on being raised mormon...

just before i moved away for college

I have begun to talk more openly about my religion on my blog. Obviously I don't hide it or anything, and I have the ever so common "we believe" button on my side bar that you find among Mormon bloggers. The whole point of this blog is to have a place to share about my life and thoughts. Since I have loved being apart of these types of conversations on other blogs, I figured, why not talk about it? I mean, it is a massive part of my life.

Growing up in a bedroom community of San Diego, there were only a handful of us Mormon kids at school. Usually we already knew each other from church, but if for some reason we didn't, you could usually spot each other in a crowd. There are some stereotypical things that can give Mormons away you know, things you can see appearance wise.

If a guy is wearing a BYU sweatshirt, I have a hunch he has some connection to the LDS Church. Girls are the easiest to spot though. For example, if I saw a girl wearing shorts to her knees, it was usually an indicator she was Mormon. Her shoulders would be covered, and you would never see her wearing the ever so popular "spaghetti straps" that plagued the late 90's and early 2000's.

I remember the first time I felt embarrassed about being a Mormon. I was in middle school and there was a boy who knew I was a Mormon. It isn't like I hid the fact that I was Mormon, but I didn't go shouting it off the roof tops at school either. Once this boy figured it out though, he started teasing me. Every time he saw me he would make a remark. I remember every time I had a class with him I would be horrified to hear what he was going to say to me that day, how he would try and embarrass me. He always did it front of a big group of people. Sad thing is, this boy did this throughout middle school and it continued through out high school as well. 

For whatever reason, he didn't like Mormons, and he was going to let me know that every chance he got. Thankfully I have a strong personality, and I always had a ton of friends throughout school, so for the most part I didn't let it get to me, or let him know it go to me. He wasn't the only one who made fun of me about being Mormon, but he was by the far the worse and the most relentless.

When the people around you think your beliefs are strange or don't understand it, you tend to react in several different ways. You try to hide the fact that you are odd, or you can wear that "odd sticker" with pride and try and tell everyone how cool you really are and try to convince them, or you just live your life in peace with who you are and don't care what others think, or you start to question yourself and who you are, and what you really believe in. Sometimes you do all of the above.

In my life, I have done all of those things. I have been embarrassed to be Mormon, I have been proud, I have been happy, I have been sad, I have been indifferent. All of these emotions were essential to my conversion to the religion. I am sure all people have experienced some form of persecution for their beliefs, religious or not, and can understand the massive amount of emotions that can be tied to that.

I have always asked a lot of questions. I still do to this day. Growing up I asked a lot of questions about the religion I was being raised in, and for the most part I always felt comfortable with the answers I received. But when you are young and impressionable, and you have people teasing you about what you belief in, it challenges your beliefs. I am grateful for these challenges because it caused me to question and analyze what I actually believed in much sooner then I probably would have naturally.

I believe my path to finding my testimony and deciding to live a Mormon lifestyle wasn't always the easiest, but I also don't think I had as many challenges as other people may face either. I used to think, "am I the only one who struggles with this? Why is it so easy for everyone else?" It was easy to look at others who portray such a confidence in their testimony and think that everyone has got it pulled together and you don't. Obviously we all face difficulties, and we don't always share that. But it can be hard to remember that when you are going through a challenging time.

Growing up Mormon as a child was nothing short of magical, but as I entered into my teens and had everything I was ever taught challenged, I had to make my own choice as to what I believed in, and no one could do that for me. I have never felt truly alone in my life because I have always felt the presence of my Heavenly Father, but there were a few years there where alone and tormented would be the best way to describe the inner struggle that I faced when learning and trying to make decisions that would impact the rest of my life.


  

34 comments

  1. I loved reading this! Being a convert to the church, I have gone through some struggles with others not agreeing with what I believe, have lost friends and have had others turn there back on me because of joining the church and what I believe. Even throughout all those struggles, I wouldn't change where I am at for anything else. I would love to share my Facebook status from yesterday:

    I am so incredibly grateful to have the Gospel in my life. When I think back the past few years since moving to Arizona, I am beyond humbled & just completely shocked and blown away with the direction my life has taken. The things I've done and seen have left me speechless. The things I have accomplished still surprise me. The people I have met. The courage I have seen & stories I have heard. The opportunities that have arose. Things have been greater than I ever could have imagined! The Gospel is the ONLY thing that brings true everlasting happiness and peace!

