I am a Mormon, did you know?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know—I don’t write much about it on my blog, chiefly because:
1. I like to keep my blog light, and I don’t take my religion lightly, and
2. People can say whatever crap they want about me—in fact I encourage it [keeps me humble]—but I don’t like people saying crap about my religion. And sometimes people like to say crap about my religion. So if I don’t write about it on my blog, I don’t have to deal with that. (Non-confrontational, holler.)
However, due to a perfect storm of circumstances brewing lately within both my own personal life and the world at large, I feel like the time is over for me to keep quiet about my religion.
Circumstances of The Storm Leading to This Decision (in no particular order):
1. This post was published and the internet sort of exploded for a couple days.
2. The aftermath of same, including but not limited to this moving post by my e-BFF Megan.
3. The fact that I recently got a new assignment at church, which requires regular interaction with the teenage girls of my ward [Mormon word for congregation], and which interaction strongly encourages that I ought probably to set a good example for said teenage girls.
4. The fact that, in order to set any sort of even slightly good example, I need to make sure I know what, exactly, I believe.
5. The other fact (and this much to my own personal dismay), that I might not be sure, exactly, what I believe.
6. The logical conclusion, therefore, that since I’m on a quest to pinpoint my beliefs, I might as well two-birds/one-stone it and get some blog posts out of the deal.
7. And finally, because Why Not? I ask you: why not?
I suppose this might be distressing to some of my fellow Mormons, and maybe even to readers not of my faith—this fact that I, a (for all intents and purposes) grown up member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not know exactly what it is that I believe. The fact that I have sort of just fluttered around on the faith of my family for the greater majority of my life. That I have done what I was supposed to do because I was supposed to do it and never really questioned any of it.
I suppose this reflects poorly on my piety and devotion. Perhaps I will be judged—likely will lose a couple readers.
Here’s what I have to say to that:
When I was in high school I was really active in sports. I joined a sport for every season. Volleyball, basketball, track, the like. As part of the requirements for being involved in extracurricular high school athletics, I would on occasion be forced to put in an appearance in the high school weight room, which was equal parts miserable and humiliating for me because, despite the fact that I was active in sports, I was generally pretty lazy and really a spectacularly pathetic athlete, as in the picture of failed potential, and also I hated working out and therefore had very puny upper arms.
I struggled tremendously just to bench press a couple of reps with even the ultra-light bar. With no added weight. Just to give you an idea.
Often during my sessions of enforced public shame, I would complain to the weight room coach, a singular-looking man with hands down the shiniest, baldest head I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing my own reflection in. (Also he had a handlebar mustache, which, coupled with the aforementioned shiny head, lead me to think of him as more of a walrus than a man.)
My usual complaint to the WR coach was something like this:
I’m so weak!
And Walrus’s usual response was exactly this:
It doesn’t matter if you’re weak as long as you don’t stay that way.
Shall I say it again, to reiterate the value of this lesson?
IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE WEAK. AS LONG AS YOU DON’T STAY THAT WAY.
If every day I could push that vile 15-pound rod of steel (iron? copper? magnesium?) off my chest even ONE MORE TIME than I did the day before, I was doing all right.
And so I bring this lesson to my blog: I am sorry that my own testimony is not very strong right now. (And when I say I’m sorry, I do mean sorry in the sense of sorrow. This is not an apology to my Mormon friends who are probably disappointed in me. I don’t owe you anything. This is an apology, an expression of real regret, to my own self for going so long without figuring it out. I have cut myself short. I deserve to know what I believe. And I am sorry that I’m a little weak right now.)
But the point is not to wallow in self pity or self loathing or abjection. The point is not to moan about how weak I am.
The point, just like in old Walrus’s weight room, is to get stronger. To buck the apathy. To shake the stasis.
The point is to get a little stronger every day.
I believe that.
And I am a Mormon.
I don’t expect that my quest to self-actualisation will come overnight. I suspect this will take some serious time, thought, meditation, prayer—y’know, real soul-searching type stuff. I will blog about it along the way, and if that turns you off, I understand. Come back when you’re comfortable.
But know this: I am not trying to convert you. I am not trying to shove my beliefs down your throat—how could I, when I have just confessed to being a little hazy on them myself? This series is solely for my own enlightenment and spirituality, with the added benefit of blog content. If you don’t care to read the Mormon posts, I encourage you at least to stick around—I’ll be mixing them up with the same vintage AoOL content I’ve always written.
Also—I don’t know how many posts will be involved in the series. I have no idea the order in which I will approach it. I am posting this on a whim, and I’m just going to see where it takes me. If there’s something you’ve always wondered about the Mormon church, feel free to ask me and I’ll add it to my own research queue. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who does. I am treating this quest for knowledge like I treat any class toward my university degree, because in the scheme of things, it really is more important. At least for me.
Roger. Over. Out.