President Gordon B. Hinckley, a humble and delightful man who served as the prophet of God from 1995 until Sunday night, has passed away. I will miss him. I had such respect for his kindness and his wit. He was not afraid to state inconvenient truths politely and firmly. His counsel to the church, and to the world, has blessed my life and that of my family members.
Suburbancorrespondent asked in a recent comment:
“So...what's the story behind the adult conversion? Care to share?”
This seems as good a time as any to explain how a rational woman can believe in modern-day prophets and old-fashioned virtues. And it is a theme that I will most likely develop over the course of several posts.
Long ago in a Western state far, far away, there was a girl named Lynn with one older sister [think of her as Elinor Donahue on “Father Knows Best”: smart without being a know-it-all, talented without being a show-off, kind without being clueless, and elegant seemingly without effort; no sibling rivalry here!]. And two parents worthy of emulation. They were believers, but not church-goers, and they allowed me to attend church, or not, as I was inclined.
As for me, I taught myself all the Christmas carols in a little book that Texaco gave away with a fill-up, back when I was seven or eight. I remember sitting in my room in our first house in Boise, singing for hour after hour, not necessarily on-key. I would have been eight at the time. I went to Primary a couple of times with some of the LDS kids on our cul-de-sac. I went to church with my best friend in fifth grade, who was Catholic. I attended the Methodist church when we first moved, but they met in the chapel of a mausoleum, and while that did not bother me, the rudeness of the kids my age, did. I attended the local Friends church intermittently for two or three years when I was in high school, in part because one of my girlfriends did but primarily because there was a guy I had a crush on. My freshman year in college, I fell in love with a Catholic boy and started taking conversion classes, which lasted about as long as the romance did.
I married my first husband in that little Friends chapel, not so much because of any religious inclinations on my part, but because of the warm memories I had of the folks who attended there. I never should have married First Hubby. There was nothing wrong with him, but I was still reeling from something that had happened a few months before I met him, and I was so needy and baby hungry, and all my friends were getting married. We all know somebody like that, and for awhile it was me. I thought the simple fact of being married, would make me happy. Instead, I made both of us miserable. That marriage lasted two years, two weeks, and one day.
That was my first divorce, and the one bright thing that came out of it was that it humbled ~ as well as humiliated ~ me. In spite of all the garbage I have waded through in subsequent years, that is the only time I have seriously considered taking my own life. To the point that I went to a gun store and bought a handgun with only enough power to halfway do the job. Had I followed through, my family would have had to take care of a vegetable for the next eight decades. And I would have missed out on so much joy.
I had a professor who was LDS and happily married, who had become something of a mentor. I called him to say goodbye, and he was inspired to realize that I was not talking about just taking a semester off from school. He called his wife, told her he would be late for dinner and why, and where he would be, and how to reach him, and he came to my home and explained the spiritual ramifications of suicide, and he left with my gun and returned it for me because I was too embarrassed to take it back to the gun store.
That was 1975, the summer of Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”, and the chorus of that song has resonated for me ever since. That was a Friday night, and the next morning my professor and his wife were weeding in their yard, and their ward’s missionaries came by. [They had lived in their home for several years, he later told me, and the elders had never “just dropped by”.] The elders asked if he had somebody to teach, and he said that he did, but that I was out of their district. I had a call from the local elders later that morning and my first missionary discussion that afternoon.
The elders gave me a handful of tracts and a reading assignment, about the last half of Third Nephi and all of Fourth Nephi, in the Book of Mormon. This is an account of the Savior’s ministry to the Nephites after His death and resurrection. I sat on my back porch in the rocker that my father had made, reading as the sun went down, tears sheeting down my cheeks. The Book of Mormon is the only book I know of, with the promise that you can pray to ask if it is true and expect to get an answer.
That was my first spiritual experience as an adult. Or at least the first that I was aware of. I had had other opportunities to come unto Christ but had always resisted, not wanting to make a promise I wasn’t sure I could keep, and also afraid that an Omnipotent Being would mess up my life faster and more permanently than I was already doing on my own. This was the first time that I knew for certain that God was there, and that He loved me, and that He would help me if I asked.
[to be continued]
To return to the mundane, not much knitting yesterday. I bought yarn to make a pair of socks for Middlest, once I have finished Firestarter. I need to go add them to my stash on Ravelry.
- Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!