I keep thinking about destructive behavior. I see it a lot. Honestly, it disturbs me. It is so hard for me to understand why people make choices that are so obviously going to ruin their lives. Why can't they see it? It gets me clear down into my core because I continually watch people throw their lives away for meaningless reasons. Why? Why? Why?
People who are not Mormons see us as restricted and that we have too many rules to follow. Why? Because we are told not to drink alcohol or coffee; don't smoke; don't take illegal drugs; go to church every Sunday; keep the Sabbath day holy; don't have sexual relations with people outside of marriage; don't look at pornography; don't watch rated R movies; care for the sick, afflicted, and the widows; fast once a month and don't eat or drink anything for two consecutive meals and then donate the money you saved on that food to care for the less fortunate; obey the laws of the land; be involved and give regular, meaningful service to your community; etc. etc. etc.?
I don't feel restricted. In fact, I feel just the opposite. I feel protected. I have never had to worry about sexually transmitted disease, becoming an alcoholic, or having thoughts caused by pornography that would want me to leave my husband for someone else. I feel loved by the people I've served and know that I will always have people I can call for help if I need them because of the bonds that were built and strengthened as a result of that service. I've never missed those meals that I've given up or the money I donated to help those who were less fortunate than me, but I have felt the joy that comes with knowing I made a difference in someone's life who really needed it. I've never regretted being honest or telling the truth. I've never had to try to cover my tracks to cover up a lie that I've told. I'm healthy because I've been taught to respect my body.
It is a lie for people to believe that rules aren't necessary. Boundaries are what we need to keep us safe. They protect us from those things that can harm us. And just like any other religion, we are a church made up of many individuals - over 14 million to be exact for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because we are an organization made up of individuals, as all organizations are, we all live our religion to differing degrees. Some follow the doctrines of the church to the letter of the law, while others are baptized, go to church once or twice and then never step foot back inside the walls of our churches again. It all boils down to free agency - that ability we all have to choose our moral path for ourselves. I can't choose yours and you can't choose mine. I can't give you eternal salvation any more than any of you can give it to me. I can't save my husband and he can't save me. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins to make our spiritual salvation available to us, but we have to do our own work to earn it.
I guess I'm just tired of hearing from people that it's someone else's fault that their lives are falling apart. Sometimes it is, but those aren't the people I'm referring to. I'm talking about the ones who knowingly and willfully make choices that are destructive to themselves and to their friends and family members. I'm tired of people throwing their marriages away because they are selfish and standing by as the kids pay the price for it. I'm tired of seeing kids who are neglected at home because they have parents who care more about themselves than the well-being of their children. I'm tired of seeing people spend all of their money at the bar and then not having money to buy their kids warm clothes or shoes that fit. I'm tired of seeing unethical men and women in business who cheat their customers so that they can drive a nicer car or have a bigger house. I'm tired of people who use politics to further their own agendas, even if it means ruining lives. It goes on and on.
I just want to shake them and tell them to "stop it!" "Quit throwing your life away because you are too selfish to stop doing things to yourself and others that are destructive! Be accountable and take responsibility for your choices and your actions! Make amends. Say you're sorry. Have some respect for yourself and for others! You can't live lives that are destructive or dishonest and think it won't catch up to you because it will!"
Honestly, it isn't as hard as people think it is. It all boils down to one thing. Change comes when we want to give up who we are to become someone better. If we can't give up a bad habit or change something about ourselves it's because we haven't found out that there is something we want MORE that is BETTER. But if that is going to happen the blinders are going to have to come off and we are going to have to stop living in denial. Period.
I guess I'm just tired of excuses. I'm fed up.