Sunday, March 6, 2016

Good enough

Sundays are always very painful for me.

My six year old asked if he could stay home today. "I hate church!" he said. "It's so boring. There's nothing to do. There's no games!" (This is the same boy upon whose head I pronounced the blessing that he would receive the ministry of angels. I wonder now how that will happen.)

I encouraged him (by precept only, since the LDS Church prevents me from leading by example) to listen, pray, sing and read the scriptures at church. I said, "I would go if I could, but they won't let me."

"Why won't they let you?" he asked. 

"They say I'm not good enough."

He thought about that for a moment, then asked: "Why do other dads get to go?"

"Because they say they're good enough."

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


What does it mean to be "sealed" -- either in marriage or to a family -- by the Holy Spirit of Promise?

I will give you my take:

When I was an 18-year-old freshman at BYU in the fall of 1980, the Spirit of the Lord was upon me. (I must have been doing something right!) I was given many dreams and visions. I was filled with the Holy Ghost by day and by night. My prayers were particularly poignant and inspired. Pure language flowed from my lips. I asked for the right things in prayer. I poured out my soul to God. My prayers were not so much "prayers," but cries unto Him.

One night I had a spectacular dream in which I met my departed (deceased) grandfathers. I knew both of them before they died and, in this dream -- don't ask me how -- they both appeared to me as one man, sitting in a large but otherwise unremarkable chair. (If it was a throne, it was a very humble throne!) They (he) spoke to me very humbly, very tenderly, even kindly and persuasively, and, above all, very familiarly. 

His first words to me were "Been working out in the field, huh, Billy?" (NOBODY calls me "Billy" except someone who has known me my WHOLE life.) In this dream, I looked down at my hands. They were clean. I then noticed my body. I stood before him naked! But I was not ashamed. This being commenced to foretell to me my entire life, "rolling it out" as it were, in vision. 

In this vision, he introduced me to my parents and siblings and, in a way, "prepared" me for what was to come. (The details of that vision were later "closed up" to my view, so that I could hardly remember them.) In the end he said, "Don't forget to see me sometime."

I promised I would.

He repeated himself: "Don't forget! Come back and see me sometime!"

Were these his words or mine? Were they what he spoke or only what I heard? For I don't recall him ever moving his lips! He just sat there, smiling. But I heard him speak to me, nonetheless. 

After our "interview," I walked down a curving path leading to my "life." There was much conflict, turmoil, strife, and sadness there. Darkness abounded! I was dismayed. 

In the end, I found myself in a courtyard lit only by the pale light of an unseen moon. Ten to twelve foot high walls surrounded me. (I didn't measure them.) They were capped with stones in the shape of  half-cylinders, flat edge downward, with the rounded top extending out beyond the sides of the walls, preventing me from even imagining myself grasping and pulling myself over the top. I was "trapped" inside this "prison."

As I contemplated my circumstances, I saw what appeared to be an obelisk (or a stone or cement box) lying on its side, maybe four feet wide, three feet high and extending off into the distance. The other end of this structure I could not see, but on this end (where I stood) I saw, what seemed to be, a brass plaque upon which was simply written: "We died."

"We died"? What is this? I wondered. 

Then a voice, as if it were from heaven, spoke to me directly over my head. It was the voice of my grandfather! -- or, more accurately, my grandfathers. A heavenly host! -- speaking these words: "We died, Billy, because you didn't visit us!"

I reeled in recognition of what I heard. This was a tomb! The tomb of my ancestors! They had died and were buried here. I had failed to visit them (when I had the chance). Now they were gone. I had forgotten my promise!

I saw another member of my (then living) family in that courtyard. She was weeping and wailing and gnashing her teeth. I tried my best to comfort her, but I could not.

I also heard another voice, immediately following that voice of my "grandfather." That voice said: "My name is Adria. Don't forget my name is Adria!" (Phonetically speaking, this was the sound of the name I heard: AH-dree-uh.) After "forgetting" to visit my fathers (who died!) I endeavored to remember this name! 

Using my eyes -- like some bizarre version of Superman! -- I "carved" that name into the wall from where I stood: A-D-R-I-A. The letters glowed bright red and orange, as if written in fire and blood.

At the end of my dream, I found a narrow passage leading out of that courtyard. As a privacy wall conceals the entrance to a bathroom, this passage was hidden. Brilliant white light poured from its opening, but this, too, was hidden from view by those standing unmoved and unmoving beside the grave. (The light could not be seen except one look for it and find it and want to go a bathroom!) 

I went in.


Some reading this post may say, "Sure, you went in...'cuz you're full of s---!" 

I acknowledge this "dream of my father" may seem fanciful and fictitious, like another account (nominally) written by one who views himself (and his destiny) as oh-so-very important.

But this "meal" is not intended for you. I'm sharing it, anyway, with the expectation it may serve as a type (for good or ill) of what one might expect to experience, perhaps, when striving to live righteously, seeking greater knowledge from the Lord.


