As some of you know, I am home alone right now (but for any crazies who might be out there--just know my big, strong, gun-carrying husband will be home very shortly), and thus have a rare opportunity to sit down and actually record some of the things I am thinking. I've been recovering my hand-me-down chairs from Merritt and April (thank you again, Merritt and April. I really scored on these suckers) all day and my fingers are sore. For most of the day I was catching up on this season's SYTYCD on Hulu while yanking out staples, but for the last hour or so, I've been watching this special on Mormons that apparently aired yesterday--I saw comments about it on Facebook. And both of those programs got me thinking....
It's really important to me that people know what I believe. It always has been. And (as I've mentioned before) while I really do want to be a fun, carefree person who knows how to laugh and not take things too seriously, I can't escape the part of me--the big part of me--that is serious and very concerned with what is right and wrong and true and false and stuff.
And while you may see it as a misfortune, I have to record here the things I am feeling. Heaven knows Camp wouldn't want to hear it right now. Neither would Jane and Danin and Skip. They wouldn't be bothered so much as disinterested, and they just wouldn't understand my message quite yet. But they need to know these things. So I'll write them here and someday they will read them and understand them.
I think it would be fair to say that over the last several years, many members of my family have been sorting through all the things they (we) have always been taught and/or believed in order to really discover truth for themselves (ourselves). And this has forced me--or rather given me the opportunity--to seek truth for myself as well. ( I think I've already told you about this...). So anyway, that's what I've been doing. I've been asking God, in faith, to reveal truth to me. I've been asking Him to verify, or not, some of the things I thought I always knew.
I won't tell you every specific thing I've been asking about, but I will tell you I have been asking Him whether or not He cares about which church I go to. I've been asking that for a while now and here's why----While I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit it, for most of my life I believed that members of other churches did not have the same relationship with God that I do. And I think it was mostly because most of my close friends growing up were LDS. I guess I didn't know very many other kids outside my church growing up who were very active and serious about their other religions. (To be fair, though, I did know lots of other good kids who very well may have been active and serious about their own faiths, and very close to God, and I just never knew about it.) But anyway, I can think of three: Patrick Hutchison (baptist), Maren Hilguard (Methodist) and Shelly Noble (baptist). And actually, I think Lindsay Ober was religious, too. Anyway, all really good kids. But since moving to Florence, I have met and become close to so many wonderful people who are members of other churches and who enjoy the same relationship with God that I feel I have. Sure, our beliefs about God, and the way we worship, may be a little different. But our relationship with God is the same. They love Him just like I do, and He loves them just like He loves me. Who knew, right? I know. It's embarrassing.
Hence, my aforementioned question. And I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed to tell you that the answer hasn't come super clearly yet. To be honest, the feeling I've had is just one of comfort with where I'm at and the church to which I belong, and an assurance that as I keep seeking truth, I will find it. And I think I have found some truth, if just a little. Remember what I told you I believe here? Well, let me just add a little to it.
I want you (Camp, Jane, Danin, and Skip--how old are you now? 16? 25?) to know this: For starters, I feel like Heavenly Father has helped me not to worry about what others' experiences have been--where they have been led or what answers they have or have not received. (Because sometimes I feel frustrated and confused about how so many good, wonderful, sincere people can reach different conclusions about things.) I can and will certainly learn from others. But ultimately, I feel I will be held accountable to the truth and light given to ME, assuming I have sought it sincerely. I also feel good about something my mom taught me a couple years ago. That is--each of us has the freedom and opportunity to choose what to believe. When I struggle sometimes to know what is true, I can choose what I want to believe and then follow the path created by that belief. Then, if the path leads me to Christ and goodness, I can be confident with my choice. Isn't that how faith works? Secondly, I believe that because of Christ's perfect love, he is able to recognize and/or appreciate our strengths despite our weaknesses and vice versa. Our strengths cannot discount our weaknesses--neither do our weaknesses devalue or diminish our strengths. He loves us perfectly, despite ourselves. Third, determining what is right and/or wrong is mostly only pertinent with regard to how it applies to me and they way I lead and teach my children. It is not up to me to interpret or decide what is right for others. In other words, I need not and should not make judgements except where I or my family will be directly affected. (I need to remind myself of this often, but I think I'm getting better. ) Fourth, Heavenly Father cares more about how I treat others than most anything else. And finally, I'm grateful to be a Mormon. Despite it's imperfections in custom and/or teachings, I'm grateful for the church that taught and led my parents, who then taught and led me to love God and to seek truth. I'm grateful for the church which is responsible for my wonderful family network. I'm grateful I was taught to work hard, and be clean, and honest, and kind--to follow the example of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful to the church that brought me the Book of Mormon which teaches me--along with the Bible--that He is my Savior and how to be like Him.