Friday, December 21, 2007

I am a Mormon!

And by that I mean I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Just when I was feeling like that statement was beginning to get respect or at least tolerance from most, strange stewings of controversy arise in the political and therefore national scene and it seems that, in some instances, we are back in the former days of persecution. I don't get personally offended by the ravings of self proclaimed mormon bashing scholars but rather personally empowered in my own testimony with greater enthusiasm to speak out. While I know this is just a small way of doing that, I'd like to spend the next few minutes, unedited, to throw some randomness out from my mind and heart so that I can more organize my impressions and ask for yours. A few thoughts...

First of all
Mitt Romney.
(wow, I've gone and done it now, inviting politics onto my blog..but you wouldn't really get a true picture of me if I pretended I wasn't involved and totally interested in the scenes of campaigning. And quite honestly, I feel we are not doing our duty to our country and therefore ourselves if we aren't. We can not depend on others info to base an opinion on who most qualifies to govern this free world. We need to research, listen and watch- to be actively involved) OK, I'll just get it out there, he is my favorite. And that is not coming from some ignorant,go with the crowd Mormon, who just wants to see him do well because he is "one of us". In fact I have been more impressed by some other candidates on certain issues, but overall: the problems he puts focus on, his honesty, willingness to change, the trust I feel in his abilities to manage,prioritize and organize, similar ideals and principles,- matches what I am looking for in a commander and chief. In saying this, I do not wish to convince any other person that he is the man for them, but rather put influence on the fact that it is crucial that we not only decide what issues matter most to us but who can most effectively take on the challenge of them. As always my opinion is subject to change as I become more informed. I do not wish to defend Mitt Romney, but regardless of anyone's political opinions, his running for President has opened the door for reviews and rebuttal's of the LDS church and we have the opportunity to defend THAT! I get excited to think of helping others understand the restored Gospel because I know it will increase my own understanding.

Onto my next thought...
It is not all roses but that doesn't change the truth.

One day on my mission I was run off a doorstep by what seemed to be a ranting crazy man, yelling out "you murderers! Your people are murderers! You kill innocent people!" He continued to describe details of a mormon massacre which I assumed he was making up or misinformed about because I wasn't familiar with. I was shocked when I found out it was true and embarrassed at how I must've responded to him. I couldn't believe I had never heard anything (that I remembered at least) about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Another example: While discussing some church history with a friend (who was brought up in the church) she paused to say "wait, Joseph Smith had more than one wife too?"
I couldn't believe she didn't know that and yet why should she know any differently? Many of the church manuals (including the new one of Joseph Smith's teachings) mention nothing of this or any other of the controversial history of the early church. Do I think they should? No, at least not most of the time. Sometimes I wish they would though, even though I know it is better that they don't. I was so pleased with the article in the September Ensign that shared the accounts of the Mountain Meadows Massacre- the first detailed account shared with the entire church. I'd just love to hear one of the Apostles share some of their personal thoughts and understanding on the churches history with plural marriage, but why should they? We have far too much truth and light to share that it seems a waste of time to spend our precious teaching moments reviewing incomplete records of the past or principles that are no longer needful at this time... not to mention all the mistakes members of the church have made. Yet we can not ignore the past while others not of our faith are informed. So how do we prepare for their questioning then, like the one I experienced on my mission? I am no sure exactly, but I do think we have to do our own research, with the spirit. Joseph himself would not have received many revelations with out first having stirrings and questions of the soul. We can't be afraid of thorns and let imperfections of man startle our Faith in God and His church. A thorough study of the early church history and the life of our prophet Joseph could leave the tender dependent testimony questioning. For the past few months I have read some (and discussed more) of "Joseph Smith-Rough Stone Rolling" by Richard Bushman. For me, I enjoy knowing that Joseph was a man- called to be a prophet, but very much a mortal with struggles and weaknesses. It gives me more hope and faith to know that Father can take a humble man and make him into someone who can be used for such a marvelous work. While Joseph may have been one of the most Christlike men to live, he is not our Savior. He has done more for the world to know the Savior than any other man yet it should not be expected that he made no mistakes simply because of his calling.

I wish we weren't so afraid of showing and sharing weaknesses. So often I feel we go through our lives surrounded- in stores, homes, congregations and classrooms with hungry souls, questioning, struggling and even unbelieving, yet we feel we can't share with each other. That somehow we are not faithful or good if we have a questions or don't understand something. That we need to be perceived as perfect. There is so much more we could do for each other. Is it pride? One of my favorite testimonies was from a couple who shared humbly that although they firmly believed in Christ they were struggling with some specific parts of their testimonies but trying to receive answers through the spirit. If we all had perfect testimonies on every principle of the gospel it seems our test and learning on earth may as well be over...but since we're all still here, apparently we could use a bit more. :)

Well, I had no agenda in writing this. Just a lot on my mind. If you are still reading this, I hope you might take a moment to share some of your thoughts, agreeable or not, on this blog or your own.