When I awoke, I had much to think about. (I've been thinking about it ever since!) Particularly, I wondered about the identify of the voice I heard saying "Don't forget my name is Adria." Who was this "Adria"? 

At that time in my life, I was earnestly devoted to reading the scriptures, fasting and prayer. I wanted to know and do the will of God. I also was keenly interested in finding my (future) wife. When would I find her? Who would she be? 

Several of my friends were promised (in patriarchal blessings) they would be shown in vision their future spouses. (My blessing, too, promised me I would be "blessed with vision in finding a mate who will be compatible to you, whereby you can go to the Holy Temple to be sealed for time and eternity, and where also you later will be able to have your own family to raise in the Church.") 

One friend's vision was remarkable inasmuch as her potential "mate" wanted nothing to do with her (matrimonially speaking). They were barely acquaintances! But she claimed to have seen him in vision entering the Celestial Kingdom with her, so she begged him to go on just one date with her after he returned from his mission. She promised him that if he was not persuaded to marry her after that date, she would never bother him again. 

So off they went. I was there when he picked her up. I felt sorry for her. I "knew" she would be returning brokenhearted.

I was there when they returned. To my astonishment, he agreed to marry her! (They now have four children and live "happily ever after".)

My friend's experience was on my mind when I asked: "Could 'Adria' be my future wife?" 

(I didn't know, but I suspected "she" was.)

I'll tell you the horror I felt once I pondered that question. The idea immediately entered my mind: "Adria has not yet been born."

"Oh, heck no!!"

That couldn't be true! I didn't want to accept it! I couldn't believe it! 

For, in my "idolatry" of woman -- and longing for marriage and all that pertained thereto (sex, love, children) -- I couldn't countenance the thought that the one destined to be my wife and the mother of my children had not yet been born! I didn't want to accept that "fact": that I would have to wait for sex and love and marriage and children for many, many years! (Believe me, waiting decades for sex, from a biological perspective, was the last thing I wanted to do!)

But then, I loved Jesus. He had ministered to me, personally, by the power of the Holy Ghost. I had received His testimony. So I strived to do whatever was "required" by Him. I just needed to know what that was. (I didn't know, exactly.)

I shoved from my mind and heart any notion that my wife was not yet born! ("Don't be silly!" I told myself.) I would prove the "voice" wrong. I would find my "Adria" on my own! (And not in 18 or 20 years!) "Sheesh! What was God thinking?!"

Over the course of the next 17 years, I met, married, and failed in marriage with two other women. 

I'll point out something else I didn't quite understand at that time:

On another occasion (also at BYU) I saw three women in a vision. (An actual, waking vision!) I was alert and attentive, writing a letter to a friend, contemplating my fate with a prayerful heart, asking why I knew this particular girl, when the wall before me "disappeared" and I beheld three women, each of whom, in succession, approached me, saying, "I will be there when you need me." I was given to know these women would be the mother of many children "and many not of their own."

I knew the first already: the girl I was writing to! (She had been instrumental in helping me join the Mormon Church three years earlier.) "Maybe she's supposed to be my future wife!" (She was only 15 at the time, but mature beyond her years.) "Maybe she will be there when I get back from my mission!" Alas, she told me that she, too, had a vision of the man she would marry...and I was not that guy! I got to meet him, though. They later married and I imagine they've had many children together. I understand she became a teacher.

After I wrote this girl, telling her the things I learned about her in my vision, she wrote me back, saying "How do you know those things? Your words are similar to the words of my patriarchal blessing."

In my lust and righteous desire to marry and have a family of my own (but on my timetable, not the Lord's!), I met and courted another woman at BYU. I recognized her as the second woman I saw in my vision. I was head over heels in love with her! She was "everything" I ever wanted! But, alas, she would not marry me, either. "I'm too young," she said. (She was 19.)

I "wanted" her so badly. But since she wouldn't marry me, I eventually let her go. I lost faith that she would ever be my bride. (There were three women, after all, in my vision!) I "sold" my birthright for a "mess of pottage," as it were. In my haste (and doubt), I pushed her away. She eventually married another guy (also in my major). They went on to have six kids together. She was an elementary ed major.

Thereafter I met and married a good woman (in the Salt Lake Temple). After four stressful, largely platonic years, we divorced. I was devastated! (She never had children, but became a teacher, as well.) 

Despondent, forlorn, discouraged, divorced, a "failure" by every measure, I asked my father (my mortal father) what I should do. I wanted nothing more than to be married and have a family of my own! My father -- not a religious man, but surprisingly gifted with wisdom and insight (particularly about women) -- advised me to go back to school to get my teaching degree. He said "You ought to consider becoming a high school teacher. I think you'll find your wife there."

I didn't know what he meant by that. Perhaps I would marry another teacher? (Or was he referring to a student?!) He didn't say. He merely gave me that wry look of understanding, with eyebrows raised...and a smile. I was intrigued and encouraged by his words.

