Quantcast
Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

New Harmony: Mustering a mustard seed of faith in others

By Jerry Earl Johnston, Deseret News

Published: Sat, Aug. 16 10:33 a.m. MDT

 The flowering bloom of the European garlic mustard is displayed by Roger Hedge of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in an Indianapolis park Wednesday, May 3, 2000.

The flowering bloom of the European garlic mustard is displayed by Roger Hedge of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in an Indianapolis park Wednesday, May 3, 2000.

(Michael Conroy, Associated Press)

There are two ways to read the expression “taken in.”

One is positive. It refers to a poor wayfarer being “taken in” and given shelter.

The other is not.

There, being taken in means getting hoodwinked.

And what burns in life is when you discover that someone you thought was in the first camp turns out to be in the second.

In my experience charlatans prosper in places where people feel the most passion — in romance, religion and politics, for example. And since I write about religion, I’ve seen bamboozling and been bamboozled myself. The most recent “hoodwinking” came a couple of weeks ago when a man I looked up to was brought low by the law for cheating people. A man I saw as above reproach got “reproached” and jailed.

I felt the way the followers of Jimmy Swaggart must have felt.

Before that, I remembering writing a newspaper piece about a counselor who took troubled kids and turned them into model citizens. It was one of those “attaboy” articles.

A month later he was arrested for selling drugs to the kids he counseled.

Then there was local religious leader who took me “country club” golfing and shared his home and hearth with me.

He’s now in the slammer.

And worst of all was the clergyman, a friend for 30 years, whom I would have trusted with my life. He helped me walk through many storms — until he was revealed to be a pedophile.

That last experience, by the way, was almost enough to turn me into a bitter old geezer who shouts at kids and kicks stray animals.

But I knew that would be letting the losers win.

Discovering your friends have two faces is commonplace but always maddening. It can undermine a person’s confidence in his own judgment.

But what’s the alternative? Becoming a Crabby Appleton?

Fortunately, I’ve known many people who’ve proved to be exactly who they claimed to be. I know such folks are out there.

Besides, I, too, have disappointed others. I know people who felt I was as solid as Gibraltar only to learn that was gibberish. And I’ve been in relationships where all I cared about was myself.

More than once I’ve handed out advice I didn’t follow.

Still, I keep working to round myself out. And since I don’t want people to give up on me, I can’t give up on them.

More than once I’ve been “taken in” — handed a bill of goods and made to feel like a fool. But just as often I’ve been taken in, nurtured and healed because I was able to muster a mustard seed of faith in somebody else.

The last thing I want is to be the guy who gives up.

And that means not giving up on others.

Email: jerjohn@deseretnews.com

Recommended
1. Clive
Murray, UT,
Aug. 16, 2014

Amen. Thanks for the reminder.

2. Karen R.
Houston, TX,
Aug. 16, 2014

To the author:

That was an honest piece, thanks. I feel much the same. And I'm sorry about the pedophile. I think "expert manipulator" comes with this personality constellation. One reason we all fail to identify them for a time.

Thanks again for the nonjudgmental, unflinching candor.

3. terra nova
Park City, UT,
Aug. 16, 2014

Don't know Jerry, but always like reading his columns. Can't help but like the guy. Stay strong and keep writing Jerry!

4. The Scientist
Provo, UT,
Aug. 17, 2014

Good, short article, Mr. Johnston.

"In my experience charlatans prosper in places where people feel the most passion — in romance, religion and politics, for example."

Indeed, which is why we should all be extra careful in those areas not to be easily "taken in". As a matter of principle, I tend to grant only a "grain of mustard seed's worth" of faith to passionate persons in these areas - a grain of trust which, once destroyed, is not easily won back.

Regarding romance, I have been the luckiest man alive to have placed a grain of faith in the wonderful LDS woman who has been my beloved wife now for thirty years, and it has grown to a forest of love and trust.

Regarding religion, having nurtured a grain of faith according to "Moroni's Promise" for over three decades, and finding that trust to have been misplaced, I find the passionate expressions in testimony meeting each week to be highly suspect.

Regarding politics, my Party has been hijacked by radicals who have crushed my trust in the GOP.

5. kvnsmnsn
Springville, UT,
Aug. 18, 2014

Scientist posted:

=Regarding religion, having nurtured a grain of faith according to "Moroni's
=Promise" for over three decades, and finding that trust to have been misplaced,
=I find the passionate expressions in testimony meeting each week to be highly
=suspect.

Scientist, I hate it when people try asking God a question and God takes huge amounts of time to give Her/His answer. If it were up to me, God would answer each question immediately, like God did mine. But how exactly does one determine how long the wait should be, between the point of asking the question and the point of giving up on an answer? Can we really say that it should be within three minutes, or three days, or three years, or three decades?

And if one's goal is to learn God's will in her/his life, and one asks God a question and doesn't get an answer after a long period of time, what exactly is that one's alternative but to just keep waiting for God's answer? What else can that one do to achieve that goal?