LaJauna on Life – Lesson #1: Deserving Charity

guestMormon 67 Comments

charityneverfailethToday’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.

page19_blog_entry59_summary-casserole-ck-1206186-xLast 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.

httpwwwAnd 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!


Comments 67

  1. Wow LaJauna! You scored a D on your test to match the D’s on Miss Lusty Busty’s chest!

    While I agree that charity shouldn’t facilitate bad behavior, I’m not sure we can always judge other people’s situations correctly. Personally, I feel sympathy for a woman insecure enough to need mutilating surgery to enhance her self-esteem. I would cheerfully give her a casserole although maybe not a full body hug since her new double D’s might be in the way–and they’re probably painful.

    I would also give an unwed mother a gift for her baby, although I would draw the line at holding a fun shower for an unwed 15-year-old for fear of sending the wrong message to her peers.

    Since we can’t always judge without error, let’s error on the side of charity.

  2. “…she’d gotten a total BJ!”

    I think that word doesn’t usually mean what you think it means. You might want to, um, bone up on your slang a little bit. So to speak.

  3. Was this article vetted or even read by anyone that is involved in the admin of this blog? It seems pretty obvious to me that it is a poorly disguised attempt to be intentionally offensive. The author no doubt thought it would be a hilarious and biting send up of ridiculous mormon cultures and prejudices. I can’t find it offensive, because it’s so obviously phony. I would be stunned if the person who wrote this post is actually LDS and, frankly, I’m even more stunned that anyone here agreed to allow it to be posted. I’m bewildered.

  4. I strongly disagree. No one deserves charity. I certainly have not deserved the countless acts of charity that I have received over time. The gifts of money, the loans from family (and friends) to assist with financial difficulties, the times when someone has said, “let me help you with that sick child”.

    Granted the sister who had breast augmentation surgery (let’s be polite!) brought upon herself any need for recuperation. Does that make her need any less real? Would King Benjamin tell us to look at the beggar whose laziness wound them up on the street and therefore turn them away? Did Christ approach the sinners who were afflicted with devastating diseases and ask if they had sinned? No. The need is all that matters when considering charity.

    If we MUST try to teach lessons along with the charity, we give first, then teach. That is the model that Christ showed us. He forgave sins, helped the person, then admonished them from sinning further. Charity is NOT just about giving people some material item (food, clothing, money)–although that certain can be part of it–in their time of need; it is about showing forth a genuine concern for their well-being, both temporal and spiritual.

    Here is my take on what TRUE charity really means. It means helping a person in their time of need, regardless of the cause, then teaching them how to be a better person, all without any expectation of anything in return, not even gratitude.

    That’s my take on it anyway. In reality, I am nowhere NEAR that ideal. Not even close. But I can dream.

  5. My husband and I are the parents of 3 children with hearing loss. It is genetic, even though no one on either side of the family has hearing loss. We discovered the first child’s loss after our second was born. Then the second’s loss was diagnosed.

    During my pregnancy with the third, we agonized over the possibilities for this child. Soon after birth, he too was diagnosed with the same condition. By accident our family was thrust into the media spotlight as an example of the importance of Newborn Hearing Screens. It was fine with us, it was a way of making wine out rotten grapes. The unexpected thing was how many people chastized us for continuing to have “defective” children when we should have stopped after the first two were identified. I felt no need to go into the details of how our third child arrived to justify his existence, but was more saddened the folks doing the condemning were choosing to miss the point of our family story.

    P.S. We did stop having children after our third. It is VERY expensive to raise 3 children with special needs if you don’t qualify for state aid and no insurance covers your disabilty.

    I no longer bother to ask why anyone is in any situation. I just give the casserole and wish them well.

  6. I agree with Benjamin. Since all of us are sinners, none of deserves the grace that God so richly gives us. After having served several times as a ward and stake RS president, I have learned that mercy is a critical part of charity and compassion–that God wants us to love and serve all of His children, not just those that are easy to serve or seem “worthy” of our service.

    Instead of judging the young woman for having a breast augmentation, perhaps you could have empathized with her suffering and felt compassion for her since she needed surgery to felt self-worth. We do not always understand the suffering of another, but as we serve, love, and care about others, we can experience peace and can serve others with joy.

