I Have Faith in America

I really did rest, finally, as if I am learning how.

I know it’s a shocker, but I wore myself out.  Completely.

I came home from my talks yesterday, and got home just after 5pm.

I laid down, just to take a quick nap, and didn’t wake up until 10am this morning.

That means I missed Sacrament meeting!  I slept FIFTEEN HOURS!

I was glad I had taken my shower last night, and I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth and hair, and made it to Sunday School by 1015, just as it was starting.  WHEW.

I get to go to the new marriage and family class.

That’s a lot of marriage-and-family training I am getting, from all the talks and classes, and it is fascinating to me.  I am not married, and there is no one to date, but I am being so very prepared.

Maybe it is like my baptism, and I just need that much preparing before it ever happens.

I am okay with that, really.  I am grateful for all the help I can get before I have to try it out.  Yikes.

After Sunday School, I took Sacrament with the young singles ward (ironically enough), and then made it to the last half of Relief Society.

When I got home from church, I laid down just for a minute, and slept another hour!  Then I had some soup, and then slept three more hours!

I slept NINETEEN of the last 24 hours.

That is some serious exhaustion.

And, I feel as ready for bed now as I ever do, though I am an hour late because of the whole Bin Laden thing.

The news tonight interrupted my simple routine as much as the news did that morning ten years ago.

Just as this blog must change mid-writing, so did everything change that morning.

I don’t write about politics very much, because people get so touchy.  I would very much like to talk about it more, only so I could learn.  But it seems America has lost the art of discussion, so much that now we can no longer civilly discuss things like politics.  I like to work my way through it, see all the sides, understand the under-layers, and dig into to understand.  That’s hard to do when you don’t have anyone willing to discuss different perspectives, or willing to explain why they choose the way the do without getting mad at you in the process.  I miss the days of civil discussion about all topics, when it really was an art of conversation.

So when I say what I am going to say, know that I am not picking sides.  That’s not what this is about, not what I am saying.

Also, I know that our troops are working hard at the assignments given them, and I have family and friends out there literally fighting for my freedom to even say what I want to say.  I am proud of them, and I love them, and I am grateful to them.

Also, I know that Bin Laden was a really bad dude, and the things he paid for and organized were beyond horrific.

Also, I understand that we have been trying to catch him and stop him since before I was born almost, and so congratulations to the people who have worked so hard to accomplish this assignment that has been so difficult.  That’s a job well done, and I totally cry with pride when I see the people outside the white house shouting, “USA, USA! USA!”.

Like everyone else, this moment flashes me back to where I was on September 11th that year.

I was working nights at a group home for autistic and other developmentally delayed adults.  I had my bachelor’s degree in Human Development, and in process of my med training, and was working nights to pay for my Master’s.  It was a hard schedule, where I worked all day, went to class, slept a few hours, then worked all night, did my homework in the early pre-dawn hours, then went back to my day job.  It was probably the most sleep-deprived time in my life (says the girl who slept fifteen hours last night).

I had been up all night changing adult diapers and cleaning the home and preparing breakfast that then had to be run through the food processor for feeding tubes and bottles and spooned mush.  I had already set out medications and doses and preparing syringes and done my med check and finished the med counts for that morning.  My work was done until the clients began to wake up, and so it was the rare moment of the early hours where I got to sit on the couch and study for my GRE and look over immigration papers from Australia.  I had applied to move there permanently, to become a citizen.  I was looking forward to moving to Sydney, and had already met friends there. I wanted to continue my theological studies over there, and pursue my degree in psychiatry.  I was going to work with the Aborigines.  I was going to save the world.

That was before I watched the world be destroyed, right on the television set in front of me.

Also, I was not in contact with my biological family.  That’s why it is fascinating to me that now, once I am finally at-one with my family, now is when the other bookend happens that closes the chapter on Bin Laden.

So that’s where I was on September 11th.

When the news came on, with the chaos of no one knowing (or believing) what was happening, I watched smoke come out of that first building.  Then we saw the plane hit the other one.  Then we saw them fall.   Before we could even process this, we saw the pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania.

It was all so much, so traumatic, so fast.

I had only had a few hours sleep in the days previous, so I thought it was a bad dream.  The shock of it all could not penetrate into my sleepy brain.  I could not wake myself.

None of us could wake from it.  Because it was real.

The experience was traumatizing, and united us as a nation.

I remember that day.  I had two friends there, one who died and one who survived.  I have three friends who had parents there, one who survived and five (of the three sets of mothers and fathers) who died.  So I get it, on a tiny scale for someone who wasn’t there directly, of how bad it was.

And I know Bin Laden was a bad dude, a seriously bad dude who did seriously bad things.

I do not at all mean to make light of that.  Not at all.

I want to stress the bad-ness, actually, which may or may not be un-charity-able of me.

But what I want to say is that I am not sure that killing Bin Laden was a good thing.

I mean, I know he was bad, I know he earned his consequences, and I know we have worked hard for a long time to catch him and put a stop to these awful, terrible things.  And I commend our troops that sacrifice so much to protect us.  Again, I have both family and friends serving over there now, and it is because of there service that I am an educated female free to move about as I please and allowed to write a blog where I can say anything I want.  And I thank them.

So they did a good job.  Really.

I just mean that we have now martyred someone that those people were already willing to die for.  The people he organized, trained, and paid to do the awful things they did are not going to say, “Oh, well, we had a good run, so let’s all go home now.”  They were already willing to die for him, and now we have made him a martyr.  We really don’t want to feed a martyr to a group of people already in the context of a religion-turned-fanatical.

