I was having a conversation with a friend last night and somehow my weird brain came up with the idea of what is bad? When people think they have been “bad” or had a “bad life” or were even “born bad”, what does that mean? I think the idea of bad is both relative and subjective. What seems bad to one person may not be to another. Sure there are certain social constructs that dictate that things like murder and theft are bad. Not just because of the act and what happens once the act is done, but it is also illegal. So what if we dispel with the idea of “legally wrong or bad” and talk about why people tend to think of themselves as bad.
Many people live by a certain set of rules or standards that dictate to them what is right and wrong or what is bad or good. Religions are based on it a lot of times. It’s funny that people of different faiths sometimes have these righteous indignation’s that make them seem so superior to other people, like they hold the moral high ground all the time. Sometimes people just guilt themselves needlessly and sometimes those overly righteous people make sure those people continue to feel guilty. I mean sure we are all human and we all make mistakes, does that mean we should walk around wringing our hands and fretting over being damned after we die? This is what I mean by what is bad? It’s subjective and it is relative to the situation I think. I think it’s relative to your own mind-set at the time.
Now here comes the tricky part, does your mind-set at the time or the situation absolve you from whatever wrong or bad thing you did? I mean surely there has to be accountability at some point especially if that bad thing hurt another person. Should we just say well he or she was not in the right frame of mind or they were in a bad situation so it’s forgivable? Shouldn’t there be consequences even if the situation was bad? It can get pretty convoluted when you try to wrap your mind around it. What about those situations where the only person you are hurting is yourself? I am reminded of a line in the movie “Where the Heart Is” where Stockard Channing’s character says “Sheriff, we’re alcoholics, we’re generally satisfied just to hurt ourselves.” Should you endure some sort of hell fire and damnation when you really just hurt yourself? In this situation, doesn’t the hurt you inflicted upon yourself serve as sort of its own punishment? One could argue you’ve suffered enough right? But then again, is there such a thing as only hurting yourself? Whether you are speaking physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. Sure I suppose if you are alone and have no one else in the world that loves you, then maybe yes what you do to yourself doesn’t hurt anyone but you. But for the vast majority of people, we all have people who love us and worry about us and care when we are hurting ourselves. So in that sense, is there really such a thing as only hurting yourself? Because if you hurt yourself and the people you love have to watch it, then are you not by extension hurting them as well? Like I said, tricky right?
So what is my point? My point is, and this is just my opinion of course, that sometimes life is life and we make decisions that sometimes we shouldn’t, but does it really serve us or anyone else to go through your life kicking yourself for things you may have done that either hurt you or someone else or both? What is the point? Is it what God wants? Now depending on your faith you may think of God as this omnipotent being who takes inventory of your rights and wrongs all day every day for infinity and dole’s out a punishment or a reward at the end. Sort of like a glorified Santa Clause, he knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake or you don’t get any presents on Christmas type of person. Maybe you see him as a merciful God who understands that you are human and understands your mind-set at all times and takes into account these things and just loves you no matter what. Sort of like a mother or father on earth loves there kids no matter what, even if they are not being the best kids all the time.Maybe you don’t believe in a God at all and you just think we are here on this earth and then we die and there is nothing after that.That is a pretty grim outlook but some people do believe that.
So regardless of which scenario you believe in, the question still remains, if we are here on this earth because God put us here, we are still here and we still have to try to live the best life we can and try not to be miserable regardless of if you think you are headed for hell fire and damnation or heaven or nothingness, wouldn’t you want to at least spend your time on earth trying to be happy and not being guilt ridden? I would argue that would be the best use of your time. Make yourself happy, try to do right by other people and if you make a mistake, apologize and try to make it right the best you can and then move on. Don’t carry that burden of all your wrongs forever on this earth until you die, because I suspect there will be plenty of time to pick those back up after you are dead. Maybe you will pay for them after you are gone, maybe you won’t, but I used to worry about it. I used to wring my hands over it. I used to think, I will be punished for time and all eternity after I’m gone because I couldn’t measure up. Measure up to who? Who are we really trying to measure up to? The other people at church? Our parents? God? Maybe it’s true that I’ll be punished maybe it isn’t. But what good does it do me to worry about it now? Am I serving myself, my family or anyone else if I am paralyzed by guilt? Not really.
Now, I am LDS, and so I do happen to believe in the hereafter and that Jesus died for our sins so that we could return back to our Heavenly Father. That is my personal belief, and I have gone through the repentance process before. So I am not preaching anything contrary to my beliefs or contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Again, this is my opinion not doctrine, it’s my personal experience of having tried to live the gospel as well as I could and failing miserably, more than once. Does that make me damned? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Does that make me bad? I don’t think so. I think it makes me human and I think the Lord knows my heart and your heart and everyone’s heart and he knows that I am strong-willed and that I have a hard time discerning between my own thoughts and the spirit’s thoughts (if you will) personal revelation does not come easy to me because I literally can’t tell the difference most of the time. Do I do things that I know (according to my religious background) are “bad”? Probably. Does that make me “bad”? I guess I will have to let God be the judge on that when I die because honestly, it’s all relative and it’s all subjective and I have chosen not to worry about it anymore. It’s too exhausting and I will probably never figure it out in this lifetime, but that’s alright.
I probably stunned a lot of my church going friends when a couple of years ago I made the decision to be less involved with my church. That was probably confusing to, well, probably all of them. I’m sure they thought did someone offend her? Was it something someone did? Did she just decide to abandon her faith and her beliefs? The answer is no to all of them. If you know me, you know that the only person capable of offending me successfully is my own husband. Quite literally, no one else has that power over me. Maybe my daughter a close second but not really because I recognize she is a teenager and it’s sort of the teenager’s job to be difficult. Did I lose my faith? Not in the slightest. I still believe the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on the earth today. I still believe that President Monson is the true prophet. I still believe Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of the Holy Ghost to restore the true gospel to the earth, and I still believe that Jesus Christ died for all of our sins so we could return to our Heavenly Father. So, why? I guess the answer is still a mystery to me. At the time I told myself that it was too hard. My daughter wasn’t interested and it was always a struggle and my Husband is not a member so it was just me. So I told myself I did it for my family. In part I guess that’s true. But mostly, I think I was just tired. It’s exhausting being a lone island in your own family. One could argue that if I didn’t marry a non-member I wouldn’t have these problems, or if I wasn’t living a lifestyle that lead me to marry a non member that I wouldn’t have these problems. That may or may not be true, we’ll never know now. Now maybe it’s “bad” and maybe it isn’t. I think I’m just not sure I care anymore whether it is or it isn’t. I think I will just live my life and do the best I can and it will all get sorted out in the end. Bad? I guess God will be the judge.