One of the sacrifices we make in serving missions is missing family reunions and celebrations. Recently my Uncle John Clawson had a birthday celebration in Salt Lake. He has been very ill, and the family gathered to celebrated his birthday, and improving health. I would have loved to have been there and see John again, but it is part and parcel of our choice to serve.
From left to right: my Uncle John Clawson, my daughter Liz, my son Jeremiah and his wife Jaime (Jeremiah’s nick-name is JJ from Jeremiah John Clawson…. when he married Jaime, we gave them the nick-name: the 3-J’s)
My Uncle John with friend? It reminds me of a story about John: I was on a family trip to Mexico, the Yucatan area, with my parents, brother, and two uncles and families. One night Uncle John, after a night of drinking (in his cups?) was sitting on the balcony with everyone when a big green bug flew down and landed on the balcony railing. Somehow he was either dared, or got it into his mind to test his mettle by eating the big green bug! This he did (I saw him do it!), and the next day was so ill he could not leave his room!
I also remember the last birthday party I attended for John in LA many years ago, with my cousin DeeDee. I was visiting John, as I was temporarily working in California, and it happened to be his birthday. DeeDee brought over a cake shaped like a… oh, that’s right! This IS a family/missionary blog… so I will have to edit the entire rest of the story! So sorry….
You see, I have two different families that I call the ‘goat’ side and the ‘sheep’ side (from the Savior’s adage about the goats and the sheep being separated). My mother’s side of the family is the sheep side–almost all are faithful members of the Mormon Church. My father’s side of the family is the goat side–although most are members of the Church, and/or Christians, they are not, well, quite as faithful.
This goat/sheep thing started when I left on my mission as a youth. My father’s family threw me a party prior to leaving, and cooked a goat for the main course! It seemed both fitting and ironic, as they drank copious amounts of alcohol and had a great time at my ‘mission farewell’ party!
The strange thing about my ‘two’ families is that I am torn about my feelings towards them. Put it this way…is it wrong that I enjoy spending time with the goat side more than the sheep side of the family? I think it comes down to judging others and feeling like you can be oneself. The goat side of the family do not judge each other, but love you for who and what you are. I know that I can be myself around them without worrying about how others might think of me–I know that they will not judge me for my weaknesses!
On the other hand, I have often seen the sheep side of the family judge both themselves and others harshly for any small weakness or sin.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it is important for us to both be good and do good. We should strive for perfection, even though it is not possible to obtain in this life. Yet there must be a middle ground somewhere between the two sides! We should be able to be wise and discerning concerning our own faults and weaknesses, working to overcome our weaknesses and sins over time, while at the same time being able to refuse to judge others–to accept others for who and what they are! To love others without ‘conditions’, without demanding perfection of others that we cannot hope to obtain ourselves…
Well, that’s my speech for today! Hope you liked it! Love to ALL my family (BOTH the sheep and the goats!). Elder Clawson