Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 Reasons Why We Love Being Mormon

It's no secret that we here at the "A Bit Backward" Blog, are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA "Mormons"!) I love being a member of my faith for so many reasons - all of which I wish I could shout from the rooftops, but that might be a little awkward . . .  Probably, I'd also break a leg.

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.

Image source.
#2: Self-reliance. Our Pioneer heritage is still paying us dividends as evidenced by the eagerness to work hard and to learn new things for the benefit of our families. There are a huge variety of interests from members of our faith, but even with differing interests we all manage to find so much common ground in doing all we can to make our homes run more smoothly, to help our children grow up happy and to make good choices, to save and prepare for rainy days, to develop our skills, and to become better individuals. I think it's fair to say, that on the whole - we Mormons have a sincere desire to be excellent caretakers of our own, and to also reach out and help others as well. I've mentioned in passing that I do a little "Preppers" group once a month - you know, to help us prepare (mostly temporally) for difficult times ahead. Man-o-man, what these ladies know! How to can/jar food, how to garden, how to attend to people in emergency situations, how and what to pack in a 72-hour kit, where to buy the least inexpensive and highest quality food, and so. much. more. (**Side note: Highly recommend you download and read this PDF on Basic Physical Health with Limited Resources - lots of helpful information!**) A blog friend of mine, Blythe, wrote this post about how she is proud to be a Mormon woman. All the things she mentions in her post fit well with this section of my post, so I thought I'd tag it in. Members of my faith love to work hard, develop skills, and then to share what they learn with others. It's a wonderful way to live.

#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! :)
#4: Family. Members of my faith believe that when you are married in the temple, and live righteously and follow God, your marriage does not last only, "Until death do you part" but for time and all eternity. This belief of mine, I have realized, has given my marriage an extra leg up. We have so much more learning and growing to have our marriage where it needs to be, but our perspective is eternal. Since we are working towards building something we believe will last forever, we are building carefully. We believe that children born to couples who are married (sealed) for eternity, are sealed or kept with that family. This belief gave me immense relief and comfort after my miscarriage. Whenever I have experienced and/or hear about loss of a loved one or a child, my thoughts always turn to the temple and the hopeful place that it is! (This video gives a great explanation of the work done in temples.) To us, family is not just something of mortal consequence - but it is of eternal significance and vital to our growth and happiness. Family is everything!

#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.
#6: Youth Programs. So the youth of each congregation get together once a week for an activity called, "Mutual" where they learn all sorts of things (both spiritual and temporal) and have fun in fellowshipping with the other youth. Once a month for the 14+ year olds, there are fun, wholesome dances put on by the youth in our Stakes (a bigger geographical unit of several wards.) Right now, my calling is to be a Secretary for our Young Women's organization (over the 12-18 year old girls) and it is pretty great. It brings me back to the good moments of my childhood as a Mormon youth. It has reminded me of what a valuable part of my growing up these programs were to me. The girls have a special program called "Personal Progress" where they make goals to develop Christ-like virtues in themselves. And every Summer, the girls attend an amazing Girl's Camp. In high school, every morning before school started I would attend "Seminary" - an early morning scripture study class. All these experiences and programs helped me develop confidence in social situations, and greater knowledge and faith in Christ - all while having a wonderful time.

#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.
#9: Modern-day revelation and Prophets. God directed His people with prophets long, long ago (Moses, Noah, Enoch, etc.) and Christ called apostles to teach His word while He was on the earth. We believe He follows that same pattern of structure in His church today. The story of Joseph Smith is an amazing and miraculous one and I also believe - a true one. In 1820, Joseph Smith, then a 14 year old boy, wanted to know which church to join. As he was studying his scriptures and pondering on the instruction in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." So he went into the woods to pray and ask God the question that had been in his heart for a long time. We believe God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph and called him to the work of restoring God's church and authority to the Earth as a Prophet. (You can read that account here.) What a beautiful event! Joseph directed God's church in his day, and today, we also have a Prophet - Thomas S. Monson who leads our church. He and other apostles and leaders will speak to us in us few more weeks at a meeting called General Conference that happens twice a year. It is one of my most favorite times of year. Spiritual overload! If you ever wanted to hear what kinds of things we learn at these conferences, you are totally welcome to tune in on October 5-6th on at lds.org. You can also watch old conference talks at this link. This is something I love about being a member of my faith, because in a confusing world as ours, it is good to have a watchman on a tower, so to speak, to give us guidance so that we can stay safe and on the path that will help lead us back to God's presence.

Image source.
#10: While this one is listed last, it is the most dear of any of the reasons I love being a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on this list. That being - My faith helps me to develop a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. With the Bible, and additional revealed scripture like The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and other revealed scripture, I study and am so uplifted and feel so close to my Savior. When I was in high school, for one of my readings of the Book of Mormon I highlighted every instance where Jesus Christ was mentioned. What a marked up copy of the scriptures that set was! I feel I am able to gain more clarity of the character of Jesus Christ (like in this account of Christ's visit to the American continent), a stronger testimony of His divinity, and a better understanding of his great sacrifice for me (the description of the atonement of Christ in these verses is so enlightening.) There is no better reason or benefit of being a member of my faith than this one.

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?

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more! I, too, love being a Mormon!

    ReplyDelete

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