My name is Sterling, I'm 22-years-old, and I am the birthmother to the most gorgeous little boy in the world. I started this blog to share my experiences, thoughts, and help myself move forward after placing my sweet little boy. If this is your first time visiting my blog, I invite you to read my story (top of the left column). Feel free to comment with questions or requests. If you follow me, I'll follow you!
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Why I am Mormon (or, the post where I ask you to please pick a different reason to hate Mitt Romney)
With the upcoming debates, my sweet hubby and I have decided to stay out of the political debates on Facebook. That is, not get involved. I do love to scroll through my newsfeed, find posts slamming one candidate or the other, and read through the heated comments. It takes me back to my college days, listening to all of the poli-sci majors that I worked with (Katie, Jon, :-)). Brad and I are outwardly neutral, and have not stated who we are voting for (except to family) or which issues mean the most to us. It is not worth losing friends over. I guess you could call me a closet politics junkie. ;-)
Here's the deal, though. I don't get upset when I see slams on "bad foreign policy" or "inaccurate claims about coal and oil industries". (Those are two different candidates who receive those slams, by the way). Whatever. What hurts the most is when I see a post that says 'I hate Romney, he's a mormon' 'Mormons are evil' or even better (one I read today from someone I consider a good friend, I will just say the last part) 'are we really ready for a Mormon to run this country?' (Uhm... Kennedy was Catholic. GASP!)... I feel like screaming "What does Mormon matter?? I'm a Mormon! You like me! At least I thought you did..."
Could it be that what makes me who I am, if my friends understood it's because I am a Mormon, would make them hate me instead? Terrifying.
Here is my plea. I don't care who you vote for, (well, I guess I do, but that isn't the point), but PLEASE, for my sake and for the sake of any friendships you wish to continue with us crazy Mormons, find another reason to hate Mitt Romney. When you hate him because he is a Mormon, it implies that you hate ALL of us who are Mormon. (And if that's the case, you can forget about getting any homemade green Jell-o carrot cookies for Christmas! Ha...)
Well, for anyone who has read thus far, here goes. I am about to tell you why I am a Mormon. Understand that yes, I was raised in the LDS faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the real name of the Mormon church). I left the church for a while toward the end of high school and through college. These are the reasons that I am now a fully active "Mormon".
My church teaches, above all else, to live a clean and honest life. The ten commandments apply here. We also are encouraged to live by a code of healthy living and conduct called the "Word of Wisdom"... the most significant parts encourage abstinence from dangerous substances, including tobacco (yes, dangerous. It can cause cancer, it has been proven to be extremely unhealthy, don't argue with me on this, ok? I don't care if you smoke. That is your choice, I still love you, but I don't smoke), alcohol, strong drinks such as coffee (which is where most people have a problem. Again, drink your coffee. I love the smell. We can still be chums), and recreational drugs. The other side of the Word of Wisdom encourages healthy living choices. This includes a diet of lots of veggies, grains, fruits, etc., and encourages exercise. Take a step back and look at that again... does that really seem bad? Nowhere in there does it say to not drink caffeinated sodas. That is a personal choice that many members make for themselves, and has somehow become understood as "gospel doctrine". It is not. We do not believe you are damned for drinking Diet Coke. Heaven knows I love a cold Diet Coke when I'm not breastfeeding. :-) Now to the "honest" part. Don't lie, cheat, steal, abuse, covet, or otherwise hurt others. Plain and simple. Are you really going to hate on Mormons for that?
*side note* I know there are some in my faith who "hate" on people who are not Mormon. Please understand those are PEOPLE, not the LDS Church as a whole. The LDS Church has, over and over, encouraged acceptance and love of everyone, regardless of faith. My mom once told me, "The Church is true, the people aren't always." This is true anywhere. I know very, very wonderful people who are Catholic, Muslim, Baptist, and Atheist. I also know some big jerks. We all do. I am guilty of being a big jerk sometimes. That's not in the name of the LDS Church, though... that's all me. :-)
The LDS church teaches that our souls existed before this Earth life as spirit with a loving Heavenly Father (God). It also teaches that our souls will continue to exist after our mortal bodies die. Before this life, during this life, and after this life we have purpose and a divine destiny. Marriage and family relationships will not end at death. They will continue eternally, through our personal faithfulness and sacred covenants made in this life. That means that my wonderful husband, the man I love more than anyone else, will be with me forever as long as we are faithful to each other (shocker, right?) and God. It will not end at death! My daughter, and my future children, will be connected to us for eternity. What a beautiful thing to know! It is this knowledge (or faith, if you will) that helped me cope with the death of my step-dad, an incredible man who helped me turn my life around when I hit rock bottom. I know I will see him again. That relationship did not end with his death.
