Why can’t we be friends?

My husband is currently attending business school at Harvard which has been a phenomenal experience for our entire family (we have 2 kids). Thinking back on the debate we were having on whether or not it was worth applying seems almost comical now. There is no end to the gushing fountain of experiences school has to offer. We were worried that it wouldn’t be worth our money, or that the 2 years out of the workplace would have unforeseen effects on his career. Being the supportive wife that I most of the time am, I was happy either way and tried to feel out on my own what was right for us. And like I mentioned 1.5 semesters down and we laugh at our pre-business-school-selves.

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For us, you can not put a price tag on the depth and breadth of relationships we have created at school. People that, had we not been forced together in the microcosm that is business school, we would have never gotten so close. Because everyone’s address book is expanding by the second there is a unique openness and genuine interest in learning about peoples backgrounds and interests. I have yet to meet 2 people that are even similar. Everyone is so different, including us! Our mormon born, non-drinking, kid raising selves have found that there’s a place for our variety among the melting pot.

I have had more discussions about my faith and the beliefs of others then ever before in my life. Almost daily. And it is never with any strings attached. That is what I love about this atmosphere of education and enlightenment. While academia may seeIMG_2099m restrictive and close minded, especially when it comes to religion, the attitude everyone has of learning has been so evident in every conversation I have. “You wear weird underwear? Cool! I had a sex change!” “You are all about kids? Awesome. I’m not interested at all. ever.” You voted for Mitt? Sweet. I worked for Elizabeth Warren! Let’s be friends!”

I treasure this environment that business school as brought into our life. I know it’s not so simple in the “real world” but why not?

I’m a mormon and I’d love to tell you all about what I believe and why I do what I do. And I’m dying to learn about where you’ve been and what makes you tick. Can we be friends?

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The Christus: Who is Christ to Us?

Christus in the Salt Lake North Visitors’ Center

Christus in the Salt Lake North Visitors’ Center

“That’s Jesus Christ!” my two-year old son exclaimed in an excited but reverent whisper. We stood together in awe amid the Christmas crowds at the Christus statue in Temple Square. My son wriggled against our arms during the audio presentation, eager for the speaking to end so he could run up to the magnificent likeness of Jesus and give it a “big hug.”

The larger-than-life Christus statue stands prominently year-round in the North Visitors’ Center in Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah. The original, created by sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and located in Copenhagen, Denmark, inspired leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to adopt it as a symbol of the Church’s focus on Jesus Christ. Now, replicas of the Christus can be found in several LDS Visitors’ Centers throughout the world.

It is not uncommon to see a Christus statuette displayed in homes of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Recently, the Christus on my mantle has served as a poignant reminder to me of Christ’s roles in my life. (Please note that Mormons do not worship the statue itself but display it to inspire and to remind us of Christ and His teachings.)

First, take a moment to look at the stance of the Christus, as shown in this photo. Notice the outstretched arms, the foot stepping forward, the prints of the nails on the hands and feet, the wound in the side, the head slightly bowed.

Christus

Christus statuette on my mantle

The specific stance of the Christus is symbolic to me of some of Christ’s important roles:

Creator. As depicted in the Christus, Christ has power to create with His hands. Perhaps the position of His arms shows Him displaying the grandeur and expanse of His creations. As Paul wrote, “For by him were all things created” (Colossians 1:16). And, the Prophet Joseph Smith testified, “that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24).

The Second Coming by Harry Anderson

The Second Coming by Harry Anderson

King. Christ appears to stand majestically, acknowledging His people with devotion as He lowers His head. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). His stance resembles many artists’ depictions of His Second Coming, when every knee shall bow at His feet (D&C 88:104), and He shall rule and reign over the earth in righteousness (Articles of Faith 1:10).

