Promised Blessings

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Roy
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Roy » 11 Apr 2019, 08:44

I also really had a bad reaction to the story about the Arizona desert explorer-settlers. They nearly die and then they receive a miracle of rain that they use to get back to safety. BY seems to teach that they should have used the miracle of rain to travel further into the waste and then ask God for the next miracle. Huh? "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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dande48
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by dande48 » 11 Apr 2019, 09:38

Roy wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 08:44
I also really had a bad reaction to the story about the Arizona desert explorer-settlers. They nearly die and then they receive a miracle of rain that they use to get back to safety. BY seems to teach that they should have used the miracle of rain to travel further into the waste and then ask God for the next miracle. Huh? "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Lol, Brigham Young had lots of revelations asking other people to do hard things.

Reminded me of back on my mission, we had a couple of sisters who ran out of gas and were stranded on the road. They had all the faith in the world. They said a prayer, and poured bottled water into the gas tank, fully expecting it to turn into gasoline. I have no doubt they were filled with the Spirit. It completely destroyed their engine, hindered the work, and set the Church back five figs.

God bless them, no judgement. They meant well, and according to their knowledge and experience, were absolutely certain it would work. But the idea that we can expect miracles, even when we're "feeling it", even when we need it to carry on "God's work", is a dangerous one. I guess you could say those sisters didn't really "need" that miracle; but then again, people don't "need" not to go to bed hungry, or "need" to recover from a terrible illness, or "need" not to get raped. Heck, you don't even "need" to stay alive and sane. The word "need" only makes sense if there's a qualifier, and if that qualifier is "... according to God's plan", i.e. "whatever happens", you can't (and shouldn't) expect much.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Minyan Man
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Minyan Man » 11 Apr 2019, 10:16

I would love to hear the rest of the story from the viewpoint of the Sister Missionaries.
What would they say?

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dande48
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by dande48 » 11 Apr 2019, 11:25

Minyan Man wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 10:16
I would love to hear the rest of the story from the viewpoint of the Sister Missionaries.
What would they say?
I imagine they beat themselves up pretty bad over it. "Not enough faith", or "How could I be so stupid!". Not that I agree with that assessment; we should be kind to ourselves. But in Church, we're often taught, when things go well, it's the providence of God. When things go wrong, it's all our fault.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

grobert93
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by grobert93 » 11 Apr 2019, 11:50

dande48 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 11:25
Minyan Man wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 10:16
I would love to hear the rest of the story from the viewpoint of the Sister Missionaries.
What would they say?
I imagine they beat themselves up pretty bad over it. "Not enough faith", or "How could I be so stupid!". Not that I agree with that assessment; we should be kind to ourselves. But in Church, we're often taught, when things go well, it's the providence of God. When things go wrong, it's all our fault.
This harmed a lot of my testimony while I served my mission. I started to blame my own lack of faith or obedience for the actions my companions would take. If an investigator declined baptism, stopped reading the book of mormon or other such thing, I'd blame myself. I've been trying to figure out where and how I emotionally became tangled up in this mess of my fault for other's choices, and I realized some quotes we read on the mission and were told were inspired for us may have caused them.

“I frequently say to missionaries in the field, ‘You make or break your mission every morning of your life. You tell me how those morning hours go from 6:30 a.m. until you are on the street in your mission, whatever time it is; you tell me how those hours go, and I will tell you how your day will go, I will tell you how your month will go, I will tell you how your year will go and how your mission and your life will go’” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2011).

This, coupled with so many other apostles advising on obedience brings blessings and it's no wonder I've convinced myself if I'm not obedience and live up to the standards I've covenanted to, anything that happens against my hope is my fault.

AmyJ
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by AmyJ » 11 Apr 2019, 13:16

grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 11:50
I've been trying to figure out where and how I emotionally became tangled up in this mess of my fault for other's choices, and I realized some quotes we read on the mission and were told were inspired for us may have caused them.

“I frequently say to missionaries in the field, ‘You make or break your mission every morning of your life. You tell me how those morning hours go from 6:30 a.m. until you are on the street in your mission, whatever time it is; you tell me how those hours go, and I will tell you how your day will go, I will tell you how your month will go, I will tell you how your year will go and how your mission and your life will go’” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2011).
I look at obedience these days as "getting your head in the game" whatever the game is. For example, If you want to become good at meditation and introspection, it means breaking down that desire to into core concepts and finding the time to work towards that. But it is very hard (if not impossible) to be a deep meditation guru without learning about mindfulness, or practicing meditation, or finding the environment(s) that work for you to become introspective.

As a missionary, how those hours were spent can tell you where the missionary's head was - whether that missionary was serving others, contacting people, or not. Did the missionary develop better habits because they were out in the field with others who could teach and inspire them? Ultimately, the greatest missionary successes will not be the conversions - unless it is the repentance/conversion of the missionary themselves.

One of the greatest successes I saw on my mission was a companion who started to change how she managed and prioritized her time - she became more punctual, and started getting up in the morning on time. She finally got what we had been trying to tell her since day 1 in the mission field (and perhaps what countless others before us had been trying to point out to her).
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 11:50
This, coupled with so many other apostles advising on obedience brings blessings and it's no wonder I've convinced myself if I'm not obedience and live up to the standards I've covenanted to, anything that happens against my hope is my fault.
Is your "fault", or an opportunity to extend yourself personal grace to accept where you are, move on to make changes and do better?

grobert93
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by grobert93 » 11 Apr 2019, 13:47

AmyJ wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 13:16
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 11:50
I've been trying to figure out where and how I emotionally became tangled up in this mess of my fault for other's choices, and I realized some quotes we read on the mission and were told were inspired for us may have caused them.

“I frequently say to missionaries in the field, ‘You make or break your mission every morning of your life. You tell me how those morning hours go from 6:30 a.m. until you are on the street in your mission, whatever time it is; you tell me how those hours go, and I will tell you how your day will go, I will tell you how your month will go, I will tell you how your year will go and how your mission and your life will go’” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, seminar for new mission presidents, June 26, 2011).
I look at obedience these days as "getting your head in the game" whatever the game is. For example, If you want to become good at meditation and introspection, it means breaking down that desire to into core concepts and finding the time to work towards that. But it is very hard (if not impossible) to be a deep meditation guru without learning about mindfulness, or practicing meditation, or finding the environment(s) that work for you to become introspective.

As a missionary, how those hours were spent can tell you where the missionary's head was - whether that missionary was serving others, contacting people, or not. Did the missionary develop better habits because they were out in the field with others who could teach and inspire them? Ultimately, the greatest missionary successes will not be the conversions - unless it is the repentance/conversion of the missionary themselves.

One of the greatest successes I saw on my mission was a companion who started to change how she managed and prioritized her time - she became more punctual, and started getting up in the morning on time. She finally got what we had been trying to tell her since day 1 in the mission field (and perhaps what countless others before us had been trying to point out to her).
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 11:50
This, coupled with so many other apostles advising on obedience brings blessings and it's no wonder I've convinced myself if I'm not obedience and live up to the standards I've covenanted to, anything that happens against my hope is my fault.
Is your "fault", or an opportunity to extend yourself personal grace to accept where you are, move on to make changes and do better?
I agree with you that if I wanted to get my "head in the game" I need to isolate step by step choices in order to improve my results. I think the problem is, when you don't meet expectations, achieve goals or have your head "fully in the game", blame and responsibility come in and the problem is identified, usually.

Having had anxiety while serving, and serving with several companions that struggled with various levels of emotional difficulty, I have personally learned that being perfectly punctual on the mission (and pressuring your companion to do so) was one of the least effective ways to have unity and get work done. This is based off of my own, unique experiences and is not applicable to every situation. But I learned that worrying about waking up 5 minutes later or taking an extra ten minutes personal study was not the end of the world and should not have been culturally defined as doctrinally losing blessings or accepting responsibility for any unfavorable events that day.

