Friday, January 16, 2015

Do Feelings of Anxiety Come From Satan Part II: Scriptural References

I bet you could tell from my previous post that I find this idea highly irritating. There is a certain kind of doubt and fear that I am sure does come from the Adversary: the kind that tells you that you're not good enough or pretty enough or worth anything. But there are so many kinds of fear, and some are of the kind that keep you from jumping off of cliffs or stepping into the middle of oncoming traffic. Does that fear come from Satan, too, or is it just common sense?

To lend more support to my thesis that crippling anxiety is not Satan's sick and twisted way of revealing God's actual will, I have a few scriptural references.

First, here's a good one about the nature of love.

1 John 4:18:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 

Translation: if you feel physically ill with worry five minutes before you know you're going to meet up with the person you're supposed to marry, that might be a good hint that it is not a good idea to actually marry him.

Here is how you can really discover what God wants for you, in a way that is so much simpler than, "you should do the opposite of what your common sense is telling you:"

Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9:
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.

And also:
Doctrine and Covenants 8:2:
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

And here is Moroni on discerning between good and evil in Moroni 7:12-13:
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

I think this reference is where the idea originally came from; that God is the author of good emotions and Satan is the author of bad ones. The scriptures do not actually say that, however. I also did not address in my previous post how wholly inappropriate it is to ascribe to Satan something that can and does have so many other possible sources: legitimate mental illness, a nervous disposition, something as simple as a fear of heights. As for myself, I am a fairly anxious person. When I prepare to do something outside my comfort zone I get pretty worried, but I know that this anxiety comes from within my own self, and that it will be replaced with pride and satisfaction when I complete the task.

And then there are the kind of people who tend to actually say the words, "remember, all doubt comes from Satan." I have never heard anyone say it when they were not trying to convince someone to do something they did not really want to do. "All doubt comes from Satan," is almost code for, "you shouldn't trust your own feelings; trust mine, instead." There's a term for that; it's called "gaslighting." It's a wonderful method manipulators use for delegitimizing other people's feelings.

Yeah. I really hate it when people say that.

Precedents Set By The Book of Mormon

Alma Chapter 30, Verses 12-17:

12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:
 13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
 14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.
 15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.
 16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.
 17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

There's this guy who has been in the news recently. I think a see a few parallels between Korihor and that person.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Do Feelings of Anxiety Come from Satan?

This is another post about my first engagement. You'd think that after eleven years I would be "totally over it." And I guess I sort of am, but events have led me to dwell on it more than I usually do. I suppose I am "over it," but that doesn't mean I have forgotten what happened or how destructive being involved with that person was to my relationship with my family and to my spiritual and emotional well-being.

Here's what set it off: I've heard a couple of people say over the years that feelings of fear and anxiety come from the Devil, and that God only encourages and uplifts. Some take this to mean that if you experience anxiety over an issue, that is Satan trying to tell you not to do it, because God wants you to. Weird logic, yes? Well, I heard someone say just this exact thing just the other day.

Through my own life experience, I have come to regard this idea as utter nonsense. I cringe every time I hear someone repeat it.

In 2003 when I was engaged to someone I did not end up marrying, I had regular panic attacks. These became especially pronounced and physically painful in the minutes leading up to the time I knew I would be seeing my betrothed.

Here's a good example: He picked me up at the airport in September after we had spent the whole summer apart. I started feeling that "fight or flight" sensation, complete with heart palpitations and shortness of breath. I ducked into the bathroom to calm down, and wished that I could just stay there forever and that my intended husband would just go away. But I knew that this was the coward's way out. I dragged my feet over to baggage claim and he greeted me with sincere enthusiasm that I did not share.

"I am SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!" He said.

"Um, hi," I think I replied.

It only got worse over the next couple weeks, and I began to seriously doubt if getting married to this person was a good idea. But when I went to my betrothed with my fears, he responded with something to the effect of, "Satan knows we will be a really great couple, and that's why he is trying to tempt you with these feelings."

I said, "Then why do I feel so much worse when I talk to my mom about it?" (She did not support my engagement to this person.)

He shrugged and said, "She might be on the same side as Satan without realizing she's doing it."

We prayed together about it one evening, and that was probably the worst mistake I made in the whole relationship. He came away from it spiritually uplifted, as if Jesus himself had told him face-to-face that we should get married. And I had felt nothing at all. But I went along with it because, well, he kind of had a more dominant personality, and he was older and more experienced (as he was wont to remind me).

