are sealed to us anyway, it doesn't truly matter in the eternal perspective if some of us temporarily lose our way in this mortal world. They will still have a chance to repent and redeem themselves in the hereafter and live happily ever after along with the rest of us. Thank goodness for the atonement and ordinances by proxy!!!

But in the meantime, you are still able to love, cherish, and grow with this child and experience every moment of this mortal lifetime together,of which you will never, ever get a second chance.

And yes, not being a member of the church or losing your belief in God does not mean that you can not be a responsible, productive member of society and be a loving, fulfilling member of your family.

Please, find me one grieving parent out there who, given the choice, would choose to have their child remain dead, than to risk his freedom to choose unwisely in this mortal world. If our relationship with our children is a type unto our relationship with God, then it must be so that we would choose to have our child live and to allow them the ability to grow and learn from their mistakes, whether for good or for ill.

Anything else would be subscribing to one other's plan for "happiness", and anyone who thinks that this is somehow the better option is seriously misguided in the gospel principles. (and just really has no clue how incredibly painful it is to lose a child)

Truly, if you find a parent who has lost a child who is willing to choose that, I will eat my hat. There is no arguement. The end.

Djinn, to put it bluntly, these people have no clue. Your family is understandably hurt by your beliefs, and I would be, too, if my child decided God was not the way. But coming from a mother who has experienced this, it would NEVER be better to lose that child. NEVER EVER EVER. It makes me sob to even think of it. Those who haven't felt this pain could never even fathom it, so they assume that perhaps it wouldn't be the worst option. But it is. IT IS. IT IS. IT IS.

Even if your family is misguided and naive about this, please believe me that no parent would want this. They just don't understand. If I had the chance, I would want my son to be alive, and I would love every inch of him no less if he decided to chose a different path. Oh, if that were possible! I would cry tears of joy if he were still alive, even if I knew without a doubt that he would not believe in God or not be a member of the church. I would beg and plead for the chance to have him in my arms again, to watch him grow into a man, to see him choose a partner and have children, to do ANYTHING. Just to have my baby in my life again, anything would be worth it.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Wow. Jeff. Pretty please. Can you comment on what Brad has said?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 5:26 PM said:
"Since we believe in eternal progression, and our children are sealed to us anyway, it doesn't truly matter in the eternal perspective if some of us temporarily lose our way in this mortal world. They will still have a chance to repent and redeem themselves in the hereafter and live happily ever after along with the rest of us. Thank goodness for the atonement and ordinances by proxy!!!"

Obedience during mortality matters very, very much from an eternal perspective.

Those who know the truth in mortality and then rebel in mortality, without repenting in mortality, sealed to parents/children or not, do not inherit the same glory out of the world as they would have if they were faithful.

The sealing ordinance does not magically erase the consequences of disobedience.

c.f. Alma 34:32-35 (as clear as it gets); Mosiah 2:36-39; Alma 42:4-5,13,16,28; D&C 101:37; D&C 138:32-33 (noting opportunity for those that died in sin without knowlege, or in transgression, but NOT stating opportunity or a "second chance" for those who died in sin with knowlege...); Alma 12:15-24; D&C 76:73-78.

Jeff's statement in the original post reflects true doctrine. By contrast, the statement you post above represents a lie put forth by Satan that choices in mortality regarding following the Savior do not matter - a lie Satan, of course, desperately wants us to believe.

Shawn said...

Anon @ 5:26

Sorry for you loss.

Just a minor clarification, regarding "these people have no clue"... none of them stated it would be better for a child to die. The concept has been repeatedly rejected by the "no clue" people only to be regurgitated later as if an argument is still taking place. There is no argument to put to rest.


Shawn said...

...and there never was.

Anonymous said...

Shawn... you might want to read this... it's always good to go to the scriptures and modern day apostles before you post your own ideas.

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”

James E. Faust, “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” Ensign, May 2003, 61


Anonymous said...

Re: Anon @11:27PM,
many have misunderstood Elder Faust's statements here. Keep in mind that this paragraph must be understood in light of the other standard works, and an interpretation of Elder Faust's statement (remember, Elder Faust was not the prophet) that negates the clear teachings of the Book of Mormon is an incorrect one.

Even reading the statement broadly, and accepting that in such a reading it does clear violence to other Gospel doctrines, there are still key conditions - a requirement for "valiant service", for example.

