I finished this book this morning at 6 while it was quiet. I am truly impressed with it and I liked the ending. I think for me towards the end during Paul's real trials with his being "outed" is when I really felt for him. I think, no I know, this is when I was brought to tears the most. I love the references to Ether. My favorite chapter in Ether is chapter 12. When my husband finally decided after 14 years of excommunication to commit and come back to the church the Bishop suggested that he read Ether chapter 12. He came home from that meeting and we sat down and read it together and discussed it at length. It has since become my source of strength when things get rough for me and I can never read it without finding something new.
I also love Brother Schmidt. Every ward needs a Brother Schmidt to bring us up short and make us realize our own shortcomings and help to humble us. What is that hymn? Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses by Eliza R. Snow. I love the message. It says it all in that one hymn.
I also love the message the Bishop delivers to the scouts at the scout campout. We are supposed to be a loving and caring people. It still amazes me how many members of the church are not as loving and caring as the church teaches us to be. How stiffnecked they are.
The fact that Paul moves away at the end of the book, kind of symbolizes for me a new chance, a new beginning. Like Christ gives each one of us and you have seemingly tied it in with Chad and Paul as each boy is blessing the sacrament...a renewing of our covenant each week with Christ. When I had my surgery on my right leg my Bishop gave me a blessing and in that blessing told me to take the recovery time to study the Atonement and the scriptures. I have been doing that ever since. I have been reading everything and have learned so much that I didn't know before and have learned there are so many forms and ways of atonement for each one of us. That Christ has atoned for us in more than one way. You have shown yet another way, another form of atonement and that each one of us has our own burdens to carry, our own sins to atone for in one way or another. We never know what burdens someone else carries so who are we to judge someone else when we can't even live our own lives the way we should?
I love the way Paul has made the decision from the beginning that he is a believing Mormon and has decided that he will follow the teachings of the gospel. I know as a young girl, I decided not to date outside of the church. When I was a senior in high school, I went against that principle and dated the most handsome boy I had ever met and fell madly in love with him. The time came though when his parents found out that I was a Mormon(they were Catholic). He had been going to church with me and to the youth activities and liked the youth and the activities. When his parents found out, they were livid. It didn't take long, when he gave me a choice. It was him or my religion. I would have married him in a heartbeat had he asked me, knowing I could convert him. This was different though. I knew even though I loved him, I would not give up my religion for him or anyone else. Hurt? Heartbreak? Yes! Regret? Never! But I learned that you stick to what you know is right. I never dated outside of the church again. I married a wonderful man in the temple several years later. Yes, he has made some mistakes, but not anything we have not been able to work through. The same with Paul, he has some real struggles to work through in his life, but he will be able to do it. He has the Lord on his side and of having the gospel in his life and of having made the decision before hand of livng the gospel. Thanks for writing this wonderful book.