I don't even know how many hours I spent on my knees trying to work it all out. Why was God silent on the issue, but Satan was given free reign on my psyche? Because now I was also having horrible nightmares (I still remember one particularly vivid dream during this period wherein I was being chased by ravenous wolves) and my roommate informed me that I was regularly groaning in my sleep.

The wedding was set for Dec 27, 2003. By November, hardly anything was planned, and I was a wreck. The temple was scheduled and we had a venue for the reception, but I didn't have a dress. No cake. No photographer. I sort of picked out wedding colors, but hadn't done anything about actual decorations, or anything. My betrothed's stepmother offered to take care of everything, but when she suggested roses dipped in glitter for centerpieces, I politely declined her help.

I shared a room that semester with a girl named Erin who was preparing to submit her mission papers. She suggested that I attend the temple with her early one morning to perform proxy baptisms. And it was there that I figured it all out.

I may have already written about it elsewhere on my blog, long ago, but I'll write about it again.

I was sitting in my white jumpsuit waiting to go down into the font, thinking about my upcoming marriage. I thought a lot about what my fiance had said about Satan being the source of my anxiety, trying to tempt me to give up the relationship. I still had that apprehension, that crippling fear.

Here's the thing, though: the temple is very clearly the House of the Lord, and Satan cannot get in. So if I was having doubts about getting married, they were legitimate doubts.

!!! Cue Ten Thousand Lightbulbs!!!

I have since learned the difference between anxiety that stems from going outside your comfort zone (like having to make a phone call to someone you don't know very well) and anxiety that stems from doing something that you really shouldn't be doing (like purchasing a car from a shady dealer). My engagement relationship with that person fell into the second category.

Does all fear come from Satan? Maybe some fear does, I don't know. I've seen this idea most often used to manipulate people into doing things they don't really want to do. "Satan WANTS you to break up with me, so you shouldn't; otherwise you'll be playing right into the devil's hands."

Similarly, the idea of praying with someone you're engaged (but not married) to is a nice idea...unless the person is manipulative and overbearing. Then it can really set you back spiritually and mess with your head. Those kind of people aren't interested in spiritual consensus. They are only interested in getting their own way.

Maybe I'm being unfair? Maybe that person wasn't totally malicious when he said and did those things....?

But then...when I meekly suggested we break up, he leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and glared at me, saying, "How much of this is from you, and how much of this is from your mother?"


Monday, January 12, 2015

Jan 2015 Homeschooling Update

Whatever "update" happens to mean.

So how's it going? Great! It's FUN!

I don't really want to give a huge long list of what curriculum we're using and why, because I am having such a good time designing my own curriculum.

Let's take science, for example. I let The Squeaker choose what he wanted to study, and he said airplanes. We have a children's book on the subject that has a lot of good information, and a packet to make lots of flight-related toys projects. Every day we read out of our book, then complete a project. If any questions come up during the course of our study, we look up the answers. In this way, we have discussed the doppler effect, sonic booms, the space program, the Wright Brothers, and the world wars.

Thanks to YouTube, we can watch as many videos on this subject as we want.

I've decided to hold off on teaching History to the Squeaker until he is a little stronger in his reading. Better to focus on literacy first, then we'll discuss the past.

As for my History Student, we took a month off for vacations (mine and hers) and when we start back up again we'll continue on with Ancient Greece. We spent over a month - close to five weeks, I think - on Greek Mythology, and toward the end I was really stretched as to what to teach her. I mean, she had already read everything. We went into at least as much - if not more - detail as I did in the unit we had on mythology in my 10th grade English class. And this girl is in 5th grade.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas 2014

I just read seventy five pages of the most horrible book ever written. I don't want to hurt the author's feelings, or the feelings of the person who suggested I read this book, so I will not disclose the title of the book.

Reading even part of it has made me feel a bit depressed, so to cheer myself up I am going to talk about Christmas.

We went to Idaho to spend Christmas with family. It has been a while since my parents spent Christmas morning with little kids, and I think they really got a kick out of it.

The Husband and I have made a big effort with our kids to keep holidays simple so that they can enjoy the little things in life. Last year, for example, both boys got a homemade quilt and the contents of their stocking. We spent the whole day in our pajamas and had a wonderful time. It was beautiful. They continue to love their quilts and still wanted to sleep with them even in the desperate heat of August.