Moreover, those who assume a loving father will not impose eternal judgements on his disobedient children who wilfully rebel against him apparently forget the lesson that should be clear based on our pre-mortal life: choices have eternal consequences. Because he abides by laws and thus continues to be God, a loving, perfect Heavenly Father was constrained to deny a third part (not necessarily a numerical, fractional third) of his children the opportunity to receive a mortal body, and consequently cause them to inherit a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

Does our Father in Heaven love those who became sons of perdition based on their choices in the pre-existence less than he loves each of us, who kept our first estate? No, he does not. Nor can he remove the consequence of their choices according to the laws that make Him God.

Similarly, those on earth who wilfully rebel and die in their sins cannot inherit the same glory as if they had been faithful, God's love for them notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

Further, Elder Faust makes it very clear that the blessings obtained by later repentance are not equal to the blessings obtained through faithfulness:

In the portion of his Ensign article immediately following the portion already quoted (which was Faust speaking approvingly of language originally spoken by Elder Whitney), Elder Faust continues:

"A principle in this statement that is often overlooked is that they must fully repent and “suffer for their sins” and “pay their debt to justice.” I recognize that now is the time “to prepare to meet God.” If the repentance of the wayward children does not happen in this life, is it still possible for the cords of the sealing to be strong enough for them yet to work out their repentance? In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.”

We remember that the prodigal son wasted his inheritance, and when it was all gone he came back to his father’s house. There he was welcomed back into the family, but his inheritance was spent. Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned."

(emphasis added)

Anonymous said...

Look, the point trying to be made by many here is truly pointless, whether you have scriptural "proof" to back it up or not. A child has died. A family is grieving. There is no "but at least..." to make it feel any better. That is what I assume Jeff was aiming at when he wrote it. It is trying to make a silver lining in a tragic situation. I'm sure Jeff said it out of misguided compassion, but let me assure you, it IS misguided to say things like this to a grieving parent:

"Well, at least you know he will have a celestial glory and you don't have to worry about him. There could be worse things..."

(I have heard this multiple times from those who personally know me, so this is not the first time I have come across this viewpoint. It is quite common for people to say when a child dies.)

Which is essentially what Jeff was saying.

I'm sure you don't understand why this hurts those who are grieving the loss of their child, but let me try to explain.

You are basically invalidating their pain and suffering at this moment. By giving it a silver lining, and telling them it could be worse...you are saying their pain is not justified.

Perhaps you don't really feel that way, but when you repeat things like this, that IS what you are saying! And that is what the grieving parent hears/feels. It is the absolute WORST thing anyone could do, because they absolute most IMPORTANT thing a grieving person needs to be able to heal and "move on" is VALIDATION and to be able to express their feelings without JUDGEMENT, and to have unconditional LOVE.

Please trust me on this, if you don't, go read the multiple books on the subject at Deseret Book. (Because I have read them all) and they all talk about the same thing. These are the kinds of things that seriously damage people's faith when they are going through a trial of fire. I know you want to use the gospel on this, because it seems to work for everything else. But trust me, if your goal for arguing this is to somehow make it better, it WON'T work.

There is no explanation, no justification, no silver lining, NOTHING when you are experiencing this. If it were that easy, well, to quote Sherri Dew, IT WOULDN'T BE HARD.

All they need is someone to LISTEN (not explain, justify, proclaim, expound, teach) and to LOVE them, and not judge them, no matter what. If someone is not able or willing to do that, then they should say nothing at all, because nothing you say will make it FEEL any better, whether you believe it to be true or not.

And my last comment on this, if you don't know what to say, just say "I don't have anything to say to make it feel better, but I am so, so sorry you have to go through this, and I will be here whenever you need me."

PS. lets not analyze what Brad said, because it really doesn't deserve it and won't help the situation at all to repeat or dissect it.

Anonymous said...

The point was not about finding silver linings to dead children. it was about being able to recognize and be grateful for small miracles even when we live among unreconciled and painful big tragedies.

But why are you so adamant that there is "no silver lining" and nothing to give hope in the face of such loss? Are you really LDS or other Christian in your faith? The Resurrection counts for nothing? Eternal life reunited as families counts for nothing? Those who refer to that hope are inherently insensitive? It is the underpinning of all our hope in this vale of sorrow.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Wow, did I really come across so flippantly regarding the death of a child? Did it really sound like a simple easy, pat answer was all that was needed? Or that the loss of a child was a minor matter? I'm horrified if my words conveyed that to you, just as I am horrified and appalled that some think I am saying it's better for kids to die than to depart from the Church.

Here's what I have written in my post in response to one who complained when I shared a small miracle a mother experienced in rescuing her child, for she or he did not get a similar miracle and suffered the loss of their child: "I’m so sorry about this. The loss of a child is one of the great tragedies of mortality. There are no easy answers, except for the far-off answer that comes through Christ and the hope of resurrection and reunion. Another great tragedy is the spiritual loss that comes when a child ultimately rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel. Again, only patience and love can be offered with hope that there might be a return one day."

The answers aren't easy. However, I do think we cannot afford to lose the eternal perspective and know, however great the heartbreak now, that there is the hope of reunion and resurrection. That does not remove our grief now, and none of us should think that it does. But there is an eternal perspective that Christ offers us--we must not lose this, for it is at the heart of the Gospel.

Yes, of course, of course, I don't "get it" from your perspective for your pains and griefs are not mine. But to accept small miracles that others experience, or to consider an eternal perspective in facing the problems of mortality, should not be perceived as invalidating or negating the pains of those struggling with loss. People are not necessarily morally or spiritually inferior or mere spiritual imbeciles who not been through the same trials or who do not speak from the same perspective. Others like Brad may have much more to offer than you think and need not be scorned and summarily dismissed for offering their views.

Compassion without judgment is a great ideal--one that we may not receive from others, but one that we can strive to live ourselves, no matter how great our own pains.

plaidspolitics said...

Oh, how I am so grateful GRATEFUL for angels among us! Thank you!

plaidspolitics said...

What exactly do you or any of you others mean by "support" anyway? After a period of time passes, what can we possibly do to help anyway?

* HOME TEACHERS THAT COME CONSISTENTLY! (We had no HTers for 9 months straight after Dominic died by HTers who REPORTED that they were visiting our family. When Bridget died, I BEGGED the Bishop to make sure we had HTers who would be consistent in coming. We were abandoned for NINE STRAIGHT MONTHS after Bridget died, & still have spotty HTing). Home teachers who are truly concerned about the family is a great bonus.

* A tender hug. Then another one. And more as the days, weeks, months, & YES even YEARS go by.

* Remembering their birthdays, their anniversaries of death, anniversaries of crisis events, holidays. And when you remember, DO SOMETHING (a note, phone call, drop by, take something to the cemetery, a tender hug, etc.)

* Say their names. Dominic & Bridget are ETERNAL BEINGS WHO ARE REAL AND STILL EXIST and no matter how uncomfortable it is to say their names or hear their names, they are a part of our forever family.

* Be here to see that I have tears, & be willing to wipe them away.

* Let me say the hard things in my heart, & then DO NOT be ready with some cliche, Sunday school answer. Just let me say it. (Then maybe follow with a tender hug.)

* Pray for me. AND then LISTEN for promptings on specifically how you can help. Then ACT on that prompting.

* Read articles such as this to learn from others who have insights to help those who truly want to show compassion for meaningful suggestions.

* Remember that long-suffering is as much a part of the gospel as charity (see 2 Tim 3:10).

* Be willing to mourn WITH WITH WITH WITH WITH those who mourn (did I say WITH?)

* Learn from Christ's example who TOUCHED the lepers when others would not even go near their outcast colonies. Though bitterness, anger, frustration, doubt etc. MAY be part of the griever's heart, do NOT let that "leprosy" keep you from offering love, kindness, etc.

* Understand that grieving is universally notorious for challenging one's faith & belief systems. Just because one is re-evaluating those things does NOT mean they are REJECTING those things. Be willing to honestly answer questions without demeaning the griever for asking. And be open to recognizing there truly may be "inconsistencies" or "contradictions" in the gospel that may make you feel uncomfortable for someone to point out. Don't be quick to dismiss those things as just "bitterness" or other "wrong" thinking. And give the griever time to PROCESS those realizations. Sometimes, don't even bother to answer. A listening ear & a tender hug will likely work well here, also.

* Make yourself familiar with this list from Compassionate Friends then DO some of those things

plaidspolitics said...