  7. #12 – There’s little doubt that’s how it was intended, although I think it’s a very loose use of the word. The content doesn’t bother me, but I don’t really understand the point of a post like this on this site.

  8. Yes, please please tell us this is satirical!! We’re just dying to know!

    Re brjones:
    I hope you are being satirical in your first comment! Would you like us to be in the business of reading and proofing all the articles and censoring parts of them? I thought that’s why people came to this blog, because it’s open, honest, and candid!

    I am the first to admit that I take life way way too seriously, but come on guys!

    Having said that there is something to be learned here. Namely, that we can become very obsessed about making sure we are following every letter of every law that we neglect the core of the Gospel – to love others as ourselves.

    Well done Lajuana, I loved it and am looking forward to the next installment.

  9. OMH! (Oh My Heck!) I just got back from my morning classes at the SWKT and the JSB to find the most bizarre responses to my post already! I can see already that LaJauna on Life’s Lesson #2 is going to have to be on the topic of Unrighteous Judgmentalism. I feel like nobody has judged me righteously here.

    On the one end of the sprectum, you have people saying I’m not even a real person and that this is supposed to be some sort of “Satire”. You know people, that is truly one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone else. The only thing worse than hatred and abuse is being treated with apathy and indifference, and by getting treated like I’m not even a real person, I am feeling a TON of indifference from you folks. And I think that’s really just so mean.

    Then on the other end of the sprectum we have people chastising me for not being charitable enough, as if I’M the one who was being judgmental or non-charitable in the story I described above. All I can say is, you people need to study your scriptures and GC talks better, because if you think charity is supposed to be showing unconditional love to people, you’re way, way off base. That is one of Lucifer’s lies, and he would like nothing more than for us to show love and kindness to people who are sinning so that they will think we approve of their bad choices and will therefore continue in their sin.

    Anyway, you’ve got me all flustered here again, but I just want you all to know that I’ve forgiven you already and I’m praying for you too.

  10. I thought this post was not only inappropriate, but judgmental and really missed the mark on what the gospel teaches. LuJuana, I hope you can grow up before posting anything new. Your full-of-pride introduction about yourself shows you are just as insecure as the woman getting the surgery. I am disappointed this was even posted.

  11. I think it is great humor. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The introduction (before I realized the satire) was something amazing. It kind of reminds me of the women in RS who feel the need to share things like, “all my children served foreign missions.” I look forward to more from this comical author. If you look past the obvious it does make you think a little.

  12. LaJauna,

    I will be more impressed with your thoughts when (if?) your brother becomes zone leader or AP. But the ramblings of a sister of a lowly district leader does not stir my mush. Let me know when he moves up the chain. Thank you. And it’s Frankfort, KY, by the way, not Frankfurt. And as far as I know there is no mission with that name. But I’m sure he’s doing good work there, just not as good as the ZLs and APs.

  13. Lighten up everyone. It is what it is. If you can’t tolerate being held up to scorn, ridicule, and condescension for the foibles, quirks and idiosyncrasies of Mormonism then maybe it’s time to consider Hari Krishna or something equally mainstream. IMHO

  14. Interesting take GBSmith, considering you asked me to please stop commenting previously. Do you guys smell that? Hypocrisy. It stinks.

  15. Madam Curie (17), (if that’s your real name), I really don’t know what to say in response to your thinking I have anything to do with someone called Seriously So Blessed. Not to sound judgmental, but I think SSB is extremely materialistic and shallow. The only good thing I have to say about her is that her kids’ names are really cute. But I don’t even know if they’re real kids, because my sister-in-law told me she’s almost positive that SSB is fake. If so, that would be really great, because then I could use her fake kids’ names when I get that opportunity.

  16. LaJauna: re #16

    Welcome to the internet world – where you can be ‘ripped to pieces’ – slowly. But don’t be discouraged. Live and learn.

    Please don’t waste your time ‘praying’ for those who do not agree with you. For example, #1 gave you a good/fair response and you don’t have to pray for her.

    Your comment: “All I can say is, you people need to study your scriptures and GC talks better…” Well, Lady…if there is a time for you to hold on to your testimony of the truthfullness of the Church,- its now!

