Now that I’m a devout Mormon (… That thought still sends me reeling bit. I’m a what??) I find that people subconsciously dismiss my faith as something that comes easily and naturally to me.
GUYS. Two years ago I was an avowed atheist. Three years before that I was so acerbic that I could melt holes in diamonds merely by saying, “hi.” I don’t think there is a single thing in my life that has ever qualified as easy– with the possible exception of a hot bath. What can I say? I have a natural talent with loofahs.
Before freaking anyone out, let me restate for the record that I have no interest in converting anyone. Your religion or lack thereof is exactly none of my business. I’m speaking strictly about the handful of people that express interest in faith of some kind, but cite their current lack of belief as an impenetrable barrier.
That would be like me saying the principle of relativity is not immediately clear to me when I’ve never studied anything related to physics. How do you suppose any truth is ever uncovered in the world? Everything starts with a lack of knowledge and a question. A desire to know. Answers are not meant to be readily available, nor even obvious once they are available. If it matters to you, you dig for truth and you follow its scent like the world’s most stubborn bloodhound. And if you’re lucky enough to find it, you don’t let go.
You want to know how I went from acerbic witch to mellow atheist to devout Mormon? The two happiest people in my life, the people responsible for teaching me how to be a happy and functional adult, were Mormon. One day I asked one of them to tell me more about her religion. I was expecting a 30 second sound byte. Instead she sent missionaries to my apartment. I had no idea what to expect, thought that Mormons were still largely crazy people who practiced polygamy (we can all blame Sister Wives for that misconception). Then the sisters came over and told me the parable of Jesus and the lost sheep and my eyes got all leaky.
I’m not a weepy person. I’d just been a ragged, lost, malcontent sheep for so long that the truth of the story was undeniable. It was like Jesus (whom I knew literally nothing about) was wrapping me in a warm hug, patting me on the head and saying, “Welcome home, little sheepy.”
(Except I don’t think Jesus talks like that).
Point being: I didn’t even know enough about Jesus to decide if I believed in him or not. I knew enough about God to have very shaky feelings on the subject.
I got baptized anyway! I didn’t care. The principles were true. That’s enough, as far as I’m concerned. There had to be a true source behind it, even if it felt awkward for me to think about, speak about, or pray to. I did not feel comfortable praying for eight months after I joined the church. I’d spent a lifetime believing people were out to get me. The concept of a benevolent father felt strange.
I’m not telling anyone to get baptized. Like I said, none of my business. But don’t hang onto preconceived notions once you feel truth peeking in. Something may not make sense yet. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. I haven’t chosen my religion simply because I’m not skilled enough at intellectual skepticism. I could have been skeptical for a living. Seriously, people would have paid me. That’s how good I was. Now ask me how happy I was then. I worked for this faith, and I worked hard. I continue to, though it gets easier with practice.
Even with all of this, with all of my personal experiences, I could be objectively wrong. I don’t care. At all. Information isn’t what matters to me. Being a loving and happy wife and mother is what does matter. There are concrete truths that I know lead to my contentment: kindness works. Anger doesn’t. These things are easily proven through experience. The existence of a Heavenly Father can never fall into that category. The possibility of my church having the most true doctrine is even more tenuous– no matter how people stand up on Sunday and say, “I know this church is true.”
I have confidence in these things for personal reasons I won’t expand on here, but if you don’t yet, how much does that matter in pursuit of the best possible life? Again, I’m not just talking about religion, but any foreign way of thinking. Don’t count something out until you’ve tried it with real intent.