I have tried to write a post titled "Mormon By Choice" for a week now and every time I start writing, I get a little lost. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to say, how to convey it well, how to respect everyone reading, etc..and I just keep feeling stuck. I had actually decided I just wouldn't post anything when I thought, "Open up for questions and then answer those questions."
Which immediately followed with,
"No, nobody will have anything to ask and you'll embarass yourself by highlighting your small readership."
But the truth is, I'm not here for large readership. I'm here to be another voice of the good and the positive about home and family--and that includes faith. So maybe I kept thinking and allowed myself to entertain the idea again. Only to find myself saying,
"No! You can't handle the mean comments and that's all you'll get!"
But ultimately I didn't want fear to get in my way of hoping to share my message, my side.
You see, I was born into the LDS church--which by what I've read all over the internet recently seems to mean that I don't think critically, am closed minded, and just follow blindly. I am filled with hatred and prejudice and don't even know it. I'm brainwashed.
So allow me to share a little bit with you:
I was born into an LDS family, but we didn't always go to church. When I was little we went inconsistently. My mom taught me to be kind to others and taught me right from wrong, but I was never raised super religiously. I was never raised to think that people who weren't LDS were bad or less than me--in fact, I had many family members (and still do) that are not LDS. On the flipside, I wasn't taught to be super religious either. Things like language, parts of the Word of Wisdom, and exposure to media weren't very regulated or taught explicitly in my home. I grew up what I would call a very "liberal mormon." I was liberal in a few of my actions and liberal in my beliefs in the gospel. If people asked me if I believed something, my answers were always the kind that appealed to everyone.
When I was in my early 20's I had something of a faith crisis (maybe that's something I should share more openly here sometime). I had some issues with the church's history among other things and I just wasn't sure I wanted to continue belonging to the LDS church. I kept this crisis a bit private-maybe only a handful of people knew. But one of those people was a boy in my singles ward who now has a PhD in Church History--to say he was well-read and well-researched was an understatement. I bought him dinner one night and he came with all sorts of information to answer some of my bigger questions. He didn't sugar coat. He gave it ALL to me and shared the good, bad, and even the ugly. We talked. I might have cried.
I put in months of research and prayer and study and thought and reflection. And I put in months of listening to my heart and mind and find out what I really felt and knew as truth. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the questions I had were not more important to me than the things I knew and believed in my whole heart to be true. Things like my strong testimony of living prophets, the blessings of the temple, and restoration of the priesthood. In my early 20's, I could say I made the choice to be Mormon. At that point, I dove in with both feet.
It's not because I was brainwashed. It's not because I don't think critically. And it's certainly not because I am closed-minded. It was not and is not always popular and certainly not always respected. It is not for my family, they would love me anyway. It is not for my church community--while I love them, I'm not attached to them. In fact, I have almost always struggled to fit in...so it's not the community I am there for. I am there because the teachings are true and the gospel brings me joy and peace. It's a choice and a choice I stand by.
At the same time, I can understand why some people within the church (and outside of the church) are confused and upset right now. I am not one of them, but I can see why--because I might have been 7 or 8 years ago, too. I am in a different place now. My perception of things has changed as has my testimony over the past several years. It's something I've had to work hard for, but something I am so very grateful for. I'm not mad at the church's decision. I understand it and respect it, but that doesn't mean I didn't think about it or research it. I'm also not mad at those who are confused or upset about it.
So now, I ask you, what do you want to know about the LDS church, my decision to be a member and stand by it, and/or the news headlines at this time? (The questions don't have to be about anything in particular--including recent headlines--much of what I've read on the internet isn't just attacking the latest changes to the church handbook, but is attacking other aspects as well. I'd love to try answer any questions or try to clarify anything you might be wondering about.)
**I will answer these questions within a week and put up a new post. Please keep comments respectful. While I anticipate comments from those with differing viewpoints and perspectives, this is a place for a courteous conn't versation. Any disrespectful/hateful comments will be deleted.