Monday, March 20, 2006

The Prodigal Son's Brother

Nothing like the taste of malice in the morning. I woke up and within 2 seconds I thought about last night's confrontation and how I would replay that scene had I to do it over. These are the coping mechanisms of the injury to my pride. See pride is what gets us in trouble every time. Personal pride is evil in its purest form. It puts the I above all else and is the epitome of egotism. All sins stem from pride. Pride cometh before the fall....

I have pretty much always done the things I was supposed to do. Unlike almost all members of my nuclear and extended family, I got good grades, didn't do drugs, didn't have sex outside of marriage, went on a mission because I wanted to, graduated from college, got married in the temple, etc. I generally do what's right. My sister, my parents, my cousins all got to raise hell and then they usually repented and all was forgiven.

At church I have the opportunity to serve in the bishopric and as such I am privy to all of the happenings and drama amongst the members of my congregation, which can be an onerous burden. My family never gets mentioned among all the drama. We are a millpond.

Sometimes I think the prodigal son had the better end of the deal. If you can do whatever the hell you want and then say you're sorry, why be good? If the Lord forgives all, what's the difference between virtue and repented virtue? I know there's a flaw in my thinking somewhere, but I am tired of me having to suffer the stress and headache of other people's poor choices. The man last night made poor choices that led him to want to accost me. I live my life in such a way that I do not make others suffer by my selfishness. But, the pride that makes me write this entry is the same narcissicism that makes him pick up the bottle or someone else do things even worse. Save murder and adultery isn't all sin the same?

Sometimes it just seems too hard to always be good. I am usually good andyet others can harm me because of their own aint fair. We are commanded to be like Jesus, an impossible task. He had to be half divine to accomplish it. It isn't hard to be good when others are good, but when someone wrongs me, I loathe choosing the right. I almost always do, but damnit if I don't struggle with being Christlike. It ain't easy, but I do it--eventually--because I know it's right. I am not perfect, but I don't bring the drama into other people's lives (outside of mine and Mickelle's). My mistakes are my own.


Brady Fonnesbeck said...

Mac, I have thought a lot about the things you address in this post. I remember reading a General Conference talk that President Faust gave a few years back that talked about the difference between virtue and repented virtue. Basically what he said is that the peace of mind and the serentity that comes to one who has no need to repent is better than one who has to carry the memories of the sin even if he/she has repented. I.e., it is better never to have sinned at all.

Norman Sandridge said...

Dear Mac,
Socrates, and the Stoics who later came after him, said some of the same things as Brady mentions above. Socrates believed that it was better to be harmed than to harm another person because in the first instance it was your body that was injured whereas in the second case the soul was injured by all the negative emotions it had to endure (though, I suppose, if you could harm someone else without being angry or having any remorse about it, your soul might be o.k.?). The stoics basically believed that all human misery and suffering stems from the (false) belief that we can control the material world, e.g., our bodies, the weather, our residence, the manners and attitudes of other people. Even though we think that we have control over these things at times, reality/logic/god is constantly trying to teach us that we don't. Once we realize that the only thing we have control over is our own minds and the somewhat limited range of movement that this mind gives us in the material world, we can be more content with ourselves and everything around us. Some stoics even advocated an ascetic life that attempted preemt misfortune by living without most of what we would consider the basic necessities (Seneca was not like this, however--he lived large under the reign of Nero, till Nero made him commit suicide, in true stoic fashion). I imagine that this line of thought is not inconsistent with what a lot of Christians might think about the flaws of the material world and our flawed attempt to impose our fantasies onto it.

paul said...

I think Brady and Norman both have great points here.

Let's do an exercise together though: Right now, I am having a Harp Lager. Now the Mormons out there will cry foul and quite frankly frown on this, correct?

Despite some of Mac's earlier claims, I am not Mormon. However, I am a Christian. I like to kick back and have a beer or a glass of wine. Yes, the image is quite contradictory, but thankfully, I'm not Catholic either.

Okay, exactly how many beers am I having? One. Is one beer going to hurt me? Doubtful. Enough with the annoying 'answer my own question' rhetoric.

I know what many beers can do. I know that it would be moronic to do that. I know that God knows it is unrighteous and sinful as well (duh). I've repented of my earlier transgressions, and I feel I have been duly forgiven, by God and myself.

What I will not do is ask for forgiveness for this one beer. The reason is because to drink one beer is not sinful. We can debate the symantics of this until water becomes wine, but that's my stance.

Many people are content with their moral and immoral history. Others aren't. Sadly, most people adapt to their own behavior as being 'right' when it's really 'wrong'. I would like to believe that I've been fine tuned throughout my life.

At one point, drinking beer was wrong. Then, getting drunk was cool. Then, getting drunk was NOT cool and drinking beer was wrong again. Now, drinking is okay, just don't be a fool.

The duel nature of man typically drives us to extremes. DO NOT do this, DO that. What the Lord wants is for us to be alert, aware, and focused at all times. Know Satan when you see him, and run like hell to get away from him. Extremes create an unhealthy balance.

A favorite quote of some people is that 'money is the root of all evil'. Eh, wrong. But go read 1 Timothy 6:10. Somehow people twisted the 'love of money' is the same as 'money'. In the same way, beer is not evil... but the love or mass indulgence of it is.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to have a nightly beer or approve of those that do. But haven't we all sinned, haven't we all run FROM the Lord and TO Satan at some point? Cast the first stone... cast it at me if you want. Even the most criminal kind find the Kingdom of Heaven. I just hope there's a little beer.