I’ve been thinking a lot about why I live my life the way I do. After all, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t easy. For instance, this is “conference weekend,” which means that I will be spending eight hours over two days watching people give short sermons over the internet. I’m one of millions who will be doing it — voluntarily.
As a general rule, a “Mormon” (the common nickname for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) won’t drink or smoke, will only have sex with their spouse (which is totally interesting when you’ve been single for 15 years), and won’t even join you for a cup of coffee or tea. Sundays are set aside as a day to worship, and most “Mormons” refuse to shop, attend sporting events, and other common activities. Then, there are service “projects,” mid-week activities, and serving in a “calling” (filling a position in the local congregation).
Personally, I’ve waited about eight years to be married to my sweetheart, because I can’t settle for less than a temple wedding.
Choosing to be a Latter-day Saint means socially awkward moments at best, and sometimes outright ridicule.
What would draw someone to a church that expects so much and makes you so “weird” compared to everyone else?
I can’t totally speak for everyone else — there are members of the LDS church who just want friends who are committed to being good, and they put on a good face to be accepted. For me, however, it runs so much deeper — right down to the center of my soul.
I’ve received a witness from the Holy Spirit that the things I believe are true. How do I know it’s the Holy Spirit and not something that I’ve made up? I can’t totally explain anymore than I can describe to you how salt tastes — but, just like salt, once you’ve felt it, you understand, too.
The Holy Spirit speaks truth to the heart and the mind. The exact “feeling” (it’s more than a feeling, though) is a little different from person to person, but there’s usually a sense of warm certainty, even when the message is a warning. More importantly, there are tests that can be put into place.
For instance, we have a “law of tithing.” Our part is to give 10% of our increase back to God. His part is to pour out blessings. I have seen it work — every time. Sometimes it get really close — especially when my kids were little and I was newly divorced. There were months when I couldn’t explain how I had enough money to take care of the bills, buy food, and pay for school and babysitting, but the money was there. Miracles happened when I went shopping and I was able to find items a lot cheaper than I expected. Things always worked out.
Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will send me an impression that I need to step up and do something for someone. When I have followed those promptings, I have generally been right. In the process, I have been led to information I needed for different aspects of my life. I have grown mentally and emotionally stronger than I could have ever become on my own. As I have grown, my ability to be kind and compassionate has increased. I am better than I ever had the ability to become under my own power and intelligence.
These experiences have confirmed what I started out hoping and believing — I am a devoted, committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a disciple of Christ because of one thing:
I know it’s true.