Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taking the Bus to Kolob

  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 and 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 and 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 and my family. The oldest got married in June. They are (L to R): Sydnie, Weston, Ashley, McKay, Emilie and 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.

Be sure to check out today's other insightful posts about the Family Proclamation on the following blogs:

  Middle-agedMormonMan  diapersanddivinity


  1. What a great story. Thanks for your thoughts and perspective.

  2. What a wonderful story! Reminds me of the Neal A Maxwell quote, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing". Thank you for sharing, John!

  3. Love it. Proof that everyone's story (even when the person living it thinks it's lame) is remarkable. :)

  4. Classic John Barney. So glad to et a better view of the legend that made the man. Thanks, John.

    1. And he IS the man...well-loved by all us Hatch girls! :)

  5. I love this post and the shear honesty of it. Great and funny writing as well.

  6. I cried when i finished reading then i laughed when i completely finished reading it. Thanks for the sense of humor, strong testimony and the hope imparted. I love the advice you left about Heavenly Father's love and plan and accepting that plan and about gaining experience that we need to progress. Last night i read from the Ensign a verse that says "all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good [D&C 122:7]. Thanks once again for your uplifting post!

  7. Great reminder! Beautiful family.

  8. It's always fun to get a little humor mixed in...

  9. Really enjoyed your humor and perspective. I am so glad you found your wife. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  10. What an awesome story. I really enjoyed your perspective on the proclamation.

  11. John, thanks for this lovely story and your willingness to share. And for pointing out that the Proclamation is not "one size fits all," but it is applicable to each person's individual circumstance.

  12. What a great post. Thank you for sharing your story. I think we can all relate. We all have a divine purpose and a special plan for us. And most of all, we are all beloved children of God!

  13. Thanks for this post. My life has NOT turned out the way I had it all planned out in my mind either. I finished my degree and had hoped to be using it, but like you, I needed to help my family with loved ones and their medical conditions. It is interesting how people are so quick to judge without knowing the whole story. I loved when you said, "They were trying to be encouraging. They were being dumb." Thanks for validating me today and making me smile. The Gospel is such a blessing in my life. I am so grateful to know that there is a plan, even if I don't always understand it. I know I can always trust in the Lord.

  14. Thanks for this post. My life has NOT turned out the way I had it all planned out in my mind either. I finished my degree and had hoped to be using it, but like you, I needed to help my family with loved ones and their medical conditions. It is interesting how people are so quick to judge without knowing the whole story. I loved when you said, "They were trying to be encouraging. They were being dumb." Thanks for validating me today and making me smile. The Gospel is such a blessing in my life. I am so grateful to know that there is a plan, even if I don't always understand it. I know I can always trust in the Lord.

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  16. OH MY HECK (and in case you wonder, i have never used that phrase before now but your post made me want to). This is perhaps the most real, most honest, most fun post I've ever read on the Proclamation. Ever. Anywhere. You were never a failure. In fact Robert still refers to the Miami Ward as the John Barney Ward...as it should ever be called. I plan to bring this post to Friday's Stake RS presidency meeting and we will discuss this...for sure. Again...a gazillion thanks for the joy you brought me today. Good for you! OH MY HECK...wait til Robert reads this!

  17. Those two truths have brought me a lot of comfort and peace in my life, too. No matter the course of our lives, there's usually something about it that doesn't meet our expectations. What a blessing to know the God is in the details.

  18. I am so happy that I stopped to read this one. It was awesome to read a post from one of our brothers. Yes, the gospel is true and the proclamation is for all.
    Loved this one because it was true and heartfelt.
    Blessings on this one!

  19. This was amazing! So well written (love the humor and wit) but oh buddy how true these words are! Such faith this man has. So grateful to have read this. I learned a lot.

  20. I love how you had your life "planned out" and Heavenly Father had another plan obviously for you. It is funny how we think we know what is best for us only to be humbled and see His Hand in our lives.

  21. Isn't it wonderful that no matter where we are in life, the Gospel and the Proclamation are ALWAYS relevant. What a wonderful testimony of the importance of always trusting the Lord, His plans are so much greater than we can ever imagine.

  22. Am I the luckiest / Blessed girl or what?

  23. This is one of the best posts I have ever read on the Family Proclamation. It helps that there's a Les Mis reference but seriously. Well done.

  24. great great perspective- we are all on our own journey that is for sure- thank you for sharing yours with us

  25. Loved this! I joined the Church three weeks after my first divorce. I met Beloved eleven years after my second divorce. He was worth waiting for. I am (as my mom would say, were she still here in mortality) as happy as if I had good sense!

  26. Loved your prespective and humor. Those truths are strong fundamental ones for which I am greatful. Thank you so much

  27. I'm a bit overwhelmed by these comments, and a little misty. Thanks for your all's kindness.

  28. I am so glad I read your post.

  29. Fun and inspiring post. Thank you for sharing. You have a gorgeous family. They are so lucky to have you at the wheel. :) PS I loved the closing hymn. I'd like to find ME a bus that took me to Kolob. I have a few questions I need answered...

  30. I love this. Thank you, John, for writing it. My 21yo daughter has been praying to know if there was any man in the church who thinks like she does. A brother in another single's ward was fasting and praying to know if there were any women in the church who think like he does (he is 33, and believed he had cause to worry). They met after a fireside almost two weeks ago. They have spent more than 30 hours talking, and haven't found a subject they disagree on yet. Neither is in a hurry. They both feel like they met their best friend. I'm scared to lose her (she is my best friend), but hoping it will work out if it is the right thing for all concerned. Too many good men get overlooked in the church. You made me misty, too.

  31. John, nice reading your story. You still keep the same good sense of humor as 20 years ago. Happy to know your life after we lost contact many years back. I am in Chicago now. Hope to see you and family soon.

    1. Liming, is that you? Wowzers.


  32. Fantastic writing John. One of my all-time favorite people on this planet. :)