*I have not yet figured out how to view comments made on my articles when google+ comment is enabled. If you can tell me how to view google+ comments, please message me here: thepulsiphyer@gmail.com*

Friday, May 29, 2015

There and back again: Celebrating Differences and Stretching Our Souls

Saturday morning May 9th my wife, Lorraine, and I pulled into Grand Junction, Colorado on a Greyhound bus.  It had been about 6 years since I last saw anyone from my family in person.  I felt so different about being back than I thought I would be.  I was aware, of course, that things would have changed in that time period.  People had moved in and out, some businesses had been created, changed or closed down, and much more.  Heck, here in Hamilton, things had changed a lot as well in 6 years.  I have to thank Jean Orton for letting my parents borrow their wheelchair van and ramp so Lorraine and I would get around and enjoy the area more.  It made a huge difference for both of us.

But one thing about both places hadn't changed much.  I don't know how to explain it very well, but I'll do my best.  There is a certain cultural feeling, an aura, if you will about both places that makes it easier to do certain things and harder to do other things.  After growing up in Colorado, spending enough time in Hamilton, Ontario and then going back I feel like I have a much better perspective of the similarities and contrasts to each place.

In the city in Canada, I feel stretched more emotionally, persuaded to go way outside of our comfort zone more for the sake of improvement in our strength in an commitment to Christ.  There seems to be so much more pulling from the opposite direction and I have to work hard enough to counter those influences that the automatic effect of those efforts is frequent, in depth self evaluation, resulting in a more frequent change in perspective; and honestly, I find those positive major shifts in spirituality and perspective really refreshing and I feel a greater measure of the Spirit of the Lord when those changes are permanent.  That being said, when I mentioned the level of persuasion from Hamilton society in the wrong direction, I really meant it, and the general effects of that are not good on the atmosphere here.

For those who are around me frequently I'll sound like a broken tape recorder here, but the health care system sucks and since medical finances are controlled by people without medical degrees or experience, motivation to provide effective health care (physically AND mentally) is low.  Living in a city with steel companies and bipolar weather doesn't help an already suffering population.  Seriously, you almost can't even go 2 blocks in this city, no matter where you are, without seeing someone with a scooter, walker or wheelchair.  This kind of creates a reverse effect in how the population thinks about those with these difficulties, though, and induces a slightly more open minded and accommodating demeanor towards them.

Though there is, in my view, a less versatile or malleable population in western Colorado, people are willing to bend over backwards and at least make their best efforts to put more TLC into everything they do.  No matter the lack of true understanding regarding those who are likely more frequently and intensely stretched and molded by their circumstances, they don't allow that to effect the amount of effort they put in to making people feel at home.

It seems to me that:

Here in the city, there is less pressure to stick to moral absolutes or favor what is right over who is right and many times, policy is valued more than people, but our circumstances invite me to change more and seek more for the Spirit of the Lord, I have more opportunities to serve (that's kind of a given I guess, considering there are more people here to serve), and since there is so much more variety of people here they won't think you're as crazy or deluded if you say something that seems a little weird to them.  In western Colorado I feel like it's so much easier to get so comfortable and secure in lifestyle and habit that it limits my chances for the real spiritual growth, going way out of my comfort zone for a better cause.  However, I also feel more down to earth there, focused on and appreciative of the good old basics of life, concerned about meeting temporal needs and more appreciative of the beautiful creation that is the earth.

Both places have their benefits and downfalls for me.  Perhaps some of this is biased because I had the most wonderful spiritual experiences here in Canada.  Keeping such in mind, I have come to realize that I grew up "in a box".  Mind you, it was a more nurturing, loving, Christ-centered, appropriately protective "box" than most, but I never knew how sheltered I really was until I served a mission and got to know my wife. This has helped me realize how ignorant I was to the benefits of soul shaping difficulty; coming to my breaking point and then being gloriously rebuilt and transformed by the Lord with no one to turn to but my Father in Heaven.  It also helped me realize how blessed I truly was through my childhood, how vital the foundation was that my parents, friends and teachers laid for me by centering my surroundings on the Savior as much as they could.  That's not something very common in the world today.

If there's one great thing both places share, it's that I find it easy to live the gospel in either place.  There are absolutely fantastic examples and types of Christ in both areas.

But regardless of where anyone lives one goal should be common everywhere: "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." (Moroni 10:32)

I doubt there's anywhere on the planet right now besides an LDS temple where all the good from every place on earth is properly balanced.  I do know, though, that as we make our homes, no matter where they are, a place where our potential is pushed, our comfort zone is coincident with Christ, our souls are stretched, our differences make a difference, our perspectives are permutated and our character is consummated with and by the Lord, we will come to know His true, lasting peace and infinite love for us.

No matter where you are or what your experience, I invite you to go way out of your comfort zone every single day and move yourself towards the Savior in a way that totally blows you away and overwhelms you with joy. I invite you to take to heart what Elder Richard G. Scott said "To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done" and I'll add, you must see yourself and everyone around you in a way you never have before. Don't let your circumstances prevent you from becoming, as the Lord Himself put it "one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and loved them, as thou hast loved me."