Monday, October 29, 2012

Who am I?

This question has been on my mind a lot lately.  Who am I really?  Where do I stand on issues, on friendship, on parenthood? Where do I stand when tough questions are asked?  Do I help people or hurt people? Do I knee jerk react or take time to really figure things out?

What are my true colors?

I've been questioning a lot about myself.  Why I am the way I am.  About how I see things.  We all have experiences that color our vision.  Some can be helpful, some actually put blinders on our eyes to reality.  Sometimes that's okay and sometimes it just...isn't.

My main concerns have been about religion.  I grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  In my community it was/is a way of life.  I went through my rebellious stage and figured out that I wanted to stop fighting with my parents.  I needed to live they way they were asking me to.  I knew that God loved me and I could be reminded of it more regularly in church.  That love that God has for me was and still continues to be an anchor in my life.

After much consideration and waffling back and forth, I decided to serve a mission for The Church.  It wasn't all roses but I loved it. I love the life experience that I gained.  I loved being an instrument of good in God's hands.  I loved the people, my companions, the area.  It was hard.  It helped me learn that I can do hard things.  With God nothing is impossible.  So long as it's according to his will that is. 

Recent events (and by recent I mean as long as two years ago up till yesterday) have had me questioning.  Not the gospel, but the application of it in my life.  In the lives of those around me.  Am I actually living the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Yes I go to church.  I go to the temple.  I even try to do my visiting teaching.  I gather on Sunday with the saints and raise my voice in song.  I listen to the lessons and see what I can bring home from them.  I read the scripture, both the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon.  They work well together.  I pray daily.

All is not perfect. All is not well in Zion.  People judge.  People who are supposed to be living Christ-like lives are judging.  Sometime quite harshly.  Friends are getting called on the carpet by other "friends" about their beliefs, political and otherwise.  "How can you call yourself a good Mormon and still be_________?"  People are being judged for how they dress.  "How dare you step onto school grounds wearing flip-flops?! Don't you know that's against the honor code!"  Peace sign = hippy = anti-Christ.  Being judged against a standard that doesn't exist: The Perfect Mormon Housewife. Might as well strive to be Barbie!

So many things that just don't belong.  So many things that really aren't a part of the gospel but seem to have always been.  The green jello with carrot shavings beliefs.  When did tradition become gospel?  Oh wait... it didn't.  Not really.

I've always believed that it is okay to question.  I don't believe that wearing flip-flops at BYU-Idaho is fundamentally wrong.  I have no idea why it is part of the honor code.  I don't understand why a 5 o'clock shadow is not allowed in a testing center.  I have no idea what is so appealing about green jello with carrot shavings. The Perfect Mormon Housewife is creepy and puts me in a bad mood.  And I really dig the idea of peace.  These are all things that I have never prayed about.  They just felt... silly.  Sometimes ridiculous.  Does it shake my testimony of the Gospel? No.  "Well how come!  Doesn't it just prove that this church is run by men and not God! Men who are out to suppress one's footwear!"  No. It means that we are all still learning, even those in high places.  It means that trials come even within our own ranks.  It means that I get to learn to get along with imperfect people and they get to learn to get along with imperfect me. 

It means that we get together on Sundays to learn from each other, to grow together, to figure out how to really live the perfect Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The one that teaches us to turn the other cheek. (Oh how difficult that is when it comes from someone close to us!) The one that teaches us to love our enemies as well as our neighbors, as well as ourselves.  The one that teaches us to change our hearts.  To rid ourselves of the natural man. The one that teaches compassion and mercy.  The one that looks upon the heart, not just the action.  The one that invites all to be a part of it.

I have asked questions.  I have asked God where he would have me be.  I asked Him yesterday as I was listening to the speakers in church.  As I was pondering where things really fit.  He told me, in the calm and peaceful way he is able to communicate with my soul, that in church, that church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is where he would have me be.  To learn and grow together with the imperfect because although the people are not perfect, the Gospel is.  The Gospel in its fullness.  The Gospel that comes with a living prophet and continued revelation.  The Gospel that comes from God, not men.

I am Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I come from a long line of imperfect people trying to do the best they could.  Striving to learn to be better.  Living the gospel the best way they knew how.  I get to learn from them.  I get to continue to grow and improve and to love.  To change my heart, to do as God would have me do.