When I first joined the Church, I did so with gusto. The exhilaration of finding long-yearned for answers- answers that did not disallow my own personal revelations, was almost narcotic. I still feel that way. For the most part.
My first Visiting Teacher was the Temple matriarch. My first Home Teacher was the Stake Patriarch. Sensitivity on the part of my bishop led to these stellar examples being a regular part of my life, and I was showered with the best examples of being Mormon. Framed temple pictures, photos of the prophets, Greg Olsen prints, the Proclamation and a dozen other symbols of my new faith were bestowed on me by kind ward members. Overwhelmed, I felt I had to display all of these things in order to be a “good Mormon” girl. All the other homes I visited had similar decorations; I must need them, right? I was grateful for the kindness of my new friends.
And yet… Somehow, these things were a like a tight shoe, slightly too small.
At first, I thought I was slipping in my new faith; what kind of woman would not be grateful for so much kindness? I wondered if I was cut out for this; maybe all the changes were just too much. I felt out of place and wondered if I could be a good Mormon and yet not embrace everything about the culture of Mormonism.
Now, four years later, I have my answer: Yes. My faith is still an imperfect animal; it wavers, it surges, it crests, and it subsides like the tide. But I stay with it, because time has shown me that changes are the norm- change is the constant, and that is part of being here on Earth. The coolest thing is, the roots of my little mustard seed, since they have grown on a moving, tumultuous vessel, are flexible and very strong.
I find that my testimony, though still not as vast and all-encompassing as some Saints, is indeed deep. The minutiae of Mormon life does not worry me or cause me pause- I don’t care if there are inconsistencies, glitches in history, imperfections or living rooms full of kitschy art. What I do know is this:
The Lord expects me to figure things out for myself. Studying, praying and listening for the whisperings of His spirit will never lead me wrong.
Had I subscribed to and confused the culture of Mormonism with the Faith of Mormonism, I would surely have fallen. It wouldn’t have taken long for the frosting to wear thin-I’d have found myself, like the Pharisees, praying on the street corner, and getting my just reward.
The church is not perfect, and if I had continued on in this faith believing it was, it would have undoubtedly led to a fall- disenchantment and disillusionment and eventually, disfellowship. Taking off the shoe that was too tight- stripping down the cultural accoutrements that felt contrived to me, actually forced me to find my own voice, my own faith, and grow into my own skin.
I can’t imagine a God who would want anything better for His daughter.