Watching Pres. Monson in the priesthood session he looked ill and pale. The next morning he could barely remain standing and sounded like he was wheezing. I realized that he will soon be living with his Maker. I think for the first time in my life I seriously considered how I would think differently if I knew I was going to die. I don't remember much of what Pres. Monson said, but I did get a great lesson from the Spirit as I thought of what a great life Pres. Monson has lived, and yet how he is still trying to be better and do more. If I knew I was going to die anytime now, then I would probably be doing things a lot differently. I would spend a lot more time getting to know God and less time thinking about my next purchase.
In my biased opinion, I think that God doesn't work that differently from therapists. He doesn't use much coercion and doesn't break confidences unless you put yourself or someone else in danger. I rarely give advice in session because I don't think people will appreciate it unless they are ready to hear it. My job, and I think God's approach, is to share things as people are ready to hear and act. It's like I'm trying to create a context where people will ask me the right questions. I believe God will provide divine intervention when it is requested, and I will provide ideas that have helped others if I think someone really wants it. I love my work, I love seeing people discover new things, and I really like discovering new things with them!
Yesterday and today were and are my two oldest children's birthdays! They got to spend them watching General Conference. I know, not so exciting, but my oldest boy turned 12, and he's getting the priesthood next Sunday. I will ordain him a deacon and confer the Aaronic priesthood on him. That's an honor that I have looked forward to ever since my dad ordained me.
My son was born on the morning of a General Conference Saturday. His mother woke me up in the middle of the night saying that she needed to go to the hospital. I suggested that she go back to sleep and we could give birth in the morning. She didn't think that was funny and told me to get up.
I rubbed her back for hours and hours and coached her with the Bradley method all through her natural delivery. When I saw the crown of my little boy's head later on that morning (when the sun had come up), I was overcome with emotion. I was a dad!
Since then I've learned so much about being a dad that I can scarcely believe anyone let me near my first child.
My second child came out after a much shorter delivery with beautiful black hair and the tiniest features. While my son was everything a dad could wish for in a boy, my daughter was everything a dad could wish for in a girl. Looking back I know I would have love them no matter what, but it was amazing how my gender stereotypes played into my desires.
My next daughter looked like an identical twin to my oldest daughter when she was an infant, and I will baptize her next Saturday because she turned 8 in late September. She loves horses and laughing.
I live my life for my kids hoping that one day when they realize I'm not superhuman they will still like me!
Elder Perry's death was a surprise to me, and like other general authorities, I will mourn his death until I see him again. His last talk in April General Conference was all about family. He is a true family man. He is actually the only apostle that I've ever met in person. My wife and I found ourselves waiting and waiting and waiting in the Logan temple's chapel to do an endowment session, I actually fell asleep.
Then all of a sudden there was like an electricity in the room and I woke up and looked around startled. Elder Perry and his wife had reserved this session to do an endowment because today was their wedding anniversary. He and his wife were the witness couple, and when the session was over he actually went around the Celestial room shaking everyone's hands and giving big smiles.
I was shocked by his selflessness on his special day to come and greet me (he is a shocking guy!). I spoke to him in the locker room afterwards and he appeared weary and told me that he still had to go organize a stake and do a whole bunch of meetings. I'm sure he wished he could have just spent the day curled up with his wife at home or talking to his kids or playing with his grandkids. As a young twenty-something year old with a new bride and no kids I was shocked once again that apostles ever got tired or wanted to do something besides church stuff.
While Elder Perry may not have spent nearly as much time with his family as he would have liked, I think that his example to his family of trying to make time and devoting his efforts to worthy causes has left a legacy that his family will cherish. He was selfless enough to not just spend time with his family, but to share his love with even me.
Everything about relationships is a paradox. Think of a paradox as similar to trying to back up a trailer. You actually turn left to make the trailer go left, it's the opposite of how you back the car.
I saw a webpage the other day that presented a book on marriage with the formula "Give = Get." That doesn't sound rational until you understand the mechanics of relationships.
Backing up a trailer was a mystery to me for years, I even jack-knifed my dad's trailer into our huge van as a teen trying to figure it out. Then one day it dawned on me that the car wasn't really pushing against the whole trailer, just the tongue of the trailer. The tongue would get pushed and cause the other end of the trailer to go the other direction.
I'm not very mechanically minded, that's my brother's specialty, but I love figuring out paradoxes. So why does "Give = Get," well I haven't read the book yet, so I'm not sure (if you read it, then send me a synopsis and review of post in the comments). I would make this formula a lot more complex. I would add in factors like tone of voice, intentions, history of giving and demanding, etc.
However, I like the formula overall, because if you are truly just giving without any expectation of getting something specific back, then you at least get great satisfaction ultimately. You may not get your wife to love you back, or get your kids to do their chores, but you will get a lot of stuff, but you have to be open to getting whatever the universe is willing to send you.
My parents joined the church early enough before I was born, that I was born in the covenant, meaning they had already been sealed in the temple (married in other words, sealed together like a canning lid on a mason jar full of green beans). Mormon families are often enmeshed in one another's business a lot more than the average US family (FACES assessments have confirmed this). This enmeshment is because we care so much about each other's eternal welfare that we are willing to ruin the present to get there!
Unfortunately, that bad joke is sometimes true, we find ourselves angry at one another to try and get our message across. I remember one sister (that's what we call the women in the church) who really wanted her husband to change, so she would pester him regularly and remind him of how much he disappointed her. After a few minutes of explaining her situation to me she seemed to arrive at the conclusion that I hoped she would, that she actually had a lot of power to help him if she changed her own mindset. Instead of thinking of him as a failure, she saw him as someone who was struggling and needed love and care just like she would do for a less-active member of the church that she wanted to re-activate.