I set in motion the wheels to get my teaching degree at Utah State.

Home for the holidays in California, I met (who I thought to be) a marvelous woman. We dated "long distance" and married the following summer. (I was 31. She was 37.) I thought I would be happy at last! 

This second marriage, however, crumbled into ruin as well. The very gates of hell opened wide to receive us! Our brief union was assailed by deceit, infidelity, betrayal, incarceration, covetousness, even murder! (But she sure was sexy and beautiful!) Just three months after our wedding in the San Diego Temple, I sought for an annulment in court. 

All this time, I kept wondering: "Who is 'Adria'?" 

I eventually got my teaching credential and, on or about my first day of teaching high school, a bright eyed, vivacious young woman walked up to me and said: "Hi, my name is Andrea. Don't forget my name is Andrea!" 

I was stunned. I instantly recognized that voice! It was her! This was Adria!

I don't have time to relate all that transpired thereafter, but let's just say: a war commencing in heaven continued on earth. All heaven and hell assembled (from that day to this) to prevent (or enable) us to be together. It was (and is!) an amazing tale! The hand and power of God has been evident has been the influence of the devil. Forces of destruction and creation have been in play ever since (too convoluted and complex to relate here). Our hearts were (and have been) broken and rent asunder. All things were (and have been) placed on the altar of sacrifice. I introduced Andrea to the gospel and she received it. 

But, by then, I was a "broken" man.

I'll summarize the story thus: Andrea and I eventually married and were sealed to each other -- and to our (then three) children -- in the Laie Hawaii Temple. It was the happiest day of my life! (Not so much so for her, I'm told.) I was certain my marriage to Andrea was, indeed, for "time and all eternity." We proceeded to have four more children together and I never doubted that she was my "Adria," my "eternal companion", "destined" to be mine forever (or so I thought). 

(After all, I had heard her voice in a vision! I had been given her new name even in a dream about a month before she was born!)

I will leave to those who have been through the LDS temple to put the pieces together. Joseph Smith "sealed" other women -- and men! -- to himself in associations destined primarily for hereafter, which relationships would prove beneficial, even essential, to their mutual progress and salvation.

When I saw these three women in vision, each said to me: "I will be there when you need me." I was not elated by this prospect but, rather, disheartened...for I knew I would need them to fulfill my mission.

It wasn't, primarily, a pleasant one. I wouldn't be going on some happy "vacation" to occupy myself with golf, relaxation and making babies! (Though I could do all that, if I wanted!) On the contrary. I was sent to a war zone, to a place of darkness, unlike the (former) world I'd grown accustomed to (and loved). 

I had a specific purpose for coming here: to bind up that which was broken and to repair the breach (the "disconnect") between the children and the fathers. The souls of men were at stake.

I was not sent just to save myself, but to help others. Among them were these three women -- my "companions in arms," as it were, to whom, likewise, were given special powers and promises, among them the promise of eternal posterity. It was given to me to know that, for some, their children would be "not of their own." I am surprised that all of these women have since fulfilled their role as "mother," both by having children and by becoming teachers (just as I have become a father and teacher). My own "Adria" is a mother of seven, has homeschooled all of them, and is now seeking to get her teaching credential.

What is sealing? It is the promise given to some, sealed by God Himself -- made to us, between us and with others before, here and hereafter -- allowing us to organize ourselves as we desire in worlds heretofore formed to fulfill God's eternal purposes! It is the First Amendment writ large! Freedom of association in worlds to come, vouchsafed by the the Holy Spirit of Promise!

I have certainly received mine own unto myself in this life. (But I would not say that mine own have altogether received me.)

As Brigham Young explained (focused, as he was, on the rites of the temple, mistaking symbols for substance):

“Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell” (in Journal of Discourses, 2:31).

In other words, our endowment is the knowledge we gain by association with God, angels and these "witnesses" (men and women) at this "altar" by which we are enabled to become even as God is. This knowledge enables us to recognize who and what we are, who others are, and, with them, progress and grow, filling the measure of our creation and having joy therein.

I have no doubt that I was "sealed" to Andrea in a world before and that by God's more sure word of prophecy she was given to me again in this life to fulfill the Lord's eternal purposes. I was able to call her forth "from the dead," as it were, being given knowledge of her new name, by which I was able to recognize her, have fellowship with her, and continue onward in our journey together (perhaps) forever. 

We have done what the Lord has commanded us to do and we now have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.

That being said, even the very elect can fall, falter, and fail. The war is not over...until it's over. We must endure to the end.

My vision of the life to come (meaning this life) was not a happy one. There was much darkness, faltering, failure and fatigue. I do not know the future, step by step, day by day. I only trust in the Lord's assurances, given to me, that I will, someday, return to my Father in heaven. 

Or, as my "grandfather" put it so plainly in my dream: "Come back and see me sometime."