Friday, February 27, 2009

Hope for Change in Us All

This is a rather personal journal entry, but I wanted to share it to show (a) my mother's self-awareness, and (b) her ability to pivot from a negative to a positive--her desire to see the good in herself and others and to make the best of the situation. Several of the references here may be unfamiliar to readers who are not members of the LDS/Mormon Church. "Relief Society" is a women's meeting taught by lay members (one of several meetings held each Sunday). The "Gospel" is a generic term for that faith/belief system, which places a strong emphasis on appreciating and learning about one's ancestors. In that faith, we often refer to fellow members as "brother" or "sister." The "pioneers" were early Mormon settlers who fled persecution in Illinois and Missouri to the valley of the Great Salt Lake in the mid-1800s. That migration remains a great source of pride to many Mormons, and my mother's point was to emphasize that--regardless of our blood lineage--we all have "pioneer" ancestors who paved the way for the blessings and opportunities we currently enjoy.

Sunday, August 1, 1993

Last Sunday I gave a Relief Society lesson on our "pioneer heritage" and made sure each sister recognized that she had a pioneer heritage of her own in those ancestors who have made their present blessings possible. During the lesson, I gave examples of my own pioneer ancestors and, in an effort to make them more human, I referred flippantly to their weaknesses--temper, theft, etc. I then said how thankful I was to them for their sacrifices that have benefited me so much, making it all right that I had mentioned their faults.

During the week following I have been overshadowed with the conviction that I have wronged people I love, people who are just as real now as they ever were. Grantma Groen's love of beauty in all her surroundings and her insistence on quality in work and workmanship lives with me. Every time I see a beautiful farm and wonderful animals I think of her. Treelined streets and landscaped shopping areas would have delighted her. Benches in beautiful places would have been a joy. She would have loved our shopping mall and would have been overjoyed at some of the fine European breads available here in the East.

As for Grandma Davidson, I am just like her. I have the same feelings for the Gospel that she had. I want to be faithful as she was. I don't want to be remembered as bad-tempered any more than she would want to be. It is not fair for me to label my grandmothers as "dishonest" or "hot tempered" because of a few instances in their lives. Labeling is hard to overcome, especially when it hounds us even beyond the grave. Does their death give me license to label them for their faults? My mouth has done a terrible thing.

I realized I am guilty of even more offense. Somehow I have felt free to point out the faults of all those I am closest to, especially those who live in the same house. I am kinder to the neighbor next door in my judgment. How different it would be in our family if I changed and could put a bridle on my tongue! I want to change. I really want to do it. With God's help it must be possible. (And yet, during this writing when I left to go upstairs and found my picture knocked from the wall, I immediately railed on Ben for being so rough in the hall.)

Today, I feel that our brotherhood is limitless--that there are no bounds between dead and living, between races, between countries--and in the other direction, no open license to condemn father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter, or husband just because they are family and are somehow part of me. I guess I have no right to condemn myself for a fault. There has to be hope and real possibility for change in us all.

No comments: