I wanted to write a short post on something that has been swirling around in my head for a couple of years now (and Stephen might help me). I was talking to a friend yesterday on what it is like to be a young member of the LDS church. She said that when she tells people she's Mormon, she feels like she has to qualify, "I'm also a feminist." or, "I'm not one of those Mormons who seem deeply conservative and narrow minded." I understood what she meant. When I was little, I was extremely proud to be a Mormon. I still am, but I feel like there are labels and stereotypes out there that I don't want to be associated with: narrow mindedness, bigotry, misogyny, etc.
There are many reasons that the culture of our church has instilled these stereotypes in some people's minds, and some of these stereotypes do exist--I mean, nobody's perfect. But I've personally noticed a couple things that might have aggravated this view of Mormonism (or orthodox religion in general).
Second, due to this digital age, we have a hypersensitivity to what everyone else is thinking. This generation of mine is one that is being steeped in blogs (yes, like this one. Take me with a grain of salt), status updates, tweets, opinion articles, Buzzfeed lists, and on and on. Now that we have platforms, we have all come to think that our own opinions are extremely important and valid. Opinions are important, but they're not always right. Every time I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I see dozens of editorials, blogs, and status updates that are aggressively communicating someone's opinions. The internet, while vast and expansive, is unstable and made up of inconstant people. It is always changing and hardly reliable.
This life is so short! We have barely a blip on this planet and then we're gone. Do we honestly believe we can know and authorize everything with which we come in contact? This is why I live by faith. My absolute knowledge entails only three things:
- I know that I don't know very much.
- As Matthew 7:17 says, "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." I know that following the teachings of my church--reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon, praying to my Heavenly Father, repenting of my mistakes, and living as my gospel preaches--makes me happier than anything else I've sought after in my life. Anything.
- I know that someone out there knows more than me, and, thankfully, He loves me enough to guide me to make choices in my life that bring me peace and happiness. As Neal A. Maxwell says, "Isn’t it marvelous, brothers and sisters, that God, who knows everything, still spends time listening to our prayers? Compared to that cosmic fact, what does the world really have to offer us? One round of applause, one fleeting moment of adulation, or an approving glance from a phantom Caesar?"
With these three pieces of knowledge, I lead my life as best as I can. I try to base my beliefs on what is constant and speaks peace to my spirit. I try to be humble, because I'm working through life and I'm just as dense as the next person. I try to remain close to our Heavenly Father because I feel His hand in my life when I'm doing my best, and I know He loves me infinitely.
So, to my generation who reads blogs and opinion editorials and facebook status updates, I want to say that I'm proud to be a Mormon. I'm proud to root my beliefs in something constant that brings me joy and peace. And I know from where this joy and peace comes.