Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

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Euhemerus
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Euhemerus » 04 Nov 2009, 17:54

Now that you've said this:
Heber13 wrote:So I guess as I've thought about it, I see God's characteristics as unchanging, but how He reveals His will to us as we see through a glass darkly, I think it will be unpredictable to us. Perhaps what I see is being taught is that we should develop the faith that even when His will is unpredictable, the obedience to His Will will always lead to a predictable outcome...blessings and happiness, and that is enough to have peace even as His will is revealed to us individually and in pieces (surprising us at times).
what I said earlier I think makes more sense.
Euhemerus wrote:it seems like having expectations of God would be even worse as God's will is rather unpredictable, especially if you think he is bound in any way shape or form by a set of rules characterized by humans. I think this is why, in Mormonism, we put a lot of focus on accepting God's will. We bend to Him, not the other way around. In a more general sense however, this form of surrendering our will to God is the ultimate ideal for personal growth (I'm in Maxwell's camp on this issue). It has much less to do with God than it does with ourselves. In this light, I think the answer to your question is to turn internal to self, rather than external. Your expectations of God should consist of God doing whatever God sees fit and your accepting His will as your own. In a theological light this makes a lot of sense as God knows what's best for us.
Once again, I think that aligning our will with God's is more an exercise in turning inward. swimordie is right on, I think. God's will is found within because the struggle to align one's will with God's is an internal struggle. Until we come to this point we are full of pride (pitting our will against God's) which, of course, is the root of all evil.
Heber13 wrote:IMO, the disappointment comes when we thought we understood His will, had faith in an outcome, and we were wrong in seeing the outcome or in setting the timeline for the expectation, or we just flat out misunderstood His will. This seems to be part of my current problem with obedience, however. Do you think we can really predict even the outcome of obeying God's will?
No, I don't. I think even saying something like "obedience to His will will always lead to blessings and happiness" is short sighted. The truth is, no matter how you slice it, some decisions in which you thought you were doing God's will will lead to unhappiness. Try telling a depressed faithful LDS orthodox member that obedience to God's will leads to happiness. I have lived with such a person my entire life. No amount of obedience will lead her to happiness. But prozac and CBT will :D

There are really two issues at play here though. We're talking about "obeying God's will" and "aligning our will with God's." I think those are two different, but related concepts. I prefer the latter as it is empowering, and emphasizes my relationship with God. Simply obeying God's will feels more like a one-sided authoritarian relationship which I don't care for.

Incidentally, one of the great things about Islam is that Islam means "surrender of oneself to God." What a great name for a religion huh!
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swimordie
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by swimordie » 04 Nov 2009, 21:41

Great dialogue, Eu and Heber. Fantastic insight.

I actually think there may be danger in the concept "predict the outcome". If we can align our will with God's, we can be assured that we have the right intention. And that's really the battle. I truly feel that outcomes "are what they are". We accept, good or bad, and we learn, progress, grow, live. The battle is not to be able to predict the outcome but, rather, to have the right "heart".

I know that's not exactly what you were saying, heber, but it feels like when people have expectations around God because of their "understanding" of His will. "Pay your tithing and you'll never have financial difficulty". Where are their "hearts"? That may seem too simplistic but I think it really is the root of all of this. And it happens to be exactly what this thread is about, which for me is a first! :oops: :lol:
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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Euhemerus
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Euhemerus » 04 Nov 2009, 22:17

swimordie wrote:I actually think there may be danger in the concept "predict the outcome". If we can align our will with God's, we can be assured that we have the right intention. And that's really the battle. I truly feel that outcomes "are what they are". We accept, good or bad, and we learn, progress, grow, live. The battle is not to be able to predict the outcome but, rather, to have the right "heart".
Well said swim. In this light also, this is very similar to ideas in Buddhism. The idea there being to transcend the good and bad and accept what is. It sort of goes back to the detachment you were referring to earlier (or maybe that was in another thread).
Don't believe everything you think
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Heber13
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Heber13 » 05 Nov 2009, 10:43

Eu, Swim...you guys are way beyond me in wisdom on this topic...thanks for your wonderful responses. Wow. Lots for me to respond to. Let's see...
Euhemerus wrote:Once again, I think that aligning our will with God's is more an exercise in turning inward. swimordie is right on, I think. God's will is found within because the struggle to align one's will with God's is an internal struggle. Until we come to this point we are full of pride
Beautiful doctrine. I think this is something that boils it down to what I can control...aligning my will to God's will (if I can figure out God's will for me personally). But that is my quest and in my control. I like this.
swimordie wrote:I actually think there may be danger in the concept "predict the outcome".
Yes, and like Eu pointed out about Buddhism, studying Buddhism has brought me a new peace thinking in terms of avoiding this danger.

