Sunday, February 15, 2009

thoughts on The Christmas Sweater

Lindsey and I both finished the Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck this week. We both found similarities other than that we both grew up relatively poor. For me, the biggest similarity was the idea of multi-generational sacrifice by divine influence: in the book, the death of certain characters (I dont want to give too much away for those who will read it, so I wont name names) was seemingly a part of the trials given to this young man in order for him to recognize God's love for him and his huge role in changing his perspective to one that is accepting of God's love. For me, my grandparents and great grandmother came to the US at old age, forsaking the option of going to Germany. Although their basic physical needs were provided for in the US after my grandfather could not work anymore, they were deprived of a very real need: friendship and community. They were very much psychologically isolated in the US because of their inability to master English and integrate into the culture/community. It is safe to say their lives were a sacrifice for their daughter and mostly for me. I also had/have a guilt because of this, for not making their lives better, both because I couldn't do much, and because I wouldn't. Like Eddie, I spent a long time in the cornfield - the first 20 years of my life actually. I see the meeting of my wife as a defining moment or culmination in a multi-generational series of inspired events. This was my first taste of why and where the long time in the "cornfield" was leading me to. In order to recognize and appreciate the sunshine, I had to endure a long time in the storm. I have run the "what if" scenarios, what if we had the restored gospel earlier in my life, what a different life it would have been... but it could not have been any other way, and the way it was was the absolute best way (yes I am an LDS version of Candide) because as Eddie discovered in the book, although he didn't cause the trials, he was responsible for getting through them. in other words, what happened was cruel, but God cannot be blamed just because we describe him as all-powerful. In the reality of our existence here, he does not act all-powerfuly all the time. In this mortal stage, he purposefully gave us agency, and if he were to swoop in and make everything better, the agency and plan of salvation would be destroyed. So as Candide would say, it is indeed all for the best, as long as I claim the divine potential in the opportunity God set up for me. If I had rejected my wife and/or the restored gospel, the suffering of my grandparents and great grandmother would have been in vain. And surely I would have been held accountable for this eternal blunder. By making the right choice I have also been able to "fix" things in a way, or at least lessen my guilt by offering my great grandmother and grandparents the blessings of eternal families by doing their temple ordinances. Although I have not clearly received a yes or no answer of acceptance from all parties beyond the vail, I did receive some warm feelings of inspiration from beyond the vail, both in dreams and daytime reflections.

Another obvious sacrifice was that of my own mother, who like Eddie's mom was a single parent. The 18 years of sacrifice for me also would have been in vain had I not made the right choice. She obviously made the right choice by longsuffering for 18 years (that is enduring to the end by any measure) and is only now later in life receiving the blessings she deserves by finally having a happy marriage.

I will let Lindsey post her insights of the book when she gets the time.



Mike and Adrianne said...

I really appreciated reading this. I like to hear things from you because I don't feel I know you well and it is nice to get an insight into your life.

The Duke said...

Your thoughts were sincere and I felt them deeply. I appreciate so much the stability and accceptance you have given Lindsey. I think she, too, found you at the right time - perhaps for some different reasons and through different experiences, but it is obvious that you are both making great strides in your lives personally and together.
I will have to get the book. I hadn't even heard about it before your post. I don't get an opportunity to listen to Glen Beck much and I am not familiar at all with this book. Now I look forward to reading it.
I understand your feelings about making sure we make the best out of our "cornfield" experiences. Each day I hope I have met the tests and expectations of God so that my children will have great opportunities to grow and develop as they should.
I also love the side bar you have added to your blog - it's funny and very clever.

Jess and Jen said...

Ditto to Mom's sidebar comments. They were funny.

Glad Lindsey met you in the ocean, glad you had a chiseled chest (that first impression really is important, as shallow as it makes us sound), and that you and Lindsey hooked up!

We've run the "what-if's" through our minds, too. Like, "What if Hans didn't get baptized before he and Lindsey got married?" OR "What if he got baptized but didn't stick it out?" So many ladies in the church are "single moms" in terms of where they stand religiously that we feel it a blessing that Lindsey chose so well. -Jester

Mark and Renee Davis and Family said...

This doesn't have anything to do with the Christmas Sweater, however Lyndsey Lokodi, you have just been TAGGED.Gotta do it because I'm your cousin and you love me:-)

Lokodi said...

I admit the probability of success seemed low especially when your gambling your daughter's future, I don't know the statistics but I'm sure there's a high inactive rate among new converts, especially those who do it for a relationship. For what it's worth I had no intention of being this active, I purposefully avoided thinking about it and hoped it would be minimal maintenance. But over the years I just went with the flow and it just got easier with time and now grew to love it (the time and work thats involved in being active).

Papa Doc said...

This is cool stuff. We all love you Hans and Lindsey. And those kids are great!

I think you know that the most important thing in the world to me is the Church. Because of the truths that I have learned from it, that love means my wife and family, not just too, but basically. Our very natures are bound up with the very nature of

You and Linseedalis are part of that, too.

Dad Clark