Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taking the bus to Kolob (Comments on The Family Proclamation)

Note:  Hi.  I'm John Barney.  I interrupt my BOM Blog to bring you the following hiatus...

That's me with college friends Laura, Serena, Kelly & Jocelyn next to our newly built church building back in about '95.  I'm the one that ain't pretty.  I've since had to gain a few pounds and start dying my hair gray in order to remain humble.

Today I'm doing a guest post on Jocelyn's blog.  I know Jocelyn from college days at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio back in the mid-90s.  Jocelyn asked me and some others to write a little some'm about The Family Proclamation, which the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published in 1995.  She left it up to each of us to do our own thing.  Here's mine...

Let's get it started....

It's only been in the last 3 years or so that I've started to really know my wife, Emilie.  At my age (45), you might be surprised at that, but considering the lillies of the fiel... er... considering Emilie and I only met a week before I turned 42, I think you'll understand. 

In the LDS subculture, being divorced has somewhat of a negative stigma attached to it, though that's becoming less so, which is actually sad because that probably has a lot to do with the growing number of divorces.  Nevertheless, that stigma is not nearly so stigmatic as being a life-long, single, LDS man of 42.  In the past, when people would ask me about my non-existent wife and kids and grand kids (that's the gray hair's fault) in my life, their reaction at learning of my "menace to society" status was always, "No way!"  This was taken partly complimentary, since I was happy that they saw me as marry-able, and partly devastating because it reinforced the loser self-image that was constantly trying to fight its way into my head. 

When accused of being too picky, I would tell people I had only 2 requirements in choosing a wife.  They'd say, "What are they?"  This was said in a very "expecting something unreasonable and/or funny" tone.  I'd tell them:


I must love her


She must love me


They must happen at the same time

Glad that worked out for me

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy to remain steadfast in the gospel without being yoked to a supportive partner.  Lots and lots of people do it, but it ain't easy.  Enduring to the end was meant to be a team effort.  My testimony was never rocky ("Yo, Adrian!!"), but my enthusiasm lacked enthusiasm every now and again. I used to quote the giant turtle in "Neverending Story":  When Atreyu asked him if he cared about anything, he says, "We don't even care that we don't care."  I went innactive for 7 weeks once (a new record) and lost my calling as youth Sunday School Teacher.  I really felt bad about that one.  Nevertheless, I am still here.  I will always be here, inside the fence.  That's a promise I made to myself and to The Lord a long time ago when things got somewhat challenging.  My Heavenly Father and I would take some long walks together back then, and discuss the matters (like, what was the matters with me?).

A few years back I was asked to give a talk in Stake Conference (in front of a couple thousand people) on the topic "Enduring to the end in a non-traditional family."  There sure are a lot of people that fit into that label.  Singles, divorced, widowed, part member families, part active families, unable to have kids, not to mention (and we often don't) same sex attraction issues.  It's a long list.  People lined up after the meeting to let me know they appreciated me for representing them and giving them a voice.  One of those people was my friend Lynsie, who sat in the audience thinking that I would make a good match for her sister, Emilie.  You just never know The Lord's plan.  I honestly used to think that The Family Proclamation didn't so much apply to me.  Like the photographer in a family, I just wasn't in the picture.  I hate it when truth is only truth for somebody else. What a dumb thing to think. 

There are two doctrines (of many) contained in The Family Proclamation that have given me strength to lean on in order to be able to continue my activity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ when I'd start to feel paralyzed.

One:  Heavenly Father loves me.

I can't deny that there were times during my lonely sojourn that I felt some bitterness toward God.  I felt that I must have missed my opportunity to have a family due to some sin on my part, or maybe just because I was too shy at the wrong moment.  It ticked me off to think there was some point along the way that the person I was to marry was there, but for lack of being able to hear the whispering of the Spirit, missed her because of being somewhere between sin and repentance, especially being privy as I was to some of my happy friends' past dirty laundry.  I tried to not believe this was the case, but those unhealthy and unholy thoughts oozed through the fissures in my mind like lava, boiling my brain into a nasty batch of self-pity soup.

