Thursday, May 26, 2016

Take Ye No Thought for the Morrow

I still sin. Like the Pet Shop Boys sing, "Everything I've ever done, everything I ever do, every place I've ever been, everywhere I'm going to - it's a sin!"

When one knows of the perfection of God - and I don't know it fully - then one sees there's no way to get there from here by one's own efforts. At all. All must necessarily fall short. There's no way not to. I'm just not what he is. I don't think like he thinks, nor feel like he feels, nor know what he knows.

The only way to go, to become what he is, is by honoring his requests, keeping his commandments with all my heart, might, mind, and strength - and then he will change me according to my desires. I haven't got the power to change myself. All I can do is imitate and emulate.

And I just want to be done - finished, completed, perfected. To be full of peace and love and light and joy and truth, no more to be tempted by fear, lust, judgement, or malice. To be exactly what God is. And then it will no more be me: I've felt it. And I'm fine with that - I'm not terribly fond of me as I am, and particularly not with even partial knowledge of the Godly alternative to being what I am.

I committed an actual, though private, sin, for which I afterward made public confession and was publicly rebaptized to witness repentance, according to Moroni 8. Upon committing the sin, I expected to be smitten - if you expect the worst, you can't be disappointed, right? The Lord came to me immediately, unseen, and squatted next to me, and utterly without judgement said "Do you suppose God is unmerciful?" Well, no, I thought, I expect he's all about mercy, actually.

Yet I have had a great many occasions since to ponder that question - what is mercy? Is it, as I think, forbearance and accommodation of one's weaknesses? And what does God's mercy exclude, if anything?

This comes up for me again and again because of a continual trial I undergo. I once gave someone my number who calls me at least weekly and hits me up for cash. This has been going on for several years now. The calls come at inconvenient times, and you may well believe that when that person shows up on caller ID my day has been pretty well ruined. Whatever amount is asked for is changed a few minutes later, and additional inconvenient requests added which add to the overall total and time. I am lied to frequently - honestly, I wish the sob stories just wouldn't be told and that the requests were shorn from all pretense and made into naked demands for set amounts that I could simply dump and be done. The person does not account for my needs neither respects me as a person - why should they? Any mercies or gifts above their requests simply sets expectations that they can take more from me later, confirming to them my perceived weakness and further justifying their conduct towards me in their eyes. They don't wish for my friendship nor companionship; any information about my personal life they have managed to find out is used in efforts to manipulate me into courses more aligned with their values and needs, to be able to take greater advantage of me. They only care about me insomuch as they get something out of me to further their own ends and goals, and no more. I find their goals and ends reprehensible and foolish, but that's not for me to educate them on; my role is simply to serve them. I have tried everything within the law of God to persuade them to alter their course towards me, but all to no avail; I tried once demanding of them why I shouldn't simply cut them off or treat them the way they treat me (because I can't simply say "no" - that breaks the law of God) - and felt the bright, hot, crushing, painful disappointment of heaven for a long time afterwards in response to that effort.

I could go on and on - it's like being trapped in a loveless marriage with a spendthrift adulterer - or, more to the point, it is like how the world treats God: as a slave, a universal cuckold, supporting enemies, false spouses, and children that aren't his. But in the end none of it matters. I know I can't change them, and that they're behaving completely rationally as one might who had found the biggest sucker in existence. The only one in this scenario that can be changed is me, so that I no longer feel the anger, the irritation, the frustration, the fear that I will myself be left without my needs met. I know I can be changed by God to be filled with love and light and joy, to bear my burdens with grace, love, and mercy - hence, what does the mercy of God exclude, if anything?

Yet I have not had my needs unfulfilled, even though I have had to play the beggar to friends and family to meet them. I guess that's why it is written: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." It doesn't say I will be self-sufficient or even self-sustaining: I will simply be given to, presumably when I ask. And I make sure to ask for the minimum necessary to meet my actual needs, for I resent it mightily right now when someone asks me for more than that which is necessary. Because I fear.

"Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."

Yet it is still hard, being carnal and therefore an enemy to God. I know, in my mind, that I had ought simply to give without upbraiding, yet in my heart I feel resentment, irritation, frustration, and judgement - fear, in a word - and my mouth follows. I know it does no good, and I had ought to simply shut up. But I don't.

Even so, I wish to be different. I wish to be free from fear. I wish to be merciful and filled with grace. Then may good things come from me.

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.

So I chafe under the yoke, but yet I bear it, that I might be made strong and no more feel it.

There are only two possible ways to be, in the end - two ways to think, to feel. We are, in the end, either exactly what God is, or we are exactly what the devil is. There are only two ways to relate to our fellow beings - either we use them to build ourselves up, or we spend ourselves to build them up. I don't suppose the middle ground can be occupied eternally, and I know how I wish to be: a perfect human.

Therefore, to reference the book Dune, by Frank Herbert, I keep my hand in the nerve-induction pain-box of the commandments of God, to prove that I am human, to be made into that perfect being I desire to be. That the work may be completed and I be finished, that I may no longer fear, so that I may no longer need come back, save it be once.

"Perfect love casteth out all fear."

"Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure."