Ponderings, Uncategorized

Family, Excommunication and The LDS Church

Some have said that the recent potential excommunication of Kate Kelly (the founder of Ordain Women) and John Dehlin are un-Christlike and should not happen.  They argue that a loving Father would NEVER force his child out of his home.  While I don’t know all the facts about the cases (and either does anyone else since the ONLY information we are getting is from Kate and John) I do know some things about how a family works.

I am a member of a large diverse family. My family (thinking of just my siblings and their spouses) consists of 8 biological children and their spouses and 3 adopted First Nation siblings who happen to LOVE to argue–I mean discuss things passionately.  While we all have the same end goal (to return to our Heavenly Father) we definitely act out those goals differently.

Some of us homeschool, some don’t, some have gone on missions (girls and boys) some have not, some struggle with FASD, and mental illness’s and some don’t, many suffer from clinical depression, many don’t. Some have left the church, and some have never even come close to a ‘crisis of faith’. Some live with pornography and word of wisdom addictions. Some struggled with same-gender attraction. Some are caucasion, First Nation, Hawaiian, and American (I am canadian  ).

Some are unmarried, some are married. Some have been on the brink of divorce, and some have not even seen that as a possibility. ALL have wrestled with what they believe and why (and likely do on a daily basis). Here are some things I have learned in working in this loving, accepting, kind,crazy and incredible environment.

1) God makes all kinds of different people who all have weakness’s and strengths and each one is a gift to us. Our weakness’s and strengths can both be used to uplift and challenge those around us. This is a good thing (they can also bring us down)

2) We are all God’s children and priceless to him and ALWAYS will be, no matter what we do, what we say and what we believe. The Savior cared enough to die for each of us collectively and individually.

3) A family is the best place to make mistakes, to foul up, to learn and to grow. If we don’t feel safe making mistake around those who should love us the most, it makes life a very insecure place to be.

4) All of us make mistakes, from the parents to the child. Oldest to the youngest.

5) It is the relationship that matters most. Who cares if someone has an addiction, leaves the church, is in jail or can’t read. We are all part of each other, what one can or can’t do, did or didn’t do should never trump our relationship. Even if someone is terribly wrong, how can they even imagine to be able to repent, change or grow if we don’t let them know that we care, and that they are infinitely more than their actions.

6) Sometimes it is appropriate to let people just get their ‘natural consequences’.

7) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my families life and it was so painful) it is best for everyone to ‘let go’ of someone who is trying to leave. To admit that as painful as it is for us, we each need to walk our own path of faith-even if we know that the sibling is walking into the lions den unarmed and without much faith (unlike Daniel, much like the prodigical son). On these occasions you need to be sure to be so close and ever aware when the moment of pain is so great that humility is found and your sibling returns. That is NEVER the time to gloat, instead, killing the fatted calf should be expected.

8) Occasionally (it has only happened once in my family, and I was the person who had to do it) you need to prayfully open the door and tell the brother (who already ran away from home and was wanted by the police) that it is time to go, knowing he has no other option but literally camping. Sometimes, the kindest thing is to admit that this place that I call home is really a prison for my brother. Sometimes the only way someone can learn to fly is help lovingly push them out. This could be for their good, or for the good of the other children in their home. If this ever has to happen, I promise you that it is not easy for the one involved to make the choice. It is not done lightly and pride is not usually to cause of this.

9) If you ever do have to have someone leave your home, it should never mean they are not still loved and part of the family. You can still love, support, pray for, be kind to, and help someone who is ‘ex-communicate’ from the protective wall of your home. This is not an ultimatum, it, in some cases is a healing process. In our case it has been an important step to ‘facing reality’, learning important life lessons, and can truly be the most Christ-like option.

10) Lastly, it is so important that other family members, who do not intimately know the details are so careful about judging other and and passing judgement. Out of respect to my brother, I choice not to disclose some personal reasons why I asked him to leave even though I had community members, family members, and even church members not only question my actions, but criticize and malign me. My heart still breaks when ever I think of my poor brother who I adore, snuggled to bed, wiped his tears and had live with me for years.

With these things in mind, I doubt that those who are participating in exploring the possibility of excommunicating Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are doing so lightly.  I am sure their knees have been worn with wear and their hearts full of concern for all who are involved.  Does this mean I support the excommunication?  I don’t know, with the information I have thus far, I am willing to trust in God and humanity to do the right thing (since I have no control or influence in these cases that seems the right thing to do) and try to be careful about passing judgement on anyone who is involved.

