Monday, September 6, 2010

If You are Good

My calling in church right now is to be a ward missionary. Yesterday, what that meant is that I went to the home of a newly baptized member to help her learn more about our church.

We were teaching this young woman about, among other things, temple marriage. The gist of this part of the lesson is: temple marriage is a good thing, and you should do what you can to be married in the temple when that time comes. Then the woman who was helping me teach said something like, "If you are good, God will give you a husband so that you can be married in the temple."

The kind of funny(/horrible/deeply hilarious) thing about this is that I had written, not two nights earlier, about how tempting it is to wonder if I have somehow invisibly offended God (meaning, an offense invisible to me), and that THAT is why I am husband-less. On most days, and even most nights, I know that this must not be true, but it is easy on dark nights after lonely days to slip into the temptation of believing such a thing.

And yes: I did jump in almost before she had finished the sentence, correcting her. I explained that I had had chances to marry, outside of the temple, but I had chosen not to take them. I said that it is still worth it to wait, unmarried and faithful-- to me it is worth it. And afterward, outside, my teaching companion apologized for having been thoughtless.

I am still thinking about this. I do not depend on God in the way I would expect to depend on, say, a decent car. Or, worse, a slot machine with much-better-than-average odds. To me-- and here, I speak very personally-- God is a person, not a machine.  God is, furthermore, a person I trust. I will certainly mess up, because I am a person, and people do that; but the God whom I worship is always willing to forgive when I genuinely ask forgiveness. People-- good people, trustworthy people-- do give forgiveness when it is genuinely sought, and do not arbitrarily withhold good things from others because they are invisibly offended.

I believe that if some part of the "if you're good, then good things will happen to you" equation appears to be unfulfilled, it isn't because God is undependable, but because not enough time has passed. I also believe in the power of God to transform not only death to life, but suffering to empathy; and when one is in the midst of a life-long project to become like an infinitely loving and compassionate God, this looks like a very good deal indeed.

1 comment:

Day said...

I think that picture really pretty, and very fitting.