Monday, November 23


It happens all the time. The conversation turns direction, and someone says, "That's not right. That's wrong."

What does it mean for something to be wrong?

Sometimes being wrong means being imprecise - whether the statement lacks information or makes gross assumptions that aren't valid. When I took advanced Newtonian Mechanics, I learned that pretty much *everything* I had ever learned about physics before had been wrong. While the equations were good at approximating some very simple situations, at the core they were wrong because they approximated almost none of reality. Useful, but wrong.

Sometimes wrong is simple inaccuracy. Like when I use the wrong word, and have the undeniable urge to fix it, or when I close my eyes and type on my phone, then go back and edit the words that I inevitably misspelled. Or let the phone automatically edit for me. Or fix the esoteric words that my phone doesn't know and autocorrected into nonsense.

Sometimes wrong is contextually inappropriate - like when I wear the wrong color to match my skin tone or my pants and shirt don't go together. Or when I say something that makes people feel uncomfortable because it's awkward. Or when I talk waaaaaaay too much even after I've realized that I should have stopped talking... and then realize after the fact that I had been talking even more than I realized before. 

Sometimes wrong is applicable to someone in particular because they are an exception. Like when I expect someone to react and think in one way, except that they don't.

Sometimes wrong happens because people and circumstances change. Assuming that someone is always a liar may be accurate, until they've repented and become a new person.

Sometimes wrong is a personal or social judgment of unfair, immoral, or unethical treatment.

And sometimes wrong is wrong because God has revealed that it ultimately leads away from Him... and toward unhappiness.

There are a million opportunities to be right or wrong each day. To do the right or wrong thing. To drive the speed limit or not, wear the right clothes or not, say the right things or not.

In countless of those opportunities, I find myself failing every single day. I rarely say the right thing, and often say the wrong one. In social situations, I look like a totally normal person, but in reality I'm far more like an elephant in a china shop, who is trying to carefully pick up and polish each piece. With extreme care, I can do it. But ask me to do anything more, I become someone who inevitably smashes far more plates than anyone could have ever thought possible.

It's also easy to be wrong. To know the wrong things, and even to believe the wrong things. Most sources of information - popular, social, medical, scientific, humanistic, artistic, philosophical, interpersonal, and through the senses - are awfully imprecise and easily tricked, manipulated, or simply misinterpreted. 

The only sense and form of communication that can really convey truth is the Spirit of Truth - the Holy Ghost, who testified of truth and burns it into my heart beyond question.

Hence my thoughts tonight.

I'm ok with making mistakes - being temporarily wrong - in most of life's decisions. Wearing the wrong clothes might make me feel silly or out of place (if I notice), or make other people wonder, but it's unlikely to make a big difference in my happiness. And not knowing the actual equations for air resistance when I try to calculate the velocity of a waterfall really doesn't make a difference.

But I'm not ok with being wrong on other things. I need to be right - and whether that means sticking to my guns regardless of circumstance or changing my outlook, that's a necessity in my book.

The most important one to me is knowing what God believes. From my perspective, God's judgment on right and wrong aren't really judgmental in the most commonly used form of the word. Does sinning bring down justice? Yes. But God prescribes and proscribes actions and beliefs because He loves me and wants me to be happy... not because He wants me to suffer.

Some of the big things that are right in my life, and lead to happiness: the law of chastity, service to others, faith and patience, and the love of God.

Some of the things that lead to unhappiness: same-sex sexual relations, selfishness, pride, impatience or entitled-ness, and being unwilling to listen to God.

I realize that the world is moving deeper and deeper towards unhappiness. People are becoming more entitled, more unfaithful, more unwilling to follow God's commandments no matter what the sacrifices requires... So I wanted to share my testimony that life isn't about momentary fulfillment. It's not about being right... but about doing the right thing, regardless of the cost. 

Following God will always bring greater lasting happiness than any other alternative. I've had to make huge changes in my life to follow God. I've had to change who I was, and let God reform me in His refiner's fire. And I am a witness that it works. I still have a long way to go, but the gospel does truly work. For everyone.

And that's at least one thing that I know with absolute certainty that is right. God Himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, burned it deep into my soul. And it continues to burn as He teaches me what is right.

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