Tag Archives: Freedom

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Last week I dropped my first grader off for her first day of school. She was feeling a bit nervous and wanted me to take her. And I secretly dread the start of every school year so I was more than happy to comply and bask in the glow of being needed. It was especially helpful to my ego that she clung to me and wanted me to stay in her class. I talked all about her bravery and her love of school and we both moved on.

On my way back down the hallway there were two moms that I assumed had just completed such a mission engaged in conversation. Hence my surprise at the tone and direction of said conversation. It became abundantly clear that they were there to pass the buck, to shift this endless responsibility of parenting elsewhere. I didn't exactly mean to listen to their "private" conversation the entire way out of the building, but as they stomped and fumed and vented behind me I couldn't exactly help it.

One mother was adamant that she was going to switch her child to another district because she has "these same issues every year." At first I was wondering how you could possibly have issues before the first bell of the school year even rang. But mom #2 cleared up my confusion. "Seriously! I called yesterday and chewed them out until they switched my daughter into the class with the male teacher. I mean, she has no male influence in her life and she doesn't listen for crap. Maybe he can fix her. I'm so sick of them not doing what's best for my kid." Uh . . . surely I'm not hearing this correctly.

But I was. I heard it loud and clear. And it's the same thing I hear everywhere. Somebody else is responsible for our happiness. Nothing is anybody's problem. The responsibility is someone else's. Our children's behavior. Their success. Our success. Our behavior. Our happiness. Blame when the said area of our life is less than stellar can be swiftly and easily placed elsewhere, anywhere really, but it never seems to be placed right where it belongs.

We, as a society, have literally wiped away a basic truth from our existence. Maybe "wiped away" is extreme. Maybe "chosen to ignore in all of our narcissistic glory" would be more appropriate here. But we have failed to take responsibility for ourselves. We have failed to be the masters of our own happiness. We've shifted that responsibility to a plethora of external stimuli, blaming everyone and everything and every circumstance.

Please, let's be clear, happiness is a state of being, not a result of being.

Honestly, anyone in any circumstance can be happy. That might be tough to hear, but it's the truth. And this is something God intended for us to figure out. The most critical part of our existence falls squarely on our own shoulders. That misery that we feel that we claim to be unable to do anything about is completely ours to own. We parade around sporting our victimhood as if it's the blue ribbon of a hard knock life, earning us the right to wallow and to complain and to blame. We do it because we're weak.

And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.   - 2 Nephi 2:26

Did you hear what he said? We're free. Free to act for ourselves and not to be acted upon. Our freedom to choose gives us the ability to control the very state of our existence. We do not fall prey to misery because of circumstance or outside influence, and we most certainly do not stumble upon happiness as we bound through fields of butterflies and rainbows. We're stronger than that. And we've been created to be more powerful than that.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I'm an angry grump because my kids choose not to listen or because my husband doesn't do exactly what I think he should. I choose misery because sometimes things are hard and it's easier to wallow in self pity than it is to choose to find the inner strength and character to rise above it.

Look, I get it. We are frequently victims; victims of circumstance, victims of crime, and even victims to the poor decisions of myriads of other people. But I'll tell  you what. We are NOT victims to misery. We voluntarily join that club.

Happiness is my responsibility and it's your responsibility. It's not my husband's job to "make me happy." The responsibility doesn't fall to your child's teacher. It doesn't fall to my friends or to your neighbor down the street. My children's momentary disobedience doesn't send me spiraling head first into a pool of misery. I voluntarily dive right in.

We're suddenly failing to take responsibility for everything. We act like helpless pawns being forced to agonizingly suffer through life. We shift blame to all sorts of places where it doesn't belong.

The truth is simple. It's been the truth since the beginning.  We are free; free to choose, free to act, and free to be. We're free to be miserable, but we're also free to be happy. We don't need to be bogged down because of the decisions or behaviors of others. We don't need to despair because life is hard. We can choose happiness every morning when we wake up. And we can continue to choose happiness under whatever circumstances we may be in.

Phil Robertson Freedom extends to all. Except through actions of a court of law, each and every one of us is granted an extensive amount of rights and freedoms by the Constitution of The United States of America. This constitution was designed to protect our God-given rights from oppression and tyranny.

Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty are all over the news and the internet. Phil was indefinitely suspended from his show for answering a GQ interview question about his views on homosexuality. Based on the outcome of answering that question honestly though the eyes of his faith, it would seem that if you fully embrace Christianity, then the only right you're currently granted is your right to remain silent. It's the only one you won't be punished for exercising.

