"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
January 29, 2015
Sheep, Raccoons, Goats, and Big, Fat Sinners
by Hannah Bird

Recently I was reading responses to one of my articles. It’s always instructive to read people’s thoughts. It’s more fun to read snippy comments on the state of my icy little heart.

But one commenter really went for the gold. In the article, I had talked about my kids. “Kids,” he said, are baby goats. The Lord calls us children. Didn’t I agree with the Lord?

Well clearly I had only two choices. I could fall on my knees, repenting for my goatishness, or walk forward in clear knowledge of my shattered, sinful, kid-calling ways.

Or I could use it as an example of faulty logic in a lesson for my kids. And now you also know which choice I made. I am deeply grateful that anyone would think I had evolved to such a spiritual point that my primary concern would be a pretend sin made up by someone on the internet.

I hate to tell you this. But I am doing way, way worse things than calling children kids. In fact, I did not read that fellow’s comments with charity in my heart but rather with snort in my nose. I am awash in ooey gooey sins even as we speak.

As I write this I am harboring ill will towards someone. I shouldn’t. I am working on it. But I am not done yet. I lied to someone this morning when they inquired about my health because sometimes I am too prickly and small to have conversations that annoy me.

I am experiencing some hardships and have allowed them to make me afraid. Ungrateful even. I know I should be giving thanks in all things. There are few things I believe more strongly. But it feels impossible just now.

But I referred to children as kids. And someone wants me to put that on the list.

We do this. We do it to ourselves. We do it to each other. We make up small oceans of sins that seem so small and harmless. What would it hurt if I feel like I can’t say kids? Worst case scenario, I type a longer word.

So where’s the harm?

Some years ago a beloved friend gave up on God. She gave up on religion. She gave up on any notion of the spiritual. She quit. In trying to explain why (though she owed me no such explanation) she said, “I did everything I was supposed to do. It didn’t make me better. It made me tired.”

This is the trouble with the made-up gospels of personal preference. The Lord’s Gospel redeems, expands and edifies. But we have no such promise for made-up rules even if we call them gospel.

The Lord promises that he will bear us up in carrying burdens. But he has not offered to carry every single norm, preference, and opinion that we choose to pick up.

I watched a reality show once about an exterminator. He was examining a beautiful old home. The owner was going to rehabilitate the historic structure. The exterminator was there to run off the raccoons that were reluctant to give up tenancy.

He was explaining the damage that they could do when he came to a sagging spot in the ceiling. With a tool, he poked the low spot hard. That was it. The ceiling collapsed, weighed down by years and years of raccoon poop. One would never think of raccoon droppings destroying a structure. But if you stack up enough, it is too heavy a weight to bear.

When we feel borne down by the faithful life, it’s a really good time to poke the sagging structures and see what is weighing them down.

I will probably keep saying kid. Yes, I know the Lord called us sheep, not goats. But we are partial to goats around here. I like sheep as well as the next granddaughter of a sheep rancher. But getting called a sheep is not exactly a compliment either, if we are getting right down to it.

I can make a case for both sheep and goats. They are givers of wool or milk. You can make cheese or lovely soap. They are either so dumb that they are constantly getting into trouble (bahhh) or so smart that they are constantly getting into trouble (bleet). Both have their challenges. Both have value.

But I cannot make a case for raccoon poop. And I certainly don’t suggest piling it up over your head so that it can all come crashing down someday. After all, it could ruin your perfectly nice goats’ milk cheese.

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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