Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Blog: I need socks

This past weekend, young men and women from our church ages 14-18 from ten congregations traveled to Raleigh, NC for what we call Youth Conference.  The focus of this youth conference was service in the LDS temple in Raleigh.  We believe that the Savior's pronouncement in John 3:5 is true for all people ever born or who ever will be born on the earth.  That is, all must be baptized in order to enter into the kingdom of God.  But we also believe that baptism can be performed by proxy for those who have died without the opportunity to receive this saving ordinance.  In preparation for youth conference, the young people in our stake (the larger administrative unit of several congregations together) were encouraged to research their own family history and come to the temple prepared to be baptized for one of their ancestors. 
I was asked to serve in the temple that day with our youth.  I was delighted with this assignment, and pictured a day of hushed reverence and quiet service.  When we arrived at the temple that morning, I was assigned to work in the laundry room, washing the white clothing and towels that were worn and used by each of the 79 young people and the men who performed the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.  It was not exactly the quiet day I had pictured in the Lord's house, but I must say that never have I had such joy in doing laundry.  
Baptisms are performed by immersion in the baptismal font.  I had dressed in white but left my feet bare, knowing that there would inevitably be a bit of water around, and finding I could not relish the thought of working all day in wet socks.  As I reported to the little laundry room off the baptistry, the temple matron noticed my bare feet.  She handed me a pair of socks accompanied by this pronouncement: "You need socks."  I must confess that I somewhat reluctantly put them on my feet, dreading the discomfort I was sure would follow once they got wet.

Sure enough, as the morning progressed and I repeatedly retrieved wet laundry from the dressing rooms, my socks got soaked, leaving my feet feeling rather uncomfortable.  It was with great relief that I peeled those wet socks from my feet as we prepared to leave the temple for lunch.

Upon our return to the temple, I was determined to do what I could to avoid having to wear socks again that afternoon.  I imagined that the temple matron had given me socks to wear because of some notion of what was considered appropriate and complete attire for service in the temple.  But after all (I thought to myself) there's nothing wrong with bare feet in the temple; those who are being baptized and performing baptisms are also barefoot.    So whenever I was near the temple matron, I walked more slowly in order that my bare feet would not be visible, and once or twice I even stooped a little so that the hem of my dress would brush the ground and hide my naked toes!
Because of the water, there were rubber mats leading from the baptismal font to both the men's and women's dressing rooms.  As I walked back and forth gathering laundry and observing the ordinances being performed in the font, I realized that the rubber grips on the mats were somewhat uncomfortable on my bare feet.  It was hardly noticeable at first, only a mild nuisance.  But as the afternoon wore on, the soles of my feet and the soft undersides of my toes were rubbed raw.  The discomfort became more and more pronounced until it finally turned into pain.  

At that point, I sheepishly retrieved the socks I had worn earlier that morning--now freshly laundered--and replaced them on my feet.  

It was a small thing really.  And yet the greater significance of it, and the conspicuous parallels to be drawn between it and other life experiences was for me, profound.

How many times do we look at things the Lord has asked--commanded--us to do with an attitude like mine?  ("Look, there are other people who aren't doing that, and they're doing fine. Why should I have to do that?")  How many times do we think we know the reason behind the Lord's standards and commandments, only to find that our decidedly human capacity to understand leaves us either with only the tip of the iceberg, or simply dead wrong?  I thought the matron wanted me to wear socks in order to be dressed "appropriately".  But in reality, wearing socks was designed to give my feet protection, and to allow me to avoid the discomfort and pain of walking barefoot on the rough surfaces of the drain mats.  

The Lord's standards and commandments are designed to do the same: to protect us and make it possible for us to avoid the discomfort and pain that inevitably follow when we do not choose to walk where the Lord leads us.  If we choose our own path, we may not notice anything amiss at first.  We may in fact travel a long way down that path before we experience discomfort or pain brought on by our unwillingness to accept and live by the guidance and direction given to us by a loving Parent.  

I don't wish to be misunderstood.  I know that trials and challenges--along with discomfort, grief and pain--are meant to be a part of our experience here in mortality.  But I am convinced that enough of those experiences will come our way without us walking toward them as we walk away from our Heavenly Father. 
So even when I'm tempted to think I might know better, I'm determined to keep my socks on.  I need them.

1 comment:

  1. hahaha i laughed at the beginning as i read this - especially the part where you hunched over so your dress would cover up your bare feet - because i could totally see myself doing the same thing. and then as i read on i realized that your experience is something that could teach me a valuable lesson. thanks for sharing your story mom :) i will try to keep in it mind for next time i encounter a situation where there is something that i need to do but do not understand why :)


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