But the longer I live (now that I'm so old and experienced at 25 years old! ;) ), the more places I move, and the more people I meet - I realize what a true blessing my faith has been for my life. While I can't shout from any rooftops without risking some physical injury, I can share freely on our family blog! Here are 10 reasons why we Hepworths love being Mormon:
#1: Community. So, we moved to Tucson over two years ago. We had absolutely no family here whatsoever, and very little money. A kind family in our new ward (our word for congregation - which is determined by geographical location) gladly offered us a place to stay for a week for free until we could move into the home we decided to rent. When we moved into our home, about 10 men from our ward were at our door ready to move all our stuff in to our house for us. Within a month we had eaten at a couple different families' homes. I made many dear friends with similar interests and values within a matter of weeks. Those friends graciously filled me in on the town and all the fun places to go with my son. They brought me treats and meals while I was pregnant, threw me a baby shower, and brought me meals after I had my baby, too. We do baby-sitting swaps with each other. We get together to eat. We get together to exercise. We go to church each Sunday and nurse our babies in the Mother's lounge and chat. We get together for our children to learn and play together throughout the week. We cry with each other when life is hard, we celebrate when life is good, and we encourage each other to have faith. We all try our best to serve each other selflessly, with lots of love. No matter where I move, I know I have a built-in community of support, love, and similar values. It is really, really wonderful.
#3: Hope and Peace. So, while we prepare for rainy days ahead, and events in the world may get us a bit worried from time to time - the overall feeling about things is one of peace. I have had two separate occasions in just the last couple of months where Tucson Preppers I've come in contact with - not of our faith - have mentioned how much they love working with LDS preppers. "I prefer to work with LDS preppers." "Your group is much more hopeful than the other groups I have been to." Of course I love hearing that - that is exactly how it should be! We look forward with excitement and anticipation to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and we know that things getting worse are just more signs that that day is getting closer. We know that hard times will come, but that with faith in Christ we can get through any difficult time, and should we die - Christ has assured that death is not the end for us, either. Also, we believe as many others in the Christian world, that Christ both demonstrated and taught that baptism is an essential ordinance for life with God after death. How unjust it would be for God to give a commandment that many do not even have the opportunity to keep! But, temples fill in that gap. One special thing that we do in temples, is to baptize those who have died - by proxy - or with a living person filling in for the dead one. We believe that after the work is performed, Spirits have the choice to either accept or reject the baptism that was done for them. And babies who die before they are baptized? We believe they are saved or alive in Christ. These verses are reassuring to members of our faith who have lost little children. So much peace and hope in this church's doctrine and temples!
|Our little family at my Sister's wedding this Summer - taking a picture outside the Reno temple where we were married 5 years ago, for time AND all eternity! :)|
#5: Opportunities for personal growth and service. In our faith, our Bishop (the Pastor/head of our ward), prays about and asks us to serve in certain capacities within our congregation - also known as a "calling". Each calling has its own special work to do: we teach, we lead organizations, we keep records, we counsel, we plan activities, we organize service, we play piano and organ, we lead music, we personally visit families in our ward on a regular basis . . . the list could go on for quite a long time. We are not paid - not even our Bishops - for the service we provide. Sometimes they can be time-consuming assignments! But, I have found over the years that each different calling has taught me a valuable skill or lesson, and given me greater purpose with a stewardship over something outside my home and family life. I love it.
|Image source. Our church puts out a magazine for the youth called the New Era. There is a "Mormon Ad" in each issue with a powerful picture and message to help remind them to live a righteous life.|
#7: Freedom. What?! Freedom?! Haha. I can hear you reading that and choking right now. I didn't mis-type that, yes: Freedom. I feel my life as an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has given me more freedom for so many reasons. Most outside of our community think first, "Oh yeah! You are the people who don't drink alcohol, coffee or tea! You're not allowed to do anything!" It's true, there are many suggestions and specific directives Mormons are counseled to abide by - especially if they wish to attend the temple. But, following the rules my whole life? Has kept me free from substance addiction, has kept my mind free from crippling pornographic images. By following the guidelines and rules as a young woman, I was free from unwanted teenage pregnancy and STD's before marriage, and when I did marry, I was able to share my whole self with my husband in a way I had never shared myself with any other person - what a gift! When I was pregnant, I found very few changes to my substance intake were necessary for me - I had already been living in a way to help my babies grow up safely in my uterus. More than all the being free from negative consequences, I feel the positive outcomes of living an observant LDS life have been abundant and powerful: namely, the ability to understand God's specific direction for me through the promptings of His Holy Spirit, more energy and greater capacity to serve others, more confidence with God (and everyone else!), more peace through difficult times, and clarity of thought in understanding God's word, just to name a few. I truly believe that we are most free, when we are following God's commandments - willfully of course! Agency is a centerpiece value for Mormons, as we believe that it was the primary issue of concern to us as spirits before we came to Earth. (This article by a man not of our faith gives a great summary of our take on what we were doing in our pre-mortal life, actually!)
#8: How our church views women. I find being a woman in my faith to be generally awesome. Read this post on Eve to learn more. Basically - we believe Eve was not a sinner, but actually our wonderful, brave, and giving first mother who chose to partake of the fruit so that we all could be born. (We believe Adam and Eve couldn't have children until they had partaken of the fruit.) Our church has the largest women's organization in the entire world. It is called, "The Relief Society." And you know what we do? We lead, we serve, we counsel with the Priesthood leaders of our church - and our contributions are absolutely vital. We also receive all the blessings of the Priesthood that the men do. My church teaches my husband to treat me like a queen, and he does. Our roles as wives and mothers are viewed as sacred and invaluable to the stability and peace of the world. Our church teaches us to get all the education we can. And we certainly do - though sometimes through less conventional mediums than standard degrees from Universities, but we certainly get those, too - thank you, BYU! We are always learning. Did you know that Utah was one of the first state to let women vote? Legally, it was. There is just so much love and power and joy that I have seen first hand in serving with the sisters in my faith. I am immensely glad to be a part of such a wonderful work. This speech called, "What do LDS women get?" by Sheri Dew gives some good insight into this point as well.
|Image source. This is the "sacred grove" where Joseph Smith went to pray to ask God which church he should join.|
I don't put any of this up here to debate points of doctrine. These are just the things I love and believe and felt prompted to share, today. I believe that if you have questions about about anything, especially the things I've posted here, that you shouldn't just take my word for it - you should go to the very best source to have them answered!
If you have read this and want to know more, please send me a personal email to abitbackward@gmail dot com. I would love send you a free copy of The Book of Mormon with my personal testimony written inside.
If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
what do you love most about being a member of your faith?