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Friday, May 18, 2012

I Am Not a Commercial Vehicle

Last week, our big ol' van (affectionately known as "The Beast") was having some mechanical issues. So much so, that it had to be towed into the shop. I have a AAA membership and actually, the day before this, had received my yearly renewal forms in the mail. I called AAA to see if they would come and tow it to the shop for us.

I was told, "I'm sorry. That kind of van is considered a 'commercial vehicle,' and with your current membership, we can't tow it."  What?!  Excuse me?!  Here I've been paying for a service that they can't even provide?!  CRAZY!

I assured the gentleman on the other end of the phone that I use it daily and it transports my children. I don't use it for commercial reasons. It's a "family car."

It didn't matter what I said. They weren't going to tow it. I would have to look elsewhere, and so we did. We called other towing companies. It would cost us $400 to have it towed to the shop in the next town.

I'm finding that this experience is part of a much bigger lesson that I'm learning right now.

The other day, my daughter was present when a girl spoke up in front of her entire class and said, "All Mormons look good when they're outside, but inside they're all very different than what they show outwardly." When my daughter shared this with me, I laughed because of all the Mormons I know, that daughter's one of the most genuine I know. There is no pretense.  She is who she is inside and out. Enter the front door or enter the back door, and you get the same girl. I can't say that about all LDS people, but I'm pretty confident about her. That's her personality.

It is fascinating to me how we, as human beings, are so comfortable with lumping people into groups. Somehow everyone is either a "family sedan" or an "SUV" or a "Jeep" or a "motorcycle" or, heaven forbid, a "commercial vehicle." I'm not saying I'm not guilty of lumping because, after all, I am human, but I guess I'm just trying to illustrate that we all do it, and it needs to stop. Just because we're part of a group doesn't mean we're all the same. We are not all commercial vehicles.

In the situation with the van, I believe AAA should have looked at my situation--me, as an individual, and truly judged my need by my circumstances. I think anyone hearing this story would feel the same.

Here's another issue to ponder....Once a number of years ago, I went to Time Out for Women. This is a women's conference sponsored by Deseret Book (an LDS bookstore), so needless to say, the presenters are LDS and nearly everyone who attends is LDS.  We, to avoid parking at the Convention Center, rode public transportation (namely the light rail train system). I was with one other friend on this particular day.

It was clear that the nearest group of women to us, on the train, were going to the same place, but it was also very clear, as I overheard their conversation, that none of them were very familiar with that part of town.  I could hear them struggling to know which stop to get off at. This group of four women jointly decided to take the stop two sooner than they should have. I didn't say anything because I wanted to see what would happen(I guess sometimes I'm just evil like that), and I knew they were going to get where they wanted to go. However, it was fascinating to me that they weren't the only group of women who got off at that stop. They, being the group closest to the door, drew all of the other groups of women off the train at that very same stop. My friend and I, being a bit more experienced with that train and its stops, remained...alone.

We rode the two more stops and were let off right in front of the doors--right where we needed to be. The other women were still quite a ways away. After watching all of those women get off the train that day, I decided that we, when we associate with a group, tend to be sheep. We follow without question especially when we're unsure. We trust that others know more than we do, and we, ignorantly, follow. These kinds of circumstances, more often than not, tend to bring some difficult outcomes.

Tonight at ward council, we discussed the term "traditions of their fathers" that's found so often in the scriptures and how this habit, of following the traditions of our fathers, gets us into so much trouble in our lives. The bishop shared the fact that for years, we, as members of the Church, have had topics that we have refused to discuss. Our parents didn't discuss them with us, and so we don't talk about them either. He explained what some of those topics might be.

I believe this is very true. We want our children to live in a little bubble safe and free from all that surrounds us, but when it comes down to it, someday our children will break out of these bubbles we've so lovingly built for them. When they do, there's going to be all kinds of ugliness that they aren't prepared for.

Like I said in this post, I don't believe that LDS people are bigots. I don't believe we mean to be judgmental. I truly believe that, for the most part, we're good people, we're just uninformed and sheltered. We tend to feel that ignorance is bliss. Like I said, we want to live in a world of sunshine and roses, but we somehow think we can avoid the sunburn and thorns. We want to pretend they don't exist, and sometimes I wonder if we ignorantly believe that if we ignore them long enough, they will all go away.

In believing this way, we're getting off the train two stops too early.

I guess I need to ask the question....What are we afraid of?  Are we really going to go hide in the closet thinking Satan'll just eventually give up and go away?  Nope. We all know that's not going to happen. How long are we going to do this?

