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.


merrilykaroly said...

I wish we could have been missionary companions. We would have had so much fun!

Tamara Lyn said...

I like your post! :D I don't know any "typical reverent Mormon girls" myself. I think if you get to know any one of them you'll see a little wild side to each of them. ;) The best advice I got before leaving for my mission was "be yourself" and not try to mold myself to be like a "typical missionary". Best advice ever. We all have a little fire in us. Don't let others' preachiness get you down!
You're too funny.