Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thoughts on God, Life and Death

I’ve left that previous entry up for quite a while now. I mostly posted it because it had gotten me rattled and taught me that it’s incredibly stupid to argue with strangers on the bus. On the other hand, if someone were accosting me on a bus, I would hope that a fellow passenger would come to my aid, even if they felt like a fool afterward.

This past Sunday I fasted for the first time in a long time. I fasted to be able to get a job. Or to have more motivation to look harder for a job. It’s frustrating to fill out application after application, to send my resume to email after email, and to hear back from maybe 1% of the time, and then they tell me no 100% of the time.

But, and this is a pretty big but, nobody is obligated to hire me. I shouldn’t be upset that the employers that have a lot of money floating around, don’t want to take a chance on a College graduate who has not done an internship at a major agency. They have their own livelihood and reputation to think about, after all.

So I’ll keep looking, send applications to companies who say they are looking for someone with my skills. And in the meantime keep applying for the (allegedly) easier to get jobs that will get me a paycheck quickly.

In church, we were discussing how to persuade someone that they should accept the gospel. We said that accepting the gospel, getting baptized and all that jazz would bring happiness. The teacher replied with, “Ok, so if I join up and then terrible things happen to me, does that mean it’s not true?”

The answer, of course, is no. God exists whether or not bad things happen to you. Bad things may happen to you if you believe in God or not.

I thought for a minute and my answer was that if you have truly accepted the gospel, you will have peace and clarity within yourself, and so even then if you lose your job, get a disease or lose a loved one, you wouldn’t say that your life is horrible.

In 2010 I lost a couple of cousins. One died of a drug overdose of some kind, in front of her toddler children. I hope her kids can get over it, but kids as young as hers were can get over things like that. For her, it was the last in a line of very poor decisions. I wish she hadn’t died, it seems like such a dumb thing to die over, but she was the one that made that decision.

My other cousin, was a soldier in the 101st Airborne division, who was killed in Afghanistan. I guess in a way his decision to join the army and be in the infantry was what placed him in Afghanistan, but his death seems to be a lot more unjust than my other cousin’s. He was serving his country, had gone through grueling training to become a Ranger, had achieved the rank of Sergeant, he was a good person doing good things.

His death brought a lot of grief to the family. But I have to say that I felt his funeral was a positive, uplifting experience, and at the same time, very sad. I was sad for his wife, and for his mom, both of whom were overcome with grief. The worst part was when his casket was closed for the final time, and the funeral began. It will be a long time before it’s opened again, and Aaron steps out in a perfected state.

I’ve been to funerals before, but they are mostly for old people who have lived a full life, nobody is really shocked that they died, and everyone’s ok with it. It was really depressing to think of all the things that Aaron and his wife won’t get to do together, they hadn’t even had a one year anniversary yet.

On the other hand, I was impressed by the soberness of the military personnel, in the way they conducted themselves at the funeral. There was a great deal of ceremony and respect in the attitudes of all present. There was a group of soldiers who took shifts standing guard at either end of the casket. They stayed there through the entire viewing. The Patriot Guard Riders were in attendance, including a good friend and teacher of mine, to create a sense of safety and comfort by surrounding the church were the funeral was held, and the gravesite during the interment. Even Brandon, Aaron’s twin, executed his orders to the letter as Aaron’s official escort.

I felt happy to hear the loving tributes written by Aaron’s comrades, one of whom has joined Sgt. Kramer on the other side. I found myself wishing I could have known this man better. I feel good knowing that he is ok, now. If soldiers are treated with such care and reverence by those of us left behind, I can only imagine the amount of love and care they receive when they reach the other side. My grandfather, Keith, was undoubtedly the first person that Aaron met when he passed, and Aaron is not very far from his family here on Earth. I also feel optimistic about Sgt. Flannery, because Aaron is undoubtedly the first person he must have met when he passed.

The purpose of the gospel, in times like this, is not to diminish, or disrespect anyone’s grief. It’s not there to make us feel guilty about feeling sad at the loss of a promising, smart young person. I think that probably throughout human history and through all cultures, there is a wishful hope that we will see our loved ones again. Logic or prevailing ideas may try to drive that notion away, but most people want to believe that death is not the end of a person.

The restored, complete gospel of Jesus Christ affirms those instincts. It assures us that we will see our loved ones again, that they exist somewhere and are being taken care of. It eases the pain of death, by letting us know they aren’t gone forever.

I still feel a tremendous sense of regret that I didn’t know Aaron very well, I still feel a tremendous sense of waste that someone so smart and good could have so much time and money invested in them by the United States, only to shot out in the middle of nowhere, by people who want to impose their violent and evil perversion of Islam on others. But at least Aaron Kramer is not lost forever, even if we won’t be able to embrace him for a while.

If I ramble, I apologize, I didn’t get to write this all in one sitting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.