As a Mormon, I abstain from a lot of things. Coffee, tea, drugs, alcohol, porn, R-rated movies, tank tops, premarital and extra marital sex, the list goes on. Add to that list all of the things that I try to do to be a good Latter-Day Saint like going to church every week, paying tithing, fasting and following the prophet and you have quite a fortress of commandments.
But the hardest thing (for me) about being a Mormon has nothing to do with all of those things. In some ways, those “rules” are easy because they clear out the unnecessary stuff from my life that would weigh me down. They might make other people happy, but they would make my life miserable.
You might be surprised (or you might not) that the hardest thing for me is to keep my mouth shut. What I mean is, the hardest thing about being a Mormon is holding myself back from telling you everything about what I believe.
Because I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe that he died for my sins, of which I have many, most of which have to do with omission to follow through on good works, but there is also judging others, vanity, impatience, pride, ingratitude, hypocrisy and my steady and unrepentant desire to secretly poison my dog. I’m sure those who know me can think of more, but for the sake of my self-esteem let’s stop there for now.
I also believe the Book of Mormon is true.
Which means I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.
Which means I also believe in temples, miracles, angels, and the power of prayer. And I believe in missionary work because in my church we are not exclusionary: everyone is invited to join. We fully intend for everyone in the world to hear our message, even if they don’t embrace it.
And so the hardest thing for me as a Mormon is refraining from taking your hands in mine and looking into your eyes and sharing it all with you. I know that might sound hard for you to believe. But sometimes being a member of the church is like having this Great and Wonderful Secret that no one else knows, and you want to share it, but no one wants to listen to you. Do you ever wonder why our church has missionaries all over the world? It is because we are trying to share The Secret. Only it isn’t really a secret at all. It is more like a big beautiful chocolate cake that is too wonderful to eat by yourself. It is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone. We do not want anyone to miss out. We don’t want anyone to be excluded. At the very least we want them to know they are invited.
The hardest thing for me as a Mormon is to be your neighbor or good friend and not give you a Book of Mormon. I would, but I respect your space and I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship by having you think I am a religious psychopath. But have you read the Book of Mormon? Did you know it dovetails beautifully with the Bible? And, I can tell you since I am reading the Old Testament right now, that the Book of Mormon is much easier to read?
Would you like one?
I can get you one.
In any language.
Trying to contain all of this inside and not plaster it all over my house and car and forehead and mailbox and facebook feed is difficult. I try to restrain myself. I try to do all things in moderation. I do this by writing lame posts about how I teach my kids to clean the bathroom, when really what I would much rather spend every post writing about faith and doctrine or even how coffee has nothing on Pero (when mixed with lots and lots of sugar). I try to respect your space. I sincerely don’t want you to feel threatened or cornered or that your church–which I know you love–isn’t as good as mine.
Mormons don’t want to be obnoxious. But sometimes we just can’t help it.
So since you now know the real me, I want you to know that if you ever want to ask me anything, I am here. If you want a Book of Mormon, and you live within a 30 mile radius, I will be on your doorstep with a smile on my face and a book in my hand. (Further than that you’ll have to give me your mailing address.) Don’t be afraid. It is wonderful. It will change your life.
And as for being Christian:
For all of my southern Christian friends who wonder how I can be a Christian and still believe in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, I want you know that if the day ever comes that men in balaclavas and automatic guns herd us all together and draw a line in the sand and say, if you say you are a Christian, kneel down because we are going to shoot you. If you say you are not a Christian we will set you free. If that ever happens I will happily kneel next to you, hold your hand and wait for my bullet.
But even then, being a Christian has never been about dying for the truth, but living for it. So every day I try to do my best to live in a way that shows I am a believer. I fail a lot, because I am also an introvert, but every day I try.
So there. I’m finished (for the time being, anyway). Now I will back away. I’ll put the duct tape back on and refrain from talking about my glorious church, at least for a little while. Now I will go back to telling you about my kids and my book and how to keep your bathroom clean. Things that are ordinary but seem so much more bright and wonderful because they are lit, inside and out, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thanks for reading to the end. I leave you with three scriptures about water, since water is something we cannot live without and it is often used to symbolize the love of God.
Enjoy, and if someone ever offers you a Book of Mormon, be kind, be accepting, and drink deeply. You won’t regret it.
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14 (New Testament)
And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God. 1 Nephi 11:25 (Book of Mormon)
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Revelation 7:17 (New Testament)