Sunday, June 21, 2009

All I want for Father's Day is a nap.

Hey. This is Ryan.

Before I get started, for some reason all of our baptism pictures were deleted from our memory card. I don't know how that happened and I'm sick about it. We do have one picture of Ally in her baptismal dress with Lisha's Grandma Davis. It is the image posted above.

Today is Father's Day and all I wanted is a nap. But, I decided to forgo that so I could tell you about my dad. He's a pretty good dad and we were blessed to have him and his wife visit this weekend for our oldest daughter's baptism. From previous posts, you know I was pretty harried all week, what with chasing down poop-covered kids, dealing with judgmental moms and preparing for one of the most spiritual days of Ally's life. I even had to speak (with my wife) in church today.

I woke up at 5 a.m. yesterday to prepare my talk. I started it by talking about semantics. You know, you say poh-tay-toe, I say poh-tah-toe stuff. For instance, some call me "irreverent." I prefer my mission president's description of my methods/spirituality - "unorthodox." While my brothers call me a "big baby." I just think I'm sensitive. I knew I'd cry in at least three of the parts. So, I decided to post my talk I gave today.

What I didn't write is the part at the end when I felt like I should say this to the men in our ward: "Brethren, the days of us treating our wives like servants and the person who does everything in the house are in the past. The far past." (I got pretty revved up during my talk - so revved up, I might have even pounded the pulpit a bit.) "Long gone are the days of expecting, nay, demanding, our slippers and newspaper the minute we walk in the door from work," I continued. "I am here to tell you our wives have difficult days. I admit I used to roll my eyes in pretentious disdain when I would come in and the dishes were still in the sink. I was wrong and the Lord or somebody has enlightened me. While we are at our jobs, they are dealing with one of your kids screaming at a neighbor because she 'borrowed' his bike while the baby has pooped all the way up to his neck - on both sides of his body, mind you - and still another is rooting under her bed, searching for a necklace she lost as she pushes everything out into a room you had just cleaned up not two minutes earlier. And, because she's whining so much during this process, you've gone into said room to help her just to get her to, quite frankly, shut up, the baby has now rolled over, mashing poop into the carpet and dragging a poop trail across the living room. This is their lives, brethren! Help them! I'm telling you, it is not an easy existence, but we can make it easier. Change a poopy diaper once in a while. Do the dishes after dinner. Heck, make dinner when you get home and then do the dishes. That is what I believe is the meaning of honoring and loving your wife."

I was surprised I didn't have the female portion of the ward "amen"-ing and "hallelujah"-ing a la the most spirited holy-roller church. I did, however, see a lot of vigorous nodding and side-glances at their husbands. I don't think the husbands were happy with me, but I don't care! While we're in the holy-roller mood, let me proclaim, "I have seen the light!"

Here is my talk. Don't think I'm some scriptural genius, either. I merged my talk with one of James E. Faust's priesthood session talks. His words were genius and inspiring. I loved hearing his talks and miss hearing him now. I loved him even more because, like me, he went to Brazil on his mission. Here is my talk:

My talk is directed to primarily to the men and young men today, but sisters, feel free to take notes for ammunition later. My talk is based on a talk given in the Priesthood Session of April 2001 by James E. Faust.

Brethren, to be successful men, we must honor four sacred principles in our lives. Today I will specifically talk about reverence for Deity, respecting and honoring family relationships, reverence for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the holy priesthood and respect for yourself as a son of God.

The first is reverence for Deity. The Lord has blessed us as a people with temporal blessings (or worldly goods) unequaled in the history of the Church. Just in technology alone, our limits almost know no bounds. I remember coming home from my mission in 1996 and my Ricks College adviser and teacher pulled me into the office to show me this cool new communication technology called “e-mail” and “Internet.” He sent a message to his secretary from his computer and had me go into her office to retrieve it. Instant mail? What would they think of next? Phones that could be used from your car or anywhere really with wires?

