The Hardest Thing About Being A Mormon

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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)

46 Comments

Filed under Strange Mormon Customs

46 responses to “The Hardest Thing About Being A Mormon

  1. Your joy comes through in every single line! Everyone should be blessed have some guiding force for good in their life that offers such energy and inspiration and happiness for them as the Church clearly does for you. Awesome post!

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  2. Thanks for the whole thing, but especially the three scriptures at the end.

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  3. me

    I loved every word, I mirror all you shared, and I am sinning in my wish that I had written it myself 🙂

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  4. Jeremy Light (author)

    I love your post! I can relate to many of the items you mentioned (and I was just baptized in June).

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  5. Carissa

    I just love you, Chelsea! You’ve always been a light in my life! Thank you for writing.

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  6. Michael

    Great post! Just one thing… Revelation is in the New Testament, not the Old.

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  7. John

    Don’t you think it is a bit presumptuous and definitely condescending to make the statement that people don’t convert to Mormonism because they are afraid? It completely disregards the validity of their personal spiritual journey. Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and many others have had similarly strong experiences with the divine that validate their beliefs.

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    • True, converting to any religion is a leap of faith and would require changes. But I’m not talking about other religions. I’m talking about Mormonism.

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      • John

        Exactly, you are talking about Mormonism. You say, “it just seems that way because people outside the church are afraid. Afraid of being convinced. Afraid to change.” Am I misunderstanding your intent? You seem to be saying many don’t hear about the church because they are afraid of being convinced it is what it claims to be and are afraid of having to change their lives. I’m saying it is condescending and disrespectful to think and publicly state that is the reason people don’t want to convert. I’m only asking for clarification because I have heard this sentiment too many times over the pulpit. The tone is of disrespect instead of love.

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    • becky

      John,
      The reason other faiths feel similarly strong experiences is because the Holy Ghost testifies of the truthfulness of all things; not just Mormon things. I believe there is some truth in every religion. But as members of the Mormon church we believe we have the fully restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that is why we want to share it with others.

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  8. Jennifer Herrick

    John, I do believe you’re misunderstanding. The thing she is saying is what we believe. In no way did she disparage or belittle any other religion. Is it not true that everybody believes theirs is the true church, and want to share the joy? That is simply what she is doing, and quite kindly and without judgement. God bless.

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    • John

      I didn’t say she disparages other religions. As a matter of fact, I appreciate the approach she advocates here of not shoving a copy of the Book of Mormon into the face of every passerby. It is wonderful to be so enamored of your faith and religion.

      I did say it is disrespectful to discount the spiritual experiences of others by grossly generalizing their behavior as fear of learning the truth. It is more likely the case, as you say, that they already believe they have found the truth. I brought this up in the first place to get clarification as to her meaning in using those phrases, not to kick up dirt.

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      • John, thanks for all your comments.
        I took the “afraid” phrase out of the post. (You might still see it there, though, if you go back to the link that originally brought you to my website. I believe if you type in my website or refresh it you will see the edited version. If not, let me know.) While “being afraid” of change might be one reason people aren’t interested in the church, there are many other reasons, for example they are not interested, or they have found spiritual fulfillment in their own religion. I believe that is what you wanted me to say in the first place. Sorry I did not make that clear. Sometimes I get a little to passionate in my own musings, and I sincerely do not wish to be disrespectful. Thanks for trying to clarify. I’m sorry it took me all day to get back to you. Five kids. 🙂

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  9. Heidi Jensen

    Beautifully written 🙂

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  10. Melmomc

    This is a well written and thought provoking article. Except for one thing. What in the world was that about poisoning your dog?! I know that is not the point of the article, but it was alarming enough to make focusing on the rest of the post difficult for me and would for all animal lovers that I know. To an animal lover that is no joking matter. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but that part makes you sound a bit unstable. Healthy people do not try to harm domestic animals. Again, the rest of the post is well thought out and well written. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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    • Dear Melmomc, You didn’t hurt my feelings. 🙂 I apologize if the dog comment offended you…it is kind of a running joke with my husband and I because he is a dog lover. I, however, have five young children to take care of, and they are what I like to slather my affection on. I pet the dog, I wash the dog, I throw balls to the dog and I will even dive in front of fallen chocolate chips for the sake of my dog, but I am afraid I do not love the dog. He is very sweet, though. And very cute. And I’m sure he has a very, very long life ahead of him. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

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  11. John brought up a valid point…I don’t believe Jennifer meant it that way but because she did not validate other peoples passion for their beliefs as the reason for not being willing to change, it is misunderstood.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your testimony! 🙂

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  13. KNG

    Thank you for this Genuine post. I am a Mormon too, and feel you clearly expressed with genuine Love , and from your HEART❤️

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  14. I have always said that being a member of the LDS church is like holding the cure for cancer. You want everyone to be healed. Beautiful post.

