Saturday, April 26, 2014

Drug Use Is Not Funny

I keep seeing reminders about how many lives are destroyed by drugs. It's a sorry road for all involved; that's for sure. And the people who claim drugs make them more creative. Yeah right. Are they the walrus?

What I've seen are mothers in rehab programs trying to keep the babies that they are pregnant with or just delivered, because their other children have already been put in foster care. (Incidentally, I am glad that I could be involved in serving a group of these women. I know that I made a difference in their day-to-day lives for a short time; but, the reality of it is that very few of them break out of being users for very long.)

I've also seen people who are sickly thin, very unhealthy physically and emotionally, and who have teeth rotting out of control. I've seen people falling asleep-mid sentence in a conversation with me.

A friend of mine has a daughter who spent many years in jail because of drugs. My friend picked her up on the daughter's release date planning to have her daughter stay with her until she got her bearings. She didn't even stay at her mom's home one night.

One of my best friends started using marijuana when we were in middle school. She was one of the brightest people I've ever met, but that decision took her down an entirely different road than the one she envisioned in her childhood dreams. So whether legal or not, it is destructive. That goes for alcohol as well; and, alcohol has had detrimental effects on some of my family members. I don't know why anyone would consider mind-altering drugs which limit our abilities to think logically and react skillfully or intelligently as a form of recreation. What is funny about losing control? Sometimes it might look funny if someone can't walk straight; it mind sound funny if someone's speech is slurred. But is it really funny? Is it funny to puke your guts out, or piss yourself? Is it funny to get raped, or to cause fatal accidents? Is it funny to limit your potential to learn and grow, maybe to the point that you can never hold a good job? Is it funny to be a slave?

We have a friend that recently had a stroke. She realized something was wrong because she couldn’t speak coherently and she didn’t have control of her one arm. Is that funny? No. It’s tragic. So why would the same effects be funny if the cause is self-induced?

I’m just thinking about this currently. I know I personally can’t change things. But we have an epidemic in our world. People want quick fixes, and they are hooked on seeking a way out. Life is hard; but, it is so much simpler if you are playing with a full deck of cards. I might be scoffed for writing this, because why would I know what I’m talking about? There are plenty of users out there who say they are just doing it for the recreation. It’s twisted recreation when people are willing to sell away their freedom and hand over control of their own minds and bodies. That’s slavery, in my opinion. And most honest, thinking people would never sell themselves into slavery. (Or, rather, most wouldn't pay to be slaves.)

So rather than wanting more substances legalized, I wish that we were creating defensible space that would make it virtually impossible to entrap our youth. It’s a shame that so many adults are getting rich off enslaving those who are our future. And I wish that there could be a greater chance for rehabilitation. But drugs are a powerful master. People need to desire what is real, what is hard, and what takes work if they are going to break the cycle. And they are going to need supporters that believe in their worth until enough self-worth, confidence, and ability are restored.

More than anything else, those who have been using drugs need to know there is a way out. They need to honestly acknowledge that they need help, and then they need to seek it. They need to hungry after help like they hunger after the loved and despised substances. Prayer is always a great place to start, because God can put the right people in our lives to offer us help. But seeking help and following through is mandatory. Loving life, loving family, and seeking a hopeful future need to become what is paramount. And it is possible. But not a smidgen of one ounce of the dreaded substances can ever be sought ever again for recreation or escape or any other purpose. To break free from slave masters, we need to walk a new road. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lift with Love

Lift with Love

While so many are claiming to stand on the Lord's side or with his prophets, we need to remember that we were all key players on the Lord's team in heaven, every single human soul. Jealousy, mistrust, lack of understanding, forgetfulness, pride, and deceit have blinded so many of us to our true purpose.

Jesus's gospel is one of love. We cannot invite others to come unto Him if we continually display an attitude of superiority. Jesus continually reminds us that as the greatest of all, He came to be the servant to all. He also reminds us that if we exalt ourselves, we will be abased; and if we humble ourselves, we shall be exalted.

In gratitude for His sacrifice for all of us, let's impart goodwill towards one another, instead of resentment, jealousy, or disdain. When we think that we are doing way better than our neighbors, we place ourselves on slippery slope. It is as true in the real world, as it is in Greek mythology, that pride comes before the fall. The thing that is so sad to see is that many times, the actions of the proud hurt the humble as well.

So I hope that my fellow Christians and other followers of the Father of us all, will seek to lift and help each other, instead of using each other's faults as a pedestal to expose their own virtues. It doesn't work. We all stumble together when that is our initiative and purpose.

Jesus's initiative and purpose was to lift us all up until we could become exalted through Him. We cannot be true followers of Him until His love grows inside our hearts to such a degree that this is also our initiative and purpose.

I'm thankful for the Atonement and for one more day to try to follow him better. He continues to lift me with His love, and I hope that each day I can find someone to lift with my love and help him or her find the Savior's love as a result.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gathering Israel

I enjoy being a ward missionary. With that call, I have the opportunity to teach Gospel Principles every other Sunday. Last Sunday, Sister Fisher taught about the Gathering of Israel. It is clear that there are both a physical gathering (Judah to homeland, Joseph to the Americas, and the 10 tribes eventually to be gathered in more fully as well); and a spiritual gathering (which happens when we make our baptismal covenants and enter the waters of Judah, and become part of covenant Israel). And the Church today asks that as we are gathered, we remain in the countries we reside in, and build up Zion there.

As Saints gathered in these last days, we have the opportunity to unite in worship and instruction twice a year at conference time. I am so grateful for that. Under the leadership of a prophet of God, we will receive our marching orders for the next six months. That's a beautiful blessing. We can trust those things that are taught to us as if spoken directly from God's own mouth.

I am also grateful for the privilege of belonging to the Relief Society. Here we should be learning to be one in heart. We are all at different ages and different stages, but like we heard in our Women's Meeting last week, we all matter, and we are all needed.

So under Jesus's constant call, we hear again the words, "Come, Unto Me," and "Come, and See." His words are words of the gathering. His words are not ones of turning us away or saying that some are more important than others. I will look to the Shepherd as the True Gatherer of Israel, and under His direction I will seek to be united with my brothers and sisters; because, it is He who said, "If ye are not one, ye are not mine."

With that, I hope that we are all wary of unauthorized invitations to unite or to gather under any other Head than Christ's. No person or persons have the authority to ask us to gather in a Facebook setting whether or not they purport to believe as we believe or think ask we think. We are already gathered in our Church membership.

Jesus asked us to let the wheat and the tares grow together, because if we think we are "gathering" wheat, we might actually be disturbing the growth of wheat that we have mistaken for tares. I for one would not want to be responsible for that. We need not take on being a catalyst for the latter-day sifting process. Our goal should be to invite all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him, because this is the mission of His Church.

Have a happy conference weekend.