Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“I Didn’t Say It Would Be Easy” and other things that really bug me. (Along with a few more baby pictures, of course.)

It seems almost sacrilegious to post about anything other than baby Kate right now.  After all, what else in my life can compete with this kind of cuteness??



Those are pictures that make my heart more than happy.

And if I wasn’t going to talk about that, I could talk about our afternoon at my sister Andra’s house, where we kept trying to leave and she kept enticing us to stay just by being her normal awesome self.  And how after Russ made death bars for her daughter, she gave him a massage.


(Right before that happy look on Russ’s face he was crying.)


But I’m not.  Because even though all of those things are true and it seems like I should be just marinating in the baby-liciousness of this moment, the baby is at the hospital and I am here (and should be in bed) and there is something on my mind.


#1) Russ & I were just up in the bathroom getting ready for bed.  (You see, I was headed there but now I’m delayed just a bit.)  I’d read him some interesting bits from a church magazine article I was reading when he responded to me,

Well you know, He didn’t say it was going to be easy…

to which I interrupted (and not really nicely)

Oh PLEASE don’t say it!!

but he did anyway, and finished,

He just said it would be worth it.


Yep, he did.  He said that.

Now you may wonder why this would bother me.  It bothers me because it’s NOT TRUE.  Jesus said a lot of things.  But this is not one of them.  So I think we should stop attributing it to him.


#2) Tonight we had dinner with Russ’s awesome brother & sis in law.  (Every trip to Utah reminds me that I truly hit the jackpot in the in-law department!)  I was talking about the kids going on trek last summer, and how we’d watched a movie about the handcart pioneers before they went.    Then I told them how much it bothers me when people tell the story about the three 18 year old boys who rescued one group of handcart pioneers by carrying them across an icy river, and later died from the exertion and exposure of that experience.  I’m sure that you know the quote I’m talking about.  Well it turns out that someone at BYU Studies did a little more researching on this, and in 2006 published an article about it.  This is what he said,

The evidence indicates that more than three rescuers braved the icy water that day. Of those positively identified as being involved in the Sweetwater crossing, none were exactly eighteen. Although these rescuers helped a great many of the handcart pioneers across the river, they carried only a portion of the company across. While some of these rescuers complained of health problems that resulted from the experience, most lived long and active lives that terminated in deaths that cannot be definitively attributed to their exposure to the icy water that day.

It seems to me that if this was published 9 years ago, we should be done quoting it now, don’t you think?  Especially since it was publically declared that their exaltation was secure, and some of them grew up to not be very nice people…


#3 And in the same (almost exact) vein.  There is a beautiful story of a handcart pioneer, Francis Webster,  who defends the decisions made by the Martin & Willey handcart companies to leave so late in the season.  I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about, but if you want a refresher, you can read about it here starting about 1/3 down the page where it reads “I heard a testimony once…”  Part of me really loves this story and the honest sentiment it describes.  I love the idea that this man felt his experience in the handcart company had deepened his faith.  But the truth is that part of the story that is told isn’t accurate.  He is quoted as having said,

We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that Company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that Company ever apostatized or left the church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

Now from what I’ve read this quote about what Francis Webster said wasn’t written down until 40 years after he said it, so who knows how exactly it was remembered.  Maybe he said it that way and maybe he didn’t.  But the point is that we are still teaching it this way.  And Br. Webster, in that day and age, would have had no way of knowing whether or not all of the members of the handcart company stayed in the church because they all scattered to different places after arriving in Salt Lake.  As it turns out, more than a few members of those companies did leave the church.




By now you are probably thinking that if these things bother me, I’ve finally lost it.  But I really do have a point here.

My point is, I want my faith, and even more importantly my children’s faith, grounded in truth.  Not in inaccurate stories or platitudes. 

You’re probably still thinking that I’m getting upset about something that’s not that big of a deal, and I get that.  But to me it’s significant.  I want my kids hold on to the things that Jesus actually did say.  Not in a little convenient phrase that someone invented.  And even more importantly, I don’t want them to base any part of their belief in God, or their gratitude for their pioneer ancestors (because my children have them, even if I don’t) on things that didn’t happen.  I don’t want my children deciding that difficult or traumatic experiences will automatically solidify your faith.  Or that carrying people across icy rivers qualifies them for exaltation.  I want them to be inspired by truth and reality, not by sensationalism that makes truths pale in comparison.

And I think that as soon as we become aware that we’ve been believing (and quoting in general conference) things that are inaccurate we should make a real effort to correct them.  And we should probably take them out of the sunday school manuals. Winking smile


PS—If you’re interested in a more accurate and very inspiring story of Francis Webster who was really an amazing person, you can read about him here.

PPS—Another Mormon Urban Legend, which fortunately has been corrected, was the quote attributed to President Hinckley, in which he said that the youth born today were generals in the war in heaven.  I guess because this was supposed to have been said by a prophet a letter was sent to every church congregation in 2008 telling people to cease and desist using this “quote.”  And to correct it if it was used!

