04 August 2009

Is It Really THAT Awful?

It's probably just as well for me I wasn't participating much in LDS online communities back in 1994 and 1995, before I went to the Temple. Especially over on LDS.net, I keep seeing threads crying and moaning about how horrible it is to have to wear the Temple garment. Frankly, if I'd read some of this stuff before I was endowed, that make garments sound like deliberate torture devices, I very likely would not have gone to the Temple, since I would have been scared away by the prospect of a lifetime of misery.

Let's review some of the common gripes:
"Waaah, I just can't handle that extra layer in summer!" - Gee, I wonder how pioneer women endured hiking across the plains in summer, dragging all their worldly goods, in corsets, petticoats, long sleeves, high necks, multiple long skirts, etc., frequently bearing (and sadly, not uncommonly burying) babies along the way. They certainly didn't have light modern synthetics or air conditioning, not to mention modern laundry equipment, and womens' underclothing in that time was much more awkward than anything we wear in this century. I'm just not seeing where we pampered modern types really have so much more to complain about than our faithful forebears who rejoiced in the privilege and blessing that we're crying about being inconvenienced by.

"Waaah, I can't wear the latest fashions!" - Considering that current fashion is to reveal as much flesh as possible, that would seem to be the point! If you have enough respect for God to follow His standards of dress, no, you won't be wearing stuff that prostitutes used to find a bit tacky, that presents you as an object for nothing more than physical lust. You'll be wearing stuff that makes you look more dignified and presents you as having the self-respect you should have as the offspring and heir of God. Is worldly fashion really more important than honoring your Divine heritage?

"Waaah, the waistband hits my ribs uncomfortably!/Waaah, the elastic binds me up!" - Try buying your correct size and wear them as designed! If you buy too small so the legs will be shorter and you can wear shorter skirts/shorts, then yeah, the elastic that's meant to go around someone smaller IS going to be uncomfortable! If you're hiking the bottom up as far as it'll go, again to be able to wear shorter skirts/shorts, then yeah, the elastic that's meant to be AT your waist WILL be annoying your ribs. The staff at the Distribution Center are trained to help you find the size that will be comfortable when worn correctly, so make use of that resource instead of looking for excuses to get out of wearing garments. Again, is looking "hot" really the most important thing in your world, or do God's standards get in there somewhere?

"Waaah, I wanna be naked all night!" - Sorry, but when you took on yourself that sacred obligation, you covenanted to wear the garment night and day to cover your nakedness. Is physical sensation really more important than honoring your covenants and obeying God? Do you plan to lie on future recommend interviews and claim that you're wearing your garments correctly if you're not, and bring on yourself God's judgment for mocking him?

All things considered, I just don't see how wearing garments is such an unreasonable demand on us. We do, after all, as Church members, make covenants of obedience to God and sacrifice. When you look at all those who gave up homes, lives, and loved ones for the Gospel, and especially when you look at the infinite suffering Christ endured to atone for our sins, how can something so minor as clothing really be too much to ask of us, as so many I see seem to claim by finding excuses to not do something so simple as wearing the garment properly?

03 August 2009

Of What Do We Testify?

I've spent at least fourteen years feeling seriously spiritually deficient, no matter how diligent I am about prayer, Scripture reading, etc.

The problem? It is very rare for me to get anything out of Fast & Testimony meeting (F&T). Listening to blubbering autobiographies, reports on vacations, thankimonies for all the goodies in the speaker's life, and so forth, for several minutes a speaker, with MAYBE, if the audience is lucky, a sentence or two of testifying of the Gospel tacked on as an afterthought, really doesn't inspire me, and in fact leaves me feeling like a spiritual failure because I don't find this uplifting and transcendently inspirational as I understand we're required to find F&T meeting to be truly LDS.

I actually took notes on yesterday's F&T (fair warning: I happened to be tired, hormonal, and not feeling well at the time. No, I am not pregnant). Please note that the meeting actually started at least 5 minutes late (my best guess: the bishopric was running on Mormon Standard Time). Here's the results:

1. Bishop's counselor rambled about the "fall backward for others to catch you" trust exercise, I think at some youth activity (I lost track of the rambling). To his credit, he did manage to eventually make some link back to Christ.

2. An adult sister gave a rambling thankimony about the awe-inspiring wonder that is Girls' Camp (automatically excluding all males, girls too young to go, girls who can't afford to go, and women who converted as adults from being able to share this). I'm not sure I heard anything relating to doctrine or anything really spiritual.

3. A brother rambled about various parenting books he's read, did talk a little about agency and seeing Christ in all people (or things?), apologized to anyone in the congregation who might have ever been offended by him, and did manage to express gratitude for the Gospel. This one was nearly the length a Sacrament talk usually runs.

4. A sister talked a lot about her mother, thanked prior speakers and other members, gave a fair amount of autobiography about self-worth, and did manage to actually bear a testimony of Christ and the Restored Gospel.

5. A brother rambled for a while about personal revelation, did actually give a testimony of the Gospel.

6. A sister spent several minutes doing a crying thankimony for priesthood holders and active members in her family.

7. Another sister talked about loving the Gospel and did a thankimony about her family and her Church membership. She closed by angrily demanding more missionary work among her hearers, in a rather aggressive tone of voice that frankly scared me a bit.

8. A brother talked about the priesthood, did bear testimony of Christ.

9. We have one sister in my ward whom I'm sure is a nice person, but I can't help cringing every time she gives a testimony or participates in class, since she takes every possible opportunity to go on and on and on about her deceased son, to the point that I can count the number of times I've heard her talk in seven months and not mention this topic on one hand and have fingers left. This F&T meeting was pretty typical for her: long patriotic ramble, much about her late son (and her late brother, who was killed in Vietnam), rambling about heroes and the Atonement, looped back to her son (she does have living children, about whom we hardly ever hear), looped back to patriotic rambling, and did eventually mention the Restoration in passing. She talked for at least five minutes, probably closer to ten.

10. A brother told a long, meandering story about gaining his testimony, but did actually bear one.

This is a pretty typical F&T meeting in every ward I've been in in my fifteen years as a member. It is a noteworthy rarity to hear anyone focus on the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ or the truth of the Restoration or modern revelation. Yes, I've tried to do my bit with concise statements of my knowledge of the truths of what we are taught in the Church, but it doesn't seem to help. Coming in fasting and praying doesn't help either. My physical difficulties added to the frustration level, but I can come in very well rested, feeling great, and not at a cranky point hormonally, and still have the same difficulty.

F&T is probably the least spiritually nourishing meeting of the month for me, and I feel like a complete failure as a Saint and a human being because of this.

However, I do know beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and that He restored the true Gospel to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that He leads and directs His Church to this day by modern prophets, currently Thomas S. Monson.