I was sitting in Church on Sunday listening to a great talk -- seems like it was LaRene's -- and it occurred to me that a weak testimony could be founded on ideas and understanding of the relationship they have with God on His tender mercies, instead of the gospel plan.
When we first moved in, I noticed that people in this ward seemed to talk about the "tender mercies" of the Lord a lot. A WAY lot. It's a phrase I had read in the Book of Mormon and heard in General Conference, but I had never heard it in conversation before. As I understand it, tender mercies are those blessings the Lord gives you because you ask, just to make your life easier. Tender mercies are like when you can't find your car keys and pray for help and get it, or when you feel His influence leading you to make a decision. A tender mercy isn't part of the principles and ordinances of the gospel -- not necessary for your salvation -- but it's a bonus you get because you're one of His children. And we're all entitled to them.
So anyway, it occurred to me that if a person based his entire understanding of God on these little tender mercies, or on receiving answers to his/her prayers immediately and in the way expected and desired, that when God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, did not answer a prayer as you desired, your testimony of the gospel could really get shaken. If you had never felt the sweet relief of repentance, or dug in to the eternal doctrines of the Gospel, and your only interaction with God was "When I was on 'E' He let me get to the gas station before I ran out that time" then those trials and tribulations in life could really overwhelm you.
I am sure I am not alone in being susceptible to this kind of thinking: He answered me last time! Why not NOW? Why now RIGHT NOW? Why is He ignoring me -- I'm trying to do right!!!
I believe, like Joseph Smith, that one of the essential requirements for getting through this life's experiences is a correct understanding of the nature of God. God knows all, and is perfectly just and merciful. If you understand who your Heavenly Father is, you understand why He might need to allow you to suffer and grow. You also know that He will never let you suffer any longer than is absolutely necessary, because He loves you.
But in our human short-sightedness, it's very hard to look outside our own suffering to see our pain as part of the plan. We want those tender mercies instead.
Anyway, that's enough philosophical jibberjabber for one day, I suppose.....
It's Halloween, and DD is dressed as Dr. Crusher from Star Trek (she's wearing a Spock costume, sans-ears, though because they didn't have a kid size version of Crusher, and Spock wears blue too) and DS is dressed as a ninja (in a GIJOE costume and wearing my black satin belt on his head and my high boots).
It's always a guessing game at our house for Halloween: what ARE those kids supposed to be, anyway? Last year, DD looked like a reject punk rocker who rolled around in a denim bin with glitter makeup spilled on it -- she was Hannah Montana. And DS wore his regular clothes with an ENORMOUS gun under his coat -- he was a spy.
We are going to the Trunk or Treats at our Church and at ASL's church this afternoon. ASL is dressed as a witch. She bought a witch's hat at the Dollar General, and her long grey hair suits it perfectly. I think I'll go as a Mom. I did buy a Star Trek costume for me, but it's the 1960s version, and I'd need some opaque nude stockings to go under it. Besides DS is wearing my boots....
Truth is I'm just lazy.
Jared is at the hardware store this morning getting paint for the shed. He went to his fredLUG meeting this morning.
The house has been staying mostly clean since my release, but my office is a shambles. I ordered these boxes from the Post Office (blast you USPS for getting rid of Priority Mail tape) and they are all over the floor. That will be next week's project.