My mother often lamented my pride during my youth and openly expressed her desire that I would be humbled. Now, there are many varying ways to demonstrate pride, I simply exhibit some of the more obvious forms. Pride is no respecter of persons. It can take captive the poor just like the rich, the successful or the failures, perpetrators as well as victims. The ways to demonstrate pride are as numerous as the sands of the sea.
While I continue to be a boastful loudmouth, life experiences have driven me to the depths of humility in other ways, similar to the Zoramites driven out of their synagogues. When the Alma the Younger observed the state of the poor, he rejoiced:
I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye.
Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do?—for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.
Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?
And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week?
I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble.
And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.
And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?
Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.
Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
Allow me to expound on a personal level. If you walk into a car dealership with a low enough credit score, you’re not picking the car you’re driving away in, they’re telling you which one you are buying. (I may or may not have experience with this.) There is a difference in believing God is in control and surrendering your will to that knowledge. Some of us need to be compelled to this. I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I will state unequivocally any road map I envisioned for my life has long since been trashed. My life isn’t mine to live. We are here only to pass the test and glorify our Father in Heaven and the Savior for the opportunity. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
Twice in the last five years, we have been compelled to pick up what few belongings we’re able, sell or donate the rest, and move to a new and unfamiliar state. In 2015, we were given two weeks to move out of the house we were renting because our landlord had unexpectedly sold the property. This notice came the same week Utah State University announced that a new apartment complex would not be finished in time for the new school year. The housing market was flooded, and it was already going to be a strain to find a place that wouldn’t immediately double our cost of living expenses. It was an untenable situation for our single-income household.
We looked everywhere within a 20-mile radius initially with the hope of keeping my job. Then we opened the search to find not only a new home but new employment. I was doing job interviews while continuing to work and looking for housing from the Salt Lake Valley to the Idaho border. Nothing felt right and the time crunch was on.
Immediately after receiving the move out notice, my father informed me that he had landed a house to renovate in the small town of Centralia, Washington. He said he wouldn’t be working on it for a while because he had other projects, but offered to let us stay there for a few months rent-free while we figured things out. It was the last thing in the world we wanted to do, and we did everything in our power to avoid taking the offer.
As time wound down, the option of moving to Washington began to feel more realistic and even inevitable. But we still needed confirmation from the Lord that this was His will. My wife was particularly uneasy about it and needed to have her mind placed at ease. She received her answer in a clear and undeniable way and agreed we should move to Centralia. Looking back, it seems obvious that all the pieces were being moved for us – but rarely do we see the whole picture while events are taking place.
“We are here for six months, maximum,” I told my new bishop when he took me aside to speak privately shortly after our arrival. He had already met with our family in his office and at our home within days of our move. The private conversation we had was because he wanted to tell me he had been praying for our family to come to the ward. My heart softened, and who be it for me to tell the Lord how long we were going to stay where He needed us to be? It may have been the first time I said to myself, “my life isn’t mine to live, but thine.”
Four years later, we cried as we left the ward. We always knew it was a temporary stop, but left it to the Lord to tell us how long. We witnessed our children grow up before our eyes in Centralia. Within a five-month period in 2017, I blessed our newborn baby, baptized our middle child, and ordained our oldest to the Aaronic Priesthood. One child was born, two were baptized, and two received the Priesthood while we were there. We served in a variety of ways and had countless doors opened to us, both spiritually and temporally.
Doors began to close on us, and it soon became evident it was time to move on. We prayerfully decided on an area after looking at dozens of metropolitan areas across the Western United States. Job opportunities immediately opened up. We again began the process of selling unnecessary items and making a long journey with only our essentials.
We struggled financially due to job loss the last year we were in Washington, and a lot of the hard work to have a stable foothold on our credit was gone. It was shocking to find out when we arrived in Texas that most renters required a credit score high enough to purchase a home in most areas. Why would we rent when if our credit was good enough to purchase? After weeks of looking, and being rejected over and over again, we found a landlord who said, “I want to give you a chance.”
We are in a nice place. It wasn’t our first, second, or eighteenth choice. But as the customer in the car dealership, we have the convenience of being told what we qualify for. My pride may keep me from asking for help, but I’m humble enough to recognize when the Lord has compelled me to a certain place. Due to the current coronavirus lockdowns, we don’t know the reasons why the Lord has us here, but we don’t doubt that we are needed in this exact place at this time. I am looking forward to seeing how and why we were placed here.
This isn’t my life to live.
President Benson counseled: Pride is characterized by “What do I want out of life?” rather than by “What would God have me do with my life?” It is self-will as opposed to God’s will. It is the fear of man over the fear of God.
The Pride of Fear
If you have been following my social media activity recently, you likely know how I feel about recent events. From the beginning when events surrounding the virus started occurring, I downplayed the virus – not from any sort of foreknowledge, but because I inherently don’t stress over things outside of my control or understanding. I was worried about people panicking and doing things to hurt themselves or my family.
I was rather candid about my dismissiveness of the virus in Episode 2 of our podcast, prior to any announcements coming out. More information and more panic had come out by the next week. We released Episode 3 the day after the governor of Utah ordered a restriction of gatherings of more than 100 people. The Church followed up with an announcement canceling all church services worldwide later that day.
It wasn’t long after these events President Nelson released his article in the April Ensign. He taught that we would have troubling times leading up to the Savior’s second coming, and offered sweet assurance for those with ears to hear:
“We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.“
I have been accused by some online and in-person of “not following the prophet.” Let’s burn down some straw men right now. Yes, the prophet has closed temples and church gatherings. Regardless of the reasoning (whether you argue it’s a government-imposed or by revelation on high), nobody is protesting the actions of the prophet. Nobody is gathering underground at their local meetinghouses. No one is questioning the Brethren’s actions in any way, shape, or form. In fact, on the most recent episode of the podcast, I applauded the Brethren for taking the pressure off of local leadership over summer activities.
I haven’t felt any resentment or hostility over any of the decisions that have been made churchwide. I’ve been accused of making this political. If anyone can successfully define my politics and determine how my actions are defined by them, please comment below. I dare you. It is our culture for which I’ve been very outspoken:
I’ve had some people ask me what I meant by this comparison. Rather than take the steps the Lord had given from the time of Adam to reach heaven, the people decided to circumvent Him and build a tower. Now our current culture, one that for the first time since the country’s founding has the majority of the population not attending church services on at least a monthly basis, thinks it can outsmart God. No matter the person or the culture, invariably you will find one god replaced with another.
We have been given instruction directly from the mouthpiece of the Lord, President Russell M. Nelson, to not allow our fear displace our faith. If we really have faith, let’s show it by our actions. We don’t have control over every aspect of our life, it isn’t our life to live. It is our life to give. Clinging to fear is a form of pride because we’re refusing to deliver up our will and recognize He who has all power regardless of what we do.
- “Faith–the Choice is Yours” -Elder Richard C. Edgley, October 2010
- “Faith is Not by Chance, but by Choice” -Elder Neil L. Andersen, October 2015
- “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” -President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1986