*Understand that grieving takes TIME & grieving takes WORK. It will take some time for someone to ACCEPT someone they deeply love has died. It will take time for someone to ADJUST to the changes in their routine & life related to having the person who was here now being gone. It takes WORK to process through the complexities of each situation. Some of us suffer with PTSD due to the traumatic crisis event, & for me personally, the repetition & eerily similar situations. It takes a lot of time & work to navigate through all that, & then consider that each person in the household is also grieving - just adds dynamics & dimension.

* Realize that NO ONE will understand ANYONE else completely, & so we must rely on the Spirit to guide us in how to respond. To one who is mourning it may be helpful to do *X*, & for another mourner it would be hurtful to do *X*. So rely on the Spirit.

* "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (D&C 64:33) Just as a small miracle (finding keys after prayer) may open one's eyes to the goodness of God for the first time, isn't as equally likely that a "small thing" that you do for a grieving person may help that person immensely, more than you can know? Perhaps read articles like this to learn how out of small things come great love & can aide the aching heart.

* Do not assume that a few words you read in a comment thread on a blog is representative of a whole person. How can a few hundred words really reveal the significance of one's character? In replying to one particular idea of billions, and then responding with such few words, you can easily build in your mind a reputation for someone that is not deserved. Then, perhaps, it results in the kind of thing that Neal A Maxwell wrote in his book "All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience": Regrettably we sometimes see an individual get classified, & no matter how well he or she does thereafter, it is difficult to get reclassified. It is sometimes like the chicken whose comb gets bloodied; all the chickens then peck at it, making the situation even worse. These 'walking wounded' are all about us, & they need someone else to help them bind up -- not add to -- their wounds.

* And since we're talking Neal A Maxwell's book, read the whole chapter titled "Service and the Second Great Commandment." Here are a couple of quotes, but out of context you cannot have the depth and richness of what is being taught. Perhaps it will be a good seed in answer to the question (which I hope is sincere): "Frequently, we busily search for group service projects, which are surely needed & commendable, when quiet, personal service is also urgently needed. Sometimes the completing of an occasional group service project ironically salves our consciences when, in fact, we are constantly surrounded by a multitude of opportunities for individual service. ...We should balance our service between those who give us immediate response and gracious appreciation & those who are grumpy -- so grumpy they almost dare us to love them.

plaidspolitics said...

There is so much of what was directed at me that stings. Deeply, painfully stings. Are you reveling in the thought "the truth hurts?" Perhaps I ought to be more humble and so forth and so on. Of course I ought to be! But it doesn't change the hurt that is in the moment, in the now. In generations to come, a prophet may just stand at the pulpit and tell the congregations gathered for General Conference about a faithful and grateful soul who endured difficult trials. He may tell MY story as eloquently and moving as the sister who buried her four little ones along her journey, using only a teaspoon near the end of that trail. But right now, I am here on that path of grief. When time comes and polishes the whole of my existence into the shining moments of my life, certainly I expect to be proven to be as faithful. Yet, right now. RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND! My eyes are wet, my heart is heavy, my arms aching, my mind troubled... I slept little last night, and the time I slumbered was burdened with terrible nightmares. I am struggling a great deal. Yet, I am still clinging to hope. Still carrying on, one foot in front of the other. I am no less than any other mother who in generations past buried her little one and had to carry on. My trail may not be the rocky, snow covered ground that her feet walked, but my feet walk just as treacherously. And to those who show me compassion along the way, THANK YOU! It is those few, those so very FEW angels among us who will one day ask, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?" And the Lord will lovingly answer their inquiry: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

But to those who have turned their hearts against those who mourn because they weary you, or whatever justification you have, the Lord will also speak to you:

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, erepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Thank you ~plaid.
Words that needed to be said, and you said them so well.
If it were me, I would have told a few commenters in this thread where to go. But it was finally nice to see someone on here with the Love of Christ. You have had more than your share of suffering and the unbelievable amount of callousness directed towards you with flippant comments cannot make it any easier. You have a patience to be admired.
Perhaps the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel is not greater than the death of a child. Perhaps thinking it is, no matter in what time frame, is in actuality not thinking at all.

Jeff Lindsay said...

The Compassionate Friends link from ~plaid is excellent. Thank you! It is at http://www.compassionatefriends.org/Brochures/how_can_I_help.aspx.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:30 said "Perhaps the spiritual loss that comes when a child rejects God and the blessings of the Gospel is not greater than the death of a child. Perhaps thinking it is, no matter in what time frame, is in actuality not thinking at all."

Or perhaps, it is actually exactly what the Savior himself said:

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28. (see also Luke 12:4-5)

And the Savior immediately follows with the reminder of how precious the souls of men are to our Father in Heaven: "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:30-31.

Anonymous said...

I admit, I was having a bad day when I read Jeff's original post. It is hard to hear "pretty story" after "pretty story" when you didn't get your miracle. I chose to vent on there instead of going crazy during Fast & Testimony meeting sometime in the near future.

Is that being bitter? I choose to think I'm just hurting. But fine, I was having a bitter moment. Happy, now? I'm a sometimes bitter, grieving mother who still goes to church every week, who still kneels down with her children in prayer every night, who still studies the scriptures with them, who does her visting teaching, who is a cubscout den mom, and is trying to hold onto her faith and hope with all her might, even despite the bitter cup that I have been called upon to drink.

Thank you, Jeff, for dissecting and analyzing the emotional hurt of a grieving mother. It was my fault for putting it out there in the first place, but then you chose to highlight it and put it up for discussion. Instead of quietly realizing why such a post might be painful for some to read, you decided to use the gospel to validate what you wrote, and invalidate my feelings.

How this post has edified and uplifted a weary heart. Just read through the comments! What a grand time everyone had debating the misery and grief of others!

Thank you to all who chose to join along in the fun of proving the grieving mother "wrong" and by the accounts of some of you, "unrighteous".

Thank you all for reminding me that after struggling day and night to keep my son alive for a year, and then watching him hemmorhage all over my husband two weeks before his 1st birthday, that it could be worse. Even Jesus said so. I had nearly forgotten that in the midst of my pain and suffering! Its a good thing you smacked me in the face with reality.

I wonder every Sunday what my fellow ward members really think about my healing process, and if the sampling here is similar to real life...well, who needs enemies when you have brothers and sisters like these?

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. But since none of you seem to understand that the more you try to prove your points and validate and justify your hurtful comments (and even worse, using the Gospel to do this!), you drive the nail deeper and deeper into the already festering wound.

This, my friends, is what spiritual injury is all about. I *know* the gospel. I *understand* the scriptures. But what you will never understand is that it DOESN'T CHANGE THE WAY GRIEF FEELS when you are in the midst of it. What you all are failing to internalize, is that it DOESN'T MATTER who is right and who is wrong when it comes to pain and suffering. What back-handed sympathy to say "We are so sorry for your loss, but the gospel says it could be worse. We realize how much this must hurt you, but you are spiritually wrong to feel that way."

Jeff, I ask in all sincerity, take this post down. You have no idea the amount of spiritual injury you are inflicting upon others to allow these judgemental, hurtful, cruel comments to linger. You have no idea how many other grieving parents have read through these words, and how damaging it is to their healing process. (there are many LDS blogs for grieving parents, and it is spreading like wildfire.)

It was my comment that started this, I am taking it back. So please take it down. Unless of course, being right is more important to you than being sensitive to others' feelings.

Observer from Afar said...

~plaid, honestly, I think you need some help. Some counseling. Your responses here go way beyond normal, healthy grief. I read your post on your blog about your experiences, where you turn on and publicly criticize your own family members for not living up to your expectations. Very harsh and sad - how did that make them feel? I have watched you jab at others here in a critical and bitter spirit, accusing them of "invalidating your feelings" while showing no respect for theirs. You demand love and compassion, but shouldn't that start with you? You can't see this yet, but step back and seek the Lord's help to understand why your pain is so quickly translated into criticisms of others. Why you find so much offensive in innocent things that others say and do. Perhaps there is a much deeper problem than you realize - and the problem may be something more than everyone but you being insensitive.

It is you who chose to react to Jeff's sharing of a small miracle and turn it into a stone of offense that you now hurl at others. You choose how you react, like it or not, and you can choose to get help to make your reactions healthier, less bitter, less accusatory.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:15 said "This, my friends, is what spiritual injury is all about. I *know* the gospel. I *understand* the scriptures. But what you will never understand is that it DOESN'T CHANGE THE WAY GRIEF FEELS when you are in the midst of it. What you all are failing to internalize, is that it DOESN'T MATTER who is right and who is wrong when it comes to pain and suffering. What back-handed sympathy to say "We are so sorry for your loss, but the gospel says it could be worse. We realize how much this must hurt you, but you are spiritually wrong to feel that way."