    Because you have opened yourself up to be slammed upside the head by Believers, Apostates, Heritics, and Atheists over your narrow minded approach to Charity. Your examples at the bottom of your preamble are pathetic.

    Leave the ‘tough love’ approach to the ‘experts’ – who are wrong themselves sometimes.

    Sorry, if I’m a little rough. I admire you for making a post in the 1st place and I believe you have a relevant issue – but take care – you may have talked yourself into a box, that may require prayer and syudy to get out of.

    Remember. should you engage on the internet – there are only a few rules, some of which, I may have violated for responding to you so harshly.- But I don’t think there will be many who will defend you. You are on your own.

  17. #15 – I’m not suggesting anyone proofread, much less censor anything, and as I said before, I have absolutey no problem with anyone criticizing the mormon religion or culture; I do it frequently myself. At th same time, surely you’re not saying that anything that is submitted by anyone is immediately posted without even an inquiring glance. I guess I’m wondering if the poster is a permablogger, because for those of us who haven’t been here forever and don’t know the ins and outs, it’s just a little disorienting. I just found it very curious.

    Obviously the poster is an intelligent person, and very familiar with mormon culture. I just don’t think it was terribly effective satire. No offense. By taking a satirical interpretation of mormon idiosyncrasies to such an extreme, I think it muddles the intention of the entire post. Are you criticizing people in the church who are so sheltered and who make such naive, shallow judgments, or are you making fun of people who criticize every little thing that members do? I think it’s difficult to tell. Additionally, I’m not really sure where the ’69’ and ‘BJ’ quips get you. I’m the least prude person I know, and enjoy off-color humor as much as anyone. I just don’t see how it has any relevance to mormon culture. There are many issues of mormon culture that are addressed by the post, but I don’t think inadvertant use of sexual references is an issue particularly tied to mormonism. Just my opinion.

  18. OF COURSE this is satire! If it was genuine, LaJauna would have humbly testified of how she turned her “life lesson” into faithful action, by personally promoting a voter initiative to amend the Utah state constitution in order to ban breast augmentation surgery! 😉

  19. I think BrJones has a good point (sorry if it seems like I’m trying to buddy up to you lately), the sarcasm was so thick that I can’t really pin down the actual point. That being said, my favorite part was the list of credentials.

  20. #39 – LaJauna, if your point was to criticize mormon culture, I think it was a brilliant post. If your point was to criticize those who criticize mormon culture, I think it was inappropriate.

  21. This post is good humor – thanks for the chuckle.

    The only sad commentary about the post is that there are actually people in our church who truly feel like this. And that’s just sad.

  22. Suppose the post is true. How far into the dirt should LaJauna be driven? – New converts and those blossuming in college, frequently make mistakes like this. But I guess she was warned in #25. But how does one, gracefully, come foward and admit that they were, sort of,…a little bit – wrong.

  23. I laughed when she said that living away from home her freshman year while attending BYU was like a refiner’s fire in her life. It’s in those moments, those life and death situations, when we are forced to confront mortality itself and such profound existential crisis that our light shines and we grow. Provo can really be a test of faith … lol.

  24. I agree that we may want to consider folks motives before we wade in to offer service; however, I am startled at the nicknames this sister earned for her choice. I think the issue we have here is in possibly being judgmental. I am a convert to the church and I have had members to share things with me that were in poor taste. I handled those issues under the guise of looking for the message and the lesson. Judgment was not a part of that and the lessons were learned and those brothers/sisters felt relieved in sharing their comments. My point is after years of living this life and watching and listening to the faithful, I have experienced that we can be very mean which is antithetical to what we want the public (potential converts) to believe. The article was a good article. The lesson I got from it was to be wary of the splinter we are managing in someone else’s eye when our focus should be on whittling away the two by four in our own eyes. This sister may have been totally out of line in her choice, but there is a righteous judge to manage that. He requires us to forgive and to serve. If I had not learned that lesson before joining the church, I would have long left the church. Love your neighbors and regardless of their choices, they may grow to love you in return. Serve them well and they may be that source of service that you need in the worst way. We are just imperfect people and we make mistakes. I may have made a mistake by writing this, but I wanted to at least let you know to keep writing because it is good and I did learn from it. Great job!!! Best regards! Thought provoking. 🙂

  25. LaJauna –I’m Happily Married but if I wasn’t I would fall head over heels in love with you, you are just brilliant. The Administrators may know more than me but I think that this is an alter ego cooked up by one of those who post already (my suscpision is Hawkgrrrl because I love her style too).

