Being a Mormon is Being a Christian

“You don’t look like a Mormon!”

It could be taken as an insult, I guess. Depending on the context.  If let’s say I were at a club, shooting down shots of whiskey and table dancing to a hip hop song and someone mentions in passing, “Wow. I can’t believe she’s Mormon,” then perhaps that would be a wake-up call that I am not living in accordance with the Gospel and surely not being a good example. (Of course, my dance moves would be a great example of how I have skills. Just sayin’.) However, if it is stated: “You don’t look Mormon” simply because I’m awesome and have great hair, then yeah, that would probably be a tad bit insulting. (Not for me, mind you. But for all other Mormons.)

Interesting statistic, especially for those who are converted: 70% of Mormons worldwide were not born into the faith. (Accurate as of 2006.) What does that have to do with anything? Well, not much, except to show that the cookie cutter Mormons you may have imagined in your mind, simply do not exist.

Granted, as with all religions, there are those who may shed a poor light on the Church and there are those who give it a bad name. Each individual who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is unique, made up of the same complexities as any other human being.

What does being a Mormon mean?

  • There’s a Plan and I understand it.

The LDS Church  teaches that God has a plan for His children.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe life here on earth, is like a refiners fire.  If we turn to God in our trials, He will strengthen us, and ultimately through the atonement, purify us.

  • The Gospel being true, doesn’t mean life is easier.

To truly experience joy, we must also experience pain. Within our own experiences of tough times, we know we can appreciate and grasp the intensity of pure joy. I equate this to being a mother. Yes, I knew love before having kids. I loved my parents, my husband, my siblings, however until I became a mother, I never knew the intensity and complexities love actually has. It didn’t mean the love I had before was less so…far from it. If anything, it made my showing and receiving love more grand.

  • You may not think I’m awesome, but Jesus thought I was to die for.

I have a Savior in Jesus Christ who loved you and I so much that he died for us. This has always blown my mind, because the thought of it is complex and escapes human logic. I know the details, yet cannot hold it together. This was a human being…the Son of God…who is my Savior. His love for us and the love from our Heavenly Father knows no bounds and hearing it isn’t the same as feeling it. This is where faith comes in. My faith is stronger than the words and details. It overrides it in all capacities.

  • Knowing Jesus Christ and having faith

Faith is a choice. It’s also our choice to be willing to accept and receive the redemptive efficacy of Jesus Christ’s death on our behalf and it is still our choice to receive him into our own heart and soul. Being a Mormon is many wonderful things, things in which I didn’t think existed…but the biggest and greatest is that being a Mormon is also becoming a Christian. And whilst some may disagree with the assessment that Mormons are indeed Christian-I don’t wish to argue the point. I only know what my heart tells me and it is a heart who now knows how to receive and give love…one in which was taught to me by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Having a gift and sharing it

The Gospel is a wonderful gift, one in which I don’t want to keep all to myself. I share the Gospel with anyone who wants to know it, keeping in mind that I’m offering a gift, not wishing to convert for my own glory. That’s not what Jesus taught. He taught kindness and love and he did it with those virtues. Being a Christian isn’t about conversion, it is about love. When I extend the invitation for those to know Jesus, I do so with love.

13 Articles of Faith


1.
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3.
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5.
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6.
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7.
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8.
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11.
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.
12.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

I’m a Mormon

 

 

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My Mission

One of the biggest eye-opening moments for me since my conversion was a conversation I had with Elder J before his transfer. This was over two years ago, but I found myself thinking of that particular day this morning as I drove my daughter to seminary.

The missionaries had been recounting their memory of receiving their mission letter which told them where they’d be serving. I was touched as I heard these two young boys share their excitement and some of their concerns about leaving home and traveling to Alaska for their mission. In a state of envy and moved by my eagerness to share the Gospel, I blurted: “Man! I wish I could have went on a mission!”

I’ll never forget the look on Elder J’s face as he stared at me for a moment before replying with: “But Jaime, you are on a mission.”

I was taken aback. No, I’m not on a mission! Are you kidding me? I was only a few days into my being a baptized member of the Church with an angry husband and some confused friends. No one in my circle was happy for me…and certainly had no intention of listening to me share my testimony with them.

Me? On a mission? The only mission I had ever been told I was on was the mission of driving my husband crazy, which he reminds me of this weekly.

Elder J. explained that whilst my mission wasn’t the mission I was envisioning for myself…a letter with family gathered around in excitement as I read outloud where I’d be traveling…my mission was just as important. If anything, I had to be even more diligent, even more resilient in practicing my faith because my husband-whether he believed it or not-depended on me.

Yes, I was on a mission. I still am. And whilst there are days when I lack the demeanor of a missionary, there are those gentle reminders from The Spirit which urge me to always choose the right. I am driven to be a good example to my family and friends and show humility. It isn’t easy…in fact, I probably fail more than I succeed. Yet, I remain steadfast in my faith. It isn’t that I don’t have my days I’m clouded with doubt and disappointment. I’m still very much a human being with the same faults and complexities as anyone…but I never stop trying to be the best person I can be.