Anon, I just went back and read the original post and all comments. Nowhere did I see anyone make the statements you are attributing to them. No one has said you are spiritually wrong to feel the grief and suffering you do. No one has said you are unrighteous (in fact, you are the only person to post that word). Rather, various commenters have attempted to point to the Atonement as the ultimate source of hope and healing.

And just FYI, before you blow off my commentary as coming from yet another who "doesn't know" - I know. The funeral was in June of this year, and he was only seven.

Jeff Lindsay said...

If you have said something you wish you hadn't and cannot delete your own comment, let me know (jeff at jefflindsay dot com is my email) and I will consider deleting it for your welfare, even though it may make other comments seem out of place.

For anyone who is offended or pained by discussions of these challenging topics, please understand that most of us are discussing these issues in good faith and with a desire to help others. I am sometimes surprised, even shocked, to see how well meaning thoughts can be give such unintended and offensive interpretations. If the topics here are unbearably painful, there is no need to read this blog or ask others with similar sensibilities to read them to be pained and offended unnecessarily. I'm not sure what kind of wildfire you are referring to--perhaps you can help quench it--regarding the tsunami of pain my blog is allegedly causing, but offended parties need not read this post and the comments. Should I take it down? There are some aspects of this dialog that have been helpful to others, so they have told me, which makes me hesitant to abandon this work and these discussions.

The whole point of this post was to help us understand that "Mortality will leave all of us bitter and scarred if we cannot accept the diversity of gifts, blessings, trials, lifespans, ancestries, and genes that God lets us have." That applies also to the small gifts and miracles that others may experience. Let us be slow to find offense when others share their joy, even when it stirs deep wounds they may not know are there.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

I'd be curious to have you (Jeff) create a post on the example of the Savior as far as His "silence" went in the time of His unfair mortal judgement or at other times when he did speak up (like the cleansing of the temple).

How and when do we speak up? When does silence become greater than words?

I'm not trying to start any war of words. Honestly people. Slow yo' roll. I'm genuinely curious as to what you (Jeff) think. I consider you like an online gospel doctrine teacher... one that is witty and doesn't put me to sleep. I've been substituting in Nursery a lot, so reading your blog is refreshing. Not quite as fun as Nursery, but nonetheless refreshing.

plaidspolitics said...

Language has been confounded since the Tower of Babel & words are insufficient. It is only through the Spirit that we can communicate effectively. I really am trying to have the Spirit help me here, yet I am having a hard time making sense of many of the comments & trying to figure out where the author is coming from. If I knew who the person was, it might make more sense. However, that is another limitation to communication here.

I have made my own blog private. I had been sharing very raw, tender feelings there. The original intent for the blog was as an outlet. I had not actually informed those in my actual life about the blog.

I am wondering if this comment - "publicly criticize your own family members for not living up to your expectations. Very harsh and sad - how did that make them feel?" comes from thinking that the blog would have been read by family members? While I have at times been very honest about even the most dark & ugly feelings I have had over these years in trying to work through the experiences of burying my children, I have never named any of these people, & because I use a pseudo name, I assume that none of these people would ever be identified. (The only exceptions on names is when I posted gratitude for "Saints" in my life, & I posted first name & last initial of these "Saints.") Also, until my husband pointed out a comment sometime after it had been posted, I didn't understand that the blog really was being read outside of my own head, or by my husband. It was really more just a journal that I could put pictures & record intense feelings I have been going through. So unless my family members were reading the blog anonymously, I don't think they have felt anything about it.

I am sure that EVERY single person reading these words has felt disappointment at least once in their lives when there was a great need. Do I get disappointed more often than the "normal" person? I don't know, maybe. I am not ashamed to be human. I am especially not ashamed that I am human & working toward overcoming the natural man within me.

There are many things I should be. However, just remember that time is necessary for change to occur (mortality is a phase of time & change- part of THE plan). If we travel at the speed of light time stands still & change does not happen at all. Some of us may travel a little faster than others, but we are limited mortals & therefore are ALL changing. So I would love to *BE* more this or that, less this & that. But to be what I have not yet become still takes time. I have to be patient with myself, & I plead with others to be patient with me as well. And should I be patient with others? Yes, of course!

plaidspolitics said...