Note: the real religion of the real people is actually very amazing, and very similar to LDS – we actually have a lot in common, just some big pieces inside out in differences, but our Muslim brothers and sisters actually have a great deal in common with us LDS folk, but that would be another blog entirely.

So I think this could really escalate things, and escalate them quickly.

Far worse than they were before.

I said, “the Latter-days, baby!”   Yikes.

So it may not have been a good thing.  But it may have been a necessary thing.

Chopping off Laban’s head was not “good” in and of itself, but it was necessary – even commanded.

So, that being said, it is fascinating to watch the world realize, at some level, that America is so definitively connected to the holy land.  Most don’t have the whole story yet, but it is exciting to watch it unfold, since we already know the end of the story.  And the best way to break through brick walls – like getting the gospel into countries that never had it before – is for there to be huge, mega, political unrest and upheaval like there has been all over the mid-east this year.  The oppressive regimes that have suppressed and twisted truth are falling like dominoes, at an unbelievable rate.

So even though I say it may be a rough ride, it really is, after all, a good thing.

The Muslim friends I have don’t like Bin Laden giving them a bad name for his twisted version of their beliefs anymore than I like fundamentalists or other versions of “Mormons” (groups who are not a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) giving us a bad name by doing things that Latter-day Saints know we are not to do.

The online chatter is already saying this development will actually improve US-Muslim relations.

That would be a miracle, and it may very well be unfolding.

But if that is true, then get ready for the ride.

I don’t just mean political stuff escalating.

I mean if we are going to bring the gospel to these brothers and sisters, then we better step it up.

Know why we haven’t gotten into that culture yet, why we can’t convert them yet?

Because they are way better at keeping covenants than we are.

We may have the “full gospel”, but they are a covenant keeping people.

Remember how the Lamanites (who were supposed to be the bad guys) actually got the Gospel and conquered the Nephites (who had started out as the good guys but hadn’t kept their covenants)?

This is what we are watching unfold, on a larger scale.

From an LDS perspective, we would say the Muslims (of the good sort, not the building-blowing-up sort) have good truth and follow many of the same laws we do… just not the full gospel story or the restored priesthood.

However, they – as individuals and as a people – are very, very good at keeping the covenants they have made thus far in their progression.

We may have the full gospel, but how good are we at keeping covenants?

We may say they do not have the full story, but they are faithful to what they do have.

We may have the full story, but how faithful are we?

It makes me think of Alma… his whole entire life, actually, but specifically this:

“We can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things” (Alma 24:30; see Alma 9:15—23; 46:8; 47:36; 50:21; 53:9).

The Nephites were told straight out that they would always have the Lamanites to “stir them up to remembrance” (1 Nephi 2:24).  Then we see it unfold:  the descendants of Nephi (who was good, and truly converted to the covenant) did not keep their covenants and the descendants of Laman and Lemuel (or, really, all those outside of the Nephites) were not born into the covenant because their ancestors had not chosen it… and yet they themselves converted to it.

This is the same pattern for us: being born into the covenant is not good enough.

We must become people of the covenant.

So how good are you at keeping the 10 commandments?  Because the Muslims are really, really good at it.

How good are you at keeping the word of wisdom?  Because the Muslims are really, really good at it.

How good are you at fasting?  Because the Muslims are really, really good at it.

How good are you at utilizing your Temple clothes “regularly and often”?  Because the Muslims do it constantly.

If it’s a full-gospel contest, like a who-has-the-right-answer-in-seminary game, then we might have some points.

But if it’s a contest for who can “go and do”?   We might be a lap or two behind.

And if it’s a contest about who can keep the covenants they know about so far?  We are going to be asking for makeup work.   And we’re gonna get it.  Soon.

Because we know that every time the Nephites tried to rid themselves of the Lamanite threat, they suffered greater losses than ever before.  The Lord kept telling them that wasn’t the way to go about it, but they kept not listening, suffering greater and greater losses each round, until they finally exterminated themselves.

Don’t get me wrong: I am NOT saying we are doomed.

I am saying it is time to step it up.

Like our brave soldiers fighting literally and physically over there every day, we should be fighting spiritually from where we are, whatever the “bounds of time and place” are in our lives.

We can’t be whiny little children anymore.  We can’t be spiritually lazy bums.

It’s time to wake up, to stand up, to shout out the truth in ways that invite others to the Savior.

It’s time to get on our knees, refrain from excess, give to those in need, become at-one with our families, and raise the title of liberty that defines our faith.

It’s time to go to the Temple, time to take your ancestors through the Temple, time to be empowered at the Temple.

It’s time to step up; it’s time to shiny up.

It’s time to love America, even if men fail, and even if calamities come, because we know the whole story.

Harold B. Lee said:

Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail.

This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail.

I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through.

These are the words that come to my mind and heart as I watch people shouting “USA!  USA!  USA!”

These are the words that I say out loud:  I have faith in America.

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P.S.  THIS ARTICLE was my favorite Bin-Laden-is-Dead article if you are looking for a good one.

P.S.  Also, that was one of the most bomb-diggity presidential speeches ever… well, at least in my lifetime.  You can WATCH THE VIDEO HERE if you missed it, and you can read the FULL TEXT HERE.

One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.  SNAP!

MORNING AFTER UPDATE:  Schadenfruede does not look good on you, USA.  Be careful.

Proverbs 24:17-18… “Rejoice not when thing enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Comments

I Have Faith in America — 2 Comments

  1. I love to discuss politics, but you’re right. People get too heated, then resort to bad words and name calling, which is not conducive to learning other points of view. I also agree with your assessment of Bin Laden and the Muslim world. And the chastisement of…well, me :)