PPPS—Sometimes I ask Russ if he knew I would be so _________ (difficult, tired, cranky, emotional, etc) when he married me.  He always says yes…that he knew it wouldn’t be easy, but that I was worth it…


  1. OK keep posting those baby pictures. She is so darn cute. So chunky and sweet. That little face.. Awwwww.

  2. False doctrine really bothers me. I hate sitting in sacrament meeting where someone goes up to the podium and says " President blah blah blah said..." and I would lean over to Sam and say " I don't think thats right, did he really say that?" Then I would go home and look it up and sure enough it would be completely wrong. What really bothers me is when the bishop doesn't get up and correct it.


  3. Just when I thought I couldn't love you more. A-MEN! The gospel needs no embellishment. I hadn't heard the truth about any of the stories you cited, and that makes me a little disappointed.

    I would love to hear your opinion about pioneer treks. I have a brother who is a bishop and he won't let his ward do them because of how sensationalized they can be. He worries that putting our youth through these highly emotional experiences and then telling them that THAT is what the spirit feels like can be harmful in the long run. But I have heard that some people have had fantastic experiences doing them so I feel a little torn.

  4. Melissa- THANK YOU!! I live in fear of being asked to help out with one of those horrible-sounding things (my personal nightmare, is how I would describe it, but maybe it's not so bad). Anyway, now I have an awesome, spiritual-sounding excuse to use. And I will- I'm serious:).

  5. First, all that hair on that baby makes me swoon. Reminds me of my own. She's beautiful, and I can't believe you're a grandma!

    And amen to your thoughts on doctrine. I agree wholeheartedly.

  6. He actually did say it would be easy...Matthew 11:30. I need the "this has sparked a discussion in our house" button to click today.

  7. But Erin, He didn't. He said "My yoke is easy." And that's a whole different thing (for me) than "it will be easy." One is scripture, the other is a platitude. Does that make sense?

    Katie & Melissa, not sure I agree on the trek thing. It's something I've really wondered about, but now that all of my kids have been on treks, it's been a positive experience. For certain they came away with a tremendous appreciation for the sacrifices made by pioneers (and pioneer ancestors) if nothing else. And they will always be kids unwilling to be touched by the spirit. A friend of ours was telling about a high council meeting he attended where they were discussing whether or not their stake would do a trek or any other multi-day activity the next year. He said that his feeling was that sometimes the ability to "marinate" in an experience is beneficial. That really made sense to me. My triplets will actually get to do 2 treks, as the stake in Oregon let them go last summer when they were almost 12, and plan another for the summer when they will just be turning 18. It will be interesting to see how the experiences compare.

    Emily, I'm for sure a "corrector." Even stupid urban legends. But it was interesting to see Margaret make a comment recently about how hurtful that is to her, and that she wishes people would just leave it alone when they know she's said something wrong. That's hard for me, but I guess I can see that sometimes things the inaccuracy isn't a big enough deal to say anything about it??? Don't know, still working on that one...

  8. Jenny, she DOES remind me of one of your babies! Except with a totally round little face...

  9. Well, then (not trying to be argumentative here, just trying to iron this one out in my own mind) maybe we ought to define what the pronoun "it" means in the original statement, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." We're not talking about his yoke? That's what I've always assumed it means, that walking his path (wearing his yoke) won't be easy, but will be worth it.

    So what are the folks who created the platitude saying won't be easy? Just life in general? Because if that's the case, then I agree, they're different things. Were they being ambiguous on purpose?

  10. Erin, I have NEVER even considered that "it" could be the yoke. I'm pretty literal...if they had included either an ox or a pic of a yoke I would have gotten that. Or at least a scripture reference. I guess that could have been the intention of the original author and we'll never know. In my mind "it" was always something like "life" or "this moment that I am really hating..."

  11. Sorry,I didn't mean mistakes in talks where something gets misquoted or anything like that. It happens! I am sure I have done it, its nerve racking giving a talk!

    I mean where someone gets up to the podium and says something completely false about our doctrine, (happens all the time in testimony meetings) or makes something up and says that a prophet said it. While the bishop is just staring at the floor... That is what irks me. I think there should be correction, backed with scripture... Kindly of course.

    As for the trek...it was one of the best spiritual experiences in my teenage life. A real testimony builder. I look back on it fondly. I think that if anyone gets the opportunity to go, even with just their family, they should! Someday I hope to visit other church history sites.

  12. my 2 cents. AMEN! The sweetwater rescue story always bugs me. the martin-willey survivors-i have several ancestors who survived the trip and their histories contain statements about how they never questioned those that made the decision to leave so late and how they never lost faith-so i buy the stories about that. (the story of a handcart ancestor of my boys was told in last conference.) you know i cant keep my mouth shut when i know something is wrong. in sunday school i am always asking for a source for wild claims made by teachers. (the most recent-which is Christ's favorite scripture?--are you kidding me? - i laughed out loud at that one.) on trek-i told my boys they did not have to go since i thought for two boys with migraines it sounded like hell. they both went and had good times. so good that D went a second time. (now that the Church requires the leaders to feed and water the kids. i think the program is much better than it was when we were youth.)my sister made my niece go- my niece smuggled deo in her bra! :) a girl after my own heart. false doctrine in church. AHHHH! i have become much more sensitive to that since i have had missionaries. D dreads fast sunday and the amount of time it will take to straighten out the investigators. if we could get people to bear testimonies and not travelogues or health updates or wild temple stories or thank-a-monies it would be so much easier for the missionaries.-i look forward to continuing the conversation in person....