Friday, April 6, 2012

A particular mormon girl

    I have never felt that I fit the mold of a typical mormon girl. I am innately irreverent and I was born with a lively combination of a rascally streak and a subtle need to defy authority. Most anyone I went to high school with could attest to that; or even those who served their mission with me, lol. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Hermana, you’re definitely not like the other sister missionaries, but I wouldn’t change a thing”. Luckily I have more or less curbed my need to defy authority… but I still struggle with irreverence and being rascally. That is not what this post is about at all, but it is just a bit about me; the person writing it.
     I don’t take a traditional view on many things “mormon” and I definitely am one to ‘kick against the pricks’ when I feel that there is kicking needed. This does not mean that I support being sinful in any way. It simply means I believe in being open minded, loving, and supportive of people where ever they might be in their path to God. I have fallen victim to judging others at one point or another, but that doesn’t mean that I think I was rightful in doing so. Usually when I have called people out on stuff, it was mostly because I was jealous that they could justify breaking the very rules I wish I could be breaking, but have promised not to.
     My parents did an amazing job raising us to be strong members of the church. They also taught us to be free-thinking and independent. Unfortunately… I only really picked up on the free-thinking/independent side of things for quite some time. For the majority of my teenagerhood, I was only about 25% mormon. The rest of me was quite happy being a stupid teenager. By the time I turned 16 though, I came to the realization and understanding that the LDS church is true and that I wanted to be committed to it for the rest of my life. This process of conversion helped me to gain a personal testimony of the gospel that is invaluable to me. My time spent in a non-mormon world opened my eyes to a lot of people and subcultures that I might not have understood otherwise. Mine is not a path I would recommend to anyone else (definitely not to anyone between the ages of 10-18), but I honestly am so grateful that the Lord shaped me in the way he did. It made me who am I and also helped me understand the true value in the plan of salvation and in living a righteous life.
     When it came time to enroll in a college, I was very intimidated by the prospect. By that point in my life, I knew that I wanted to make good choices, that I wanted to truly be mormon, and that I wanted to marry a mormon boy. The best way to do that would be to go to a private mormon college. My biggest hurdle would be that I did not like being around mormons, lol. Aside from some dear friends I've had at church since my childhood, the majority of my friends during most of high school were distinctly not mormon; and I loved myself the most when I was with those friends. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it all work at an all-mormon college, especially one bound by an honor code no less. I applied for Rick's College and I was apprehensive if it would be a good fit for me and I was definitely right! I made some good memories there for sure, but one semester at Rick’s college was enough to make me realize how DIFFERENT I truly am from the the general mormon-mentality of rexburg idaho. Luckily, I was accepted to BYU and made a hasty transfer to greener pastures.
     After my experience at Ricks, I was afraid to go to BYU because I really doubted I'd find a good spot there for myself. When I showed up though, I was overwhelmed by how easy it was to find open-minded and just incredibly FUN people. Not only fun but just so smart! I was blown away by the caliber of people I was surrounded with and was so happy to be counted among them. People with an inspiring grasp of what the world is and where we should be headed. It was at BYU that I realized that I would be a good missionary. Choosing to serve a mission and the experience that followed changed me forever and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity. Upon returning home from my mission, I met a mormon boy that complements my personal mormon style perfectly, we fell in love and got married, and we started a family.
     So who am I now? I’m a rather typical mormon wife Smile I am a homemaker, I paint my own artwork, I can sew basic things like curtains or aprons, I play multiple instruments, I stopped working so I could stay home and raise my kids while my husbands supports us, and I do whatever I can to create an atmosphere of love and enlightenment in our home. What kind of mormon am I now? A supportive and grateful one, I believe. But I still have a fire deep within me that gets the best of me at times. I freak out if people start to get too preachy at church about how we should dress, how we should look, how the only/best way to feel the spirit is through reverent behavior (reverence is great, but it is not the only way to feel close to God IMO), or try to over-define the way we should live our daily lives. I kind of flip out when we are told that there’s only one way to be. Pretty much anything taught at church that implies that "this is what a godly person looks like, this is how they act" is very hard for me to get behind. We should never feign to judge or make assumptions on someone's spiritual capacity based off of anything we can physically ascertain about them. We’re all different and we’re all on different paths. My personal revelations are not everyone else's and visa versa. As we draw closer to God, we will find ourselves wanting to change things about ourselves to express that love and respect. That is a choice that comes from within. People will see the examples set by others and will apply what they see if it is what they find to be conducive to their own personal will to outwardly express themselves. On my mission, people didn't have much money. Nor do they have the standards of "modest dress" that americans do. But they were some of the most loyal, deeply spiritual, and amazing people I have ever met. Also, there wasnt as big of a focus on being reverent all of the time, because they understand the value of being happy, giddy, and sometimes downright loud about how exciting the gospel is. The best part is that they did not care one bit how people looked like at church or in daily life. They were just happy that everyone was there. If they walked into a church up here though, I'm sure they'd be pulled aside and given a well-intended lecture. So yes, I think that we need to be more inclined to value how spirituality feels rather than how it looks and more focused on understanding the gospel than making lists about what we should and should not do. I shouldn’t let little things get under my skin at church like they do, but it just is what it is!