There is a sense of urgency that comes in very critical times, however, where one cannot wait: "...timing is essential. A person in need cannot wait to be comforted. His time is today: his pain is now; his loneliness is immediate... any would-be helper who delays a compassionate act may find that he has come upon the scene far too late to justify anything more than a wry smile of hurt indifference from the object of his belated concern.

'I thought of you often' makes a bittersweet postscript to days, weeks, or months of procrastination... although neglect is often unintentional, the results are real, & in its wake lie wounded feelings & damaged relationships." (JoAnn Jolley, “What I Learned about Compassion,” Ensign, Mar 1980, 26)

We just have to know that even if someone earned a reputation for who they were in the past, we all have opportunities to change. We all have opportunities to learn. We can all become better.

And that is one other reason I had my blog public. Even though it was difficult to have those words, very personal & tender feelings, out there for people to review & criticize, I felt it could also offer a real HONEST perspective- flaws, insecurities, inadequacies, short-comings, etc. & all- of how these experiences can affect us.

I would have believed myself to have dealt with this all differently before I went through it. But going through it really is different than anything you can imagine before experiencing it. I think the most accurate thing anyone has ever said to me about my childrens' deaths is, "I just can't imagine." I thought perhaps that others might have an opportunity to learn through my blog. Others who either are or would go through burying children or others who would know someone going through it. Perhaps it could give them a better understanding that just because someone puts on a mask to the world doesn't mean they are really handling things that way on the inside. They may NEED you in ways you have never thought they could need you. Ways you could never even IMAGINE they would need you.

I am not going to remove any of my comments here. I believe that my heart, my intentions, & my character are known to God. If these words stand as testimony against me in the eternities, I will let God judge me accordingly. Because I truly believe in a God who is loving & merciful. And I know that He will be much more gentle & kind with me because He knows me. I have to believe that anyway, even when I struggle to believe it because I hurt so very much. I doubt myself so very much. I still just cannot accept that God is not the same God I knew before Dominic & Bridget died. I still believe He is the same today as He was yesterday. He will still be the same tomorrow. I do not understand God, that is VERY true. But I still believe, truly & really deeply believe, that He understands & He will deal accordingly with me. And someday He will help me to fully understand. For now, I look through a glass darkly & try to find a way to understand others who see me through a glass darkly at the same time. I hope somehow we ALL will learn to be a little more loving & gentle in the meantime. I'm working at it too...

plaidspolitics said...

The Mediator seems an appropriate name for the Savior. He stands in perfect balance to weigh all things. He understands the joys of those receiving miracles. And he understands the sorrows of those who do not. The tendency in human nature is to see only from the perspective we are coming from. I think it is easy for those who sorrow to have a sort of envy for those who have joy. Sorrow is NOT a pleasant feeling, while joy is full of bliss. We *yearn* for the more pleasant, which I think really is a yearning to be where our Spirits came from, the familiar.

For those in joy, it can be intimidating, uncomfortable to see others experiencing the difficulties of sorrow. Clinging to our joys feels so much safer than reaching out to those who are troubled.

I don't know, but I think the Mediator would want those who are suffering to be slow to take offense when others share their joys. But at the same time, I think He would also ask that those who share their joys take time to consider how those they share their joys with might feel. Would sharing their joys uplift another? Let the Spirit answer that question, and let the Spirit also be the Comforter to those of us who are hurting even while others are not.

Just remember that even the Mediator, even our Savior who has the CONSTANT companion of the Spirit is "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." We are not unrighteous if we do not instantly feel comforted. It is for a wise purpose that we feel the "negative" along with the positive-- "they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good." (Moses 6:55)

Anonymous said...

At 18 I lost my first baby to SIDS. She was 2 weeks old, I turned to Christ. After 18 years of marriage I lost my second, a 15 year old son in a car accident, in which I was to blame. I am now turning away from Christ. I do not believe. So either way in the mind of the author, I am also lost and dead. I always love the ones who have never felt the pain of loss giving advice to the ones that have. Your questions only added to my unbeleif, yes why does Christ choose one over another?

Twice Founde said...