Some of you have never known not being without color TV or a VCR. I do. It was a big deal when my dad came home one day with a VCR that played full-size Disney movie tapes - one that we didn’t have to always rent from the video store. However, these resources have been given us to do good and to permit our work on earth to accelerate. But I fear that through prosperity many of us have been preoccupied with what Daniel called “gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know.” These, of course, are idols.

In reverence for the sacred, more important than all else is a love and respect for Deity. During most of the world’s history, mankind has labored much in idolatry, either worshiping false gods or trying to acquire the material things of this world. I remember as a college student at Idaho State University and just married to my sweet wife. We had her green Geo, having sold my truck to pay for a summer semester that would get me out of there faster. I loved my Nissan truck, but knew it was for the best. The hardest thing was to see others around me that had not gone to college driving these huge, awesome Fords and I was in a Geo. I would get frustrated and complain to Lisha about how it’s “not fair” that someone who doesn’t have a degree has such cool things. Lish would reach over and put her arm around me and say, “You can’t take trucks to heaven, but you can take what you’ve learned at school.” And I, being the understanding and listening husband that I am, would reply, “Well, in my heaven, men drive trucks.” Are we focusing on what matters in life and not what materials we have in life? A good man and father can separate wants from needs, as my dad used to say.

The requirement that we should love the Lord above bank accounts, trucks, clothes, electronics, just plain stuff, or any other possession is total; it is absolute. The first commandment given unto the ancient Israelites was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Savior Himself amplified this command when He told the lawyer who asked Him which was the greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” The lawyer couldn't handle giving up his possessions to follow the Lord. Sad.

We who have been commissioned with the priesthood authority to act in the name of the Savior need to respect God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost above all else.

The second is to respect and honor family relationships. This should begin with reverence for Mother’s sacred love. All mothers go down into the valley of the shadow of death as they labor in birth to give us life. My mom died when I was 14. I miss her. Mostly I miss her unconditional love. The yearning to be with her is at times almost overpowering. Most of us could say, with Abraham Lincoln, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” I am blessed in this life to have two mothers, though. My dad found a woman who is kind, loving and fun to be around. She has listened to me and helped me when I needed her. I know that she loves me and my family as one of her own and I hope she knows I love and respect her as a member of my family, too.

Brethren, noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven. A father should be many things. He should magnify his priesthood and be an example of righteousness. In companionship with his wife, he should be the source of stability and strength for the whole family. He should be the protector and the provider and the champion of the members of his family. Much of his love for his children should flow from his example of love, concern, and fidelity for their mother. By his uncompromising example he should instill character into his children.

Oh, character. Growing up, we didn’t have much, but what we lacked in material possessions, we got in character-building experiences. For my formative teen years, I was raised by a single father. I know now, but unfortunately was not grateful for then, how much he sacrificed for us. He couldn’t always give us the cool, new jeans, but (even though it was torture sometimes) he gave us experiences.

I grew up on a farm and we had to work there the majority of my childhood. I hated it. I would complain when he would come in and vacuum or noisily wash dishes at 5 in the morning to get us up. When that wouldn’t work, he’d come in and mess with us – drip water or pull blankets off. Then we’d have tofu pancakes and “read scriptures.” By read, I mean, he read and we dozed with the Book of Mormon as a pillow. Then we’d load up into the truck and remain out on the farm until late in the evening. We felt cheated because as our friends spent their summers in a pool, we were “working” about 30 miles out of town. What Dad gave us were opportunities to make friends with the people we’d be around for eternity. What Dad gave us was the principle of work … do anything and everything to provide for your family.

Here’s another character-building experience: Ask anyone in our family what was the worst family outing we ever had and they'll say our hike in the Dragoon Mountains. One Saturday afternoon, Dad decided to ease up and take a quick trip to the Dragoons. They were about 10 minutes away and since we never had really played up there, it would be good to just hike around. After all, these were the mountains where the famous Apache chief Geronimo hid out and eluded the US Army for so long. There might be arrowheads!