In closing, my favorite scripture is this:
Jacob 6:12: O be wise, what can I say more?
     Just before this verse, Jacob exhorts us to follow christ with all we have. Directly after this verse, he closes his writings by bidding us fairwell until the final judgment. Essentially, this verse is one of the last things he says in his early recorded ministry. What I personally take from his words is this: Don’t be an idiot and you should be okay. Don’t worry what everyone else is doing, don’t freak out about the little things that don’t add up or the big things that you can’t do exactly right every day. Just strive to be wise in the eyes of God and you will find peace in this life. That is what I strive for I guess.

This particular mormon’s view on a touchy subject

     Overall, I wound up being a resident of Provo and affiliated with BYU for nearly 8 years total. I absolutely loved my time at BYU and it made me INCREDIBLY proud to be a mormon for the first time in my life. You know what else makes me proud to be a mormon AND to have gone to BYU? This video:

Then in the same week I first saw that, I came across this article:
BYU’s Gay Mormon Panel a Huge Success, Overflow Crowds Turned Away

     I myself am not gay, but I feel deeply for those who are. As for gay marriage, I am a big supporter. Many mormons do no agree with my view on that particular point of discussion. Many would say it is in violation with the teachings of the church and that it slanders the sanctity of marriage. But to those people, this is what I say:

      What if the state said that we could not marry in the temple because the majority of the state does not believe in it? Wouldn't you contest for equal rights and for everyone else to keep their bias to themselves? That is why I support equal rights for gay marriage. Their belief system might be different than my own, but that does not give me the right to deny them from being in loving, committed, monogomous relationships. And honestly, God has changed his opinion on the restrictions and definition of marriage in the past; so I say that I will leave this decision up to him to sort out; if any sorting need happen on the final judgement day. While here on earth, I do not believe that supporting civil marriage for gays undermines our eternal views on temple marriage or family in any way. We ask for respect for our beliefs and rituals, so I believe we should do the same for others.

     This November, the state of Washington will have the opportunity to approve or disprove Referendum 74. Here is how the referendum will appear to voters in November, assuming its proponents gather sufficient signatures:

The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.

Should this bill be:



     Personally, I approve this referendum. Happily and thoroughly. It is not demanding that the LDS church (or any church) perform gay marriages themselves. Nor is it demanding that we say that God does not view it as an abomination. It in fact is expressly stating that we reserve the right to continue in our current belief and marital practice system. It is simply granting the right for people to be married to the person that they love. To be truly monogomous. To make a vow. As for fighting to keep marriage pure, our plight is to ensure that within our own marriages. With 50%-70%+ of marriages ending in divorce and people marrying 3 and 4 times in their life… I don’t think that heterosexuals have any say on what constitutes a great marriage. So who are we to tell gay people that they would taint the institution? I would like to give them the chance to prove us all wrong.
     In closing, I leave the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf from this last week’s general conference:

"I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, 'Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.'
"We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy — to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?"

     Prophets of old and new have taught that homosexuality is a sin. As such, I’m compelled to support that claim. But I have personally never been faced with that inner struggle. I have no idea what it means to feel like the people in that video up above feel like. Furthermore, I’ve never had God tell me in my own life that I should do anything but show love for my fellowman, and that includes homosexuals and bisexuals. So as far as I’m concerned, I will let God sort out what is and isn’t sin. For me, I believe that the majority of gay people seeking civil marriage are those who are doing it to show a token of monogomous, life-long love. And really, who am I to tell them they are incapable or unworthy of such a goal?

