Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Trials of Sundance
With 31 days to slog through, January is one of the hardest months for a single adult to endure. The holidays are over, nothing to look forward to. Ring in the blahs!
But if you're blessed to live in the Salt Lake area (and how glad I am that I moved up here from Southern Utah all those years ago) the month of January gives Utahns like me one thing to look forward to-the Sundance Film Festival! Lauralee Broschinsky, a good friend of mine, and I have made a tradition of attending every year. I am blessed to have a VERY small circle of friends outside my family to socialize with.
So, in the picture, that's Jon Header, who played Napolean Dynamite in the popular movie. Next to him is the lucky fan who managed to snag a quick picture after seeing, "For Ellen" in which Jon played a minor role to Paul Dano, with whom I also got to exchange a few brief words after the movie. Both actors were very gracious and accomodating to all the fans who wanted pictures and autographs.
Laura, Whitney and I got lunch and returned to strolling Park City's main drag, killing time before heading for the wait list line for the next movie. So far I've learned if you want meet any famous celebrities, the best place to see anyone famous is to attend a screening of one of their movies. The rest of Sundance experience was filled with lots of laughter and the simple pleasure of enjoying a girls day out.
We also stopped by the Family History Center where the older missionary couple, with beaming smiles, invited us downstairs to watch a new video about families *warning bells!* Now, don't get me wrong, one thing I love about being a Mormon is the Church's devotion to the importance of traditional family values but this particular video about a traditional nuclear family reminiscing about how much they mean to each other on the eve of oldest daughter's temple wedding was just as overly cheesy and unrealistic as I feared. It felt awkward because it seems nobody is following that life script anymore.
This became even more evident after we saw the next Sundance movie "Nobody Walks" about a blended family-mom, stepdad, 16 year old daughter-all sleeping around and having sex with everybody without any consequences. Ironic. On one hand we have the voices of the world screaming that divorce, infidelity and sexual harrassment of young girls is perfectly OK. On the other hand we have the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that pretends nobody does these things and that we're all still living in the 1960's when flirting led to dating which led to courtship which led to marriage and children. Then we have three single adult women-like my friends and I-wondering "Where do I fit in?"
In case you're wondering where this segway is going, I propose a few answers:
A few years ago I read this book "I Need Thee Every Hour" by David P. Vandagriff. An inspirational read about applying the atonement in everyday life, I won't recommend anyone reading this run out and buy it, it's merely OK, nothing special. But one section of the book on p. 97 did stand out to me as a frustrated single adult and I'd like to share it here.
In the section titled "Reasons for Our Suffering" Vandagriff quotes (the late) LDS apostle Neal A. Maxwell, who classified different types of trials. Since I'm just as analytical and logical as Elder Maxwell (our own Mr. Spock of the gospel if I may be so bold to call him) this really stood out to me as a new concept and since I like nice, organized lists explaining things here's Elder Maxwell's list for the three classes of trials everyone on this earth must go through at some time or other and, most importantly, the WHY of these trials:
Class One Trials: The mistakes we make that result in unhappy consequences. Read the paper, watch the news, go to the movies, these are the trials being glorified yet, I believe are also responsible for many of the ills of society: murderers, rapists, addicts who whine about being punished, those who chose to live beyond their means, the people who made a wrong choice, the deadbeat dad who suddenly wants custody of the kids, the immigrants who came to this country illegally, the gay and lesbian communities who whine about the right to maintain a certain lifestyle. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone, sooner or later, must pay the penalty for their error be it short-term foolishness, or, growing more common, severe enough to turn this mortal life into a nightmare yet-deep down those who suffer from Class One Trials know they have no one to blame but themselves.
Class Two Trials: These are the "Act of God" trials, the bad things that can happen to good people trials, over which we have absolutely no control: illness, physical handicaps, old age, cancer, famine, flood, fire, drought. For members of The Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, these trials are easy to accept and understand because we've been taught how to deal with them and there's usually a network of support, help and aid that arrives when such disasters occur.
Class Three Trials: These are the hardest. These are the ones that are JUST NOT FAIR: good, faithful, chaste women-their lives filled with service and faith-never have the opportunity to marry, (GEE, THAT RINGS FAMILIAR) the nuclear family man who, like Job in the Bible, suddenly loses everything-career, house, wife and/or children for no apparent reason, the missionary or military man who catches a stray bullet while serving in the field now confined to wheelchair for the rest of his life, the victims of divorce, pornography, rape, abuse and torture who struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on. In short, these are the trials brought about by the choices of others! These are trials which can also bring unnecessary suffering as the victim wonders what he/she did wrong, or must repent of in order to be free from this pain.
That's what I'll end on today, what I must try to keep in mind and if anyone reading this is also suffering I hope this helps. Class Three Trials really struck a chord with me. I must stop this mental self-flailing with the cords as I spiral downward into self-pity while the words of well meaning friends and family members echo in my head-the blame the victim game, like Job's wife and friends played with him-you brought this on yourself, you better repent, conform, assimilate. Thus I miss the important lesson the Lord is trying to teach me.
Repentance is also important. Vandagriff is not providing excuses for those suffering from Class One or Two Trials the same message is given over every pulpit on Sundays and at every General Conference-if you made a mistake, you CAN change and repent.
What I wish the good brethern and leaders of the church would focus MORE on is how innocent folks like you and me, who have very little support network, can best endure these Class Three Trials. Exactly WHAT lesson is the Lord trying to teach me here? Give me something to look forward to, nix these 30-plus LDS singles ward and activities, quit telling me the only way to experience dating is look for it online, and come up with something better to encourage real life dating, courship and marriage among young and older singles in the church.
Perhaps we should start a petition? I welcome ideas. Have a great day and I'll try to post more often...if anyone even cares.