The problem I have is when we associated an imperfection (well meaning but failing to perfectly follow the morning schedule, for example) with an independent third party result. If I did not follow the morning schedule, then any appoints that would fall through or failed commitments would land on my hands. The idea that us missionaries controlled other's choices was unhealthy and is a confusing mess for me to figure out. Yes, obedience brings blessings but is it the healthiest to tell an elder that their dropped baptism was due to their non-diligence to stay busy until 8pm?

It should be seen as an opportunity to improve, but my point is that I don't think it's fair or healthy to pressure missionaries to be obedient because their actions will affect other's willingness to progress.

Also, while I agree that if you committed to serve a mission you're promising to stay focused etc. However, I found that my physical body is not perfect and often I would need to take breaks (more than just a "p day" (which was usually stressful because it was the only day to get laundry and shopping done)) for an hour or two every few days. My closing to get a slushy on a summer day and just relaxing for 20 minutes as a missionary could be perceived as being apostate or disobedient, but for me I would view it as needing to relax and allow myself to refresh for the remainder of the day.

AmyJ
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by AmyJ » 11 Apr 2019, 14:24

grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 13:47
I agree with you that if I wanted to get my "head in the game" I need to isolate step by step choices in order to improve my results. I think the problem is, when you don't meet expectations, achieve goals or have your head "fully in the game", blame and responsibility come in and the problem is identified, usually.
I agree - when expectations aren't met and goals aren't achieved, it is very easy to blame oneself. However, I think that blame and responsibility are not the same thing. I think that accepting blame is more passive, and shifts the final judgement of action from an internal loci (self) to an external one (others). I think that when a person accepts responsibility for their contribution to the circumstance, that person is also accepting an internal intent to improve or change the situation. Paradoxically, I feel that it is more liberating to accept responsibility for choices than it is to accept blame for choices, even though accepting blame requires less work.
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 13:47
Having had anxiety while serving, and serving with several companions that struggled with various levels of emotional difficulty, I have personally learned that being perfectly punctual on the mission (and pressuring your companion to do so) was one of the least effective ways to have unity and get work done. This is based off of my own, unique experiences and is not applicable to every situation. But I learned that worrying about waking up 5 minutes later or taking an extra ten minutes personal study was not the end of the world and should not have been culturally defined as doctrinally losing blessings or accepting responsibility for any unfavorable events that day.
The measure of her success wasn't in the clock really, it was what that clock meant. For this sister, it meant that she had changed her paradigm to be more in line with the needs/desires of her companions instead of her own desires. Our work didn't miraculously change because she became more prompt. Our companionship was stronger because we were working together to achieve a common goal of timeliness.
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 13:47
The problem I have is when we associated an imperfection (well meaning but failing to perfectly follow the morning schedule, for example) with an independent third party result. If I did not follow the morning schedule, then any appoints that would fall through or failed commitments would land on my hands. The idea that us missionaries controlled other's choices was unhealthy and is a confusing mess for me to figure out. Yes, obedience brings blessings but is it the healthiest to tell an elder that their dropped baptism was due to their non-diligence to stay busy until 8pm?
I think that at the end of the day, what matters more than the morning schedule is how the people enacting it treat each other and the fallout in the day from those choices. Even today (many years and several thousand miles post-mission), how I react to others, and how others react to me has a HUGE impact on how the day goes, and how we interact with others. Part of human development is learning to separate our choices from the choices of others, and learning how to extend grace to others and to ourselves.
grobert93 wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 13:47
It should be seen as an opportunity to improve, but my point is that I don't think it's fair or healthy to pressure missionaries to be obedient because their actions will affect other's willingness to progress.

