Is Parenthood Worse Than Death?

A recent article published by the Washington Post induced an inner jaw drop/“you’ve got to be kidding me” reaction. The article is titled, “It turns out parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment — even the death of a partner.”

Did your jaw drop?

Parenthood: worse than divorce. Worse than unemployment. Worse than the death of a partner.

The results of a new study of 2,000 people in Germany show that the effect of a new baby, on average, is “devastatingly bad,” and consequently, these parents stopped having children after their first. For further details on the study, please refer to the article.

As a new parent I will be the first to admit the last ten months of my life have not been easy, and I don’t even do half the work with my son as my wife does. She’s the one that’s home with him all day, and she’s the one who is up with him during the night most of the time. She sacrifices every day. I asked her today if she was happier before or after he was born. She was quick to reply that she’s happier as a parent, but that there are hard times.

“The family is ordained of God. Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Pslam 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

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Raising a child is not easy, especially in this world we live in. But no matter how hard it is, or how much sleep and personal time I lose, it’s more than worth it. No, I’m not perfect. I often get frustrated when I have to sacrifice some personal time for the needs of my child. In fact, even as I write this I had to replace a ripe diaper. But those many instances do not diminish my love for my son, or my personal happiness.

True joy comes from loving and serving others, and that joy is magnified in the raising of children. I wouldn’t trade parenthood for anything. Not divorce or unemployment, and certainly not the idea of the death of my wife. If it’s time for anything to die because of parenthood, it’s selfishness.

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticing of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19, Book of Mormon)

The Pride of the World

Very early in the Book of Mormon, Lehi the prophet has a vision. He sees “a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” This tree lies at the end of a path marked by a rod of iron. Lehi makes his way down the path, holding fast to a rod of iron because of a great midst of darkness, and partakes of the fruit of the tree.

“And as I partook of the fruit of thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” -1 Nephi 8:12

This tree, which is separated by a river of water, is overlooked by a large and spacious building. The building “stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” (1 Nephi 12:26-27. Emphasis added.)

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Three chapters later, Lehi’s son, Nephi, is shown the same vision, and gains an understanding of the meaning of the things described in Lehi’s vision. The tree represents the love of God, more specifically the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. The rod of iron represents the word of God, or the scriptures and words of the prophets. The great and spacious building represents the pride of the world.

There are several interesting things to note from Lehi’s dream. First, this great building that represents the pride of the world is described as standing “in the air, high above the earth.” There is no foundation to it. The ways of the world have nothing to stand on but their own pride and opinions. Consequently, as Nephi later sees and records, “…and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.” (1 Nephi 11:36)

Second, many of these people who were once on the path, and many who even partook of the fruit of the tree, or in other words, experienced the love of God, fell captive to social pressures from the people in the great and spacious building, so much so that they wandered away from the tree.

“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of tree. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” -1 Nephi 8:24, 28

There is too much pride in the world. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by too many outside sources, too many great and spacious buildings filled with people that attempt to pull us away from the love of God, and the relationship we develop with Him as we strive to keep His commandments.

As changes in society’s support towards unmoral and ungodly trends increases, so does the pressure put on those who choose to follow traditional and biblical doctrine. Many members of the Church have questions and concerns, even doubts about their faith. Consequently, many give in and choose a separate path rather than the one that leads toward the tree.

To those who are struggling with questions, concerns, or doubts – Don’t give up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s asking questions that opens doors for answers and potentially strengthen our faith.

“When adversity comes, don’t let something you don’t fully understand unravel everything you do know. Be patient, cling to truth; understanding will come.” -Elder Kevin W. Pearson

The ways of the world are constantly changing. God’s truth hardly ever overlaps with the trends of society. The ways of the world will continue to change, but God’s ways will never change. Don’t conform to the ways of the world, the trends of society. Rather, allow the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform you into the very image that God created you to be – His.

Customizing Christ

A year ago, Greg Trimble wrote an article entitled, “Quit Acting Like Christ Was Accepting of Everyone and Everything,” and due to recent events with the Supreme Court rulings on marriage, it has resurfaced. Every once in a while, sometimes a long while, you stumble upon good reading, and this is by far one of the most spot on descriptions of the general community, more particularly the Christian community, when it comes to developing faith in Christ, with the false idea and practice of maintaining lifestyles that do not conform with His gospel.

“Instead of looking for a Church that teaches truth, many are on a quest to find a church that can satisfy their innate desire to worship God, and yet at the same time, live the lifestyle that they want to live regardless of how ungodly it really is. Some consider it a great feat to find a church that allows them to live how they want to live, and still feel like they are worshipping God.”

As one who had a desire at a young age to learn about God, I attended several different churches and noticed this very real trend. In some churches it was preached. For them, all that matters is that you develop a relationship with Christ. My personal impression and opinion is that churches want regular attendance, but don’t want to risk losing followers because of offending them with hard doctrine (i.e. enforcing the gospel commandments, repentance, etc.) So long as someone is working to develop a relationship with Christ, their salvation is guaranteed because they believe in Him. While this is partially true, there is a huge misunderstanding.