My church encourages humanitarian service and helping the world. "Love thy neighbor" is very literal.
Members of the LDS church are NOT secretive, contrary to what many believe. We send out missionaries to tell people all about it! We want so badly for EVERYONE to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins so that we can live with Him again. Our lives have purpose! We know where we came from, what we are here to do (prove our faith in Heavenly Father and live virtuous lives), and where we are going. There are no mysteries! In response to our Temples (sacred places) being secretive, they are not. Worthy members of the LDS church are encouraged to attend the Temple and learn the things taught therein. We believe that Temples are sacred, and God's spirit dwells inside. Not just anyone can go inside the temple... But we sure do want everyone to be able to! I would LOVE if my friends who are not members or who are inactive could make the changes necessary to come inside with me. I have never felt closer to my Heavenly Father than in the temple. He knows me personally. I am a unique, loved daughter of an eternal God.
The LDS Church encourages following the laws of the land and supporting our elected leaders. Sure, Mormons complain with the best of them about politics, laws, etc. Who doesn't? But being Mormon doesn't make us superior to the law or governing bodies. On that subject, the LDS Church never has and never will side with one political party. It is true that most members of the LDS church identify with the republican party, but many also identify themselves with the democratic party. I even know quite a few who consider themselves independent. The LDS Church will, on occasion, make a statement regarding some political issue if it is in direct conflict with church teachings. For example (this is a biggie), abortion. Abortion, except in extreme cases of rape, incest, or threat to the mother's life, is against church policy. In circumstances listed before, it is then a personal choice and is to be considered very prayerfully by the individual. (Being against abortion counts as a reason I am Mormon... but I could just as easily be Catholic, Baptist, or any other pro-life denomination).
We have a living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. Thomas S. Monson is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As members, we revere him as a prophet. He receives direct inspiration from God, and has been called by Him to lead and guide our church on the Earth today. "We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth." (Articles of Faith #6). This is the same organization that existed before Christ came to the earth, and that Christ established while on the Earth. (Any faith that believes the Bible to be holy scripture will not deny that). If then, why not now? God does not change. Nor do His laws or organization.
Love. Love is the biggest reason I am a Mormon. When I found myself at rock bottom a few years ago, very alone, single, pregnant... I had lost all hope for my life. I was terrified of telling my family. I didn't want to ask for help. I thought I would be kicked out of my house (I had only just moved back three weeks earlier from college), shunned, and a huge disappointment to my big, Mormon family. Instead, I felt love. My mom and step-dad wrapped their arms around me and told me I would be ok. They would help me. They would support me in whatever decision I made concerning the baby. My local church leaders, instead of looking down on me as a sinner, loved me and encouraged me to hold my head up, ignore those who would judge me, and helped me through the process of fixing myself mentally and emotionally. My parents invited me to attend church with them through my pregnancy... Oh how embarrassing, with all these good, upstanding, never-do-bad Mormons?!?! I was shocked... instead of receiving the "hateful, judging stares" I had always heard people talk about (and slammed on myself), I was greeted warmly and accepted. Nobody made me feel dirty. Nobody made me feel like an outsider. If I had treated them badly, then things would have been different. But instead, I opened my heart to others and soon learned I was not the only one who had made mistakes, felt alone, had poor judgement, or ached. I connected with women who had been in the same situation as me, or had been on the opposite end - could not conceive and had felt alone and felt judged harshly for NOT having children. I was reminded that the love of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would not, could not end. No matter how badly I had messed up my life, how many people I had hurt in the process, they still loved me. They still wanted me to come back to them and give my heart to them. There is no greater feeling than when you are scared as a child, and your father (or any parent) wraps their arms around you and tells you it will be ok, you are safe, you are loved. That is the feeling I have when I pray to my Heavenly Father. That is why I am a Mormon.
For more information, or for clarification on anything I have said, visit www.lds.org and search for it. Also, you can link HERE to read our Articles of Faith, or the very basic beliefs of the LDS Church. And HERE to learn about how the LDS Church is not a breakoff of another church, but is a restored church.
Oh, and if you comment and tear me apart or hate on my faith... I probably won't delete it. But understand that I am not ridiculing anyone's beliefs. Only stating mine. (But uh, please share some love, those who support me!)