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Detail from Jesus Christ Visits the Americas by John Scott

Sacrificial Lamb of God, Savior. Perhaps this was Christ’s humble pose when He offered to carry out the Father’s plan to redeem mankind by sacrificing Himself for sin. In obeisance to the Father, He submitted Himself in the pre-mortal existence with: “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). He was chosen and anointed to be the Savior, as the Latin title “Christus” denotes. After triumphing over death and sin, He showed His resurrected body to His disciples in Jerusalem and to the people in the Americas: “Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world” (3 Nephi 11:14).

Foot of the Christus

Foot of the Christus

­Friend. His outstretched arms are ready to embrace us when we need to feel “encircled in the arms of [His] love” (2 Nephi 1:15). One foot is stepping towards us (an outreaching gesture similar to Michelangelo’s finger of God in The Creation of Adam), which to me portrays how earnestly He seeks to be near us. His gesture is that of someone who cares—indeed, a friend. In fact, He called us His friends, for whom He was willing to lay down His life (John 15:13). (Coincidentally, His right hand’s position resembles the American Sign Language sign for “I love you,” which, though not intentional, is still fitting.)

Hand of the Christus

Hand of the Christus

Burden Bearer. His outreaching arms also appear eager to take a heavy box or burden from us and carry it. He beckons, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). Notably, Thorvaldsen’s original Christus bears these Danish words: “Kommer Til Mig” – “Come Unto Me.”

Benefactor. It is as if He is motioning for us to behold the bounteous blessings which He has given us, encouraging us to see His hand in our lives. His hands are ready to bestow even more blessings. Truly, it is through Christ that we receive all good things from Heavenly Father; though we are undeserving, Christ’s grace grants us heaven’s tender mercies (Moroni 7:24).

Intercessor, Advocate. Perhaps His stance is that of presenting Himself before the Father, interceding and advocating our pleas for mercy. He appeals on our behalves: “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C 45:3-5). While entreating our cause, He presents the nail prints in His hands, where we have quite literally been graven upon His palms (Isaiah 49:16). He has already paid the debt we incur through sin and satisfied the demands of justice.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). His hands do not point a direction to go but instead draw attention to Himself as The Way—the way to live now, the way to eternal life, the way to come unto the Father. He acts as our Exemplar: “What manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily, I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27). He serves as our Teacher, perhaps portrayed here to be using His hands while expounding doctrine—doctrine such as, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Certainly, so much more could be said about the roles of Jesus Christ; this is not a comprehensive list. These are select roles Thorvaldsen’s Christus has come to symbolize for me. Christ is real; I know that. Thinking of and writing about Him fills my soul with reverence, stillness, gratitude, and wonder. As I gaze up at the Christus, He stands supreme, and I stand all amazed.

The Christus

The Christus

What thoughts or feelings does the Christus stir up in you? What roles does Christ have in your life? What think ye of Christ?

To learn more about Christ and about Mormons as Christians, read this talk by Apostle Robert D. Hales (one of many similar talks).

 

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To Express Sympathy: Mourning with Those that Mourn

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Gratitude and peace swelled in my heart as I read through the many messages responding to my Facebook post about my daughter who was in the NICU for an unforeseen brain injury at birth. People’s cards and messages had a way of lifting my spirit; their love, articulated in various ways, meant a lot to me.

Now, several months later, a few experiences have caused me to reflect back on what people said to me during that time: my friend’s mom passed away unexpectedly and my cousin lost her unborn baby after a car crash. In both situations, I wanted to say something meaningful, knowing how much people’s words carried me through some dark days in the NICU.

When others are going through tough times and we want to express sympathy, we often feel at a loss for words. We want to say just the right thing, or at least not say the wrong thing.

Here are some principles I try to keep in mind when expressing sympathy to someone:

  1. Love them.
  2. Share their sadness.
  3. Be moved to compassion. Act. Write. Do something.
  4. Validate feelings, instead of telling them how they should feel or what they should think.
  5. Pray for help.

Love Them

Feeling genuine love for someone guides you to respond in the right way. Love is trying to put yourself in their shoes. Love is caring about them and focusing on them, wanting to relieve their suffering.

