You know what topic gets more people uptight and uncomfortable than politics? Religion. So hey! Let’s talk about religion today! I am a Mormon, also known as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Yes, the same one as Mitt Romney and the lead singer of The Killers. Chances are you had one of four reactions to me saying I’m a Mormon:
A) Sheesh, ANOTHER ONE? I swear, it’s like they’re that “Call Me Maybe” song. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
B) Oh man, she’s so wrong and I’m going to cloud my entire judgment of her based on her religion alone because I’m right, she’s wrong and that’s wrong.
C) Oh yay, Mormons! I like Mormons! They’re always available to be designated driver and they make the best potatoes at funerals.
D) I don’t really know anything about Mormons except for what I’ve seen on Big Love and that show on TLC about the guy with all the wives. Oh, and that stuff down it Texas, that was the Mormons right? (wrong.)
Regardless of your reaction, I assure you I am as normal as a person can be, I don’t care what you believe in or who you do or do not worship — so long as you are a nice person. I would rather hang out with a nice person who thinks my religion is wrong but likes me as a person than another Mormon who may believe the same things as me but who is mean-spirited and judgmental of those around them.
I joined the LDS church when I was 18 in an effort to get my husband to keep going out with me. Somewhere along the way I fell for it, my life became much simpler and I became genuinely and truly happy. I could go into the really deep moments of how I found God and my personal relationship with Christ, but it’s kind of like telling someone without kids how great it is to lose sleep and have barf dripping down your neck, you don’t really get it until you get it.
Anyway, I was asked about why I liked being a Mormon, and to be honest there’s a lot of reasons why I like being a Mormon, some of them are true for any Christian religion (personal relationship with Christ for example) but some are completely unique to the Latter Day Saint faith. Those are the ones I want to focus on.
- We’re SO organized! What I learn in church on Sunday in Indiana is the exact same thing an elderly woman in the Congo is learning and the same thing my friends back home in Utah are learning. Church materials are the same throughout the world. The languages change, but the content does not. We could be traveling to a different state (or even a different country) and we wouldn’t miss a lesson. Talks in church are given by the members of the church, not prepared and given by the same person every week.
- Everyone answers to someone else. This is similar to being super organized but in regards to church leadership. Cody and I watch over our kids, Cody watches over our family, our home teacher watches over us, the Elder’s Quorum president watches out for Cody, the Relief Society President watches out for me, the Primary presidency watches out for Addie, the Bishopric watches out for all of the presidencies, the stake presidency watches out for the Bishopric, the area authorities watch out for the stake presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve watch out for the area authorities (seventies) and the Church Presidency watches out for the Seventies and the entire church. Everybody has someone else to answer to until you’re at the top with the Presidency and the Prophet who answers to Jesus Christ Himself. All of our clergy and church positions are unpaid, meaning our Bishop is a regular guy who works for the railroad during the week and watches over the affairs of our ward on Sundays and whenever else he is needed. He’ll serve as bishop for several years, then be released and someone else will be called to the position. (Yes, Cody could be eligible, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
- There’s no outward sign that anyone is a Mormon. We don’t have any outward markings, vestments or robes, no secret handshakes, no uniform or dress code. We look like perfectly ordinary people, although in general many of us are more modest than what society considers the norm. Sure there’s a few pieces of jewelry that we could wear, but we don’t have to. Some of us do wear a specific undergarment as an inward sign and reminder of covenants we have made, but it’s not anything strange or unusual once you understand it. We don’t all have cheesy stickers on our bumpers or “RULDS2?” t-shirts. (No offense if you have the stickers and t-shirts.) Chances are we are all around you and you have no idea. However, if someone is super forceful, argumentative and obvious about being a Mormon? That’s the person talking, not the religion. In general I’d like to think that we are a very kind, humble group who want to help however we can. If you’ve had a bad experience with a member of the LDS religion, I’m truly sorry. Please don’t let that one person cloud your entire opinion of all 12 million of us.
- We are married for eternity. In most marriage ceremonies, the words “‘Til death do you part” are a part of the ceremony. In an LDS temple marriage the marriage is sealed with the words “For time and all eternity.” Meaning that we’re not just married in this life, we’re married for eternity. There’s some days when eternity seems like an awfully long time when spent with the same guy who has a bad habit of leaving whiskers in the sink, but most of the time it’s comforting to know that he’s mine forever. If something were to ever happen to him or me, we would see each other again. We will be together again and death is only a temporary separation.
- How we deal with death. So not only to I have Cody for all eternity, but I have my kids for all eternity as well. This means that if anything were to happen to one of them, we would all be together as a family again. Kids are not baptized until 8, so if something were to happen to a child, he or she has an automatic in to heaven. None of this babies ending up in hell because they weren’t baptized stuff. Death is not the end for anyone. In fact, things get better after we die. I’m not really going to get into this anymore except to say that my former step dad was a funeral director for most of his life, and he said that LDS funerals always had an air of hope and positivity compared to those of other religions. If you’d like to know more, there are young men and women in your city or town who would love to talk to you.
- It’s just a good, simple way to live. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, be nice to your body, put your family first, take care of yourself, know that you’re not alone and know that it will all be worth it. My family is the best thing that ever happened to me. I love being surrounded by them and I love spending time with them. Family doesn’t even have to be the people you’re related to; I have had people put into my life that have made enormous differences during difficult times. I cannot thank God enough for sending them to me. Whether they know they are a gift from God or not doesn’t matter; I treasure the people I’m blessed to be surrounded by.
So that’s probably good for now right? I’m sure you may have a lot of questions, and I’d love to attempt to answer them for you, assuming you’re nice about it. I’ve heard it all. I’m well aware we’re a peculiar people — our former prophet even acknowledged that we’re a little different.
But we are happy.
We are hopeful.
There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about my religion, which is fine. There are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about any religion. Let’s just all be nice and ask about each others beliefs with a genuine interest in understanding each other, not to tear each other down.