There have been plenty of articles written about the absurdity of this situation, but I wanted to draw attention to a typical gay rights activist argument I've been seeing a lot of in response to those articles. It goes something like this:

Well, sure Phil Robertson has a right to say whatever he wants, but A&E is a business that also has rights and they have the right to portray whatever image they'd like!

Forgive the pause while I try not to snicker.

So let me get this straight, Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex union doesn't have the right to portray his business image in any way that he chooses. He is forced to participate in an event that he religiously and fundamentally disagrees with because business owners don't maintain individual liberties. But A&E is allowed to attempt to censor the Robertson's Christianity. They have the right to portray whatever image they so choose.

Elaine Huguenin, the New Mexico photographer who didn't want to photograph a same-sex union on her religious principles received the same response from the courts. She has to comply or be fined. She's discriminating. But A&E can essentially fire someone because they voice their religious beliefs. Because that's not discrimination or anything.

Are any of you listening to or processing your own arguments? If you are, are you just choosing to turn a blind eye towards the absolute hypocrisy of your absurdly contradictory statements? How convenient that must be for you.

It must be so convenient and comfortable to currently have the government and the law, however crooked and tyrannical they are, backing you up while you throw the biggest temper tantrum of your life. It must be so liberating to force your decisions on Christian America because, hey, if God's not going to agree with you then you're going to pretend that He does and attempt to force, by law, His followers to accommodate you. How wonderful for you.

But guess what? Don't forget that you have to lie in the bed you're currently making. The new precedents that are being set for you in the courts of America aren't always going to work so well in your favor.

First of all, this fit you're throwing will destroy entrepreneurial America. Nobody's going to go into business. They aren't going to want to deal with you forcing your agenda down their throats. They're not going to be strong-armed into supporting things that violate their moral standards. Christianity is not going to lie down and let you have your way.

Furthermore, according to what you're saying, no one has a right to reject business on any grounds. Because you're barreling your way through, demanding that not only does a law need to be passed that changes the fundamental foundation of our society, but everyone needs to like it and cater to you. The tide will turn. You're going to end up catering to groups and things that you completely disagree with because you insisted on this.

I'm a photographer. Should I have to promote same-sex marriage by taking images of a wedding when I completely disagree with it for numerous reasons? No. I shouldn't have to. Find someone who's not opposed to taking those photos for you. As it currently is, I announced this year that I'm no longer shooting weddings. I'm not going to sit here and be forced to do something so profoundly against my beliefs.

I'm also a writer. Should I be forced to write website content for the Westboro Baptist Church (assuming they have one . . . I don't know if they do and I refuse to even look) even though I find them offensive in every single way? No. I shouldn't have to. Find someone else who has no problem promoting that garbage. I will not utter a word in their favor, not in the name of business or anything else.

It is my right as a citizen of this country to reject any of those things. That's what it means to be free. I'm at liberty to say what I feel and to choose not to associate with things that offend me. Phil Robertson has those same rights. You have those same rights. If you don't like someone's views, don't listen or don't watch or just go somewhere else for crying out loud.

Quit granting freedom only to those who agree with you. Phil hurt your feelings? Walk away. Don't read his interview. Jack Phillips wouldn't make your wedding cake? You find that offensive? Go to a different baker. Elaine Huguenin wouldn't take your photos? How dare she disagree with you? Find someone who doesn't.

You spout off constantly about how God doesn't exist. Do you see a mass exodus of Christians filing into court to sue you? Are we trying to make you believe that He does? Are we trying to silence your opinion? No. Say what you want. We don't care. Why should you?

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It’s no secret that I’m a conservative Mormon. I wouldn’t say that I avoid the subjects of politics and religion however, I’m not always as forthcoming as I probably should be about either one. Let’s face facts, things of that nature often cause fights. And as much as I’ve always loved a good debate, I’ve come to realize that relationships matter more. So I tend to keep my opinions to myself. But sometimes something comes along that is important enough that it requires a line to be drawn in the sand. And those who love you, and maybe even those who don’t, need to know which side of that line you stand on. And honestly, they also need to know why.

The political climate in the United States is heated. As battles rage over gun control and other constitutional freedoms I’ve taken greater opportunity to reflect on the importance of maintaining personal liberty. My writer’s brain was formulating a brilliant piece about my religious convictions and our need for freedom. But then a couple of days ago I read an article that a few of my friends had linked to on facebook by a guy named Mike Jensen. It was one of the best articles I’ve ever read explaining our church’s beliefs in relation to politics . . . and this man is not even a Mormon, which makes the fact that he “gets it” that much more powerful. Read it. He said what I was going to say. So I’m leaving that part to him and taking this a different direction.

