More and more often these days, this world makes me sad. For the first 50+ years of my life I was pretty much comfortable with it – I was part of it. I didn’t really question politics, pop-culture, or the prevalent vices of the day. It was all just part of the world – part of what I now recognize as the Kingdom of Babylon. It was all part of what I now recognize as the “Great Lie”. Even after I joined the LDS church, theoretically giving my life to Jesus Christ (a process that is still going on), I still lived pretty much in harmony with the world. Sure, I obeyed most of the word of wisdom, paid tithing, and wore a suit while walking to church (“Mo’s on Parade”, as my ex-wife used to call us), but none of that placed me so far outside the mainstream that I felt like a “Stranger in a Strange Land” the way I do now.
Now the world just makes me sad. I’ve begun to notice that I’m surrounded by 3 types of people:
– Type 1 – people who are obsessed by fear, and thus are constantly seeking power and gain. Fortunately, I don’t personally know many people like this, but I know they exist, and see that we all suffer from their existence on a daily basis. The headlines are full of their exploits, and even worse, I have become aware of what’s going on behind the scenes that triggers the headlines.
– Type 2 – people who are victimized by people who are seeking power and gain. This includes the poor and desperate, whether they be sleeping in Pioneer Park on a cold winter’s night; or staring blankly at the devastation wreaked on their family by a silent drone killer; or simply standing cold, wet, hungry and hopeless as they anonymously watch the endless parade of people from…
– Type 3 – people who are simply clueless as to the truth that surrounds them; people who are like the fish in David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” essay – swimming around completely unaware of the “water” that pretty much defines their existence.
I was once a member in good standing of the type 3 group, and some would say I still am. We all are, actually, to some extent – at least until we reach that perfect day when we have all light and all knowledge. (D&C 50:24) These days, though, I’m feeling more and more estranged from my fellows. It’s like the more I learn and the more I understand – about the universe, about God, about Satan and his insidious and relentless war against all that is good – the more I feel like an outsider. Being an outsider, though, doesn’t make me want to reject and abandon everyone else. It doesn’t make me feel special or better or smarter – it just makes me sad. And it makes me want to share – loudly! (Alma 29:1)
These reflections were set off when a friend told me the other day about some women who didn’t treat their co-worker with respect. That’s a pretty small thing, right? It’s certainly not a mortal sin (or is it?), yet it made me very sad. If we love each other, we treat each other with respect – it’s not rocket science – yet so many people don’t get that. They think it’s ok to treat someone whom you have determined is not as good or as smart or as pretty as you with disrespect. I used to be able to do that, although I was never very good at it, but I just can’t anymore. You see, I know too much. I feel too much. I understand too much. I can’t be that way, and it makes me sad when I see others who don’t understand the things I’ve learned.
I mentioned D&C 50:24 earlier:
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
If you’re reading this, you probably know what this means. You know already that the Lord keeps His promises, and that if we continue diligently and faithfully to seek to know Him, with full purpose of heart, He in turn will continue to give us more light and more knowledge until that perfect day when we understand all things – when we have really become an outsider. You know also, however, that as He is giving us knowledge, He must necessarily strip away the insulation that has mercifully made it easier for us to tolerate the darkness that prevails in Babylon. We can’t have both the knowledge and the insulation – they are incompatible. The question for each of us then becomes, “How much insulation will I let Him strip away before I reach down and pull the covers back up over my head?” Well, I don’t know about you, but I know that I must fight that reaction every day – and forever. I must learn to temper any sadness with compassion. I must learn to fight fear with love. I must learn to exercise faith and trust when the way ahead looks dark. I can never say, “I’ve learned enough”, because then He, in his perfect love, will say, “OK – you’ve learned enough”. I don’t know about you, but I was in group 3 far too long, and now that I’m starting to understand, now that I’m starting to “receive light”, all I want is more!
With this added light comes greater responsibility however. Even if I’m able to handle the contrast between the light and the darkness, will I be able to handle the greater responsibility? Theoretically, the day will come when I have been given (and accepted) the light of a leader, when others will look to me for guidance. Will I stand up and answer that call? Will I be willing to do all that the Lord asks of me? Will I have the faith and trust to walk into the darkness with faith that what awaits me is an even greater light? There is no limit to this progression except me myself. Will I abide that perfect day? Will you?
If you’ve read many of my articles, you know by now that I am neither a scriptorian nor a scholar. I don’t present revelatory takes on doctrine or church history. I write what is in my heart. I wrote previously of having come to the Lord tentatively, cautiously, offering that very heart still bound by fear and pride; and of how He graciously accepted my imperfect offering. I shared also how, over the years, He helped me shed enough of that pride to truly offer Him a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Since then, He has helped me mend that broken heart. He has molded it into a receptacle of love and light, often filled to bursting with joy and love, even wonderment, yet always swelling to increase its capacity for more.
Like each of us, I must learn to continue receiving and sharing more and more light while being surrounded by darkness – which means that I will probably experience more pain, sadness, and frustration. I must also learn to fight those feelings with love and faith. I must learn not to let fear and pride bind my heart such that it cannot swell to receive the light. I see so much now. The Holy Ghost is opening my eyes to the fullness of the gospel. He keeps giving me more faith and strength and desire. Babylon suffers mightily by comparison – truth vs. lies, love vs. fear, light vs. darkness. I choose truth, love, and light.