The Apostle Paul included “love unfeigned” as an important attribute when ministering to others (2 Corinthians 6:6). At the latest General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Hugo E. Martinez shared how love was obvious when others brought potable water to him and his family after Hurricane Georges in 1998. He said, “Their service—in other words, their personal ministry—brought much more than drinking water into our lives. To every son or daughter of God, knowing that people are interested in and watching out for his or her welfare is essential… The love of Jesus Christ must be our guide if we are to become aware of the needs of those we can help in some way.” (“Our Personal Ministries,” October 2014).

In sum, love is the necessary starting point. It is what makes the difference.

Share Their Sadness

I think it’s helpful to look at Jesus Christ’s compassionate example in the scriptures. When Jesus came to two of His friends, Mary and Martha, who were mourning the recent death of their brother, Lazarus, He responded this way:

“When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

“And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35, emphasis added)

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You might not always be moved to tears at the sad things others experience, but you can still share in their sadness. By so doing, you emulate Jesus. Incidentally, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), part of our baptismal covenant is to be “willing to mourn with those who mourn…and comfort those who stand in need of comfort” as the prophet Alma described it (Mosiah 18:9, The Book of Mormon). This willingness to share in others’ sadness is part of the baptismal covenant because it shows commitment to follow Jesus’ example of compassion.

Be moved to compassion. Act. Write. Do something.

In the New Testament, we read that Jesus was “moved with compassion” which prompted Him to heal people of their sicknesses (Matthew 9:36, 14:14). Because He was moved emotionally, He was moved to action.

Andrew J. Workman, a friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith, recounted a situation when the Prophet’s compassion motivated him to act: “I was at Joseph’s house; he was there, and several men were sitting on the fence. Joseph came out and spoke to us all. Pretty soon a man came up and said that a poor brother who lived out some distance from town had had his house burned down the night before. Nearly all of the men said they felt sorry for the man. Joseph put his hand in his pocket, took out five dollars and said, ‘I feel sorry for this brother to the amount of five dollars; how much do you all feel sorry?’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 2011, p. 460)

Jesus cares a lot about our response to others, especially in hard times. He counseled, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40).

I so appreciated when people went beyond a “like” on my Facebook post about my daughter in the NICU. Emails, texts, cards, hugs, flower bouquets, babysitting, care packages in the mail – it showed me that people really cared. They didn’t wait for me to respond to “if there’s anything I can do…” They were proactively helping me bear my burden (Mosiah 18:8) such that I didn’t feel left alone in my grief.

Validate feelings, instead of telling them how they should feel or what they should think.

Jesus went through every trial, sickness, pain, and difficulty we would ever experience so that he could comfort us (Alma 7:11-12). In short, He’s been there and He understands. He does not minimize our feelings as part of providing comfort. Instead, He allows us to be sad and weeps with us. He knows that sadness does not necessarily indicate a lack of faith. One can grieve even with a hope of the resurrection and of all things made right. It is okay to feel emotion!

Linda S. Reeves, a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency of the Church, shared this insight into God’s character: “Our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, know us and love us. They know when we are in pain or suffering in any way. They do not say, ‘It’s OK that you’re in pain right now because soon everything is going to be all right. You will be healed, or your husband will find a job, or your wandering child will come back.’ They feel the depth of our suffering, and we can feel of Their love and compassion in our suffering.” (“The Lord Has Not Forgotten You,” October 2012).

In the case of Mary and Martha mourning Lazarus’ death, Elder Paul H. Dunn explained how Jesus didn’t lecture the sisters for their seeming lack of faith: “Now, who would know better than Jesus Christ that there was to be a resurrection so that Lazarus would live again? He didn’t just say to them, ‘Chin up, ladies. It’s only a few years before you see your brother again.’” (“Because I Have a Father,” April 1979).