“Too many people are looking for a religion that is easy. In the world, we are offered instant salvation and taught about a Christ that accepts everyone just the way they are.”

Religion isn’t easy. Following Christ is not easy. If it were easy, we would be perfect, and let’s face it, we are all far from claiming perfection.

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” -2 Corinthians 11:24-27; 12:10. Emphasis added.

The truth is that salvation is indeed found in Christ, BUT conversion is the process that leads to salvation. Conversion involves change. Change that improves. Change that endures.

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a ‘buffet’ that you can compile your perfect plate from. There is no salvation in building your own religion or customizing Christ to suit your needs and wants. The popular trend is to determine how you’d like to live your life and then to conform Christ to that lifestyle. It is done by appealing to Christ’s infinite love and mercy.”

True happiness is not found by “customizing Christ” to fit your own lifestyle. We don’t ask God to align His will with ours, but we ask for divine help so that we can align our will with His. Christ is not customizable. What you see is what you get, and so much the more. Does He love you? Yes. Does he accept behavior that does not fit in harmony with his teachings? No. Will he help you change? There is no doubt. His atoning sacrifice reaches deeper than we can comprehend. His mercy is infinite. There is always hope to be found in Christ.

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True happiness is found by following Christ, by striving to live your life according to His teachings, going through the process of conversion – true and lasting conversion. Following the sociological trends of the day brings temporary happiness that has an expiration date. Following Christ brings eternal happiness, even joy.

During times of heated discussion and the sharing of opinions, may we remember that we are a free people. We are free to express our opinions, but remember to do so respectfully. The whole underlying message of this period in time is love. With Christ, love will always win.

 

*Many thanks to Greg Trimble for sharing his thoughts and telling it like it is.

Loving Opposition Towards the LDS Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is becoming more and more known throughout the world. Since it’s inception, and even before with Joseph Smith’s claims of seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Church has seen, and more poignantly, heard their fair share of critics.

After I had first learned of the Church and gained interest in joining, I experienced such opposition first hand. I was amazed at the strong, negative opinions people had against a Church I had barely heard of. I wondered what bad experiences they had to justify such harsh feelings.

I’ve come to learn over the last few years as a member of the Church, and even more so when I was a full-time missionary, that opposition is a good thing. Yes, the fact that there is so much opposition is indeed positive.

My testimony of such a truth stems from a teaching of Neal A. Maxwell:

“If the Church were not true, our enemies would be bored rather than threatened, and acquiescent rather than anxious. Hell is only moved when things move heavenward.”

When Jesus was on the earth during his mortal ministry, he and his followers were easily the minority, and very much disliked. Jesus was mocked, spat upon, threatened, betrayed, and ultimately crucified. His disciples were likewise ridiculed. Jesus’ message was truth, yet he and his followers experienced great opposition.

A Book of Mormon prophet, Lehi, taught the following:

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must be compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” -2 Nephi 2:11 (Book of Mormon)

In a letter to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, and calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, ‘till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

God’s work is meant to roll forward. The battle may continue but the outcome is already decided. Truth will always prevail, and right will always win.

So whenever I read, hear, or see opposition towards my faith, I remember Neal A. Maxwell’s quote, and do what I can to stand up for what I know to be true.

The Unsung Hero

It’s spring time, and that means it’s baseball season. I’ve taken an extra part-time job as an umpire for the local city league. Towards the end of the final game last night, the coach of the fielding team made a pitching change. He called time out and brought the infield in to the pitcher’s mound, told the current pitcher that he had done well and that a change was going to happen. Then he asked one of the boys in the huddle if he wanted to pitch. I watched this little fifth-grade boy’s face light up instantly. He quickly nodded in excitement. As he began to pitch, I noticed something very different.

This was no ordinary pitcher, and I would later learn no ordinary boy. His coach would later tell me after the inning was over that he was a miracle baby. He had suffered a rare stroke after birth and lost traditional movement of his right arm. When he would pitch, he would take the glove off from his left hand and hold it between his right arm and torso, giving him the ability to throw the ball with his left arm. As soon as the ball left his hand, he would quickly put the glove back on and prepare for the imminent play. This was the process for each and every pitch. One batter hit the ball directly back to the pitcher’s mound. Not only was his glove on in time, he was able to make the catch, remove the glove and ball to be able to throw to first, and throw the runner out.

His pitching performance was entertaining, but his story is inspiring. I’ll never forget this boy and the lesson he taught me last night. No matter what the circumstance may be, no matter how difficult the challenge, if we truly want something and work hard for it, we can achieve it. For this boy it was being able to play baseball. For the rest of us, the opportunities are endless.

So whenever you need a little extra motivation, think about this boy. I know I will. We all need good examples in our lives. Those unsung heroes, like the one I met on the baseball field last night, can inspire and motivate goodness in everyone.

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