Today’s guest post is by LaJauna. Hiya there folks, please allow me to formally introduce myself to you all: My name is LaJauna L. Jentsen, and I’m currently serving as the second-counselor in the Relief Society Presidentcy of the BYU 69th ward. I got wind that Mormon Matters was looking for female authors who could write from a faithful LDS perspective, and I responded to the call because I think I can certainly fit the bill. Not only am I a female, but I also come from a long, long line of pioneer stock that goes all the way back to the days of Joseph Smith himself. I’ve done a couple pioneer re-inactments at youth conferentces too, so I have a first-hand witness of the incredible faith my pioneer ancestors must have had in order to endure the trials and tribulations they did. Also, my grandfathers, dad, and several uncles have held many important leadership positions at the ward and stake levels, and my older brother is currently serving as a DL in the Frankfurt mission (Kentucky, not Germany) after being out in the mission field for just two months! (Way to go Trevin!) Anyways, enough about my credentials.
I’m going to be writing a column here from time to time called “LaJauna on Life,” in the which I will talk about lessons that I have learned from life in the hopes that you may all benefit from those lessons as well. My freshman year here at BYU last year was such an amazing growing experience where I learned and developed so much as a person and in the gospel. The whole experience of living away from my home in Sandy for the first time ever was truly a refiner’s fire for me. But it was all for my good and benefit in the end, and that brings me to the topic of this inaugural issue of LaJauna on Life – Lesson #1: Deserving Charity.
Last Spring we had a really spiritual lesson in Gospel Doctrine class about the topic of grace. I felt like I could really use more grace in my life, so I decided to start doing more acts of charity in an effort to prove my worthiness to receive it. One evening, our Relief Society President called and asked if I could take dinner over to a sister in our ward who was recuperating from surgery. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to get in some service hours, so I gladly agreed to do it even though it would come at a great personal sacrifice. Cooking dinner for this recuperating sister meant I wouldn’t be able to study as much for my Marriage Prep final the next morning. But, remembering the Lord’s contractual offer that “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say,” I cooked up a batch of my famous chicken broccoli casserole, and walked it over to this recuperating sister’s condo. And boy did I get the shock of my life when she opened the door!
What was painfully obvious to me the moment this sister opened the front door was that the kind of surgery she was recuperating from was a boob job! You read that right — she’d gotten a total BJ! This sister who’d previously been no more than a B-cup on a good day was now flaunting a grossly overdone set of double-D’s! I was just speechless, so I just kinda slipped my oven mitts with the casserole dish into her hands without saying a word, turned around, and ran back to my apartment.
I was so flustered that whole night that I couldn’t even concentrate on studying for my Marriage Prep final. I was caught in a whirlpool of anxiety and anger, knowing full well that the Brethren have clearly countseled us not to get that sort of self-gratifying elective surgery. For example, here’s a quote from a General Conference talk by Elder Holland:
As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.”
In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children.
All that night as Elder Hollands words were ringing in my head, I couldn’t stop wondering: Did the Relief Society President know what kind of surgery this sister was recuperating from? And was Sister Boob Job now under the misimpression that the Relief Society President and I looked favorably upon her decision to self-mutilate her own body? And most importantly, by giving service to a sinner, had I just made myself an accomplice to sin?
But as I sat there all flustered that night, a peaceful feeling gradually descended upon me as I realized that God must have made this terrible thing happen in my life to teach me a lesson. It donned on me that now was certainly was not the time and place for me to be worrying about whether Sister Boob Job deserved my act of charity. Rather, determining whether this recuperating sister deserved my charity was something the Relief Society President and I should have done before we decided to help her. Now that I had already helped her, the damage had been done, and it was too late to take back the charity I had shown.
And so that’s what brings me to LaJauna on Life’s Lesson #1: We need to make sure that people truly deserve our help before performing acts of charity for them. If we don’t make sure people are worthy of our acts of charity, we might be misunderstood as approving of behaviors of which we don’t approve. Or worse, by serving a sinner we might make ourselves accomplices to their sin.
So, just to give a few examples of how to apply this lesson in our daily lives, before helping a homeless person we need to first ask: “How come you’re homeless, and how can I really be sure you’re not going to just use this money to buy cigarettes or beer?” Or if we’re ever asked to help out with a baby shower we should first ask: “Who is the father, and was this baby conceived out of wedlock?” Or if we’re ever asked to help someone with AIDS, we should first ask that person: “How did you get it?” And so on and so forth.
But anyway, I should finish my story. Despite my most fervent pleadings for forgiveness that night, and in spite of my prayers for help on my Marriage Prep final the next morning, I ended up getting a D on the test. So I definitely learned my lesson this time, and I’m just going to have to forgive myself and move on.
But I’ll tell you one thing, I hope my broccoli casserole gave Little Miss Lusty Busty some super bad gas!