Thursday, 21 April 2016
This is one post in an A-Z series of 26 where I am writing about living as a Mormon in the wilderness of Kuantan
Our circumstances and experience contribute to determining to what extent we can relate to something. And how we relate to something goes a long way to deciding if it is applicable to us.
In the Book of Mormon record, Laman and Lemuel couldn't relate to their father Lehi's dreams, visions and actions because they didn't have any experience in spiritual things. Unfortunately, this resulted in 1,000 years of family conflicts.
On the flip side, not being able to relate to something, doesn't always deem it unapplicable. Not one of us can relate to the atonement of Christ. We can learn about it, try to understand it, we can feel its effects in our lives, but we cannot directly relate to it as none of us have had to go through anything remotely similar to it. Yet its application in our lives is all-consuming.
While we know our circumstances should not alter our levels of faith, and most certainly do not lower the necessity of God's commands, living as a Mormon in the wilderness does bring up some things that we just can't relate to.
In recent General Conference talks, I have listened to our leaders talk of certain things that don't apply to us. Now, I am not speaking of the gospel of Jesus Christ, or the doctrine as presented in the Mormon church. I can always relate to the truth that has set me free and enlightened my mind. I refer to general statements, made-up words, and small components of principles.
1. Elder Quentin Cook stated in the October 2015 General Conference that "Christianity is under attack," which when compared to my experience in my quiet wilderness town of Kuantan, simply doesn't ring true.
I can't relate to that statement. I haven't personally experienced any hostilities regarding my faith. It is my lungs, not my faith which is under attack from a guy who smokes in a restaurant. I do not feel that my faith is under attack by the increasing number of bars selling alcohol. I do not feel that my faith is under attack when people decide to practise homosexuality more openly than before. No-one is removing my freedom to choose my responses.
Although I can't relate to this particular statement and it therefore doesn't apply to me, our circumstances don't alter our support of our elected leaders or our allegiance to the will of God. Perhaps to a majority in America, Christianity may seem to be under attack. Just not to us.
2. Secondly, the infamous profiteering of the fabricated word 'ponderize' by Devin Durrant in October 2015. This is something that I could not, would not and do not relate to. It's somewhat surprising how this talk gained authorisation. (His son was concurrently running a website selling 'ponderize' merchandise. Ooops)
His attempt to make profits out of a General Conference talk was appalling.
I don't 'ponderize' the scriptures. No, Nephi was not a 'ponderizer.' And no, I don't try to make money out of spiritual preaching. I cannot relate to this person's words.
3. Thirdly, Elder Christoffersen gave a great talk in October 2015 where he balanced family and church. Very insightful. He remarked near the end, "Repentance is individual, but fellowship on that sometimes painful path is in the church."
This was a quote that both resonated with me and at the same time appeared very alien to me. Repentance is individual - yes. We have to do it ourselves, no-one else can repent for us. Repentance is probably the most self-reliant aspect of the gospel. The latter part of the quote is generally true, but for us in Kuantan, does not apply. We have no fellowship with other church members in a typical branch/ward community. The path of repentance and re-establishing a strong personal connection with Deity for us is a personal and lonesome struggle. A struggle, though, that has been a huge blessing in my life. Without living here in Kuantan, separate from the church, I would not have learned so effectively concerning the establishment of a personal relationship with Deity. It has been thrust upon us that we are doing this without the 'fellowship of the saints' and that we are of a stronger personal and family faith because of that.
I understand what all three gentlemen were trying to say. I also understand that they were speaking to a general audience of ward and branch church goers. Living in the wilderness is different in the fact that not everything our general leaders say, directly relates to us. This has increased my reliance on divine confirmation as to what snippets of proposed truth we should seriously consider. For example, church leaders have asked us to help refugees whenever possible. There are no refugees in Kuantan! So instead we continue to help others including ourselves whenever we can.
Not everything relates or applies to us, which is okay, but our peculiar circumstances don't change our devotion to God and the gospel covenants we have made with Him.
What it does is make us more aware of the specifics that do and don't relate to us living in the wilderness.