And I'm Proud to be an American...

Posted by Heather , 10.22.2008 10:24 PM



So, I did it. I went out and voted today, and it felt great. The past couple weeks I have been reading and thinking about the Constitution, and I have a new found gratitude for that awesome document and the amazing men who sacrificed so much to bring it to us. How blessed we are, and what a huge responsibility we have to uphold it and do our part by being active citizens.

After my initial posts about why I support Barack Obama, I thoughtfully re-read many of the comments you all made, along with many interesting articles and talks from church leaders and decided to vote for__________. Haha, I'm not going to tell you who I voted for.

I am going to tell you a little about what I learned through the process that culminated in casting my vote today.

First, Heavenly Father wired us all differently for a reason. Each of us has a mission we are here to fulfill, and each of those missions is unique. The way we think about issues and the world is important, and it is ok--even desirable to be wired differently from each other. Kind of like the whole Yin/Yang thing.

For a long time I have been fighting against the way my heart and brain think because it didn't fit the mold of what good "dyed in the wool" Mormons are supposed to believe. I secretly was worried that maybe I'm just not Celestial material, because on so many issues I just see things differently than the culture I find myself in. I've come to accept that it's ok to disagree with really good people, even prominent members of the church. It is not okay to sow seeds of contention, but it's great that we see problems and solutions differently.

I have seen that in my own marriage. JT and I have very different ways of thinking about most things, especially household chores. But in the end it works out. There are many "true" ways to load a dishwasher, clean a bathroom, or mow a lawn. In the gospel there are many absolutes, like commandments, ordinances, etc., but there is also a lot of room for interpretation on how to do an awful lot of the execution. You see that in different bishops, apostles, etc. Everyone is unique, and every one has great value.

So, I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Next, I learned that it is more important to fear God than man. I mentioned in one of my posts that I would have a really hard time telling my gay friend that I don't think she should be able to get "married" to her partner because I believe that marriage, by definition is supposed to be only between a husband and wife, and that denying them that right didn't seem very compassionate. My good friend, Meg, said "You mentioned how showing them love and compassion could change them after we allowed them to get married. Rolling over and further blurring any moral boundaries our society has isn't going to change anything. Show them your compassion and love by getting them health insurance. But what of the Proclamation to the World?" This really made me stop and think, thanks Meg. Here's what I decided.

I need to fear God more than man. Period. I also need to strive to see people the way that Christ sees them, and treat them that way. So, while I would feel uncomfortable, I would be willing to explain to my gay friend that I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. However, I don't think we should "throw out the baby with the bath water." I think it is important to recognize and validate the great people that they are. During such a conversation, I would express gratitude for them and the meaningful contributions they make in their spheres of influence. I would validate all the good they do. I would try to do what Elder Eyring talked about in his talk about unity in conference and build on common ground. Tangentially, our family has a lot of common ground with many gay/lesbian families because we have built our family through adoption, and JT carries a purse.

Anyway, it is kind of ironic, but this whole "fearing God more than man thing" is a thought that ultimately brought me back around to some of my more "liberal" ideas. I found myself questioning the way I thought because I was worried about how worried others were for the safety of my soul. I also questioned myself because I felt an intense need to "fit in" in the circles that matter most to me. I found that when I was listening to that voice of fear and doubt that said... you are a freak, how could you even consider thinking about ideas besides what is in the Republican Platform-- I was in inner turmoil. When I finally came to accept that Heavenly Father made me the way I am on purpose, I felt very liberated in my liberalness. Like I said earlier, at the end of the day, I would rather err on the side of compassion and fairness...I mean it. That sentiment is a very important element of who I am. If I stay close to the Spirit, I believe that it can be a tool and strength. Like any strength, if out of balance, it can become a weakness.

The last lesson I have learned that I want to share is this: It is more important to be unified than it is to be "right." I just absolutely love Elder Eyring's talk "Our Hearts Knit as One." Here's an excerpt from the talk that especially pricked my heart.

"In addition to ordinances there are principles we are following as a people which are leading to greater unity.

One of those principles is revelation. Revelation is the only way we can know how to follow the will of the Lord together. It requires light from above. The Holy Ghost will testify to our hearts, and the hearts of those gathered around with us, what He would have us do. And it is by keeping His commandments that we can have our hearts knit together as one.

A second principle to guide our progress to become one is to be humble. Pride is the great enemy of unity. You have seen and felt its terrible effects. Just days ago I watched as two people—good people—began with a mild disagreement. It started as a discussion of what was true but became a contest about who was right. Voices become gradually louder. Faces became a little more flushed. Instead of talking about the issue, people began talking about themselves, giving evidence why their view, given their great ability and background, was more likely to be right.

You would have felt alarm as I did. We have seen the life-destroying effects of such tragic conflict. You and I know people who left the fellowship of the Saints over injured pride.

Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer."

I recognize my need to be more humble, to seek more diligently after revelation, and to strive to be a peacemaker. That's a lot to tackle. I'm a very prideful, lazy, stubborn, contentious kind of girl. I am going to work on it though.

So, there you go. That's my story. Sorry it's so long. NOW GET OUT AND VOTE! It's already started, you know. Click here to find your early voting location.

Heather

PS. Meg also mentioned that she wouldn't vote for anyone she wouldn't invite to her birthday party. Great litmus test, Meg. If I could invite anyone, after inviting all of you, I would probably invite Collin Powell, and anyone else he chooses to endorse ;)

8 Response to "And I'm Proud to be an American..."

Krusingers Says:

Hey,

So I am going to have to read more of your posts, I like hearing from other "closet Liberals" inside the church. My RS President told me she was very Liberal, but "don't tell anyone" she said. I have a feeling that we're kind of weird for thinking the way we do, but I don't think that the Celestial kingdom is at stake :) We have had a very long and soul-searching battle here in California over Gay and Lesbian marriages. It was shocking to hear the first Presidency come out with a statement that told church memebers to do everything they could to fight and get Proposition 8 to pass, in other words to change the California constitution to say that "Mariage is between One Man and One Woman." Nothing more and nothing less. Over the months since this mandate from the High-Powers-That-Be came down my hubbie and I have talked and talked about the issue, and have included many prayers about the issue. I have come to realize that there is a time to make a moral stand on SOMETHING, and this is one issue that must be stood upon. I hate the idea of denying people I know and love the right to have everything they could want, but there it is. It helped me to know that NONE of the rights and privleges of a married couple are being denied to a gay couple, only the final act of saying they are "legally and lawfully wedded." Now, as for who I'm going to vote for, well, I feel like I am voting for the man who will do the best by the most people, and not necessarily to one party or the other. And there it is. Sorry about the long comment :)

Jen Says:

Heather, I think it's a shame that we tend to feel like conservative political views are the "right" views if you are a Mormon. I've spoken to my dh about this and he informed me that there have been several members of the quorum of the 12 apostles that are "Democrats" so, it can't be the WRONG views. It sounds like you are very open to listen to others input and consider it carefully and I think if more of us did that it would be so much better for everyone. Thanks for sharing your views/journey and inspiring me to seek out my own views.

Todd Says:

Heather,

This post is beautifuly written, and I really enjoyed it (especially the part about JT wearing a purse).

My political leanings are left, and I base most of my beliefs on the primary song 'Jesus Said Love Everyone'. I often hear about the evil Democratic party in elders quorum, causual conversation, and even in bishopric meeting. I bite my tongue, because I too understand that bringing contention into that setting will never bring the spirit.

I mostly just wanted to say how much i miss and love you guys, and how much I enjoyed your post. Remember, too, that James E. Foust was a Democrat.

Hope to see you all soon,

Todd

JT Says:

Hey, Todd! We love you guys too!

I didn't know you watched our blog. That's cool. So, yeah. You've got a hard row to hoe living there in Idaho and leaning left. I remember one time visiting my mom in Idaho Falls and going to her church and getting as mad as I can ever remember in sunday school and wanting to argue a guy down about something insane he was saying. I would have done it, but I knew it would only gratify my pride and embarrass my mom, so I didn't to keep decorum. I don't remember exactly what it was he said, but I remember being shocked to the core at how it was accepted as common doctrine in that ward. It about drove me crazy.

Heather, you may have planted the seeds for a support group for Christians who are left-thinking living in politically conservative contexts. ;)

Megz Says:

I'm early voting next week and am just excited to be done with it. Two years of this campaign crap (pardon my French) has left me weary indeed.
In the end, the only conscience you sleep with at night is your own, so it doesn't pay to let other's opinions effect you too much. That goes on both sides of the aisle---the Mormons who think you can't be a righteous demo and the LDS demos who think they are more 'enlightened' than their sheep counterparts.
And I'm sure JT's purse is really just a Man Bag. I won't worry about him until he starts wearing Man Stilettos.

stephanie huff Says:

Sounds like a lot of contention between democrats and republicans. I just want to give a shout out to all those independents who feel they don't fall completely in either party. In the Mormon argument of who's right and who's wrong, where do we independents fit in? Are we the lost sheep? Or are we all that area of gray that we often refer to? Or maybe we are just the peacemakers? ha ha
Love hearing the debates! You have certainly kept things interesting this election. Thanks for the entertainment!!!

Jess D. Says:

Ben and Jerry's is giving away free ice cream cones on election day to anyone that comes in and says they voted.

I think we should celebrate your enlightenment with ice cream. There's a scoop shop in gateway :)

JTE Says:

I'd have no problem having McCain, Palin, Obama or Biden at my brithday, as long as no reporters were following them into my yard.

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