In the Church, we find great peace in the knowledge that families can be together forever. It is a wonderfully hopeful thought to cling to when you have lost a loved one. But, saying a terse reminder that “families are forever” is rarely helpful to one dealing with loss, especially without loving validation of their grief. Personally, I’ve found some comments to be more comforting than others. Things that have been less than comforting to me include “be strong and have faith,” “read this scripture,” “it’s for the best,” and “it was his time to go – he’s in a better place now.” Even if those things are true, I think they come across as preachy, harsh, and insensitive. Instead, when people say understanding things like “take all the time you need to grieve” or “I am so sorry you are going through this,” I feel greater love and comfort.

Pray for help.

When you pray for a person grieving, you help strengthen and comfort them in ways you may never know. Jesus Christ knows how to succor (help or “run to”) people better than anyone. He can provide supreme comfort, grace, and strength through the Holy Ghost, who is known as the Comforter. As you pray, the Comforter can also inspire you in ways to help that you may not have considered. You can pray to be filled with charity, Christ-like love, as you seek to understand and minister to someone.

I have often felt an added strength as I go about my day, especially during hard times when I know others are praying for me. There is a tangible support and strength that I have only been able to attribute to others’ prayers on my behalf. During that NICU experience, I received a note from a couple friends listing the specific things they had been praying for us, which was very reassuring. I had felt the influence of their (and others’) prayers even before receiving their note.

Conclusion

In the end, nothing we do or say will take away someone’s grief. But, our compassion does make a difference (Jude 1:22). We can show our compassion by mourning with those that mourn – through feeling love, sharing in sadness, acting in compassionate ways, validating feelings, and praying for help. By expressing sympathy in Christ-like ways, we can help others feel Christ’s influence. He will not leave us comfortless, and like Him, we can strive to comfort those around us.

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Helping Children Develop Faith in God

A year ago I attended a workshop on religious diversity. There were many different people there, such as Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and even people who didn’t know what they believed or what to believe. At the beginning we were asked, why did we come? What did we hope to get from this session?

Of the many answers, the one that touched me the most came from a man who said he attended the workshop that day because he wanted to know how to raise his children in terms of religion or spirituality. The question has stayed with me ever since. How do we raise spiritual children? How do we help children develop faith in God, and to make their own faith-based decisions?

Children look to their parents as examples for faith and how to live a faith-based life. I am reminded of the story of Enos in the Book of Mormon. He comes to a critical point in his life: he is deciding what to believe. He turns his thoughts to his father. He says, “I, Enos, [know] my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it” (Enos 1:1). Enos was grateful that his father taught and exemplified principles of faith.

I was teaching a lesson in church last month; the bishop asked me to lead a combined meeting at which the whole adult congregation would be in attendance. This was my chance to learn from the wisdom of everyone I worship with. I gave everyone a card with the following question:

What did your parents do to help you develop faith in God? 

All of their responses showed a gratitude for the spiritual foundation their parents gave them. With their permission, I have included some of the responses below.

