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Let's all be a bit more devastated

20 August 2016

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I grew up in Mesa, AZ. And because it's Mesa, almost all my friends growing up were Mormons. I know places like Utah and Arizona get a bad rap for having such a dense (some would say "suffocating") Mormon population, but personally, I loved living there. My friends in Arizona (both in and outside the Church) shared many of the same convictions and standards. They were uplifting, wholesome, and fun to be around. I saw light in their eyes and was excited to see what they would do with their lives after high school. I expected almost all would go on to attend good colleges, serve missions, get married, start a family, and succeed in serving in careers and church leadership.

It was difficult in 2004 to have to leave that world and move to North Carolina. I wondered if I would ever catch up with those friends and see how life turned out for them. I've been thinking about those friends a lot recently. Luckily, we live in a Facebook world. And I have spent a little time s̶t̶a̶l̶k̶i̶n̶g browsing their profiles to see what they are all up to.

I got very mixed results.

Some of those old friends have gone on to live life as I expected they would: Missions. Marriage. College. Career. Family. Active in the church. I smile when I see these friends and get a good laugh to see who married who. But mostly I am excited to see that they are still on the same good path they were 12 years ago. I feel a bit like Alma the Younger did when he unexpectedly bumped into his childhood friends after a 14-year absence:

"Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.

But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God" (Alma 17:2-3).

"Behold, this was a joyful meeting… Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness" (Alma 27:16-18).

As John said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children [or friends] walk in truth" (3 John 1:4).

On the other hand, there are many friends who are not walking in truth. Some may still have entered "Christian" or even "LDS" as their profile religious views, but their language, their posts, and the course their life has followed clearly shows they are not actively living the truths they once knew.
I hardly recognize some of them. Those who have not only wandered from the path, but actually advertise it. The light has gone out of their eyes. These are the ones that it hurts to see. So much potential. So far off course. I imagine that if I met them today (and had the guts to talk to them about it), it would go something like this:


Which brings me to what I actually wanted to talk about. Part of me thinks, "I haven't seen or spoken to these people in 12 years. Why should I even care? Why should it hurt to see them choosing this?" Enoch asked the same question of God during his personal interview with Deity:

"The God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch [said] How is it that the heavens weep?... And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep?...

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren… Unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father."

But because they did not choose God, "Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?...

Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands."

Enoch, finally understanding, joined in the cry-fest:

"Wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook" (Moses 7:28-41).

See, it's supposed to hurt when we see someone we care about choose the wrong path. As Elder Holland taught, "The first thing you will do when" someone has not kept their covenants "is be devastated! … Much of the time we are just too casual about all of this. This is eternal life. This is the salvation of the children of God. Eternity hangs in the balance. … It is the most important path [anyone] will ever walk." He urges us to help them out "and then be devastated" when they deviate from that path.

The sons of Mosiah had been on both side of the spectrum, so they knew how to be care and how be devastated:

"They could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them" (Mosiah 28:3-4).

Really instead of asking "Why does this affect me so much?" I should be asking "Why doesn't it affect me more?"

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