Anon, are you saying that if God or Christ are real, that they would necessarily prevent anyone from dying? Stop and think about what you are saying. Two people in your life died - very sad, yes - but why does your grief mean that God does not exist? This is mortality - we are all here temporarily and will all die. Everyone. That's the plan. Some young, some not. Sorrow and pain are part of this journey. Please don't choose to walk away from the source of life because of the tough parts of this brief time.

plaidspolitics said...

@ Twice. I didn't read that Anon was saying Christ or God didn't exist. I read that Anon said while after the first experience of losing a child turning to Christ was the response, this second time turning away is the response. I find that actually not surprising at all. Go back to the link I posted from Compassionate Friends. It is so common to question your faith, philosophy and belief system when you are grieving. Especially when you are going through it a 2nd time. I think that if we all truly believe that every knee will bow and every tongue confess someday, then it is just best to tend to the wounds in the very moment of need. The rest will come. Sure it is a "brief time" in the eternal perspective, and yes, our spirits are eternal beings. But our souls are also physical beings with that eternal spirit housed in a mortal body. Anon is hurting. How often in the scriptures do we read of difficulties framed with "like a woman in travail?" YES! A brief moment! But any woman who has given birth also understands it is just such an intense moment. And all the energy and attention and concentration and strength and everything you have is consumed in that moment! Sure, you can focus on what is to come and it may make the process seem more worthwhile, but it does not dull the pain. Those who grieve are in very intense moments of time. There is a very intense hurt. Anon doesn't need more hurts added. Please read the quotes I posted. It is so much more comforting to refrain from giving "answers" to a situation where the only answers the person is wanting cannot be offered. A person who has lost two children likely struggles to feel the love of Christ when that person KNOWS that Christ had the power to intervene and did not (well, I have lost two children and I can speak for myself, anyway).

And please, be patient. Remember that a seed just planted cannot be harvested until the fruit matures. You can plant a seed and then demand your fruit. Perhaps in your demands you neglect to nurture the seed. And then your effort is for naught. Tend to the seed. Nourish it. See that it has the support that it needs to grow. And then let the process have the time to change (and as you have pointed out, isn't this "moment" such a BRIEF TIME). Time is required for change. That is EXACTLY why we are her in MORTAL TIME, so we have the opportunity for change.

I think you meant well, but I think you might consider how it comes across. Which is the whole point of this whole thing, isn't it? It isn't that tragedies negate miracles. It is that the telling of the miracle may not have been sensitively done (sensitive to the Spirit, mainly, but also sensitive to those who we share with). There are all kinds of great talks and scriptures about our speech and communications and being mindful of how we use our tongue. Even when we are very careful with it, we still can learn to be more tender in our associations with others.

Heartless said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ltbugaf said...

When my first son was just a few weeks old, he was placed in an intensive care unit suffering from a virus that endangered his breathing. I remember that as I prayed for his health and preservation, I was also struck by the thought that I, and my family, weren't more deserving or more important than the families whose children would not survive such trials. But I asked for the blessing anyway, and he was later restored to health.

I don't know all the answers to this issue. I do know that God cares about small things as well as big ones. We're all important in his eyes. Why he chooses to answer some prayers with a yes and some with a no is something I probably won't understand in this life.

Paul said...

I feel terrible for the losses described here.

I am fascinated by this blog and this topic touches the deepest elements of religious belief, and is important to me. Personal pain of this magnitude can easily outweigh our convictions whatever they be.

My own experience in the loss of a loved one in the Gospel, was that the Gospel was not the comfort I had hoped it would be. It is a time for real existential questions, not doctrinal trivia, for really asking them in the first place for many people and often finding their existing beliefs, again, whatever they be, wanting.

The deepest, most profound exploration of this topic I have ever read was the Brothers Karamazov, especially in the end, with respect to losing a child. Incredibly painful and sad.

I do want to remind you though that it has been said by Hebert J. Grant, then written by Spencer W. Kimball that
"There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity." I have heard the same said of leaving the Church or not completing a mission. Even though I maintained my chastity until temple marriage, served an honorable mission, at the time this bothered me a great deal. I am many years out of the church now, though, and I know my faithful mother does not believe that. So it does not bother me anymore,

In light of the horrific and bloody mess of human suffering that was the 20th century: WWI, WWII and the Holocaust and everything else, do I believe God intervenes to find car keys? No. I don't believe God intervenes at all.