  • My mother talked to us about God, took us to church.
  • My parents taught me the importance of prayer. They taught me that we speak to someone who hears us and listens to us.
  • My parents showed consistency in their faith. They had us read the scriptures every morning, pray in the morning and night, and spend time every Monday evening meeting as a family. This consistency showed me how important the faith was to them in a real sense. James 1:22 - “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
  • Had me go to repent in Confession, go to church every Sunday, be honest all the time.
  • Even when other things were going terribly, my mom made sure that we always read from the scriptures as a family. As a kid, I hated it, but now I really respect her for soldiering through.
  • I had witnessed my mom wake up early at 4 a.m. to attend church service. I saw her pray and sing along all day. I saw her example of treating others with kindness, and forgive those who took from her what was most precious.
  • Doing activities around the house that doubled as object lessons.
  • Personal interviews. Having formal conversations was really helpful.
  • When I was a child and throughout her life my mom used to go to church every morning before going to work. It helped me to develop faith in God.
  • My parents encouraged me to live the commandments and find out for myself whether the teachings of Jesus Christ are true. We held family scripture and prayer every night, attended church meetings every week, and my parents set a great example by living very righteous lives.
  • My parents made sure I was heavily involved in church activities, which helped my social life and self-esteem. I always attended EFY [Especially For Youth, a church summer camp], youth group, church, and service activities. It taught me that God loves everyone and I shouldn’t be so selfish. Mosiah 2:17 - “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
  • My parents helped me by teaching me how to read the scriptures and how to pray. They prayed with me and helped me look for the answers God gives us.
  • I think the biggest thing my parents did to help me was walking past my parents’ room late one night and seeing my dad on his knees praying. I knew then, that if he believed it enough to do it when no one was watching, then I could try it too.
  • My parents liked me to be with them at their church. I do go with them still as long as I have time.
  • My parents-in-law invited some Christian friends to our home to share their ideas about God and sing songs and pray.
  • Fostering the desire to seek truth and understanding. Working through doubts in an open, honest way.
  • Shared with me their journey to the faith and issues they struggled with, supported me finding my own path and asking tough questions.
  • My parents’ true love between themselves, the great love and respect. They both told me over and over about Father and Lord and Savior and Redeemer, not only with words, but with deeds of true love and compassion for others, so I do the same with my children and grandchildren.
  • They let me choose for myself. Doctrine and Covenants 121:37 - “…when we undertake to … exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unrighteousness, behind, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved…”
  • They taught me the love of learning about everything: all religions and all points of view. This helped when it came to hearing about the LDS [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and feeling the truth of it.
  • They taught me to love the scriptures by quoting them – sometimes humorously, but always respectfully – and by applying them to real-life situations.

How my parents helped me develop faith

How did my parents help me develop faith in God? They took me to church, they taught me at home, and they set an example of belief. They made sure I had the opportunity to attend church evening activities with others in my age group. I was given nice, leather-bound scriptures and encouraged to study them. We focused on Jesus at Christmas and Easter more than on the presents or colored eggs, and we focused on Jesus every day, not just on religious holidays. We have many pictures on our wall, all of family members, and included on that wall is a big painting of Jesus Christ. The focus was always on Him.

So, now it’s your turn. How did your parents help you develop faith in God? Please share your comments.

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Staying Mormon After Losing My Faith Part 3

I have also spent a lot of time trying to understand what others also go through when they experience a profound loss of faith. A couple of years ago I made a list of the reasons why I am able to stay active in the LDS church after losing my testimony and be happy enough. I share this list so that others can examine ways in which they might be able to help others who go through something similar.

First, I am able to express my views honestly in church. I live in Boston, which is an area that has more open-minded people even in the LDS church. It still took some personal effort to get to the point where I can say what I want to say during lessons, talks, meetings, and other venues and not feel a twinge of guilt that maybe I’m harming somebody who’s fragile. Because if I did not express myself, I would go crazy and I don’t think I could stay active and happy.

Second, my beliefs are not very set; they are still evolving. I know how much I don’t know and how much trust I place on various beliefs of mine. Some others who go through a major loss of testimony end up in a place where they know the church is not true. Other than considering that possibility, I never really came close to landing in that camp.

Third, I am respected by my ward leaders, my stake leaders, and enough of my ward members. There are probably people that think that I don’t belong in church because of the views I express, but if there are, they don’t go out of their way to make me feel like I don’t belong.

Fourth, I still feel inspired occasionally when I attend church. I also appreciate the opportunity to confront and consider perspectives that differ from my own. I am able to benefit and have my experience broadened by the perspectives of others. I believe that continuing to attend helps me in my personal growth.

Fifth, I have not been personally harmed by the church or church leaders. I know many people who have been, but that has not been my experience. Rather, my experiences with the church have been inordinately positive. For people who have been harmed by the institution or its leaders, I think it is especially difficult to maintain activity.

Sixth, I think that my presence in church is helpful to others. I am thanked all the time for the comments that I make in lessons, or when I express my beliefs during a testimony meeting. I think that my presence in my ward makes the others around me who struggle with the church feel more hope and camaraderie.