Also, while I agree that if you committed to serve a mission you're promising to stay focused etc. However, I found that my physical body is not perfect and often I would need to take breaks (more than just a "p day" (which was usually stressful because it was the only day to get laundry and shopping done)) for an hour or two every few days. My closing to get a slushy on a summer day and just relaxing for 20 minutes as a missionary could be perceived as being apostate or disobedient, but for me I would view it as needing to relax and allow myself to refresh for the remainder of the day.
People are always going to be there to laud you, to judge you, to be baffled by you, to yell at you, to try to idolize you. Humans are gonna human.

I am not sure how healthy it is to pressure anyone to be obedient because it impacts another's progress. I know that the personal pressure I put on myself to motivate myself to go to church some Sundays for my children feels different and I react differently then when I perceive my husband putting that same amount of pressure on me.

One of the things that I am learning is that circumstances are as pervasive (all-incompassing in my life), permanent (staying in my life), and to the degree I take it personally (for good for ill). I am working on acknowledging what I think and feel about things, and then deciding to the degree of actual choice I have the level of pervasiveness, permanence, and personalization I am going to allow. It's not perfect. But I have found that I can extend grace to others more easily (and their paradigms) as I don't take what they are saying as a reflection of how they see my paradigm (taking it personally), but more of a description of what a part of their paradigm looks like.

Arrakeen
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by Arrakeen » 11 Apr 2019, 15:25

I took the "obedience brings blessings" narrative WAY too seriously as a missionary. It contributed to many of my mental health problems. I had an acute fear that bad things would happen if I broke even the most minor rule (partly because of the stories we would be told in the MTC about missionaries who were almost killed because they went to the beach on p-day or something). This is a very dangerous idea for an OCD-prone individual like myself.

By the second half of my mission I was struggling with crippling depression and simply couldn't do it anymore. If I needed a break, I took one. If I felt like I needed to give myself more sleep, I did. If I was assigned to a horrible companion, I spoke up to get it changed (this was very important to me after what I went through with one of my earlier companions). One of the main lessons I learned was that I had to help myself, since nobody else would (including God, it seemed). I learned that at times I needed to trust my own judgement more than that of my zone leaders or even my mission president, since I was the only person who could really know what was best for me.

This really destroyed my faith in obedience for obedience's sake. I find it interesting how many RMs I hear testify about how they learned the value of obedience, since feel like I learned the opposite. I learned that I can't blindly trust leaders, rules, or systems and that I need to stick up for myself and my beliefs.

My faith crisis started because no matter how bad things got on my mission, it seemed like there were never any answers to prayers, and no matter how obedient I was, there were never any promised blessings. I have a lot of difficulty now believing in promised blessings, because I never received any of the great blessings that were supposed to come from serving a mission, and instead came home very, very broken. The only way I can reconcile this is to tell myself that God never actually personally promised me those blessings--people did, and they were wrong.

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rrosskopf
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Re: Promised Blessings

Post by rrosskopf » 12 Apr 2019, 03:00

Arrakeen wrote:
11 Apr 2019, 15:25
My faith crisis started because no matter how bad things got on my mission, it seemed like there were never any answers to prayers, and no matter how obedient I was, there were never any promised blessings. I have a lot of difficulty now believing in promised blessings, because I never received any of the great blessings that were supposed to come from serving a mission, and instead came home very, very broken. The only way I can reconcile this is to tell myself that God never actually personally promised me those blessings--people did, and they were wrong.
We often treat everyone the same in the church, and make broad statements based on our own experiences, but people are different, and suffer from a variety of spiritual diseases. There is often overlap between mental health issues and spiritual issues, but I couldn't tell you where one ends and the other starts.
Jesus explained that one could keep the commandments and still not receive the promised blessings because of ones attitudes. A bad attitude was the same as commiting the sin. Attitudes definately influence and are influenced by mental health. So it can be a murky area. I have seen people overcome their mental health issues, with a lot of help, but it is more common for people to suffer from the same issues throughout their lives.

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