But I have not been completely settled on this yet. My struggle is that I think my LDS faith teaches me I should be able to have faith in knowing my personal worthiness does contribute to my expectations of getting what I need in life and eternity. Maybe that is short-sighted, but it seems to be the way I've been programmed since Primary. Obedience seems to be clearly taught in the church that God is bound and we can expect happiness and blessings when obedient.

Otherwise, what is the motivation to sacrifice to be obedient to God's will if there is no expectation of reward for it? Maybe that expectation is that I grow spiritually, or I feel blessed, or I feel happier ... but there is got to be an expectation that motivates me. If it is only because it is the "right" thing to do, then wouldn't the "right" thing manifest a fruit that tells us it is the "right" thing for us? You don't sow a seed just to nurture it, you sow a seed so that there is a harvest. I don't have time to nurture seeds that don't produce an expected return.

Here is my case in point, taken from the Primary lesson manual I am supposed to teach my class:
Mary Fielding Smith, widow of Hyrum went to pay her tithing of best potatoes.

One of the clerks at the tithing office scolded her, saying, "Widow Smith, it's a shame that you should have to pay tithing." Mary replied: "William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? If I did not pay my tithing, I should expect the Lord to withhold his blessings from me. I pay my tithing not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it. By keeping this and other laws, I expect to prosper, and to be able to provide for my family.
The lesson then went on to explain how her family never ran out of food, and the Lord helped their family prosper because of her faith.

This is just a primary lesson, but it seems in harmony with what the church teaches us. Obedience brings blessings, we should have faith in that, we should expect that.

This mentality has led me to disappointment. If this is not true, I must accuse the church of teaching false doctrine.

Is there another motivation for obedience? Why obey Word of Wisdom or tithing unless there is some expected reward from them?

To go back to Ray's comments: The only thing that can cause disappointment is unrealistic expectations.

I think we are taught that we should have expectations through our obedience, it is getting them "realistic" that is the challenge, IMO. Yes, I need to get my heart in the right place, but the motivation for aligning my will is it will bring blessings, not just any random outcome that I must learn to live by. Otherwise, I'll just keep my tithing money and just focus on learning to live by the random events of life (but with 10% more money to live by).
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Euhemerus
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Euhemerus » 05 Nov 2009, 15:33

Heber13 wrote:But I have not been completely settled on this yet. My struggle is that I think my LDS faith teaches me I should be able to have faith in knowing my personal worthiness does contribute to my expectations of getting what I need in life and eternity. Maybe that is short-sighted, but it seems to be the way I've been programmed since Primary. Obedience seems to be clearly taught in the church that God is bound and we can expect happiness and blessings when obedient.

Otherwise, what is the motivation to sacrifice to be obedient to God's will if there is no expectation of reward for it? Maybe that expectation is that I grow spiritually, or I feel blessed, or I feel happier ... but there is got to be an expectation that motivates me. If it is only because it is the "right" thing to do, then wouldn't the "right" thing manifest a fruit that tells us it is the "right" thing for us? You don't sow a seed just to nurture it, you sow a seed so that there is a harvest. I don't have time to nurture seeds that don't produce an expected return.
Excellent questions. Let me take a moment here to admit ignorance. I cannot say with any sort of certainty that obedience does not play a role in expectations of getting God's blessings. But I will say, that if this is all there is to it, as it seems to be purported in the church, then I would say it is very short-sighted doctrine that does not explain the real world very well. If blessings are your only motivation how are you better, more noble, more enlightened than a rat? Simple behaviorist theories could explain all of human behavior if it were this simple. Yet, it is well conceded that behaviorism falls well short of describing human psychology although it is still an important piece.

To me, the reason we receive happiness (if we are lucky enough to in this life) is based on a few things (in order):
1. our genes
2. living by principles which, over the course of human history, have demonstrated themselves to contribute to happier, more fulfilling lives. Things like reciprocity, meditation, transcending the self, sacrifice, working towards a goal, etc. The church teaches all these things, but they frame it as obedience to these laws == blessings from God. I view these as natural consequences. In this vein, Heber you ought to read "Happiness Hypothesis" by Jonathan Haidt. It is a brilliant look at the wisdom of the sages of all ages and why these "truths" work based on findings in current psychological theory.
3. prozac (if needed)
4. other external things like money, house, car, hot girlfriend/boyfriend etc.
Heber13 wrote:This mentality has led me to disappointment. If this is not true, I must accuse the church of teaching false doctrine.
Unsurprisingly so since it simply doesn't explain life that well. It's just not the best explanation. Obedience doesn't always bring happiness. What works for one is not a recipe for all. I don't know however, that I would say that what the church teaches is false doctrine per se. Rather, it feels like it's just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
Heber13 wrote:Is there another motivation for obedience? Why obey Word of Wisdom or tithing unless there is some expected reward from them?
This bothers me because the focus is on obedience rather than obeying a principle. The only reward I see for obedience in and of itself is to satisfy the human desire for control (or because you believe God demands it). We are obedient in a company setting to maintain order and control. I am a software engineer and the best way to write good software is to have a rigorous coding standard which everyone should obey. This maintains order, reliability, and control over the outcome.