PS, this blog post comes specifically from Lori. It isn’t a Burkman or Ball Family blog post. It is just me posting my thoughts onto my own li’l blog.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Upon ending my 20s

     I always thought that turning 30 would feel weirder. I guess it will throughout the next year when I actually have to say it out loud to someone who is 23 and asking me how old I am. I bet that will sting a little bit.
     In short, my 20s were FUN! I loved living on my own, I loved playing guitar and singing out on the stoop of my BYU house until the wee hours of the morning. I loved dating when I wanted to and not dating when I didn't want to and meeting new people every semester. Parties, dances, AWESOME roomates, random weekend excursions to concerts on the other side of the country just because I could. I just really loved most everything about my college experience, both scholastically and socially. I was learning SO much at school and excelling there and it was really fulfilling, but at the same time I was growing and having a blast in my social life as well. It was just a really awesome time of my life that I will always love and cherish. I suppose I can't forget my amazing mission consumed 1/10th of my 20s. What a wild and crazy ride that was! Though college and my mission were freaking amazing... they don't compare to the last 7 years of my 20s which include SAM! Dating, falling in love, getting married, being newly married, graduating from college together, having kids together, getting our first big individual jobs after college, buying our first home together... it has all been seriously ideal and amazing!
     So though my 20s were the best time of my life so far; for now... 30 feels kinda good and doesn't hurt as bad as I thought it would. I have all of the things I ever could have hoped for by the time I turned 30. I have an amazing marriage that makes me happy daily, we have a home in a beautiful part of the country that is within a few hours drive of our family, I graduated from a great college with a useful degree, I have experience in a few very promising careers that I can take up again once my kids are grown, and I am happy to be spending my days with my young children to be here for them and help them grow. My day to day life is not glamorous in any way, but my existence in general is satisfying and just feels really good. I am happy with where I’ve been and I’m really looking forward to where I’m going; so I don’t know that I could ask for more than that!
     All that being said, I’m sure that the baby weight will linger longer this time and that my body in general is just going to start showing more signs of wear. If I part my hair in the wrong spot, you can see that some grey hairs are starting to sneak their way into the fold. Additionally, my hair was always a very pretty color of natural blonde growing up. I always loved the color it was, especially after the summer when it was full of highlights. Since I turned 25 or so and started having babies, it has dimmed into some kind of strange reddish/light brownish color. Definitely not as peppy or fun as the blonde of my youth, but I guess it just is what it is! Also, My knees and lower back definitely hurt if I wear my high heels for too long. I have lost the volition to wear makeup every single day or put much thought into outfits on days that I know I’m not doing anything of importance (which seems to be 75% of the time now). My daily life is definitely more lame than it was when I was 20, but it’s a lot more meaningful too so I guess that’s not such a bad trade off.
     Can I just say that my favorite thing about my 20s was losing that pesky babyfat I had been packing around since I finished puberty at age 16? I never felt fat as a teenager, not even pudgy. I actually had a really healthy body image. HOW THIS IS THE CASE IS TOTALLY BEYOND ME. I absolutely cringe every time I see a picture of myself between 16 and 22. I just had this hugely pudgey face. At the time, I thought it was my natural face shape, I had no idea I was just packing around a layer of fluff that I would naturally grow out of soon. It’s probably best I was oblivious to it because I would have been really depressed.
For instance, I am 20 or 21 in all of the following pictures and weigh within 5-8 pounds of nonpregnant current Lori:

Okay, that last one doesn't count... it's right after I got my wisdom teeth out but it was a hilarious picture so I threw it in there, lol.

      As for the rest of them however, I weighed about the same back then as non-pregnant Lori of 2012, and yet I was just puffy and swollen for some reason—especially in my face! Bleh. I’m just glad all of that magically melted away when I was 23. I grew some cheekbones and lost all of that filling, hooray!
     So yes, I am carrying 15 extra pounds of 23 weeks of pregnant right now, but I am much happier with 30 year old Lori than the 20 year old version and here's a random current pic off of Sam's phone to prove it :)