This year, on Christmas Eve, I was out shopping with my Mom for some last-minute ingredients when I saw that the super market also sold helium balloons. I usually don't make impulse purchases, but they were inexpensive so we bought one for each child and hid them in the closet until Christmas morning.

Those kids must have played with the helium balloons for about forty-five minutes, not giving a fig for what was wrapped under the tree.

I second-guess myself a lot as a parent because I sometimes wonder if I am too stingy with my kids, or too strict. But in this case, seeing the unfeigned glee at having something so simple and so pure as a helium balloon gave me a feeling of real success.

The Shieldmaiden got something extra special this year:

 My mom was kind enough to make a doll for her out of the same pattern that she made my own Hattie. My daughter adores her doll and calls her, "Dowwy."

The Shieldmaiden needed a doll of her own, but I didn't want to give her just any old doll because I knew there wasn't one as good as Hattie, so I let her use my own. In the few months the Shieldmaiden had her, Hattie's hair came undone and part of her embroidered face got worn off, after decades of being perfect. I don't feel bad about it, though, because they were the wounds of love. And indeed, just like the Velveteen Rabbit, when I put Hattie away for the last time, I swear she had a "most knowing expression."

The Paris Shootings: My (breif) Analysis

I read some comment somewhere that the horrible massacre in France of twelve people was somehow the fault of mainstream Muslims for failing to police Muslim extremists. I think that is a grossly unfair thing to say. Since comment threads are never a good place for that kind of a conversation, I decided to bring it to my blog.

It's times like these when my training in Middle Eastern Studies makes me want to tear my hair out. No matter how many times I say, "Um, it's more complicated than that, guys," or "There are some things you need to understand before making sweeping statements," there are people who love to lump ALL Muslims into one group. There have been one or two times in my life when I have pointed to my degree and my experience actually living in the region and people have actually responded, "You don't know anything. I watch Fox News, so I am more informed than you."

AUGH! This is not the kind of thing one says to an engineer or a historian. I guess it's just the nature of area studies?

I know I just need to let it go. There will always be people in the world who don't really want to know the complexities of current events, and who love vilifying The Other.

So. My analysis. First of all, the religious and cultural climate in France is very different from the religious climate here in America. America has pretty much accepted that we are a melting pot, and multiculturalism and tolerance are pretty much our sacred watchwords (more or less). Despite a movement towards secularization, America continues to be quite religious. In contrast, France's recent history has been extremely secular, to the point of oppressing all religions equally. Example: several years ago France banned Muslim women for wearing the full veil and abaiya. This accounted for about three hundred women, a ridiculously small segment of the population, the majority of whom wore that clothing as part of their own religious choice. It is also illegal for school children to wear any form of religious emblem: crosses, yarmulkes, or the hijab.

Also France's colonial presence in Algeria and Morocco is currently biting them in the butt, and France is really feeling it. They went into North Africa and made everyone learn French. North Africans tend to emigrate to France because it's where people speak French, a language they know. There is a lot of animosity towards Islam in France because the influx of religious North Africans who have lots of children is a threat to the traditional French monoculture.  And here, I might add, no one, in the story of the Algerian revolution, wore white hats. The Algerians employed some shady tactics to get the French out of their country that could be defined as "acts of terrorism", and the French responded by torturing people in ways that I am pretty sure defy the Geneva convention. I say this not to diminish the horror of the massacre, but to give context. Everything happens in context.  

Secondly, I don't personally know any Muslim who thinks what those gunmen did is remotely ok. Mainstream Muslims do condemn - most vocally - the actions of all extremists.

Thirdly, one of the victims in Paris was a Muslim police officer. He is being hailed as a hero. I hope that little detail shifts some paradigms. 

Why do I care so much what other people think about Islam? Two reasons. First, I know a lot of Muslims and they are really nice people. Like, really nice. I don't like to see them slandered. Second, I am part of a religious minority myself and I know what it feels like to be persecuted for what you believe. I feel an obligation to prevent that from happening to other people.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Super Toddler

The Shieldmaiden is very much living up to her name. Behold:

These are five pound weights she's playing with. And she's one and a half years old.

Yesterday, she discovered how to climb the bunk bed ladder where the Squeaker sleeps on the top bunk. She's done it like ten times, now. She slipped once, but even though she landed on her bum she didn't even cry and went right back up.

I think this is an indicator that she will be completely unstoppable when she grows up. Even when she was in the NICU, the neonatologist and all the nurses commented that she was pretty tough.

We are expecting a call from Charles Xavier soon.


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