Sunday, July 26, 2015

Put On Your Sunday Clothes

I grew up watching musicals and I always enjoyed Hello. Dolly. It was fun watching Barbara Streisand strutting around in fantastic clothes belting out "Before the Parade Passes By". It was even funner (I know that's not a real word) watching Walter Matthau "singing" and looking grumpy (I love that man). And I think my favorite part was watching the "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" scene at the beginning (and this was way before Wall-e was even dreamed of). So when I decided to write a few of my thoughts about Sunday, I immediately thought of that scene and that is what I titled this post.

Recently, I have been trying to fill my mind with positive, inspiring quotes and ideas. To fill my mind with them, I have endeavored to memorize bits and pieces from books and songs and scripture. It is slow-going, because I have never had a very strong mind for memorization. But I now have a few scriptures, a Dickinson poem, and a Dostoevsky quote under my belt. Hanging on one of my walls is another scripture that I am trying to memorize (and it has been on the wall for months--that is how slow I am):

 13 ¶If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
 14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Isaiah 58:13-14

As a result, the Sabbath day, or Sunday, is something that I have had on my mind a lot. These days, many people grow up not seeing how or why Sunday is or should be different than any other day of the week--apart from the fact that it is part of the weekend and so many people don't have to work or go to school on Sunday.

For me, Sunday is a reminder that a loving Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, "rested" from their physical labors after creating this beautiful earth for us. It is a day set apart from the rest of the week, made for us, so that we can try to separate ourselves as much as we can from the daily toil of the week and focus on the things and people that matter most--focus on the Lord's work and His glory which is His children and their development and progression towards Him, the source of all true happiness and peace (Moses 1:39).

All my life I have put on Sunday clothes and attended 3 hours of church on Sunday. Only recently am I truly recognizing what a "delight" that Sunday can be. When I go to church, I am aware that the people giving the talks and reading and discussing the lessons are imperfect people, just as I am. I am aware that in proclaiming that there are eternal truths that do not change and that there are rules or commandments that we must follow if we want to experience true, lasting joy, I set myself up for looking like a hypocrite when I do not live up to those standards completely--but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't continue to strive and work towards those standards. And my own deficiencies and the deficiencies of those around me do not change the fact that I feel the truth of what is being said and shared as we meet together on Sundays and read the scriptures and the words of the prophet today.

I have come to love Sundays and delight in them because they help me see myself as I really am. They help me focus on my family and on the life and mission and love of Jesus Christ, who helps us do the hard things in this life, do everything in this life-- and helps us better appreciate and love the times when life is not as difficult. Sunday reminds me that I am a child of God and so is the person standing next to me in the elevator--and I should treat them as such. Sunday reminds me that my life and my personality & talents and my happiness are important to God--and if I give them to Him, He can do some pretty marvelous things through me.

I haven't got it all figured out yet. I probably won't for a long time. But I have felt these things and they are changing me into someone that I like a little bit better than before.

"Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out. Strut down the street and have your picture took. Dressed like a dream your spirit seems to turn about...."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Remembering Who We Are

We, as human beings, have this innate tendency to search for ourselves in our interaction with the world around us. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. But we do not really "find" ourselves in the sense that we find something that wasn't there or that was missing. It is a matter of becoming and nourishing who we already are: children of a loving Heavenly Father who knows us and loves us and can help us experience lasting happiness.

Who we are is ever-present- the seeds of what we can become remain inside our minds and hearts whether we acknowledge them or not. Our choices unlock or stifle our growth and potential--so yes our choices and interaction with the world around us do matter and help us reach our biggest brightest selves. But it is always frustrating to me when movies or books depict a character's triumphant self-discovery as something like breaking rules or breaking social norms. Not that all rules or social norms are healthy and should be followed. But I also don't believe that someone has truly liberated themselves or "found" their true selves simply because they jump into a swimming pool without clothes on...or something like that.

I guess, what I'm trying to say, is that the journey to self isn't so much about finding which rules should be broken or what it feels kind of nice and fun to do in the moment--it seems to be more about discovering what behaviors and rules and creative experiences bring true and lasting growth and freedom and happiness...which behaviors, rules, and creative experiences bring you closer to understanding your Creator and thus closer to understanding yourself. Because whether we like to admit it sometimes or not, He who made us, understands us in a way no one else can.

I know that there are some who don't believe we were intentionally created at all...but I still would think that for them, the same principles for self-discovery hold true: that you try to look for and find the behaviors and rules and creative experiences that bring true and lasting growth, freedom and happiness.

But I will quit jabbering. Here is someone who explains my sentiments far better than I can:

"This last thought reminds me of a very beautiful song that is found in the Church’s French hymnbook—one that doesn’t exist in the hymnals of any other country. It is titled “Souviens-toi,” which means “Remember,” and is set to music from the New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák. It is the song of a parent addressing a newborn child.
Allow me to read the third verse to you:
Remember, my child: At the dawn of time,
We were friends playing in the wind.
Then one day, in joy, we chose
To accept the great plan of life from the Lord.
That evening, my child, we promised,
Through love, through faith, to be reunited.6
“Remember, my child.” One of the great adventures of life is that of finding out who we really are, where we came from, and then living consistently in harmony with our identity and the purpose of our existence.
Brigham Young said: “The greatest lesson you can learn is to know yourselves. … You have to come here to learn this. … No being can thoroughly know himself, without understanding more or less of the things of God; neither can any being learn and understand the things of God without knowing himself: he must know himself, or he never can know God.”7
Recently, my daughters pointed out to me that an excellent allegory of this principle is found in the filmThe Lion King. Your generation grew up to the sounds and images of this movie. You probably remember the scene where Simba receives a visit from his father, Mufasa, the deceased king. After his father died, Simba fled far from the kingdom because he felt guilty about his father’s death. He wanted to escape his responsibility as heir to the throne.
His father appears to him and warns him: “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life.” Then this invitation is repeated several times: “Remember who you are. … Remember who you are.”
Simba, completely shaken by this experience, decides to accept his destiny. He confides in his friend, the shaman monkey, that it “looks like the winds are changing.”
The monkey replies, “Change is good.”
And Simba says: “But it’s not easy. I know what I have to do. But going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.”
“Where are you going?” the monkey asks him.
“I’m going back!” cries Simba.8
We can all take—or take back—our place in the circle of life. Become who you really are. Your happiness and ability to find balance in your life will occur as you find, recognize, and accept your true identity as a child of our Heavenly Father and then live in accordance with this knowledge."
Gérald J. Caussé
, We Are the Architects of Our Own Happiness

Who thinks Dvorak's music is just wonderful.