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

 

 

Advertisements

Why I’m Mormon

Disclaimer: I am asked with increasing frequency why I converted to Mormonism as opposed to one of the other Christian denominations.  I’m apprehensive about sharing my reasons because I’m quite aware the subject could attract a heated debate. This is not my intention…it is my experience, my story.

Conversion stories can often be interpreted as an implication that ones who have had a different experience and have drawn a different conclusion regarding religion/spirituality/God are wrong. I do not believe this.

____________________________

It all began a few years ago when I became interested about why people chose their religion. I asked the question: “Is God actually leading individuals to their religion?” I couldn’t fathom that the majority of religions had to be wrong in order for one to be right. How could one religion have it perfectly clear and others have it so wrong?

It didn’t make sense to me. It still doesn’t.

I began to quiz my friends.  Each genuine and kind, they offered thought-provoking statements which gave me more food for thought. By then I had been studying different religions for four years and many considered my studies an obsession. Obsessed or not, questions rattled in my brain:

“How does one’s faith be so strong, they do not question their religion or need to seek out other religions? Is this short-sighted? Or is this simply a matter of having a security in one’s faith?”

I had always felt a special bond towards my father when it came to the Catholic Church. I have many beautiful memories of my father taking me to Mass on special holidays. Whether or not, my father was a ‘good’ Catholic is irrelevant in the sense he had some belief the Catholic Church was true. He felt a duty to at least fight for his children to be baptized and felt in good conscience he was saving us from limbo if we were to die as babies.

My grandmother took me to services at the Baptist church every Sunday. The sermons were often the fire and brimstone kind, yet what I remember most was the music. I always felt a certain feeling of goodness with those old southern hymns. Is there anything more moving than hearing Amazing Grace and Just As I Am?

As a child, I remember feeling as if it would be much easier if I could be one or the other: Catholic or Baptist. I felt drawn…in different ways, to both. Yet, couldn’t honestly call myself one or the other. It never seemed honest.

At the age of twenty, I began studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and was baptized at the age of twenty-three. I will not go into that part of my life just yet…it will have to be an entirely different post all together. I left the Witnesses in 2005 after certain life changing events. The questions I had found myself asking were difficult to push aside. I knew I was living a lie by claiming to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It wasn’t anything against them as a religion…it was me. I should have never joined to begin with and I joined for the wrong reasons.

The thing about leaving the Witnesses…is you have to give up friendships and relationships. That had been a main reason why I stayed as long as I did. I’m not disfellowshipped, but I may as well be. The friends I considered family do not talk to me. That was and is difficult. I miss them.

 When I left…I wiped out everything I had ever been taught…I started anew. A clean slate, if you will.

I read, I prayed, I talked, I bugged everyone I knew who had a faith in God and everyone I knew who didn’t.

I talked to a friend of mine during this time who is Catholic and believes that the Catholic Church is the original church founded by Jesus Christ. She explained to me that her church and other religions are governed by humans, therefore they are subject to sin. A relationship with God should be more important than the religion. It is the personal responsibility of the person to make this a priority, not the religion.

That statement changed my entire outlook.

“It is the personal responsibility of the person to make their relationship with God the priority…NOT the religion.”

Another friend during this time I spoke with is a member of the LDS Church. We were talking over lunch one afternoon and I began quizzing her about religion, spirituality and God. She told me she believed in free agency and told me basically the same thing as my Catholic friend: “The relationship you have with Heavenly Father is more important to me than my religion. My religion enhances my relationship with my Father in Heaven, but it isn’t more important.”

 I read the book Free At Last by Larry Huch and marked it with so many notes and highlights, I ended up having to purchase a new copy. The book explains how Christians can break free from their past. It delves into great detail on how one can find freedom from depression, anger, abuse, insecurity and addiction through Jesus Christ. Looking back, it was meant for me to read this book. As someone who was still trying to heal from a disturbed and abusive past, was terribly insecure, had bouts of hostility  and felt broken on the inside…there was no way I could move forward in my spiritual journey without some kind of healing. It was a stepping stone…and I was able to skip happily (although a bit dorky) towards my destination.

My days were spent praying with more belief and more passion than I could have ever thought possible to muster. I delved into more spiritual topics, intent on knowing Jesus my Savior and God my Heavenly Father.

I studied Judaism, but from the Christian standpoint. After all, Jesus was Jewish! I read my Bible with the mindset of the traditions Jesus taught as a Jewish man. I asked my Christian friends, “Why do Christians choose not to celebrate the Jewish Holidays? Why don’t we celebrate Yom Kippur and Passover? Jesus did!” (I still haven’t received a clear answer!)

In my studies, I learned Jesus died to take away the curse, but not the blessings!

Growing up I had a fear of the fire-burning Hell. I never felt good enough to go to Heaven, but was I really bad enough to go to Hell? Yet, what were the options? It was one or the other!

During my many talks with  friends, visiting churches and attending spiritual lectures, I always felt a strong connection. In every single circumstance. BUT, what I wanted was to have that contentment my friends had in their religion. I could feel the Spirit…but not the contentment in joining another religion. Nothing ‘clicked.’ I couldn’t tell you that the pieces of the puzzle were coming together for me.

Not then, anyway.

One afternoon, I was reading the Bible and I was trying to decide which church the kids and I would attend that Sunday. Something prompted me to go  lds.org and before I knew it…I was studying with two missionaries that same week.

As I’m writing this, I texted Jeff, the missionary who studied and baptized me (you can read more about how he is part of my story here) if he could share his thoughts on teaching/studying with me.

This is what he had to say: “You contacted the church the day I got in the area. I really felt the hand of the Lord in it from the beginning…We [his companion, Elder B.] were excited to teach you and shocked a little bit that you had read The Book of Mormon and bought your own quad.”

(To add to his text…not only did I contact the church when he arrived in our area…he was only in our area one transfer. Six weeks…long enough to teach me the Gospel and see me baptized…which he did.)

It was during one of our studies in which something clicked. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but I clearly remember where we were and how I felt. We were at the church, studying in the Relief Society room. During the conversation, I had this amazing feeling that I had found what I had been looking for. It was this sense of peace…a feeling of exhalation. I wanted to be baptized which shocked the missionaries because they hadn’t even broached the subject of baptism with me yet. I may have been out of their teaching element…but I went with my heart. Everything made sense to me and I knew…without a shadow of a doubt…even with the discord between my husband and I about my joining the church…it was the right thing to do.

I’ve never regretted it.

When I started living my life according to the teachings of the LDS Church…everything seemed to fall into place. Things just worked. Do not misunderstand me… life didn’t get easier. After my baptism, I had a really tough road ahead of me…but there was and still is this powerful contentment that has never left me.

My life has changed profoundly and I can’t imagine not having this gift in my heart, in my soul.

When I enter Church, read my Scriptures, or close my eyes in prayer…I feel content.

I feel at home.

To follow up: Today, my husband is supportive of my being LDS and has close friends who are Mormon. This past Sunday, for no reason at all…he decided to attend church with me. Whilst he still maintains he’s ‘doubtful’ about there being a God…I have seen small miracles taking place in our home and in his heart.

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?”