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  15. Joyce

    Beautifully written and shared. Thank you.

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  16. Angie Kelly

    Confession1: don’t love dogs either, but I too would rescue one from chocolate.
    Confession 2: love the post. I find myself feeling this way too.

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  17. Ginny from Florida

    Beautiful. May I print this out for my visiting teaching?

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  18. I could be your friend ! Many of the things you declared with such strength of passion, are mine also. I make a habit of giving out the Book of Mormon as often as I feel prompted to. I heard once that if there is a Book of Mormon on their book shelf it will eventually get read.
    Everyone that attends or belongs to their church can feel welcomed and learn to serve others which we all know – you love who you serve. The greatest difference between our faith and other faiths is the Priesthood of God Restored to the earth in our time.
    The Holy Ghost will manifest itself to us when we really want to know if what we hold dear to our hearts, is true. In a way that ” nothing doubting ” would ever leave our souls unless we chose to not follow Gods council.
    In Joseph Smith History I love the part where he states that he knew that God knew tha he, Joseph Smith, cknew it. Or in a word, accountability, something so frustrating to the world today. And that is in my opinion just what we need to find true Joy….the kind of joy you get when you succeed at doing something that requires sacrifice of perhaps our own will to God’s will.
    Or after nine months of carrying and child you finally get to hold that little guy. That is a close window to Heaven and true Joy if ever ther was one.
    I close with a thank you, for the whole message. I missed the part about the dog…I know if you have 5 children you wouldn’t have the heart to want bad things to happen to anyone’s pet. But, that is just the mother in me speaking. Well, actually Grandmother of 16 as of yesterday.

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  19. thank you for this awesome testimony! i love it, feel its sentiments perfectly (minus the dog thing, because i don’t have one), and shared it on my Facebook, if that’s ok. we need believers among believers today–thanks for sharing your strength!

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  20. Dorothy Poulsen

    Loved it all…. Thank you for sharing!

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  21. I feel the same way! As President Eyring said: “As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough.
    Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground.” Things like that just motivate me more to open my mouth more.

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  22. Marianne J

    Wow!! Just wow! Thank you!! You wrote exactly how I feel, what I’d want to say if I could. This is the first I’ve seen someone writing about our beliefs this way. Sometimes I just want to shake a person. It’s like if I had the cure for cancer wouldn’t anyone want it? Of course they would. Why wouldn’t they want the same happiness for life???!!

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  23. I love this. Thank you!

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  24. Jessica

    What is extra marital sex? You said you you don’t have premarital sex or extra marital sex. That’s a phrase I has never heard and curious what it means.

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  25. Thanks so much for sharing this I am going through a lot at the moment and this has just made my day. I can totally relate to this in a very personal way. When I got baptised I was so happy I went to my family and well it was as if I’d got out a machine gun lined them up against the wall and shot them dead with everything I’d learnt. It was not received well. So now I have to bite my tongue and wait on the spirit to guide me when to speak and when to be silent. But hey I am learning, as a very good friend of mine says “I am a practicing Christian”

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  26. Your post reminds me of Ammon when he met again the sons of Mosiah. His enthusiasm and joy in the gospel was beautiful and powerful, and so is yours. We do have something precious to share. Thanks for expressing that so well!!

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  27. Sara

    Men in balaclavas? You watch too much TV.

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  28. Robert J (Bobby Joe) Frederickson

    I do love your résistance to beat up on friends and neighbors.
    I also admire your obvious spiritually.
    I am a poet of note though am humbled by your writing expertise.
    We are both Mormons and I mimic your values in my oratory
    though when I speak in Church I will humbly take second place from now on.
    .

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  29. Shelli

    Love, love, love this!!!!

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  30. Carolyn Sorensen

    Thank you so much for this! You express my feelings so well.

    Like

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