Of course, we grumbled. Or as he put it, “murmured.” (We murmured a lot.) But, since we really had no choice in the matter, a hiking we were forced to go. We got up to the summit of the mountains and Dad saw a dried-up river bed or wash. He got all excited and said we should go down a different way to get there and then maybe we’d find arrowheads. Again, murmuring.

We started making our way down the side of the mountain, but quickly realized that this way was a bit more treacherous. There were small drops and overhangs that had to be carefully maneuvered down or we would fall and get hurt. And the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. Then I did something really stupid. I jumped from a ledge to an overhang I thought was closer than it actually was and sprained my ankle pretty badly.

Now, Dad had an injured (pudgy, I might add) son with his other three, one was about seven or eight, to get down before it was dark. Dad would distract us by singing or telling us stories, all to which we just rolled our eyes. We climbed for what seemed like hours and finally made it down in the dark. We walked in the wash to get to the truck and spent most of the ride home telling Dad he was crazy and why had we even listened to him? Ask any of my brothers about one of the worst family trips and this one is sure to come up. (And I’ll probably be painted as a big baby.) What characteristic could I have possibly gotten from that? My dad gave me optimism and the ability to make a bad situation a little better. He also gave me the ability to persevere and finish what I start.

The third is respect for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the priesthood. We honor the Lord by keeping our baptismal covenants, our sacrament covenants, our temple covenants, and by keeping the Sabbath day holy. The Lord has said, “All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.” I was honored to baptize and confirm my daughter yesterday. I have baptized and confirmed many people in my lifetime, but yesterday’s experience was by far the best. I know it will be the same feeling when I perform priesthood ordinances for my remaining children.

The fourth is to respect yourself as a son of God. Those of us who have served missions have seen the miracle in the lives of some we have taught as they have come to realize that they are sons and daughters of God.

I served my mission in Brasilia, Brazil. In my first area, I met a woman who was one of the kindest people I have ever known. However, she did not agree with what we taught her at first. After careful thought, she decided that she was done with the lessons, but we could still all be friends. In one of the bravest moments of my life, I stood up and said in as much Portuguese as I knew, “No, Maricela, we cannot be friends. I can’t let my friends turn down something that will help them for the rest of their lives. I can’t let my friends make stupid decisions and still be friends with them. If we are to be friends, then you need to know that I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If you accept it, be baptized and live by the principles of the Church, then you will be happy forever. Will you be baptized?”

One of the greatest moments of my life was when, as I was just about to leave, I received a letter in the office. It was from Maricela and it was an invitation to attend the temple session where she was to be sealed for time and all eternity to the then Elder’s Quorum president.

If we are constantly aware of the seeds of divinity in us, it will help us rise above earthly challenges and difficulties. Brigham Young said: “When I look upon the faces of intelligent beings I look upon the image of the God I serve. There are none but what have a certain portion of divinity within them; and though we are clothed with bodies which are in the image of our God, yet this mortality shrinks before that portion of divinity which we inherit from our Father.” Being aware of our divine heritage will help men young and old to grow and magnify the divinity which is within them and within all of us.

All of us who wish to be honored by the Lord and receive of His goodness, mercy, and eternal blessings must, I repeat, be obedient to these four great principles:

  1. Have a reverence for Deity.

  2. Have respect for and honor family relationships.

  3. Have a profound reverence for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the holy priesthood.

  4. Have respect for yourself as a son of God.

I know it is important to love and honor our Heavenly Father by trying to be like Him in all the things we do. I am thankful to belong to a church that instructs and encourages men to treat their wives with dignity and respect because, after all, we believe we will be together forever. And forever is a very long time.


Shanakin Skywalker said...

Great talk E. Hansen. I'm glad it was a happy day!

Melissa said...

Ryan...that was splendid. I loved the impromtu part you added at the end. Thanks for the smiles. Also loved the story about hiking with your dad. I definately see him as optimistic. He's a great man. You are very blessed to have him for a role model.

Sandi said...

Too bad we didn't make it to church this Sunday!

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