    The emotion that I felt as I read your post, really helped me reassess my feelings and my actions this is one of the best examples of satire that I have read in a long time.

    I would love to hear your opinion on SSM, or Pro – Choice vs Pro Life.

    But if I could make a request “Priesthood Ban”.

  26. I totally thought this was TAMN writing, but then I realized that she wouldn’t be all judge-y about someone having a breast augmentation. She’s already planning one for herself.

  27. If this is satire, then why is LaJauna listed on the left side author’s list? Is this all that anyone can comment on? – to accuse the author of satire and not being real?

    I suppose so, – because LaJauna’s only response so far is #16 – which provides everybody with even more ammo against LaJauna. Her #37 only shows that she is watching what everyone says but she still refuses to engage, – and it looks like she hopes that this post will just burns itself out.

  28. O_o

    Hmmm… if this is satire, it’s not obvious enough, because it took me reading the post long enough to start getting suspicious. Maybe I’m dense…

  29. LaJauna, great post! I look forward to more like this.

    I’m sorry to come so late to this discussion. Because many here have had trouble fully understanding LaJauna’s thoughts, I would like to expand on her remarks. Part of LaJauna’s point is the same as that of the New Testament story of the woman taken in adultery. The woman is brought before Jesus and accused, and then some stuff happens about writing in the dirt and stoning–I’ll skip over the details so I can get to the point, which is that finally, Jesus says–WHAM!–“Go and sin no more.” No tolerance of sin there!

    This story teaches us, just as LaJauna now has, that we must not look favorably on sin, or give service to sinners–whether casseroles or commutation of capital punishment–in a way that makes tolerators, and hence accomplices (great insight LaJauna!) of their sins.

    LaJauna, do I have that right?

  30. I guess I’m going to take issue with the idea that a breast augmentation is “sin.” Since the dear patient had her surgery performed in UT (I’m going to assume UT county), that it was likely performed by a temple recommend carrying plastic surgeon. Most likely even a high priest (if not, I know several plastic surgeons in UT County that are). I do agree that women in our society make unwise choices based on cultural forces but I don’t think Elder Holland was stating that making unwise choices was necessarily a “sin.” If you want to say that double d breasts are sinful, what of the poor sisters who happen naturally to arrive at such a situation? I agree with #53 that there are some serious envy issues involved here similar to what happens when the “immodestly dressed girl” gets all of the attention at the stake dance. It is true that the patient placed herself at risk of infection, unsightly scars, and worse, even loss of nipple sensation, but I don’t agree that her actions were sinful. It was also likely that the sweet sister’s home teacher even gave her a priesthood blessing prior to the operation. Last time I checked the Handbook of Instructions, breast augmentation surgery isn’t even on the temple recommend list of questions so I feel that I’m on pretty safe ground with my opinion. Still a funny story and certainly sounds like the same BYU culture that I survived through over thirty years ago when we used to argue about whether using the vending machines in the dorms on Sunday was “breaking the Sabbath.”

  31. I have two friends who’ve had breast reduction surgery and they both told me it was one of the most painful experiences they’ve been through. I didn’t find this post funny or enlightening or profound or well written. Not up to your usual standards.

  32. it is interesting how some satire can be hilarious and at another time offensive. I remember a piece in Sunstone a few years ago by Jana Reis (?sp) where the point of the satire was how quaint and amusing sacrament talks were with all the typical mormonisms. It bothered me and for awhile, I wasn’t sure why other than that it seemed she was laughing at people for no other reason than her own amusement. Maybe it all has to do with how close to home the barbs are or if the tone of the satirist is a bit too superior. I expect the best thing to do when a satire seems to be more ire than humor producing is to stop reading, sing a hymn and then do something else. Probably has something to do with laughing at yourself vs being laughed at.

  33. LaJuana:

    Your ‘updated’ comments about your two posts, now reduced to one – Please.

    I’m also, somewhat, new to internet blogging and I’m not sure if I’m using the right terminology. Is a ‘post’ the preamble and main subject or is it the individual comments everyone makes?

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