An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Centering Life

Romeo and Juliet speak some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful lines: “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?/It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.”

And, “Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,/ Take him and cut him out in little stars,/ And he will make the face of heaven so fine,/And all the world will be in love with night. . . .”

Beautiful poetry—but idolizing another person is poor personal policy, as the tragic ending of Shakespeare’s play proves. Human beings always disappoint. Ultimately, they will die.

We humans center our lives on different things: God, a significant other, a career, an organization, wealth, self-image, knowledge. Choices are as wide as the degrees of satisfaction they provide.

My mother died when I was 10, leaving me anchorless. God, a distant being besot for blessings once a day, was a poor substitute. My problems were my own to solve.

When my first child was born, I tried to center my life on God—hoping for divine help to raise this precious baby perfectly. By making God— or at least His church—the focus of my life, I expected guidance to do everything right for this child. But, I never received total inspiration.  My children suffered through colic, diaper rash, bed-wetting, sibling rivalry, and all the other traumas of childhood.

My brother, robbed of his mother at age two, needed divine intervention in his life, but my fasting and prayers drew no better response from God. Still I persevered. Once I perfected myself, God would answer.

After 15 years of marriage, George and I decided to leave Seattle, where he had a good job, and move to the safety of southern Utah before the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. I fasted, prayed, and tried to obey every message I’d ever heard from the pulpit. A warm feeling, which I interpreted as confirmation of our decision, came during prayer.

 It was financial suicide.

Eventually, I realized that counting on God, or at least a human concept of God, leaves one open to disappointment. In the final analysis, I have found I can depend only upon myself.

At this point, I live in awe of what is greater than myself and of acceptance for what I cannot change. Life in a transient, often unpredictable world is not bad.

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