Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Matters of Sharing our Religion

This is a post that has been clanging around in my head for quite some time, but was brought to the fore again this past weekend when we had Cyrus blessed at my church.  For those of you who are unaware, I converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon church) about three and a half years ago.  Jason did not join the church.  I may someday post my conversion story, but not now.

So, in our church, new babies are given a blessing and their names are recorded on church records.  It is kind of a similar process to a Christening, I think.  Anyway, Jason, being the supportive husband and father that he is, agreed to have Cy blessed.  The blessing was performed by a good family friend of ours.  We also decided to invite several of our family members, none of whom belong to the church.  In the end, we had Jason's dad, grandma, sister and her husband, one uncle and a cousin and my sister.

This was a nerve-wracking process for me, and I'll tell you why.  First of all, I think most people will probably agree that discussing religion can be kind of awkward - many people avoid it all together.  It becomes even more difficult if your religion is of the somewhat controversial variety - as Mormonism tends to be.  However, for most members of the church, their religion is such a significant factor in how they live their lives that is hard to avoid at least mentioning it.  And, since many people grow up in the religion, I think that being Mormon becomes a known fact and is not so difficult for people to talk about (if you are of this group, feel free to disagree with me if I am wrong).

For me, I not only did not grow up as a Mormon, but I went through a several-year period where I was vehemently against all organized religion (call it my rebellious college stage).  I not only did not want to belong to an organized religion, especially not one as regimented as Mormonism, but I held a pretty negative view of those who did.  The more "religious" the religion, the more negative my view.  I'm not proud of this judgemental stage in my life, but there it is.

So you can imagine that, when I converted to the church, family and friends who had known me for a long time were quite surprised and even shocked.  Some were down right confused.  And because of this, I have found it pretty difficult to discuss my religion openly with people I know - whether new friends or old, but especially old.  Over the past few years, I have reconnected with a few friends from college - remember, my rebellious, anti-religion days - and when it came out that I had joined the Mormon church, I was met with open-mouthed shock and some definite stammering.

Anyway, back to Sunday.  I was nervous about having so many members of Jason's family there.  I knew that everyone knew I was Mormon, but no one really talked about it.  And I didn't know what their views of the church or of me being a part of it were, either.  Add to that the stress that is was Fast and Testimony meeting.  For those who don't know, the first Sunday of the month is typically Fast Sunday, where members fast for two meals.  Then during Sacrament, instead of hearing talks, the time is opened up for members to share their testimonies - a kind of open-mic for the religious (I hope that's not blasphemous...)  Anyway, you kind of never know what you're going to get on Fast Sunday.  Sometimes people share really relevant stories and testimonies...other times, not so much.  Plus, the more people you have talking, the higher chance someone will say something that could offend a non-member.  My anxiety also came from whether or not I would bear my testimony.  On the one hand, I wanted to share my testimony because it was a really special day for our family; on the other hand, for someone who doesn't talk about her religion openly to people who aren't of her faith, sharing my testimony in front of so many family members was down-right terrifying.

In the end, I did share my testimony, and I'm glad I did.  I'm also glad that so many family members wanted to share in this day, even if it was as part of a religion that they may or may not agree with.  No one made any rude comments or remarks (not that I really expected them to) and there were some really good questions after the sacrament meeting about things like the process of the blessing, the meaning of the sacrament, and why we bear testimonies.

Have I totally gotten over my fear of sharing my beliefs? Definitely not.  However, I'm hoping that this experience will help me open up a little bit more and not be so worried about how other people will respond.  After all, my beliefs are a really big part of who I am and how I live.


Jason, Cyrus and I with our friend Bill (who performed the blessing)

5 comments:

  1. A very lovely post. Thanks for posting it. I can imagine how difficult it would be to share your convictions with those whom you love and those who also happen not to share them. I hope his blessing day went well.

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  2. AWWWW! how sweet! Love Cyrus's outfit. so great your families could be there- such a special day. brody cried...i mean screamed through the entire thing. hope cyrus was better. :)

    ok- i was laughing out loud about your previous post about buying the meat. so i went to the grocery store this week and was overcharged for some oranges. they were 3/$1.49 and i was charged $1.00 a piece. so i debated whether or not to make a stink about it because i only got 3, but then your post came to mind and i said"what would Amber do?" and then i gathered my gusto and went to customer service. my savings wasn't as amazing as yours, but hey, and extra $2.00 for laundry? i'll take it! thanks for the inspiration!!

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  3. I'm glad it all went so well. You express yourself well on this point and I'm so glad everyone was so positive and that you got a chance to share your testimony.

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