Wednesday, December 11, 2013
# 10: Your Family
If you're like me, you're whole family and extended family are Mormon. Your mother, your father, your brothers, your sisters, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins... they're Mormon Mormon Mormon Mormon Mormon Mormon and Mormon. So you should be Mormon, too. Just go along with it.
Staying LDS will be good for your family. And you love your family, don't you? And you want to make them happy? Of course you shouldn't do anything your family wants you to do, especially if your family is dysfunctional. My brother knew a guy who was pressured by his family to be a lawyer. He didn't want to be a lawyer, but his overbearing father was a lawyer, and his overbearing father paid for the guy's college tuition. So the guy suffered through law school for a few years until he eventually committed suicide. In this tragic case, the guy should have been able to tell his parents that he didn't want to become a lawyer. He should have had the courage to do something else with his life, something that made him happy. And his father should have been more accepting and loving.
So, you can't live your life for other people. To a certain extent, you need to find what makes you happy, and then do that.
But I think in our day and age there is too much emphasis on individuality, on "living your own life" and "finding out who you are" and self-exploration these days. Ex-Mormons often say that when they leave the Church they are "living authentically." I don't know what this means. True-believing Mormons, non-Mormons, ex-Mormons, and Mormons with non-traditional testimonies (sometimes called New Order Mormons) are all "living authentically."
The Savior was correct when he said, "Whosoever shall find his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life shall find it." If you lose yourself in the service of others, you will find your life. Your life will have more meaning and fulfillment if you serve others. And is it really that much of an effort to go along with the Mormon religion? You're already doing it. Why not just keep up your religious habits?
Is it really that much of an effort to attend baptisms and weddings of relatives, to read scriptures with family members, to participate in Family Home Evening? Think about what your involement in the Church means to other people. Does it make them happy? Does it serve them and help them? When you go home teaching or visiting teaching, do you bring with you good company, warm feelings, polite conversation, and a friendly smile? Sometimes that's all people need.
I've found it is much easier staying LDS when I put aside my own needs and look to serve others. And isn't that the essence of our religion anyway?
What happens if you stop being Mormon? In many cases, you lose your family. It's not right, but that's what happens. In some cases, your parents don't talk to you anymore, you're uninvited to family get-togethers, and you're shunned. Sometimes you get divorced. This is a shame. This is a tragedy.
And you never get another family. You never get another father or mother. It's best to make the best of the relationship you already have with your parents. You can't have new parents. And you need parents.
Your family wants you to stay LDS. If you keep participating in the Church, your relationship with your family will be better. If you leave the Church altogether and publicly renounce the religion, well, I hope you're prepared to leave your family behind. I hope you can find a group of friends that can act as a substitute family. That would be a difficult and lonely road to walk, a road that I do not wish to take.