Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bursting the Bubble

I grew up in one of my favorite places on this earth.  I love my hometown of Snohomish, Washington.  We lived in the same area my whole childhood and my friends didn't change much from the time I was pretty young.  They are amazing people.  However, for the most part, there were not many Mormons.  The LDS population was small, particularly in my age group and most of my friends belonged to another faith, or no religion at all. I recognized from an early age that we were different and I felt it.

Boy, do my kids have a different life.

I realized it a few years back when my daughter started assuming everyone on the planet was a Mormon.  When I'd tell her specific people were not (mostly famous people!), she looked at me as if there was something wrong with them, like she didn't believe me.  I began to see that my kids thought every single person they knew was a Mormon.  To be fair, here in Utah, most of the people they know are of our same faith! Last summer we were visiting a good friend of mine and her family out of state.  On the drive home, I heard my kids talking about whether or not these friends were LDS.  When I chimed in to say that they were not Mormons, my daughter said, "but they seem like it...they are really nice people."

In an instant (and a panic) I was ready to make that 12 hour drive back home to Utah, pack up the house and move anywhere BUT there...far, far away from so many other LDS people!

Somehow, without me even aware, my daughter had made the assumption that in order to be a good, nice, decent person, you had to go to church; but not just any church, OUR church, and somewhere along the line her perspective became so contrary to reality that I didn't even know where to begin with it! How did this happen? Admittedly, it wasn't the first time I had heard this perspective, and it has always bugged me, but from my own daughter???

Good thing we got it out in the open!  This was a reason I have feared raising a family in Utah.  I didn't want my kids to miss out on something I experienced growing up: diversity.  There just isn't much of it here.  You have to look harder, that's for sure.  As much as I would love to live elsewhere, this is home and this is where work is... there are many great and wonderful things about living here, too, but I have been worried about this issue.  I knew after this conversation and a few others that we needed to make a greater effort to teach our kids that we are all God's children, no matter our religion, culture, race or beliefs. Brandon and I have shared countless stories of our friends and being in their homes and the goodness of those families.  We've talked about differences and that they are okay; that we need to be tolerant of others beliefs and hope that they are accepting of our own. We never need to be ashamed of what we believe, and we need to stand for what we believe is right, but its okay if others don't agree. I've talked about some of my friends who have never been to any church and how they are great people!  I've made an effort for the kids to get to know the one person we know in our neighborhood who is not a member of our church so they can see that she is a wonderful person. We've talked about never making others feel unloved because they are different.  There are a handful of people in the area who are not LDS, and I'm sure it is not easy for them to be such a minority. Hopefully this open communication is working and the paradigm is shifting in their little minds!

In the 1800's, a newspaper editor contacted Joseph Smith and asked him what the members of the LDS church believed.  Joseph's response came in the form of a letter with thirteen articles of faith.

Here is number twelve:

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Some of the most charitable people I knew growing up were not of my faith.  I feel privileged to have been raised among hardworking, family-oriented people who lived Christlike lives and had a powerful influence for good on me. I am grateful for such good people.  I don't think any less of them for not believing as I do.

Because I am a Mormon, I believe we are all God's children.  God doesn't have favorites and His Light and goodness abide in each one of us.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Almost as good as Christmas...

Like most children, I remember as a young girl coloring Easter eggs, finding hidden eggs, then finding my Easter basket, getting a nice Easter dress to wear to church and of course, the Easter bunny.  (Though I never pictured an actual bunny, it was more like a six foot character you see dressed up at the mall....)   It was like a second Christmas--but not quite as good.

As a teenager, I once heard a young man speak and it had an impact on me.  He was a quadriplegic as the result of a boating accident.  He spoke of the Resurrection--the reuniting of his body and spirit, no longer subject to death or accident-- and what it meant to him.  It had a profound effect on me as I was able to see how this man, whose body was crippled and without proper function, had hope for a day when his body would once again be made whole.  After hearing him speak, whenever the Resurrection was mentioned around Easter time, I associated my thoughts with this man and others who were in need of a new body.  But I was still far from understanding.

Jesus is the Christ.  That doesn't mean much to a lot of people.  But it means everything!  It is hard for me to understand why the Jews were so blind that they couldn't see who He truly was; it is hard for me to believe that one of His closest friends betrayed Him for just 30 pieces of silver; it is too much for me to imagine the pain He suffered for all of mankind.  For me. 

But aren't we all guilty of betraying Him in some way or another?  Aren't we all blind to some degree?  Haven't we all added to His suffering and pain?

When Christ was risen from the tomb on that Easter morning over two thousand years ago, it meant so much more than my human mind can comprehend.  The pain and sorrow of death was wiped away.  It made all things possible through Him.  Not only for those whose bodies have failed them, or for the grieving parents who've lost their child to death, but for those who betray Him every day--for each of us.  Christ died because it was necessary for us.  But Hope did not die when Jesus Christ was crucified.  Because of the Resurrection, hope must reach all of us.  There is nothing that hope cannot touch.

I am still far from understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His life and the meaning of all things. I know He is my Redeemer, that He lives today.  He loves me and is my advocate with the Father. I have felt that.  His mercy extends to all of us, no matter how much we have betrayed Him.  No matter our blindness. 

Everyone will be resurrected--those who followed the Savior, and those who did not.  He died that we might all live again. Families can be together forever.

Easter isn't second to Christmas.  Jesus Christ's birth would mean nothing without His Resurrection!

Because I am a Mormon, I believe in a Resurrected Christ.  He lives!

There is hope for all of us.