You can find the article at this link: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/52591

Now that you’ve read it, I want you to think about that war in heaven; the war which most certainly happened and in which the entirety of the human family fought. I was there. You were there. We stood with our Father in Heaven, and we stood with our older brother, Jesus Christ. We fought with Them and for Them because deep within us we understood the importance of freedom and consequences.

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I’ve spent a lot of time trying to visualize that final scene. I’ve tried to picture the look in the eyes of one-third of my brothers and sisters. ONE-THIRD! That’s a massive number if you do the math. Did they just not get it? Were they that afraid that they couldn’t make it back to God without being forced into it? Were they daunted by the responsibility of free agency? Did they just not believe deeply enough in the power of God? Or did they just not believe deeply enough in themselves and the rest of humanity? I don’t know the answer, but I envision hollowness and fear and a lack of understanding. I see defiance and pride.

Do you know what I see in God’s eyes? Sorrow over the children He was undoubtedly losing . . . not because He wanted to lose them, but because their choices required it. I believe that He wept over them. I believe that we wept over them.

I can understand that. Sometimes I weep over my own children. I’ve had a pretty rough week actually and have wept over them more than once.:) And that’s honestly what has gotten me thinking about the importance of our personal freedom.

I’m a mom. This role obviously comes with its own unique set of challenges. This week alone my battles have ranged from fighting a suddenly independent 10-month old to clashing with a newly defiant 7-year old. And sometimes while I’m in the middle of trying to force-feed my baby who thinks she can feed herself (even though she can’t) and clean baby food off of every surface upon which it was flung, this thought crosses my mind: Why can’t she just do what she’s told!? The same thought comes after my sixty-third time asking my son to get his homework out. Why can’t he just do what he’s told!? The thought creeps in when my three-year old refuses to clean her room or when my five-year old forgets to flush the toilet again. The thought comes when my kids hit and kick and scream and make a mess. Why can’t they just do what they’re told!? (I was going to put like 8,000 exclamation points on that one, but I thought it might be excessive.)

This week I’ve had to remind myself that the reason my children don’t always do what they’re told is because they have their agency just like I have mine. And it’s critical that each of us have it. Agency doesn’t eliminate consequences and as a parent a critical part of our job is creating the consequences for those put under our care. But nonetheless, it is still CRITICAL that our children have the opportunity to choose. It’s imperative that they retain the freedom and personal liberty for which they fought, right alongside of their earthly mother and father. I stood beside my sons and daughters and we fought for liberty together. That fact alone makes me wince over the question that repeatedly weasels its way into my thoughts.

It’s my job to teach, direct, and love. I’m responsible to provide consequences until they are old enough for life to naturally provide those for them. I’m not afforded the luxury of being afraid. I don’t get to force their hands. A Savior has been provided for them. I don’t have to panic and take their opportunity for utilizing that most precious gift away. I have to teach them correct principles and then let them make their way back to our Father in Heaven on their own. There’s probably nothing scarier for a parent, but we cannot allow that fear to overtake us.

Now, here we sit as a nation fighting that same battle again. It’s the battle I fight internally as I raise my children. It’s the battle we fought before we came to this Earth. We are continually fighting for personal liberty as Satan and his followers are continually urging us to abandon ship.

The most common arguments I hear in favor of gun control follow this same pattern. I see the same look in the eyes of those shouting for gun control (not that I’m saying those in favor of gun control are the devil’s followers . . . please don’t extend my comparison that far and become offended). I see fear. Fear that we can’t, as a nation, be trusted with our own liberties. They want the government to eliminate an opportunity for choice and an opportunity for natural consequences. Are they that afraid? Do they not trust the power of God enough? Do they not trust themselves or the rest of humanity enough? Is the responsibility of personal freedom that daunting? They are willing to trade their freedom for a perceived safety . . . just as one-third of the hosts of heaven were willing to trade their freedom for a perceived safety.

Don’t you see it? This battle is being repeatedly fought. God won the first time and He will continue to win again and again. Our personal liberty has to be maintained. It’s critical to God’s plan of happiness. You fought for it once. Our Founding Fathers fought for it. We have to fight for it now.

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.

The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference—they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.” ~George Washington

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“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

When people fear their government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people, there is liberty.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Think very carefully about which side of the fight for our God-given freedom you’re standing on. Think about it as an individual. Think about it as a parent. Think about it as a citizen of the United States of America. Think about it as a child of the Most High God.