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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Identity Crisis


There has been a big push recently to normalize Mormons. We are trying to fight the stigma that we are strange, 3 legged beasts, sprouting horns, carrying off dozens of women to Utah to be our wives. Nobody wants to be strange. Nobody wants to stick out. When you stick out people ask you strange questions that you are either tired of answering, or feel unqualified to answer. Nobody likes the spot light, but we are in it, Like it or Not.

Don't get me wrong here. I think the push is a great idea. The church, and it's members are doing a great job, maybe greater than ever, of shining their light to the world. However, we should be cautious to not lose who we are in the process. Here are some thoughts (mostly from my own life) on this subject.

WHO ARE WE?

This most recent General Conference (where I got my inspiration for this post) spoke heavily to me about my identity. It made me ask the question, "Who am I?" This wasn't the same question we answer in Sunday School, "I'm a child of God." Though pertinent, and applicable, I'm taking about a different question. That is, "Who am I at church? Am I the same person at home, at work, with friends, with family, and in the Temple? Do I have a secure identity? Do I really know who I am?"

I can unfortunately answer "no" to those questions. I struggle to be the upstanding church member when I'm not at church,or in the Temple. I'm not breaking obvious commandments, like drinking, smoking, or fornicating, but I do indulge in raucous laughter, boisterousness, don't always use clean language, and can throw an impressive temper tantrum. I'm prideful, and I try to fit in with the in-crowd. I just want to be liked, or left alone. Don't we all?

“When you are alone, are you in good company?” - Boyd K.Packer


A LIFETIME OF STUDY

We are members of the church. We are also many other things. We wear many different hats. The question is whether these are all separate identities. The question then is who are you at the core? You are a child of God, but what does that mean? What role does that play in your life? How should a child of God act? How should a Latter day Saint act? 

These are simple, yet complex questions to answer. The best I can say is to study Christ and his teachings. Study the prophets, and apostles. Don't rely on your own understanding of what a man of Christ would do, but learn it for yourself, then try to emulate it. Sorry for not having a clean-cut answer, but this is something that takes a lifetime of study and practice to truly understand. It is up to you to dedicate yourself to that endeavor.

TRUTHS AND LIES

There are many lies out there. There are more lies than there are truths, and it is hard to decipher between the two sometimes. However, I want to cover a few that are significant when we consider who it is we are when we are not at church, or at the Temple.

Truth: One purpose of mortality is to gain a body, and learn to care for it.
Lie: The only reason you came to earth is for a body, and your self worth (as well as everybody else's) is dependent upon how that body looks in a swimsuit.

Truth: We are a Christian Church.
Lie: We are a Christian Church, and we should learn to fit in with other Christian Churches, so it's okay to conform to their version of the truth as long as I have a testimony of the True Church.

Truth: Our friendships should not be exclusive to active LDS church members.
Lie: We should make people like us by conforming to their standards. It's okay to tell a dirty joke or two if it makes you look normal.

Truth: It is important to keep the commandments.
Lie: It is important to keep the commandments, and we must shun, demean, and deride those who don't keep the commandments, especially if they know better.

Truth: I am a child of God, and am special in his sight.
Lie: I am a child of God, so I am specialler than you.

Truth: God Loves me, and I can repent of the wrong I've done.
Lie: God loved me, but I messed up pretty bad, so he can't love me anymore, and if he doesn't love me, then I don't have any worth, so there's no point in keeping ANY of the commandments.

Truth: The two great commandments are to love God, then to love your neighbor as yourself.
Lie: The greatest commandment is to take care of number one.

REMEMBER

This life isn't a popularity contest, or a game show. This life, your life, is the real deal. You only get one shot at it. Are going to live it for show? Are you going to parade around in a different costume for every crowd your in, and every job you do? Are you going to compromise your morals because of your own insecurity? Are you going to compromise your doctrinal beliefs to avoid (or start) an argument? Can you see the person wearing a McDonald's uniform, or conversely a three-piece suite as your equal? Are you a LDS at church? Are you LDS at work? Are you LDS at home? Are you LDS at a party with friends? Are you LDS home alone? Are you LDS in front of beggars? Are you LDS in business meetings? Are you LDS on vacation?

WHO ARE YOU? 

That's a bigger question than you think, and one that takes great introspection, and practice to answer. It's a question of not just identity, but of personality, self-worth, and character.


BE WHO YOU ARE WHEREVER YOU GO.