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    1. LOVED reading this Kimberly! I commend you for doing what you felt was right, even if it meant losing family and friends. I can't imagine that aspect of losing family because my whole family is Mormon, I am sure that is the greatest sacrifice of all. Who knows if down the road their hearts will soften towards your decisions! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. This is an awesome post! I grew up Catholic (I even went to a Catholic school preschool - senior year of HS) and always just accepted that it was my religion, it is what I was taught and its just how it was. Not until college did I start to ask questions and ask why? I've felt ashamed of my religion at times but know that deep down I am who I am because of my religion. I think a lot of people have gone through what you have and asking questions is awesome and makes you more in touch with your beliefs!

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    1. Isn't it interesting how similar people's experiences are, even if they are apart of a different organization? And I couldn't agree more, I think it is important to ask questions and make sure you understand every aspect of your faith.

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  3. I'm LDS too and it's sad to feel almost afraid to mention this because so many people assume things about us or think they know us based on rumors about Mormons.

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    1. Oh how true this is. I feel like if I mention I am always on defense mode! Hopefully someday that will change.

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  4. I think questioning your belief system is an integral part of growing up. In the end, you may agree with it or disagree, but you always know that you sought your own personal truth. I can not think of a single thing more important or powerful than staring down the beliefs you have been taught and making the choice to embrace them, or to find a new truth. Beautifully written post!

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    1. Agreed! It always bothers me when people think I am Mormon simply because I was raised Mormon. Yes, that was a pretty strong introduction to the religion, but I am an individual who has grown up and had to make decisions for myself!

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  5. Kids can be so cruel! This is a very interesting post, I love learning more about people and their religious beliefs.

    Sarah @ Life As Always

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  6. We're all converts. Whether we were born and raised in the church, or we joined later in life, we all have to go through our own conversion.

    I have a similar story to yours...I always felt a very strong connection with Heavenly Father growing up, but when my beliefs were challenged, I rebelled and started making choices that pushed the spirit away. I did this for so long that one day it occurred to me that I felt nothing when I thought about Heaven or prayed. I started to believe that there wasn't a God, because I couldn't feel Him anymore, but I still had memories of feeling the spirit long ago so that bothered me. I repented and started making better choices just to see if I could feel that connection again, and after I did that, I never doubted the church again. Now I can feel Him. He listens to every single prayer, and loves me deeply. I am so grateful that I know that for certain now.

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    1. Loved reading this Laynah! Someday maybe I will write an even more detailed post about my experiences. I have always said and believe that no matter strange, weird, beautiful or good the gospel may sound, you can't deny when you have felt the spirit. It is the only and true converter!

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  7. Love this! It is sad when people get picked on for things others don't understand.

    I would be interested to read more about the struggles you have had with your faith. The posts I've read are either they've questioned the religion and decided it wasn't for them and left your church or seem to not have any question whatsoever.

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    1. OOOOO maybe someday I will be brave enough!! haha

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  8. When we first moved into our house our neighbor asked Peter if we were LDS. He was dumbfounded as to why out of the blue she would ask him that. He went on and on about how we only have one kid and we don't own a minivan etc. etc. I had to point out to him that he was wearing a BYU shirt....duh!

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  9. Thanks for sharing. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for members who grew up LDS in another state other than Utah.
    I feel those members are way stronger because there are fewer surrounding them that are of the same faith!
    I'm sure you had to stand up for your faith way more than I did growing up. When we lived in DC I found myself talking more about being LDS. People always would want to talk about the Mormons (especially with Mitt Romney running for president at the time). It gave me opportunities to share my faith.... and it was scary! So thanks for always being open about being LDS.

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    1. There is a level of more opportunity to share the Gospel when everyone around you isn't a member, that is for sure! haha There are pros and cons to being raised in Utah and outside of Utah in regards to being a Mormon. Each is unique. However I do feel like you are pressured alot earlier about your religion outside of Utah! haha

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  10. This is probably one of my favorite posts you have ever done and I totally know what you are talking about! I think there are a lot of things Mormon kids are embarrassed about when it is totally normal. One of my favorite things about going to school in Utah was realizing how many people went through similar positive and negative experiences like I did and they were trying to learn the same stuff as me.

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  11. Love this post!! I became a Christian as adult, and I truly believe that it is important to ponder your faith....have it challenged and then choose it independently. Isn't it amazing how people make assumptions about religions? Good for you for sharing this!

