Wednesday, June 6, 2012

(Not) Measuring Up

I have some family members that are fairly well known in the Mormon community. My grandfather has written several books that many Mormons use to supplement their scripture study. His grandfather was in the first presidency. My aunt and her husband both teach at BYU. My cousin has acted in some well-known Mormon movies. When I was growing up, my dad seemed to be the local authority on Church doctrine. If anyone had a question concerning the Church or the scriptures, they would go straight to him.
This biological connection to virtual religious royalty is apparently supposed to be some indication that I'm a super intellectual spiritual giant who's good at everything. Please try not to be disappointed when I reveal that this is not the case. In fact, don't even be surprised. (Yes, some people have been terribly shocked, and I think offended, by this truth.) I mean, there has to be one loser in every family. (Just kidding; I'm totally not the loser in my family, but that's a topic for another entry.) 
When I first moved into the small branch that I now attend, and the connection was made between me and my relatives (who I barely know, by the way), I was instantly some sort of celebrity. I was cool by association. It's mostly my grandpa that affords me this fame. What's funny is that no one wants to ask questions about him (not that I'd be able to answer anyway), but they all want to tell me stories about him. I don't even know how many times I've responded, "Hey, me too!" to someone excitedly proclaiming that they had met my grandfather before.
There's one particular woman in my branch who is very intelligent and likes to make sure that everyone knows this is the case. She doesn't waste much of her time talking to me, but, when she does, it's always condescending. One time, back when she still thought I must me perfect due to my relations, she asked me which of my grandpa's books was my favorite (or something like that). I didn't have an answer, so she asked how many of his books I have read. I tried to avoid answering that question as well, and she flat out asked me if I had read any of them. When I admitted that I hadn't, she looked at me like I had just eaten one of her grandchildren. She was apparently personally offended that I didn't read a book written by my grandfather, and the idea that his blood in my veins made me god-like quickly vanished.
Here's the thing. I think it's great to be well-read and know your stuff. I fully support people who memorize scriptures and read additional books to delve deeper into doctrine and whatnot. I'm sure my grandpa wrote some amazing things. I mean, he's been quoted in General Conference a bunch of times, so he must have known a thing or two. However, I know better than his worshipers how his family turned out, and I'm not impressed. Like I said, I don't even know that much about the guy. I'm sure he was great in a lot of ways. But there are other ways I happen to know he could have improved.
There are people who read his books like they have all the answers to all the mysteries in the scriptures. These people can quote a scripture to answer any question or relate to any situation. Anyone who can even understand what my grandpa wrote has got to be smart. These are good people. They do what they feel they need to in order to better understand the scriptures and the Gospel. However, these people can be hard to stomach sometimes.
If I'm being a jerk because I'm judging someone who doesn't deserve it (a known weakness of mine), I don't want to hear the exact chapter and verse where the scriptures tell me not to. I would much rather be chastised by seeing someone treat that person the way they deserve to be treated. Properly. Or even point out some good things about that person so I realize that I was being rash.
What I mean is that examples work better than lectures. Going out and living the Gospel is much more effective than just reading about it all the time. I'm not as smart or as awe-inspiring as my grandpa. I'm not as talented as my cousin or as witty as my aunt. Despite all that, I use what qualities I do have to live the best way I know how, and I think I usually do a pretty good job.

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