Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Testimony

Many years ago I read a novel about an unconventional Jewish woman who moves into a neighborhood of orthodox Jews and stirs things up. As a reader, I was supposed to side with the protagonist, criticizing her neighbors for their old-fashioned, backward ways. Instead I found myself sympathizing with the orthodox Jews.

I too am part of a religion that is oft misunderstood by outsiders, and what right do I have, knowing as little as I do of Judaism, to criticize their deeply held beliefs simply because I don't understand them? I felt like it was inappropriate for the author to express her discontent with her religion by writing a novel for anyone to read. Rather than dealing with her issues with Judaism among Jews, she was airing out her dirty laundry for the whole world to see.

Yesterday, I published a post about Mormon women and education. I wrote it on Sunday, but I waited to publish it because I was feeling a bit like that Jewish author - airing out my dirty laundry on the Internet.

We Mormons are not a perfect people. We have flaws. I think it's important to admit and address those flaws...among ourselves. I think it's less advantageous to wave those flaws like flags in front of the whole world because someone on the outside looking in can never have the perspective to understand. I don't want my non-Mormon friends to read about Mormon women and go, "So backwards! So old-fashioned! What is wrong with you people?"

And so I find myself in this awkward position of wanting to express myself on certain subjects in the best way I know how - through writing - and also wanting to avoid giving outsiders the wrong idea.

This post is my solution. An addendum to every rant I ever write about Mormon culture, as if to say, This drives me crazy, but...

I still believe.

There are aspects of Mormon culture that drive me bonkers. There are also parts that I love to pieces. Like how highly we value education and hard work. Like how much we love and cherish our families. Like the fact that you can't grow up in the church without getting over your fear of public speaking, and the fact that by the time you get married, you will have done the YMCA approximately 80 billion times. I love the unity of shared experience I feel in a room of Mormon women, and I love that Mormon men will unabashedly blubber when they talk about the Savior and/or their wives.

But none of that would matter if it weren't for the simple truth of my faith. I believe I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for me. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Exemplar. I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is our living prophet on the earth today. I believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

These things are the pillars of my faith, and when I doubt or feel discouraged with the church, I come back to these basics, and I find again and again every time that I still believe.

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