I had an interesting discussion with Girlfriend fairly recently. We were talking about how rare it seems to be for two people to really connect, to get past the superficiality of acquaintanceship and move to the type of bonding that allows for close friendship. Perhaps it isn’t as rare for everybody else as it seems to be for me and her, but we commented that we had a very limited number of people we each would consider to be true friends.
We spent a large part of the conversation trying to identify what quality, attribute, or event enables the transition from acquaintance to friend. In doing so, we talked about why she and I felt that we were friends with each other. The conclusion we came to was that we felt that we could be open with each other. We trusted each other enough to disclose our deeper thoughts and feelings, and instead of judgment or shock from the other person, we received in return understanding and acceptance. She made the observation: “To love is to be vulnerable; and being vulnerable is the start of being loved”
I recently read a post on Deborah Mitchell’s great blog Kids Without Religion that discussed god as the enabler in a relationship with an addictive partner. In talking about how a politician named Mark Sanford took his recent win in the polls–despite having been involved in scandal after scandal that should have proven to the public that he was unfit for office–as a sign from god that he had been saved from his repeated sins, she wrote:
How convenient. His god forgives him. Again. And again. Like many folks, Sanford’s an addict and his god, the enabler. That’s the reality. Sanford knows that he’ll be forgiven as many times as he needs it. And God doesn’t even exact a punishment. Instead, he rewards him. “Saves” him, whatever the heck that means. How does Sanford know that he’s been saved? Did God tattoo a stamp on his derriere ‘SAVED!”? Or does he just know he’s saved because he’s won the race and he’s in his happy place? (The answer is the latter.)
She goes on to talk about the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions and not just continuing to harm others, trusting that in the end god will make everything right again. It’s a really great point and a good read as well. What really caught my eye, though, was slightly off-topic from her main points. The idea of finding signs from god in unlikely places kind of intrigued me, and I wanted to discuss that a little bit. As a Mormon, I knew the feeling of looking for god’s approval in signs similar to Sanford’s electoral victory.
I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if I hadn’t been raised by religious parents.
I no longer believe in God, but I still believe in Saints. I believe in Saints because I’ve met one. (Note to God: hint, hint.) Last night this Saint hung out at my house and fell asleep on my couch. Yeah, Saints do that sort of thing, I guess. You can’t begrudge a Saint a little rest every now and again. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Saint came over to my house not to sleep on my couch but to join us for Family Home Evening.
Family Home Evening is, by prophetic decree, a mandatory weekly activity for Mormons. Every Monday night is set aside as Family Home Evening. It’s a time for the family to block out the influences of the outside world and spend some time bonding together as a family. Gospel instruction, wholesome entertainment, games and other activities, songs, and ideally a really yummy dessert generally constitute the bulk of the practical application of Family Home Evening. Different families will institute this differently, but our family usually follows a fairly standard sequence of events for most Family Home Evening nights.