All About Mormons

This post is for me (as they all are) but it's also for my LDS friends who are scratching their heads thinking, "Is she ever going to be baptized?"  It's also for my non-LDS  friends and family who are scratching their heads thinking, "Why does she seem to attract so many LDS people into her circle?"  I'm writing it because sometimes I wish I had this all written on a note card to hand to people when they get the deer in headlights look as I discuss religion, spirituality, and what that looks like in my life.



A couple of weeks ago I published a tiny blog post entitled "Plain and Precious" in reference to my youngest son and his sweet, innocent view of life.

Those words are taken from the Book of Mormon, which I have begun to read.  It is a challenge I have taken on after reading a thought-provoking article by a man who grew up LDS, decided to leave the church for a time, and then came back to his religion.





In his article "How I lost and regained my faith": LDS man shares 18 lessons he learned, Rich Millar explains:

..every single person I have ever personally come in contact with who has spoken poorly about the Book of Mormon, when I dug down and uncovered the truth, had never actually read it in its entirety with an open heart and mind. And most hadn’t read any of it at all. ‘Well, no, I haven’t actually read it, but so-and-so has, and they said … .’ How can you judge the content of a book without actually reading it? If you want to have an opinion on it, pick it up and read it cover to cover with an open heart and mind.

The quote I used refers to the plain and precious truths that Mormons (a.k.a. Latter Day Saints, or LDS) believe were obscured or removed from God's word over time.  While they study the Old and New Testaments as part of their scriptures, they also include the Book of Mormon, their Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, which they believe is the fully restored gospel.

I am not a Latter Day Saint, but a lot of my friends are members of the church.  They are warm, trustworthy, inspiring women.


For most of my adulthood "Religion" was a dirty word to me.  Keeping an open heart and desiring to know my own truth has led me time and time again to God.  It was startling to me that I might consider myself a "Christian" again.

It just so happens that being a Christian means something different to me than it did during my Pentecostal upbringing.  Instead of being part of a limiting, oppressive culture created by people, I listen to my own heart and try to be Christ-like.  It's as simple as that.

I am still left with one question, though.  Why am I so fascinated by Latter Day Saints?

My fascination started with wanting to understand the large LDS population in my old neighborhood in Arizona.  I keep coming back to ask more questions because...

1.  I love asking questions.

2.  I love it when people believe I am important enough for them to sit down, look me in the eye, and enjoy a conversation.  The LDS church designates entire groups of people whose sole job it is to sit down with anyone to talk with them about God. (These are the missionaries you may have seen walking in your neighborhood.  They serve for two years of their young adulthood and pay their own way to leave their loved ones and go educate anyone who chooses to listen.)

3.  I have never detected any false pretenses from an LDS person I've known.  The first person and the last person and all the LDS people in between simply love who they are and love their community.  They want to share it with everyone, because why not?  They want everyone to feel the joy they feel.

4.  This is what I have gleaned about what they teach their daughters:  They want them to know they are Daughters of God, to act with integrity, to dress modestly, to know their individual worth, and to understand their choices and accountability.  They are taught that work and serving others is a joy.  (This was the first lesson I learned from my Mormon friends.  It changed my perspective on motherhood from a whiny one to a grateful one.)

5.  Their sons:  They are elevated in status and shown how important it is to be truthful, have high moral standards and prepare to be trustworthy leaders.  Instead of telling young men to "pull up their pants," and "get a job," and "be responsible" they explain to their young men that they are a reflection of God and that they are responsible.  They are given many opportunities to practice that throughout their lives.

(There are many resources at LDS.org that have been thoughtfully prepared.  I'm giving a peek into things I have learned just from being around my friends and their families.)

6.  They believe families are of the utmost importance and are the best way to grow good people.  They spend one evening each week as a family focusing on a particular lesson and fun activity to promote togetherness and unity.  There are endless church-sponsored programs and activities to support every age group in the community.

When my kids are playing at my friends' houses, I know they are playing innocent games and making messes and eating snacks.  They most likely won't be seeing any inappropriate media, hearing any foul language from the adults, and they always beg to go back.

7.  They honor their history and teach their children where they came from and who they came from.

8.  They encourage a lifestyle that allows them to be able to hear the promptings of the spirit best.  For most, this means no caffeine, alcohol, or other mind-altering substances.  (I have taken it upon myself to balance out the world coffee trade by making up for the millions of Mormons who do not drink coffee.)  This, and other covenants they keep, require sacrifice and discipline to remain a member in good standing.  That is admirable and respectable and also a lot of pressure for someone like me.  


No matter what your beliefs are, you have to admit, the level of organization, commitment, and unity with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is incredibly impressive.

Ultimately, for me there is still a large distinction between spirituality and religion, and a fine line between acting out of love and acting out of cultural pressure or ritual -- between the God that lives in my heart and the God that others want me to worship with them.

That doesn't mean that I will stop listening to people around me or enjoying their company.  I respect their choices and want to know what brings them so much happiness and peace.  This is one way of treating others how I want to be treated, after all.


2 comments:

  1. Beautiful. This one brought some tears because as a Mormon, sometimes it's tough to hear all the mudslinging. It's so validating to have someone see us for what we are trying to be—just people trying their best to do what they know is right and not hurt anyone else in the process.

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    1. This one brings tears to my eyes, too because I know what a long twisty path I took to arrive here. Seeking truth helped reveal my tendency not to trust anyone religious. It is an important victory that I can see people for what they intend and not for what I fear about them.

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