Hey y'all. This is Lolly. Last Sunday an idea for a post came to me. I told Josh about the premise and I tried to get him to write it, but he thought I should write it myself. So you're stuck with me for this post.
I wanted to share some feelings about America and some of my feelings about Club Unicorn. I am kind of blending these concepts together, creating a Patriotic Unicorn post, if you will.
I am a true Patriot. I know that in Josh's last post, I was giving him a hard time for being cheesy. But, when it comes to the United States of America, I am the one that gets over-the-top cheesy and sentimental.
There are many examples of the extent of my cheesiness when it comes to this fine nation. I always cry when I sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." I proudly place my hand over my heart when I say The Pledge of Allegiance. American history was my favorite subject in school. I'm proud that my birthday, September 17th, just happens to be Constitution Day. Hanging in my house is a print of Del Parson's "The Old Man Wept" which shows Benjamin Franklin shedding a tear as he signs the Constitution. I have a deep love and respect for the Founding Fathers of our nation and I am truly, truly grateful for the brave men and women who serve our country in the Armed Forces.
Yes, I'm really patriotic--cheesily so--but I'm pretty sure this picture just crossed the line even for me.
Now, I know that the United States is a country that is far from perfect. We have a lot of problems in a lot of areas, but I still love America and what it stands for. In church on Sunday we sang "America the Beautiful" and a couple of lines from that song really hit me. The phrases that stood out to me had to do with sacrifice and self-control. They were "Who more than self their country loved" and "Confirm thy soul in self-control."
I was thinking a lot about those phrases. The concept of holding something -- your country, your beliefs, something that you cherish-- so highly that you could say you loved it more than self. Loving something so much that you are willing to control your own wants and desires for it.
Isn't that noble? Something to be respected? I'm not sure that concept is considered to be a good thing anymore. Which I think is a shame.
Now, I realize that sometimes people can start worshipping or placing faith in ideals that harm others. That is never a good thing. But, when someone has found something that brings them true happiness, and they're not harming others, how could that be a bad thing?
Josh and I knew that we were going to be sharing the reality of his homosexual attractions in what is now known as the "Club Unicorn" post for a few months before we even wrote it. I was really nervous, almost terrified, about doing it. The thing that scared me so much was wondering how people would react. While we had no idea how far it would end up spreading, I knew even then that we were going to be getting reactions from all sides --from members of both the religious and LGBT communities. I knew that people would be judging something incredibly special to me -- my marriage and my family. I was hoping we would get support, but I also figured that people would say hurtful, mean things when they didn't even know us. Or worse, they would say hurtful, mean things when they did know us. I was worried about people making rash, knee-jerk reactive responses, without even reading our post thoroughly or seriously contemplating what we had to share. Yet, I knew we needed to share.
As it turns out, my concerns were absolutely valid. We have gotten a LOT of feedback about our lives from thousands of people. Some of it has been wonderful and I'm so thankful for it. Then there are others who, for whatever reason, can't seem to see that we have found something that brings us true happiness. That Josh has "Confirmed [his] soul in self-control" because "more than self [his faith and his family he] loved." Even if one doesn't agree with the religious aspect of our decision, isn't there some merit behind this concept?
We're not directly harming others in any way, and yet some people find our lives to be worthy of extreme criticism and cause for great alarm. Some people say we are harming others by sharing our story. What I would like to ask for is that we all have more faith in each others' intelligence. Let's not be scared that sharing opinions and life experiences is a bad thing. Let's be respectful of one another's ability to ingest information and then make informed choices for ourselves. True change was never fostered through hate or ignorance.
I find that when people are rational and comfortable with their own belief system, they don't feel threatened or scared of others whose opinions differ from their own. They don't have the need to forcefully persuade or condemn others.
I have many dear, dear friends who hold differing beliefs than I do. My very best friend is no longer a member of the LDS Church and is now an Atheist. My wonderful neighbors, whom I adore, are Muslims. My daughter's best friend and her family don't practice with any organized religion. I love them all and I find that their roles in my life make it richer and more meaningful. They are not threatened by my life choices, nor am I by theirs. We respect each other and care for one another.
On this fourth of July, I would like us all to act like true Americans. Let's respect others who are different than ourselves. We are a country that was founded on the concept of freedom. The freedom to choose our own personal truths. Let's give all men the right to worship how, where or what they may. Let's share our personal truths with love and then let people govern themselves according to the dictates of their own conscience.
I'm thankful to live in a country where we can do just that.
God bless America!
This is a picture of my brother-in-law, Shane, seeing his daughters, our adorable nieces, for the first time after basic training. I love this picture! And I cry almost every time I see it. I am so grateful for the sacrifices of the men, women, and their families in our Armed Forces. Thanks for your service, Shane!