    Carly
    www.lipglossandcrayons.com

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  12. we are all converts in the church. There comes a time when we stop going because we have to go to going for a reason. I love this :) thank you so much for sharing.

    www.ashologie.blogspot.com

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  13. I accepted Mormonism without question throughout my childhood because that is all I ever knew. As I got older, I started to see things differently as I learned more about our history and culture (outside of the white washed lessons we get at church). My biggest struggle with the church is the black and white dichotomy that so many members believe it to be. You either believe everything or you believe nothing at all. That dichotomy makes it so hard for people like me to feel like we belong. Because of this, I consider myself a very "middle way" mormon. I believe the gospel is 100% true but I pick and choose what I want to believe/support regarding the church and mormon culture. I see the church as an imperfect organization that has made mistakes in the past because of the influence of the natural man. The Gospel however, is perfect. I love being Mormon because of the family based principles we teach and because I am happy living my life in accordance to the commandments. I just think there are too many people who turn culture into doctrine and then judge others based off of that.

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    1. Loved this comment Jaimie! Some people can get really upset when they hear people say things like this but I couldn't agree more! It doesn't make the gospel "not true" if people have made mistakes. We have made mistakes, and we will make mistakes. And that is totally normal and going to happen. God has let us learn from our mistakes many times. My biggest issue with the Church is the culture that has developed. Like I said above, I believe that no matter strange, weird, beautiful or good the gospel may sound, you can't deny when you have felt the spirit. It is the only and true converter!

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  14. I don't think those problems are unique to being Mormon and I love this post

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    1. Not at all! That is what I love, almost every emotion and experience can be related to someone eles's. The shared human experience.

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  15. I love being Mormon. I was baptized when I was 19. It's not easy to be a member of our church. It's hard work and we are asked to do things that aren't always easy. I can't relate to your post 100 percent because I think being older I was "gung-ho" as they say. :) However, I can see where you're coming from and I most definetly think about my children and the experiences they will have. We talk with them all the time about this. That there will come a time when they will have to choose...really choose.

    That said, I've never been happier in my life. As a family novel we are reading "Stories from the Life of Joseph Smith." It was written for younger readers. It's been so great. I read everything I could get my hands on about Joseph Smith in the first few years of converting. I love to read about him.

    Alycia, there are literally hundreds of biographies written about Joseph Smith but there is one that I was fascinated by and I have a feeling you would really like it. It's called "Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling." It is a very objective book about his life, written by a member, but still the most objective piece I've read about him.

    The girl commented above about our culture. I agree with that too. It can be tricky sometimes. It's always a battle to keep our shoulders to the wheel and to keep our heads on straight. I always tell my kids, "you aren't better than anybody else just because you know your heavenly father and Jesus. And, most of us will end up with him having gotten there by many different paths. There isn't just one path, even when your a member of the church. There are simple principles, tools and doctrine that we believe but throw in the free agency and you've got your "many different paths." I seriously tell this to the kids, it's just the truth.

    It's good to put out there the truth in that we all struggle. Of course we do for Pete's Sake. And thankgoodness for the struggles, it's made me who I am. Much love to you,

    Shauna xo

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    1. Oops it's Shauna :).... but to be fair my husband would have said the same thing... :)

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    2. Thanks Shauna!!! I am going to look that Rough Stone Rolling up! Thanks for sharing :)

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  16. Thanks for this amazing post! There are still times that I struggle with certain aspects of our faith, but I just have to remind myself that I am not perfect, and neither is anyone in our church. It's hard work, but we know it'll be worth it!

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  17. What a beautiful testimony! I converted as well. There are really so many things I could say about why I love the church but honestly, I think I'd rather just mention how much I love the people in our church (everywhere)! Like you! Glad you posted this.

    Jonna http://southernfriedlove.blogspot.com
    (I'm a no reply blogger lol sorry)

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  18. love this, and I'm right there with you. I grew up in Dallas, smack dab in the Bible belt. I remember being told on multiple occasions that I was going to Hell, or people saying things around me to make me uncomfortable. And you are right on, I think it is important to experience all the different emotions about your religion. The important thing is to ask those questions, and seek out answers, and always seek your own understanding. That makes your conversion all the more powerful. Love this Alycia!

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  19. While I am Baptist and not Mormon, I can relate to a lot of what you've talked about in this post. My faith may not be as persecuted and judged as yours, but I have still questioned and struggled like you've described especially since there are many people whose views within my home Church I don't agree with. What keeps me going is knowing the life I have been called to and being steadfast in my purpose. With His love all things are possible.

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