Two:  It's His Plan.  I accepted His Plan.  His plan is that I come to earth and obtain a huge physical body, and gain the earthly experience I personally need to progress toward perfection and Eternal Life.  And, it is also true that my wife Emilie needs to gain the experience that she personally needs to progress toward perfection.  Since Em and I were always meant to always be together, always, who the crap am I to say when our meeting should have taken place?????  Who am I?????

Jean Valjean knows who he is - From Les Miserables.

Ooooh, I'm driving my life away, looking for a sunny day...
-Eddie Rabbit, 1980

After graduating from Miami University in 1996 at the ripe old age of 29, and working here and there for a couple of years, it became necessary to move home and help my Dad take care of my Mom.  I landed a desperation job driving a city bus.  It was supposed to be a temporary job, but I stayed. 

Now, one doesn't need a BA Degree in History and Psychology from Miami University to become a bus driver, so it was difficult not to constantly question my life, especially when I struggled to pay my outrageous student loan payments.  BYU and UVU students who rode my bus would often try to encourage me to go to school so that I could get a real career.  They were trying to be encouraging.  They were being dumb.

The "I'm a loser" thoughts often used their CDL -Class B licenses to drive through my brain as I carried folks to & fro.  Refer with me once again to the 2nd doctrine above... "...gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection...and Eternal Life."  Can I progress toward Eternal Life in a bus?  You betchya!

Em's and mine's first date was actually on the bus.  She rode with me on my last northbound trip one night, and then came to my house to watch a movie.  In fact, one of our songs is that one by Norah Jones that says, "Come away with me on a bus."  Did I mention that Em lived in Cedar City, Ut at that time (200 miles south)?  Did I mention that her car had been totalled the day before she was to travel to her parents' house for Thanksgiving?  Did I mention that she rented a car to go, but then there was a big snow storm in the mountain pass between Cedar City and her parents' house?   So, Em drove the 200 miles up to where I live in Spanish Fork to ride with her sister Lynsie, and they left a day later than planned.  That's the day we went for our bus ride.  

I honestly don't know how to express, in a blog post or in any medium, the strength of my conviction that Heavenly Father loves me, that Jesus Christ died for me, that Jesus Christ now lives.  I'm grateful to know of my own Divine Nature and Destiny, as well as my wife's Divine Nature and Destiny.  I'm grateful that our two Destinies are sealed for Eternity.  I'm not really a loser; never was one, the Proclamation says so.  But, and this is a big but, Emilie is the proof that I needed in order to know for sure.  Sad, but true. 

This is me not falling for Emilie.  Taken at Cedar Breaks NM, Utah -by my brudder-in-law  Parker Grimes
In conclusion:

Em's & mine's date to Kolob Canyon (part of Zion National Park).
His plan doesn't necessarily match my plan
When I planned my life out as a young feller, I was quite sure of the following: 
  1. I would go on an LDS mission to Japan at age 19 (I went to Kentucky at age 20)
  2. I would go to BYU from age 21-25 (I went to Miami of Ohio from age 25-29)
  3. I would marry in the Temple at age 23 and have 5 or 6 kids (Married at 43; she has 3 kids)
  4. I would work for IBM, or someplace like that, and make over $50,000/year (Nope)
When things didn't work out like I planned, it was all I could do to maintain hope for family happiness until I was 41.  At that point I really and truly gave it up.  No kidding.  I gave up.  A year later I met Emilie and everything changed.  The Family Proclamation is alive and well and hanging on my wall. 

This is me & my family. The oldest got married in June. They are (L to R): Sydnie, Weston, Ashley, McKay, Emilie & yours truly.  This was also taken by Em's brudder Parker.  He's the guy I was telling you about that's never in the picture.
And so...

My advice for those of you getting close to, or having already passed, your give up point: 
  • Your Heavenly Father loves you.
  • It's His plan.  You accepted it.  You need whatever experience you need to progress toward perfection and obtain Eternal Life.
Closing hymn...

The wheels on the bus go round and round, unless you get a flat; it happens;
The driver on the bus says, "shut the heck up," or at least thinks it;
And that's how the bus took me to Kolob.

Thanks for stopping by...
Peace be with you.


  1. JB...you are a man of faith...and patience....thanks for being an example.

  2. Love!!! I love this article, and I'm so glad that John and Emilie found each other to love. You are both very blessed!