Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Softening: Humility and Awe

(Originally posted on NOM, Dec. 19, 2006)
I sometimes sit in wonder at the changes taking place in me. What a roller coaster ride this year has been? I just turned 31, earlier this month. This time last year, I was organizing a book club among a few select friends from Elder's Quorum. We were going to read "Rough Stone Rolling" together and then discuss it. I was still a TBM back then, but one that was very familiar with the warts in LDS history and something of an amateur apologist. We were reading RSR to prepare ourselves to handle the tough questions members might ask of us for the likelihood was high that we would all go on to leadership positions in the church (I was currently a counselor in the Bishopric).

I am not sure what it was, but something led me to more fully investigate what a friend who went inactive had told me about a few years before. It was about mistakes that Joseph had made in his "restoration" of the facsimilies in the Book of Abraham. I found a book that contained photos of the original papyrus. The book was, "By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus," by Larson, and by the time I finished reading that book and investigating all the original materials I could put my hands on, I knew that Joseph had defrauded the whole church. I became angry and hurt and indignant. That is not typical of me. I do not apologize for the emotions I felt; I still feel that those emotions were an appropriate response. But, I also became cynical and arrogant and disrespectful at times, mostly online, either here or elsewhere. I do want to apologize for that.

I am returning to my normal self. I am softening. Those who knew me before this year could tell you that I am typically easy-going, sensitive to the needs of others, and reflective. I apologize especially to Josephine and Justin for not taking the time to really see things from your points of view. I think UU has been very good for me in helping me really consider points of view with which I differ.

I want to be more humble. I want to spend more time being in awe. I want to be less harsh, yet still show strength when it is needed. I am losing my zealotry. I want to have more of a respectful attitude, yet I do not wish to ever become stuffy and holier than thou. I guess that is my current challenge. I no longer believe that the best path for me is to "be not of the world". I do not want to remove myself from the world as a monk does. So many times, as a TBM, I sacrificed fitting in with my non-member colleagues, so that I could have the "Spirit" with me. Now I see that such aloofness is off-putting and often interpreted as judgmental. Yet, frequently mocking and swearing and being crude (which often is the way to fit in at least among my peers here) seems at odds with humility and awe. I guess the answer is everything in moderation and as much as possible find colleagues and friends who are more into humility and awe.

Sorry for my long stream of consciousness post. I guess I am still trying to figure out how to live my life and what I value, now that I don't have a god for which to live a certain way. I do feel that I am coming back to an equilibrium for me. Sometimes it is hard to tell what parts of my personality are native to me and which parts were only in place because my TBM beliefs encouraged me to be that way. I have no particular reason to be any particular way now, so I am asking myself how do I want to be and why and what is natural for me given my biological make-up and learning history. I am discovering what is left after the anger and cynicism leaves and the former beliefs are no longer in place. The only thing I am sure of right now is I want to be humble so that I am teachable, and I want to experience awe frequently.

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