I’m the first one to admit that I can be very superficial and look only at the outward appearance of things. When I sit in church and see scrubbed and shiny young families, my heart wants to break because I missed that boat a looong time ago. I wasn’t scrubbed and shiny until I was well into my thirties, and I’ve never had a young family. When I was young, I didn’t have kids, and when I had kids, I was no longer young. For someone as superficial as I am, it is a hard pill to swallow. Fortunately, I’m also deep, and sooner or later depth wins out over superficiality, like it did in this case. Somewhere along the way recently, it occurred to me that the Lord needs emerald green as much as He needs lavender.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Lavanders are the scrubbed and shiny young families who read scriptures together and play together, cheer each other’s Eagle Scouts and Young Women’s Medallions, go to the Temple for date night at least once a month, grow up and serve missions, get married in the Temple, and have Lavender families. This isn’t to say they’re perfect or have no bad days, but they have all the good stuff on top of whatever imperfections and bad days they have. I know and love plenty of awesome Lavenders (even though I hate them in my superficial moments).

Then there are Emerald Greens. EGs are–again for the sake of argument–shabby chic families who read scriptures together in spurts that seem to grow shorter with each child who leaves the home. They may or may not have Eagle Scouts and Young Women Medallions, but there isn’t a whole lot of cheering. Instead, there’s resentment at being dragged to Brother’s or Sister’s big event and mortifying behavior once there. Temple attendance has gone the way of Family Home Evening, which has gone the way of daily scripture study. The spirit is still willing, but the flesh is tired. Tired enough to watch the occasional R-rated movie, yell at the kids on the Sabbath, and pretend not to know if Junior’s white shirt is ironed the night before church. This is not to say they’re bad people or have no good days, but they simply don’t live at the Lavenders’ level of family unity and religious observance.

It’s obvious why God needs Lavenders. They’ve got their family unity/religious observance act together. They spread love and service, they enjoy each other, and they are the epitome of the counsel that happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. It’s less obvious why He needs Emerald Greens, but he might need them even more than Lavenders. (Okay, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.)

Lavenders look like they have it all together even if they don’t (and no one does, remember?). It can be hard even for Emerald Greens to relate to them. But almost anyone can relate to an Emerald Green. Emerald Greens are the opposite of looking like they have it all together (and what a relief because no one does, remember?). Emerald Greens make everyone feel better about themselves because So-and-So doesn’t have kids who served missions, but look what a great person he is. Or Such-and-Such family skips Stake Conference and still have strong testimonies. Lavenders make the gospel look magnificent. Emerald Greens make the gospel look do-able. God needs us both.

photo credit: Thank you, my friends, Adam! The Last Cry via photopin (license)

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