“Fitting In”

The idea posed was that being a Mormon must be incredibly hard to be a Mormon — lonely I guess — because you don’t really fit in with anyone. Hard-line Christians still view us as a cult, we don’t drink, we don’t smoke, we cover a heck of a lot of our bodies, we watch our language — we really don’t get to do anything “fun.”
I didn’t really have an answer for two reasons: 1) I’ve been incredibly lonely in the past, and 2) I don’t do a lot of the things that most people consider fun: I’ve been in a realtionship with the same man for 8-ish years, NEVER had sex with him, and it’s NOT for a lack of interest on either side!

Loneliness

I’m becoming convinced that loneliness is an attitude more than anything else — unless you are in solitary confinement or otherwise lacking regular human interaction. I have personally gotten to a point where I look forward to some alone time — I call it solitude. It gives me a chance to catch my breath, put my head on straight, and get ready to take on whatever is coming my way next.
Loneliness means that I am focusing on lack — the lack of attention from people around me, a lack of ability to fit in, a lack of social status, etc. By placing my attentions on what I lack, I actually create a bit of desperation that seems to drive others away.
When I find myself in a place where I recognize that I have a lot to offer people, I would prefer that they like me and seek out my company, but that they may not see or value what I think is great about me — that’s when I find that I am at ease around others, open to interacting, and making the friends that I have always felt I lacked. Does that mean I become a part of every facet of their life and that they just have to have me around all of the time? I certainly hope not! It means that I have an appropriate place in one area of the life, and usually that brings with it a respect of who I am and the values I cherish.

Being a “Cult”

The accusation that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are part of a cult that says they worship the Savior but are really being run by Satan has been around since the beginnings of the church. The Savior himself actually had similar accusations launched against him.
For some people who hold this idea, nothing will change their mind. I feel sadness that those who actually hold a lot in common will never be able to benefit from interacting with one another, but I respect them enough to let them be. Others are willing to have some social contact with me, and that is all I would ever ask. If you can’t see from the way I walk, talk, and behave that I follow Christ and take His teachings seriously, then I’ve got to repent and find a way to show my faith better.

Having Absolutely No Fun

Like beauty, fun is in the eye of the beholder. I laugh A LOT. I smile A LOT. I’m mostly content with where I am in life and like the things I have and do. No I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t color my language with expletives, and I won’t have sex with anyone that I’m not married to — according to the laws of the land and the tenets of my faith. That’s what leaves me so free to have so much fun!

What I should have asked my friend is what am I really missing out on? People who get drunk get incredibly stupid. I’ve been to work parties where people begin to get inebriated, and they mostly just get a little more obnoxious. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and loosens you up — true. And, without those inhibitions, people make choices that can cause major problems or even alter life forever. How many affairs have started because two people who had a mild interest in each other “loosened up” with some drinks? How many people die each year because drunks “who can handle it” get behind the wheel? How many days are wasted because someone was out partying the night before and woke up completely wasted, sick, and unable to function until nearly the late afternoon?

If I didn’t believe that sex was a divine gift, it would have been very easy for me to become engaged in “no attactment” relationships. What would that have done to my kids? How long would it have been before I was parading men through their lives so fast they couldn’t remember names? Would I have had multiple children by multiple men, or gone sterile (or worse) from the STDs I picked up? I would have needed to work hard to hide my lifestyle, because my ex was looking for any excuse he could find to get custody of the kids. I could have handed it to him on a platter. Even better, I could have left the kids feeling like my sexual exploits were more important to me than they were.

Sure, I may be weird. There may be gatherings where I’m not invited because people know I don’t fit in. (To be honest, it happens in my church, too, but it’s more of a economic thing. That’s what happens when imperfect people come together to try to live their faith: the imperfections sometimes show!) Some people may avoid me because I make them feel uncomfortable. It’s ok. I respect that. Once I learned to see all the good times I have with tons of wonderful people, I wasn’t lonely and I didn’t feel like a misfit anymore. Life got even better when I started reaching out to others and inviting them into my world.

What Is My Brand of Fun?

Good, clean stuff is my brand of fun — just last night I was with two other couples having game night. It was totally relaxing, and strengthened our friendships. We were up late, and had to face how old we’re getting. We just didn’t have any regrets this morning.

I love joking around with kids. When I can let enough of my adult self go to get back into their world, it’s amazing! Kids have endless imaginations, and sometimes the rules are that there are no rules. Kids love corny, kids love energy, and kids love having time spent on them. Totally fun for me.

I love running. For me, I managed to latch on to what gives me joy as I run. I love the feel of my body moving, the rhythm my strides make, the feel of the air in my lungs, and the pulse of my muscles working. I love being outside — I feel closer to God the more natural my surroundings. I love seeing the beauty of trees and flowers, creeks, and animal life. I love the way running clears my head and leaves me more energized for the day.

I love gardening. I like being out in the heat, working to help things grow and produce to their fullest potential. I love the smell of the dirt and the sound of the bugs in the trees nearby. I love learning new tricks and gaining understanding about the needs of individual vegetables and fruits. I also love enjoying and sharing the fruits of my labor.

In the end, I think maybe just being alive is fun. There is so much to love and do, so much that is good, so much to laugh off and so much to just enjoy. In some ways, I feel deeply sad for those who have to use chemicals or other things to bring excitement into their lives — they are missing so much!