Friday, March 13, 2009
Peace....and how I found some
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in short, I am a Mormon. I was baptized when I was 8 years old. My Parents were also baptized when they were 8, as were 3 out of 4 of my grandparents, the 4th was baptized when she was 19 or 20. I come from a Mormon family, there is no doubt about it.
I have a wonderful family, My Parents are amazing. They are supportive and loving, they have always done whatever it takes to make sure their children are taken care of, and even though their children are pretty much all in their 30’s (there is that one 27 year old) they still help us out way too much. (Hopefully they feel that we support them too, as we are all adults and should be giving back to the people who gave us so much, but that is another post). So, anyway, I had a wonderful family, a good foundation, a safe place to run too when I needed it.
I believe in God. Most people in the world believe in something larger and more powerful than themselves, I happen to call him God, or Heavenly Father. I also happen to believe that He believes in me, I love that. I hope that there are other people in the world who believe the same thing, that God knows who they are and cares about them, just as much as their earthly parents do. Have I always believed this or even hoped for this? No
I have been thinking a lot this week about my religion, and about how interesting we are to people who don’t know much about us, what we do, why we do it? There are 13 million + Mormons around the world, so it should be pretty easy to find someone to talk to about those questions, unfortunately it is also pretty easy to write a magazine article, produce a Movie or Television Show, Blog or anything else really. So not all the information out there about us if completely accurate or completely truthful. That is OK, it has always been this way, and I have a feeling it will always be this way. As I thought about it this week I realized that it is because of this type of situation that I was able to find Peace with and a deeper Faith in my religion and its teachings.
Here is my story- When I was in my mid teens I read an article in a national magazine that left an impression on me, and not a good impression. It was an article about a former member of my church and included excerpts from a tell all book she had written about her life as a Mormon. It was at least 16 years ago, but I still remember the basics, she dated and became engaged to a man that she didn’t love because she felt like she had too, she detailed her experiences in an LDS Temple as she got married, and then she spoke about her loveless and passionless marriage. It was the most information I had ever seen as to what happened inside the temples of my church, and I didn’t question at the time that her explanations may have been tainted by the pain she now felt in her life because of the choices she had previously made. I don’t remember if I ever talked to my parents about what I had read, but I do remember that from that moment on I questioned my faith.
For the next few years of my life I struggled, emotionally and spiritually. I looked everywhere for answers. I love to be loved and to give love and so it was a big fear of mine that I too would never find the kind of relationship that l needed, a marriage filled with love and passion. This fear was not helped by the fact that I couldn’t seem to attract boys. I had one boyfriend in High School, unfortunately it was during this time of struggle in my life, I know it wasn’t a very good relationship, and I feel kind of bad for that boy, I hope that he has found as much peace and joy as I have since we parted.
All in all, Religion and Faith is a personal thing, a judgement can not be made to its truthfulness or falsity based on a magazine article or a television show. There has to be study, and it can not be just a casual study, there must be a need to know, a hunger. There has to be prayer or meditation involved. And last of all, there has to be a willingness to move forward once you have found your answers. When I was 19 I started down this road. I wanted to know for myself if the things I had been taught and believed were true. It wasn’t an over night thing, I read, I asked questions, If I found information that I didn’t understand or if I questioned the validity of the information I asked parents, siblings, friends or other people I trusted. Then it came down to prayer, I prayed, and like never before I knew, so deeply that there was a God, that he loved me, that he was pleased with the path I was currently taking. There is more, but it is really special to me, and I cry a lot when I even think about it, I don’t know if I could put it in words, so I will just say, My life changed that night.
A couple of years later I was preparing to serve as a Missionary for my church and as such I would be going to the Temple for the first time. I still vividly remembered what I had read years before, and I was a little scared. There as no need to be scared, the feelings of joy and peace I had as I was in the temple that first time were astounding, the things that bothered me from her explanation were non existent in my experience. I learned once again that faith and religion and participation in religious traditions and ordinances are personal and sacred experiences. I won’t be telling what I experienced in the temple that day, or past or future day that I have worshiped there, not because it is secret, but because it truly is sacred to me, personally.
Happily, my life has turned out so differently than I unfortunately was lead to believe by that article I had read. Because I knew God loved me, individually, I didn’t have to fear too much that my life was not turning out the way everyone thinks a Mormon girls life turns out. I wasn’t married at 18, or 19 or 20, I wasn’t married at 25 either. In fact I was about 25 when I met the man who would become my best friend and then the love of my life. We were 28 when we married and we were around 31 when we had our first child. Life isn’t easy, I don’t get everything I want when I want it, I don’t think I would be very happy if I did, I love and appreciate the blessings in my life (right now I am thinking about Ken and Baby J) because I got to wait for them, yes at times I did think I was going to die waiting, but now, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The waiting gave me the time to seek peace and understanding. If I didn’t have that peace in my life, I don’t know how I would survive.
So, I guess the reason I told you this, is because eventually we all are confronted by information that bothers us, shakes our foundation, changes the way we look at the things, people, and knowledge around us. Don’t take anything as truth just because it is presented to you as such. Find out for yourself, study, seek, meditate and pray. That is how I found Peace, that is how I found truth and it will work for anyone.