Somewhere along the line in the kingdom of Mormondom, somebody decided that when we die we will see a movie of our lives. We will sit there with Jesus and God, sharing popcorn and sometimes God will say, "Oooh, yeah. I remember that. You really shouldn't have had that impure thought" or "Bought gas on Sunday, I just docked you 10 points." Then Jesus chimes in and says, "Oh, come on, Dad. Maybe you could let him off easy for that one." And thus we strike the perfect balance between Justice and Mercy, the two eternal moral imperatives.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say... I do not believe that is how judgement will play out. I mention this for a reason. Stay with me here.
Everything I understand about God and Jesus and their united mission (Moses 1:38, Isaiah 53:5) tells me there is more to life than an infinite list of "good"s and "bad"s that have been recorded during our lives that culminate in some final balance that will tip the scale of our eternal destiny one way or another. The God I worship and love is a teacher. His ultimate goal, His work and His glory is to take us from the moment we let Him in, and set out on a divine tutorial with us. That tutorial starts with a spirit, eternal but young and simple, and ends with a fully developed, immortal human being, shaped and molded, trained up and knocked around, then polished into becoming the very best he or she can be.
The gospel is too often taught in terms of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. Anyone who's reading this blog knows that life is full of complex situations, tailored personally to challenge and stimulate the growth of the person experiencing them. I have a wonderful friend who was the closest thing I had to a big brother through my divorce... besides my big brothers, who are great... but they were not really around. Every now and then when I was up to my eyeballs and nauseated by the blackening skies ahead of me I would send him a text saying something like, "Do you think it's wrong to get a divorce? I mean, won't God be mad at me? A covenant is a really big deal, you know?"
My friend would wisely respond with comments to the effect of, "I think you underestimate how much God knows the human heart and how forgiving He can be. Divorce is one potential solution to a problem. Sometimes it's the best one."
He's in pretty good company with this mentality. I've been listening to conference talks on my iphone lately when I can't sleep. Last night I heard Elder Holland say, "In the words of that prophet (Joseph Smith) I too declare our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views and boundless in His mercies and blessings than we are ready to believe or receive." (The Grandeur of God, General Conference, October 2003.)
I feel like I'm coming to a place now where I am starting to understand that God is an infinitely knowledgeable, merciful, just Man with a mission. He teaches us in black and white, but I believe that's for our own safety. Training wheels. We are designed to develop in our spirituality to become able to discern for ourselves what is truth, and then have the integrity to act according to it. The stark categories of "good" and "bad" give way to fine tuning oneself to God's will for us in that moment.
One day, very near the end of my marriage, I went to the temple looking for some clarity. I wanted so badly for God to say, "If you're righteous enough, if you two just get back to reading and praying more, be more dedicated to service in the church, if you look to me with all your hearts, your marriage can be healed," but God is wise and He knew better. What He told me instead when I asked was, "I don't want any marriage to end, but there comes a point where you have to protect yourself."
Maybe it's because I'm so literal that I've had such a hard time with this. A peak into the mind of me would show you separate bins for right and wrong. I'm always sorting and striving for the "right" bin. But when it came time to sort "divorce" into one or the other, I was nearly paralyzed for the better part of a year. My operating system would flash "wrong" in red and move on to the next decision, but as time went on, again and again and again the thought came up for classification. Should I get divorced? How can it be wrong when staying married feels so incredibly wrong too?
So for those of you out there who are a bit rigid like me, a little black and white and stuck on this categorizing thing, I leave you with this thought: the thing that is right is the thing that brings us closer to God, closer to peace, closer to healing, closer to being whole, always. There is no movie, in the end. There's only a being, cultivated by the life she lived. Every choice she made to come closer to Christ was the right one.