First I'd like to play a song for you called "New Stake Calling In The Works For Me And My Man".
Over the 4th of July weekend Aaron and I drove out to Arizona to see my nephew get baptized and also because we wanted to see what it'll be like visiting the Telestial kingdom in the future. (A lot of 7-ELEVENs.) Right as we were leaving Mesa to drive back, we got a phone call about meeting with someone from church that night as soon as we got into town.
The voice on the other end was raspy and unfamiliar.
He said he had a job for us.
A dangerous job.
We had been recommended for a calling, by who, we'll never know. But this much I could be certain of: We'd be peeing our pants with anticipation as we drove home for six hours.
I know this was a calling meant for us, even though it'll be tough. Learning about other cultures and religions is something I love to do. But knowing how to explain mine to everyday people is something I need help with.
I wish there was an easy way to explain how important religion and my faith in God is to me. Outside of a brain transplant or Donny Osmond concert, I don't think I'll ever be able to convey to someone who isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints what it's like (and what it's not like) to live like I do.
I could go through the doctrine of the church...
What the official statements are...
What the scriptures say...
Everything mormon.org could tell you..
But those are all such one dimensional answers!
(But you can still click on those links for answers regardless.)
I could tell you all about my nursery calling each Sunday at church where I sniff kid's butts like a poop detective then chase down escape artists whose lock picking skills are confounding. When you hear about jobs like mine, it all looks very glamorous from the outside, but until you live it...you won't get it.
I wish I could explain how I'm not a judgmental hypocrite who condemns people for their actions while I spout off some self righteous crap. If as a follower of Jesus Christ I am actually looking to Jesus Christ who came to shut. down. the Pharisees and people who do that and I hold Him up as my example on how to live, then it only makes sense that I shouldn't act like a douche to people.
"Carah! You write so elegantly!"
But the door swings both ways too. Just because someone identifies as a "Christian", that doesn't give them any less agency or power over choosing less douchey behaviors. It should, but it doesn't. Stupidity exists wherever there is pride and sense of superiority.
I wish people understood that I'm not a brainwashed, blind follower. After 24 years of my life as a Mormon girl, the only thing I've been TOLD to do is independently strive to receive my own spiritual confirmation if what I have been taught is true. And told to..."Get the hell out!" of Vicki Frank's tent at girl's camp. And my conclusion is that this church is true and also that if I don't grow up to be as hilarious as my Young Women's leaders who pee over camp fires and tell us we "kick ass" after testimony meetings, then that's no person I want to be.
If you don't like blind followers, then don't listen to the media because chances are good you're prone to be one.
People of the world, listen up.
Whatever the media spouted off without fact-checking that you didn't hesitated to internalize...
Whatever stereotypes about Christians you've lapped up...
Whatever source you've bought into that tells you the most sensationalized version of the truth...
Don't act like ignorance has exclusivity to people who believe in God.
I wish I could explain that my beliefs are not actually that crazy when put into context. What is it going to take for people to get that our underwear is not magic and that by anyone insinuating that it is, after constant reassurance from the LDS community that it isn't, nor do we believe that it is, only further depresses us to the intolerance and irreverence of our fellow human beings. You wear a wedding ring that tells the world you're married, a Catholic priest wears a collar that tells people he doesn't approve of Sister Mary Clarence's teaching method and past employment, and under my every day clothes I wear a tactile reminder of the covenants I've made to God to live a good, clean, honorable life and in doing so keep the knee shorts and t-shirt economy booming.
The world insists that by having faith in a creator I am "less intelligent" or "gullible". Aside from the homeschooled rednecks Lindsay Lohan referred to in Mean Girls, it just ain't true!
In our new calling for the church we get to do a lot of inter-faith discussions and meetings with people in the community including and even honoring prominent LGBT men and women! I'm totally stoked! But our first big event as PR peeps is to attend a "Break-the-Fast" Ramadan fest with a large group of Muslims this Sunday in hopes we can build friendships and, I dunno, talk about what it's like to be misunderstood all the time probably?
There better be a swimming pool of hummus or else I'm out.
But back to what I was saying about the stereotype that Christians are ignorant...There are multiple independent studies that have found that Mormons have significantly more education than the general public! Of the young men and women who've served LDS missions, 40% graduated with college degrees, compared to 18% of the general American population. Also, 25% of returned missionaries have graduate degrees, compared to 8% of the general population. I mean, I'm not one of them. I write blogs with all the ingenuity thirteen years of public school can muster. Tapping an empty well right about now, actually. (See terrible transition at beginning of paragraph.)
All I want to do is aline my life to what I feel and have experienced is true. I wouldn't force someone into a practice or lifestyle that wasn't authentic to the dictates of their conscience. (Unless they were one of those scary people who were born without consciences and go around wreaking havoc on the civil society. "Belibers" I think they're called? Then I'd force someone like that to. chill. the. freak. out.)
I empathize with the battle gays and lesbians talk about. The battle within themselves of what society and social pressures tell them a "man" or a "lady" should look and act like, all the while knowing if they were being authentic to how they really feel, they'd be shunned. Everyone just wanted to be accepted without having to wear a mask all the time.
I'm being authentic to the fact that I will die at some point in the future. There are a lot of ways to find meaning in life but in the long run, what enduring and lasting happiness is there for me? A girl can only go on youtube and watch the crazy Shape Up With Jazzercize lady so many times before she's wasted 9 hours pressing the repeat button only to be left with 9 hours of her life gone and only 27 catch phrases to show for them.
There are idols and false Gods everyone worships. Enslaving forces that promise satisfaction but instead enslave people on the alter of sex, money, power, and the false hope that if they give a little more then they'll be complete. But that God that tells me to experiment on His word? The God that tells me to plant a seed of faith and see if the fruits of my labors are sweet or rotten? Letting my happiness be evidence to whether this is the right or wrong path? Yeah, I can get on board with Him.