This Easter Sunday - Why I Choose to be Mormon
This weekend marks two important events for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. The first is Easter, when we recognize and celebrate the miracle of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The second is the two-day, semi-annual General Conference of the Church, when Church leadership addresses the membership as a whole through messages meant to guide and uplift.
These two events have me thinking a lot about my faith and what it means to me in my life. I have spoken often about my religion on my blog, but usually in a tangential way to whatever point I am trying to make. In the spirit of this weekend, however, I feel like it is important to talk about my religion for what it is – particularly, why I choose to be a part of it.
Having lived outside of Utah for nearly five years now (and even before then), I have had plenty of opportunities to question my commitment to my faith. By many standards, Mormonism is not an easy religion to live. We don’t drink alcohol, tea, or coffee; we don’t believe in sex before marriage; we don’t swear or use foul language; we go to church for 3 hours every week and take on volunteer assignments that often require much more than 3 hours every week; we diligently strive to observe Sunday as the Sabbath, including not working (generally) and not going out to restaurants, movies, etc.; we make temple covenants that severely limit our summer wardrobe options, and we pay 10% of all our income in tithing. And those are just the big commitments.
There have been times over the last five years when I have thought about how much easier it would be to fit in if I weren’t Mormon, instead of being the nice religious girl who doesn’t know how to order at Starbuck’s (why is a small called a “tall” anyway?). And yet, in spite of the fact that my religion sometimes makes me a little peculiar, I still choose to live it and be 100% committed to it.
In true lawyerly fashion, I could list out three things that keep me committed to my faith, and then elaborate on each one. But I imagine some of you might be bored by that approach (indeed I’m bored just thinking of that approach). More importantly, I’m not going to list out three things because it really just comes down to one:
The power of sacred moments
If you think about it, the purpose of any religion is to provide a vehicle for sacred moments. Every religion strives to bring the Divine into harmony with the natural man. Some choose to do it through loud moments of passion and ecstasy; others choose to do it through mountaintop meditation and incense. But all of them are trying to reach the same goal.
In my religion, this harmony between the immortal and the mortal is possible because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The very act of His crucifixion and subsequent victory over death provided a way for us to return to our Heavenly home and to be forgiven of our earthly sins. The covenants we make and the spiritual guidance provided by the Holy Spirit create a constant blending of our soul with the will of God. This act of spiritual blending refines us and prepares us for the sacred moments when God can teach us His divine truths.
Consequently, my decision to obey God’s commandments, rather than being restrictive and burdensome, acts as a purifying agent to my soul, such that, in the quiet moments when I am still, God can converse with me, and I with Him. To many, these sacred moments may seem like folly, or the heightened result of some weird placebo effect, but to those who have experienced such tender moments, they are anything but folly.
Ultimately, this is why I choose to stay part of my religion. My faith completes me, in a way that nothing else can. It gives me purpose and perspective on even the hardest trials of mortality, and it sanctifies those trials for my own personal growth. Each sacred spiritual moment teaches me that I am a child of a divine Being, whose purpose in life is greater than even I can imagine. This purpose motivates me, and keeps me going through even the hardest trials of life.
There are some out there who discount religion – and in particular my religion – for the way in which it is managed. The reality is that the LDS Church is guided by a perfect being – Jesus Christ – but executed by imperfect beings – us. This has never bothered me. I have never once felt like I matter less because of my gender, my age, my marital status, or any other quality. I have never once felt like the Church was off course because it did not comport with the opinions and beliefs of the day. I know my religion’s stances on certain issues are often unpopular, but their lack of popularity makes them no less true, nor me no less committed.
Again, for me, it all comes down to the sacred moments. I do not doubt my place in the Church because I do not doubt my place with God. Any religion that can provide me with that kind of peace is one that I want to be part of. So I choose to stay, and will always choose to stay, until the day I am called home to my heavenly parents. Until then, when you see me in a Starbuck’s, help a sister out and teach me the lingo before I reach the counter.