The truth of the matter is, we all need to open the door and confront him head on. Then the questions arise, how do I feel about this issue and that?  There are some HUGE issues out there, and they just seem to multiply daily. With an LDS man running for presidential office, people are going to have questions and they're going to make judgments. We're going to be lumped. Is this fair? No. I know it's not, but remember, we're all human.

If we want to avoid be lumped, we have to stop cowering in the corner. We must get some, as my husband would say, "Cajones," and figure out what we truly believe. We must, each of us, be bold when questioned about how we stand. Bold enough to not be intimidated. Of anyone in the world, we should know, and we should be strong in that knowledge. I'd also like to add that we are not alone. I had once heard that the LDS faith was the fourth largest religion in my state (Oregon), but according to this website, it looks like we might rank second to Catholicism, and I truly don't believe that we are alone. I believe there are many who aren't LDS who agree with us. Then why are we being so silent?

I'm thinking it might come down to this....How do you, as an individual--not as a sheep, feel about the issues that are facing us? How do YOU feel about abortion? How do YOU feel about homosexuality and same sex marriage? How do YOU feel about  temple ordinances? These are some of the questions I'm asking myself right now. These are topics no one has ever made me face until now. So, how do I feel? How do you feel? What do we know that will help us defend what we believe?

These are just some of the things we need to face. If you don't know, maybe it's time to open the door. The great thing is we don't have to go fearfully or blindly. We have power and prayer behind us.

One thing I learned from my adolescent literature class was that the written word is one of the best ways to formulate opinions about things. We can take our time and ponder what is written. We can talk to people we trust, those who already have formed opinions on these issues. We can add their knowledge to ours. Knowledge IS power.

I can tell you that anything facing us now has been addressed in one of the recent sessions of General Conference. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is an inspired document. It holds so many answers for us. We have so many places we can go to get answers. Most of all, we can go to our Heavenly Father and have Him direct us to what we, as individuals, need to know. Really, with all that behind us, how can we go wrong?

It is not our place to preach and be sanctimonious. It is just our place to be confident in our beliefs. When someone asks, we should have answers. We should have our OWN opinions--not some sheep-ish response. They should fit us as individuals and must be based on truths that we have come to understand for OURSELVES. They need to be individual--as unique as each of us are. Our answers are not "commercial vehicles."

In this day and age, we, as families and more especially as individuals, cannot afford to be sheep. We cannot afford to be lumped. We cannot allow ourselves to be considered commercial vehicles. The time has come for each of us to open the closet door and face what has been unspeakable, but the only way to do that is to face it in private with the Lord first. He knows us for who each of us are and will teach us what is true. He's never let us down.

If someone confronts you and you don't know how you feel, it's okay to say, "I'm not sure. I've never been asked that before. Let me think about it, and I'll get back to you on that."

Really, what do we have to be afraid of?


lia london, author and writing coach said...

There is so much here, Jules, and to it all, I say "amen". We lump and are lumped. We follow and are followed. We need to stand out and stand up and take a stand. Thank you for giving me a week's worth of stuff to think about!

Diane said...

I love your thoughts here and how you put things. Could I republish this on my blog?

Julie said...

Feel free, Diane.

This is the second time, with this new bishopric in place, that I've come home from ward council with things just churning around in my brain. I can't go to sleep until they're out.

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

I found your blog scrolling through the Mega Families blog list. The Not A Commercial Vehicle post caught my eye because I recently blogged about my big van, too. http://grtlyblesd.blogspot.com/2012/03/you-might-drive-large-vehicle-if.html

Kendi said...

Thanks Julie for this great post!....it's truly somethIng that' gets me thinking! Your ward council mtgs sound pretty good, too! At first I was sad about AAA (we're members too)...then I was shocked all those TOFW girls got off the train and no one stopped them.. Then I saw your point ...very nice. Thanks them ring a voice for good.

Julie said...

I had someone else criticize me for not telling the TOFW women not to get off the train. It really didn't matter. They weren't blocks away, they were just near a different door of the Convention Center. It was a short walk to get there. It just wasn't as convenient. Considering the lesson I gathered from it, it stuck has with me all this time but not because I felt guilty for telling them, but because I learned that I want to KNOW what I know and not have to be a sheep. Had they been tempted to get off at the Rose Garden then, yes, I would have told them, but they were on the same block. I just thought it was fascinating that everyone trusted and no one KNEW. No one even looked at the map to know that the next stop and the one after were all Convention Center stops.

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