I am imperfect, yet striving to know Christ better.
I AM A MORMON and couldn't be happier!


RaeLynn said...

Here's my profound statement: ditto. Ditto to everything. I think sometimes it's hard to realize that we all have agency for a reason, and if people CHOOSE to believe things about our religion that isn't true, we can't take that agency away from them. Obviously the best way to handle questions that may arise is to live a life that provokes people to wonder why we strive to be better, and why we love the Lord so much that we feel we should be like him. Unfortunately there are lots of people who give "Mormons" a bad name, but I like to concentrate on all those who live it to their best...I only hope I can BE one of those.

Kelly N. said...

It's interesting that the more you learn about the church, the more there is to know. It's an ongoing process. I know that I need to learn more so I can correctly answer people's questions. I love your testimony and your willingness to share it...shout from the roof tops!

Rachel Hansen said...

You amaze me. Every time I read an email from you or a post on your blog, I am amazed. You are special.

Amanda said...

I agree with everything you said! I have always felt that our religion is actually a religion that encourages questioning and then understanding the truth. The key is being a seeker of truth and not a seeker of fault. If Joseph Smith was just looking for what was wrong about the various faiths instead of what was right, things might have worked out differently.

I remember being about a month away from the end of my mission--I had been transferred back into my very first area. I was training 2 other sister missionaries, had seen several baptisms, and was not at all afraid to be bold about bearing testimony. Then, my very first convert, (who had turned anti within a couple of months of her baptism), sought me out and literally yelled at me for quite some time. Some of the things she said really made me start questioning my own testimony. I spent the next day really thinking things over and searching to know what was true. And, I came through that experience with a much stronger testimony.

Even with everything I've heard since then, I know that we are all learning to listen to and follow the spirit and trying to understand what the Lord wants us to do now. When you know it's true, you don't have to worry about the things people might say to dissuade you. You can focus on the truth and hold on to it when those mists of darkness arise.

Brianne and Jarod Stewart said...

I couldn't have said it any better Sara. You have a talent of being able to really express your thoughts through your journaling. I try so hard, but fail miserably! I have had so many of the same thoughts, and love that you wrote them for me ;) Thanks for taking the time to do it!

janet said...

Where to begin... I love that our religion is under the spotlight, but I feel as though myself and most of the members of the church don't really know what we're up against. Our church teachings are focused on the simpleness of the Gospel but the deep stuff needs to be studied and pondered by the individual church members and I don't believe we are doing our job.

The experience you had on your mission is an interesting one... and most of us would have been in the same boat. Do I think the church should be forthcoming with these clips in history. Absolutely. It bothers me that there isn't more information, especially in the recent manual. I don't believe they are hiding from the truth, and I am sure they are more wise than I am... but let's talk about it. The revelation to take on another wife was A HUGE part of Joseph's ministry. It literally changed the church and made it was it is today. A couple of years ago, I decided to read some of the discourses of the Church from Joseph's and Brigham's day and I was FLOORED on some of the issues documented. I couldn't sleep at night because I was so worried that I was going to have to leave the Church. It was so shocking to me and I was stressed that I was teaching my children something that wasn't true. Of course, personal revelation came after the hard work of seeking to understand why things happened the way they did, but sometimes I still sit back in church meetings and wonder what is going on. I believe it is my lack of faith that keeps me up at night, but it's SO good to wonder and to question. We can't sit back blindly and take in everything that is dished out to us, and it's our responsibility as parents to make sure we KNOW what we are teaching our children. Anyway, I could go on and on.. but I'll stop.

I just wanted to say that I recently attended a sealing ceremony and it was JUST what I needed. The sealer explained the importance of attending the temple and the power of personal revelation that comes from being in the house of the Lord. Heavenly Father desires to give us as much information as we can handle and most of us are being lazy and not trying to gain more knowledge. My testimony is so weak and I need to prepare myself better. The oil in our lamps are just not what they should be and the preparation is hard work!! This year, I am dedicating myself to more temple attendance so that I can receive more revelation and understanding. Cause my testimony is not what it should be. Okay, that's all.... at least for now!

Thanks for the post!

H-less E-less said...

Thank you all for commenting and sharing your faith with me. It's amazing how I really needed to hear your words. I just love you all so much and can feel how we are all just trying to be better and to understand the "fullness" of the gospel.