Currently, I "obey" certain principles because they benefit me now, in this life. I "obey" the WoW because, statistically, it should lengthen my life which I value. I currently am not planning on receiving any sort of special blessing from God because I obey this principle. Why should I love my fellows? Because God told me too and has a promised blessing? I love my fellows because I receive spiritual benefit now and because it feels like the right thing to do (whether this is a blessing from God or not I do not know). In this sense, I suppose there is some expected payoff, but I don't necessarily see that payoff as absolutely coming from God because I obeyed some eternal principle. I think the trick is to get to a place where there is no internal turmoil when the payoff doesn't work out.
Heber13 wrote:To go back to Ray's comments: The only thing that can cause disappointment is unrealistic expectations.

I think we are taught that we should have expectations through our obedience, it is getting them "realistic" that is the challenge, IMO. Yes, I need to get my heart in the right place, but the motivation for aligning my will is it will bring blessings, not just any random outcome that I must learn to live by. Otherwise, I'll just keep my tithing money and just focus on learning to live by the random events of life (but with 10% more money to live by).
You're right, but then my previous questions apply. Do you know any way of knowing what expectations are "realistic"? What test should you apply? Should you believe the prophet just because he says so? I don't know how you would decide which blessing are realistic and which ones aren't. I mean, how do you even know what things are blessings?

Let me ask another question. In Seventh Day Adventism Saturday is the Sabbath. Why don't you obey that rule? There are blessings that apply for keeping this day holy. Are you missing these blessings because you think Sunday is the Sabbath? Is this an unrealistic expectation? If so, why? Because it seems silly, or because you "feel" it's not that important? Their leaders say it is that important. How would we know?
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Rix
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Rix » 05 Nov 2009, 15:57

Euhemerus wrote:Let me ask another question. In Seventh Day Adventism Saturday is the Sabbath. Why don't you obey that rule? There are blessings that apply for keeping this day holy. Are you missing these blessings because you think Sunday is the Sabbath? Is this an unrealistic expectation? If so, why?
I have a twisted way to approach this, so fwiw, I think we are "blessed" by our obedience if we deeply believe the commandment is from God. Now run with that!

:lol:
Überzeugungen sind oft die gefährlichsten Feinde der Wahrheit.
[Certainty (that one is correct) is often the most dangerous enemy of the
truth.] - Friedrich Nietzsche

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that. -- Joseph Campbell

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Nov 2009, 20:41

I agree, Rix - and I think that is the core of Mormonism's view of grace. Otherwise, how could those who know not Christ in this life be saved / exalted?
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

swimordie
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by swimordie » 05 Nov 2009, 22:14

Blessings are a state of mind. If you aren't able to receive them, they're pointless. If you are able to receive them, they're everywhere. Obedience is a state of heart, being one with "God". It has little to do with what are called "commandments". Except the two great commandments. It has everything to do with being present, honest, and full of love.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

AmyJ
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by AmyJ » 09 Feb 2018, 11:43

Heber13 wrote:
03 Nov 2009, 15:58
Does [setting expectations] this include relationship with God? I'm trying to understand what expectations I should have for God, because this seems to be my motivation for exactness in obedience. If I am taught to rely on His help...won't that inevitably lead to disappointment?
This is my question - so perfectly stated!

So far, the only expectation I have of God is that if I am really cosmically screwing up and need a reality check from God, I will get one. I cite Laman/Lemuel, Alma the Younger, Saul/Paul, and Zacheriah (father of John the Baptist). Other than that, I acknowledge that this is mostly a function of my personal narrative - my safety net. The other expectation I have of God (if he chooses to get involved) will cause unforeseen consequences to incur.

SIDE NOTE:
I think that setting expectations answers questions while releasing expectations releases the questioner to evaluate other avenues.

STORY:
Growing up I used to whine to my Dad about how unfair my mother was being (it's complicated), and he would say, "Yes - but knowing your mother as you do did you expect any other outcome? That was not a wise decision on your part in the situation." It shut me up pretty quickly more often then not... So I have been trained (for lack of a better word) in the process of redefining my expectations of people and circumstances - at least when I get emotional about it.
But it has been a HUGE HELP in improving my marriage. Instead of letting outside expectations taint my relationship with my husband unduly, we work on communicating and supporting each other in the area of expectations - with the understanding that we can and will revise them at a drop of a hat. Because my husband's brain focuses on either "Now" or "Not Now", and we deal with chronic health issues, being able to manage expectations has been invaluable - and probably saved our marriage.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Understanding Disappointment: The SHORT Answer

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Feb 2018, 17:07

"Yes - but knowing your mother as you do, did you expect any other outcome?


This is the beginning of real charity, and it has much broader implications for all of our relationships.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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