My goal each day is to be a humble missionary to all I come in contact with-not just with words-but with my actions. There will be those days in which I stumble into muddy puddles, but if I do not ‘puddle sit’ and whine about the fact I fell-Heavenly Father will extend His hand and allow me to brush myself off and continue down my path. Showing others my human side with my imperfections, is not being vulnerable and weak, but being true to myself. In this way, I believe people are more apt to hearing my testimony and the truths of the Gospel.

As a missionary…I still have to be true to myself but at the same time I must be diligent in keeping the commandments and remain faithful to my God.

Yep, I’m on a mission. It’s been pretty eventful and the cool thing is…it is only the beginning.

Faith

There is a thin line I cross when it comes to encouraging my children to attend church and forcing them (with bribery, threats, and evil glares) to attend church. I walk this line each week, cautiously, trying not to sway to the art of force. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating. There are many times I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Is my being  Mormon worth the headache?  The Husband doesn’t even believe in God! How am I supposed to be a good example and prove the truth of the Gospel when he doesn’t believe God exists? And how do I be a spiritual leader to our children without causing friction between The Husband and I?

It’s difficult. It’s very, very difficult.

I have always had a strong faith in God, but when it came to religion, I couldn’t grasp why there were so many religions out there all claiming to be true. How do we know which one is right? How could I be right?

I believe God exists and I believe what the LDS Church teaches is true. (You can read my testimony here.) It took many incarnations and lifetimes for me to get to where I am today. During my moments in prayer, I have begun to understand why I converted and accepted what I know to be true two years ago verses ten years ago. There is a season for everything and when I find myself feeling frustrated about where my husband is on his spiritual journey, I force myself to remember that I wasn’t always in this place. I wasn’t always content in my faith.

However, today...this moment…what keeps me going…what keeps me coming back to church every Sunday… what has me continuing to pursue spiritual knowledge… is simply: faith. I feel the presence of God in my life. I know His existence is real and I know the Scriptures to be true. I’ve prayed for a contentment like this my entire life and in His time and in His wisdom and grace…He gave it to me.

Now I pray for the same contentment for my husband. For my children. And I know it will never be in the way I think it should be…in the manner of how it should be given…it isn’t my call. Yet, I have faith my prayers will be answered.

God shows Himself to those who are ready and want to receive Him. I pray my husband and children experience His love and grace. When we  experience the grace of God’s light…big or small…our lives will change drastically. Things are not magically easier, but we develop a wisdom we didn’t have before. Faith is funny like that…we don’t have to prove or explain…we are content within our hearts that what we know to be true… just is.

When we’re ready…God is there. Our eyes and heart are opened to the fact that He never left us. Ever.

 

 

 

Witnessing Without a Word

I like to use the phrase: “Witness without a Word” when it comes to sharing the Gospel with friends and my husband. No one likes a ‘Know it All’. I  find myself being offended when people want to be my friend only in their pursuit to convert me. I know many people like this from many different religions. This is not what Christ teaches us. There’s no ‘Conversion Quota” in Heaven with Jesus keeping a tally.

I don’t like the idea of trying to convert someone for my own glory and benefit. I believe we should share the Gospel with people, but ultimately their heart condition  and their relationship with God is personal. It should be respected. The Gospel is a gift and whilst we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves, we also shouldn’t bang it down on people’s heads.

Sharing the Gospel with just one person brings an amazing amount of joy, especially when it is being received. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus sent the disciples to teach all nations. Everyone deserved a chance to hear the Gospel. No one should be denied the choice.

Being a Missionary isn’t always easy. Sometimes we even have to give up the comforts of home to share the Gospel. In the LDS Church, young men of the age of 19 are able to leave their home and teach the Gospel in another country or state for two years. (Women must be 21) The sons of Mosiah gave up kingship and security to go on their mission to the Lamanites. Sharing the Gospel wasn’t lollipops and jelly beans for them. They endured persecution and suffering. They were spat on and mocked, stoned and thrown into prison. Yet, they prevailed. They knew within their hearts that all they needed to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord was to have His Spirit. They felt if only one soul was touched and accepted the Gospel then what they were going through was worth it.

I struggle with the fine line of ‘Nagging the Gospel” and “Sharing the Gospel” with others. It’s exciting to be a new Christian and we want to shout it off the rooftops! How wonderful is it to have this amazing gift! Yet, we need to be respectful and keep His Spirit with us. Let us not be so haughty that we are only sharing the Gospel to glorify ourselves.

Witnessing without a word is not being a coward. It’s showing others your testimony not with words…but with actions. It isn’t  a fifteen minute conversation with how knowledgeable you are…but it is how you live each day…everyday. You can be the best missionary by being an example…with humility, charity, love and an undying faith in God.

Someone may even one day see how happy and content  you are and may ask:  “Hey, what’s your secret?”