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Family Fun, Stories that Teach

Increasing Love in Family

The Proclamation To The World states “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”  With seven kids, it is important that they learn to be kind to each other and work together.

One of my favorite stories to share with my kids is  “The Wind and The Sun“.

Together Forever
Together Forever

This story is about the wind who challenges the sun to a test to see who is strongest.  The task is to see who can get a man’s coat off him first.  The sun graciously agrees and allows the wind to go first.  The proud wind blows hard cold wind at the man in an attempt to blow the jacket off.  The man feels the wind and pulls the coat close to himself trying to block out the cold.  The wind tries some more, each time getting stronger and cold, the man reacts by hugging his coat even tighter to himself.  Finally the wind gives up and allows the sun to try.  With a smile, the sun shines and the man immediately starts to loosen his arms around his coat.  The sun continues to shine up on the man below  and eventually he can not stand the heat any longer and takes his coat off on his own accord.

This is one of my favorite stories and I remind my kids of it often when they are frustrated, or being demanding.  I like to use this story to illustrate that we are all on the same team.  We are all trying to go the same way and the easiest way to accomplish our goals is to work together.  When we are all pulling in the same direction, whatever it is that we are trying to accomplish will be far easier to do so. While we are all on the same team, we do not all have the same abilities and skills or even desire to work towards our goals.  It is important that the younger kids learn to ask kindly for help, and listen to instruction.  It is also important that the older kids direct with gentle persuasion and are happy to guide and be guided.  Just as everyone is happier when the sun is shining, so is our home happier when people are showing kindness.  In this environment, we are not so concerned about protecting ourselves from a cold cruel world, but instead gratefully basking in loving sunshine.  It is when our home rings with laughter that the spirit of Christ can really be felt.

Team Love :)
Team Love 🙂

The master example of teaching with kindness is our Saviour.  He bore ingratitude, meanness, threats on his life and ridicule with love and patience.  He taught with such a kind open heart full of the vital ingredient “LOVE”.  Truly the Saviour was full of love for all, and just as the Saviour was able to bring hundreds to salvation, as we fill ourselves with love, we too will be able to effect a multitude of people.  This learning to be patient, kind and loving begins at home.  If we succeed in producing an environment of safety, our children are more likely to protect each other and protect one another from spiritual and physical danger.

In the story “The King and His Hawk” we read about a hawk who died trying to protect his King.  The hawk was the Kings trusted friend.  The King took the hawk on many adventures, and depended on him to see things he could not see.  One day the King got lost and was bitterly thirsty.  After my time, the King came upon a small spring.  Exhausted he stooped down to catch some water in his cup to drink.  Before he could drink his water however, the hawk dove down and knocked the cup out of the Kings hand.  Three times the hawk did this and finally in anger the King killed the hawk.  It wasn’t until then that the king noticed a dead poisonous snake rotting just above where he was collecting his water.  The hawk saw this and knew that had the King drank of the water he would have died.  The King had not seen the snake because he was too low down, the Hawk on the other hand had a better vantage point and was able to see things that the King could not.  This story always disturbed me when I first heard it but I have come to appreciate the message it contains.  (To watch an animated version “The King and His Hawk”)

Daddy-Daughter Dance
We need to be each others best friends

This story  illustrates the fact that each member of our family will be that Hawk at one time or another.  It doesn’t matter what our ages are, Heavenly Father has planted in each of us, our own special gift.  This gift will allow us to be able to see things that perhaps those around us can not.  It is important that we, as a family learn to work together and trust each other, so that when that time comes, we will listen to those who have a higher vantage point than us.  It is also vital that we work at strengthening our relationships now, so that when that time comes to lead others to safety, those we are leading feel confident that they can trust us.  Had the hawk had words, he could have explained his actions to the King, but he did not.  We need to acquire the words needed to help others.

baby tears
baby tears

The Saviour was a perfect example of this.  Long before the Saviour asked his disciples to die for him, he lived with them, taught them and loved them.  For three years the Saviour was by the side of these great men, and loved them despite their imperfections and unbelief at times.  The Saviour understood those he taught and gave them time to learn to love and trust him.  Only after that trust was firmly established, did the Saviour call them to on a mission that would eventually take all of their lives.  As families, we need to follow the Saviours example and do whatever we can to fill our families up with love.  If we do this in times of relative peace, I firmly believe that the Lord with magnify our efforts and help us rise to the trials placed before us so that our families can truly be “Together Forever”.