Seventh, I feel a commitment to the church. I chose to make the church a part of my life, and I think that I would feel a sense of personal shame for not holding up to a commitment I made. I don’t know how healthy this attitude really is, but I feel happy enough with it for now.

Eighth, I feel a personal duty to do what I can to make my community as good as it can be. That applies to my neighborhood and the city I live in and also to my ward. I want the church to improve. If I did not attend church, then I couldn’t help it improve or even feel justified in critiquing it. I want to do everything that I can to make it better. I wouldn’t be effective at making my church community better if I weren’t an active participant in it.

I want to conclude with sharing a little bit more of what I believe. I do not know that God exists, but I choose to believe that God exists. I have looked at the evidence on both sides, both scientific and experiential, and I choose to believe in God. Furthermore, I believe that this faith transition that I have gone through is part of God’s plan for me. I believe that God wants me to have this perspective so I can share it with others. I believe that the purpose of this life is to become better people—more loving, kind, compassionate, more understanding. In sharing my experience, my goal is to increase understanding of those who go through a major faith transition in the hope that they will find compassion and respect within their church communities as they navigate through their spiritual journey.

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Staying Mormon After Losing My Faith Part 2

The next thing that had a profound impact on me was that I encountered a supportive community on the internet.  I think I googled something like “how to stay LDS.” I ended up on StayLDS.com and at the time they had a link on their homepage to a Mormon Stories podcast discussing Stages of Faith. Stages of Faith is a book by James Fowler outlining common stages that people go through with their faith across essentially all religions. Of the six primary stages of faith that Fowler describes, I was currently in stage four and prior to losing my testimony I was in stage three. What was most significant to me was that there were future stages—this gave me a hope I had not felt in a long time.

I was feeling a lot of negative emotions during this period. I was upset at myself for having been so trusting when I was younger. I was frustrated at the LDS church because I felt like it was the church’s fault. I had followed the formula set forth for building a testimony and it failed me. Also, the church provided no help for me. I could talk to my bishop but that didn’t help me and beyond that there were no resources. I was both mad at and confused by my fellow ward members because they weren’t going through the same thing. It’s amazing how quickly your perspective changes. I would look at people and think how can you truly believe what you just said, but only months before I might have said the exact same thing and truly believed it. I think I also felt some guilt; in looking for a cause of my doubts, I started to blame myself, thinking that perhaps I had drifted away from God and maybe that’s why I wasn’t sure if God even existed anymore.

These negative emotions are indicative of Fowler’s stage four. While you’re experiencing it, it’s hard to imagine that there will be an end to it or a light at the end of the tunnel. Listening to this podcast and hearing the experiences of a couple of other people gave me hope that there could be a light at the end of the tunnel for me. I wanted to progress toward a stage-five type of faith where the negative emotions are mostly gone and I’m able to appreciate the beauty of any and all faith. Just knowing that this perspective existed made me want to cultivate it in my life.

It took time, but church gradually became different for me. Instead of attending and feeling both personal alienation and pity for so many others who were left to their blind faith, I started to see the beauty in the beliefs of others that I no longer shared. I also decided that I needed to participate more at church. I would share my beliefs during testimony meetings every three to six months and comment in classes more. This process was very gradual and every so often I would think about how church has been for me lately, and for probably three years straight there was steady improvement.

Over these years, I have also continued to try to understand what I truly do believe and what I choose to believe. I went through a period where I listened to a lot of Mormon Stories podcasts, and I found them very helpful to understand some of the difficult aspects of Mormonism. I was also looking for others like me whose testimony crumbled because of nothing in particular. This period of sorting out my beliefs helped me to not feel anxiety in church when people expressed beliefs that are different from mine. I now can explain clearly why I believe what I believe because I put in the time to sort it out.

I feel as happy as I need to feel with my relationship to the LDS church now. I’m an active, temple-attending member with an unconventional testimony.

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