Let me start by saying that there are many aspects of Latter-day Saint culture that I love. Hence, why I wrote this article:
HOWEVER, there are also many things we could do away with. This time, I went to my friends and family for ideas. You’d be reading forever if I included everything they said, so here are the points I decided are most troublesome and prominent in our culture.
There’s a lot to unpack here. I’ll only brush the surface.
Have you ever heard of and/or felt the ticking of the “Mormon Clock”? You see, in our culture, dating can be a little… Rushed. You meet, you know, you marry (all before the age of 20, I might add). But for those of us who don’t follow this timeline, there can be a whole lot of issues.
If you have followed this timeline, I do my best not to judge you as you should do your best not to judge me (or people like me). Just because someone is well into their 20’s or 30’s without even so much as a date this Saturday doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them. It doesn’t mean they aren’t following the Prophet’s counsel to find a spouse or begin families of their own. It simply means they are on the Lord’s timetable, not yours (or theirs, quite frankly).
Can I give some advice to you people in the home ward? Don’t ask if we have a special someone yet. Don’t check our left hand for a ring. Ask about our lives OUTSIDE of dating. We’re already more frustrated about it than you know.
Can I also give some advice to you people in the YSA wards? Don’t make it weird, just make friends. Things that progress naturally from friendship are easiest, anyway (says the girl who only gets dates from apps, lol). Relax and have fun. The Lord’s not in a rush, you are.
The “I love trials” mentality
Um, can I just say that you’re crazy if you’ve ever thought this? Trials are not fun. Trials suck. And guess what? It’s okay to feel that way about them. It’s okay if you can’t see the silver lining right now. Can you be thankful for your trials? Sure. But usually, that comes after the fact.
There was a talk given in General Conference that included a story about the death of a parent. I haven’t been able to find this talk since, but I distinctly remember the speaker saying they (or whoever the story was about) didn’t shed a tear at the funeral because of their knowledge and faith in the Plan of Salvation.
If that truly is the case with you—that you don’t shed a tear during your trials because of your exceedingly strong faith—well, good on ya! BUT, if you’re the one sobbing uncontrollably instead, that’s perfectly acceptable, too. It doesn’t make you a faithless person; it simply makes you human.
Can we completely erase the idea we have of the “perfect” missionary? The perfect missionary does not baptize tons of people, nor do they keep the mission rules to a T. The perfect missionary is one whose sacrifice is accepted of God and lets Him use the Atonement to change their heart.
And can we please delete the thought that if someone didn’t serve a mission, they’re somehow lesser or not as “seasoned” in the gospel? You have no idea what they’ve been through to become who they are. Some of us need missions, it’s true. But God has other ways of changing hearts and bringing His children back to the fold.
If someone tells you they didn’t serve a mission, don’t give them a pitiful look or say, “Oh, that’s okay.” It’s nothing to be apologized for. Ask about other aspects of their life. What goals they’ve accomplished, what they’ve learned, what life-changing experiences they’ve had.
The truth is anyone who gave any part of their life—whether it be 2 years or 2 weeks—to serving the Lord as a full-time missionary should be given some credit. And anyone who didn’t serve, but remained faithful to Lord, should be given credit as well. We’re all on different, personalized paths, just trying to make it to the same place: Home.
God doesn’t care how we get there, as long as we do, eventually.
Caring too much about appearances
There are a couple of different things I want to say about this. One pertains to our physical appearance, while the other relates to moral appearances.
For some reason, especially with the growth in social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, there is a lot of pressure on wives and mothers to have a picture-perfect home. As someone who LOVES interior design, I understand this completely. It feels good to live in a clean, stylish place.
However, when money is tight and you have little rascals running around the house, this can become an unnecessary pressure. It’s important in those times to focus on what goes on inside the home, rather than what material things are there (or not there, if your kids like to drop things wherever the heck they feel like it).
If it makes you happy, decorate. But only within your means. The Relief Society is having an activity in your home? Clean it. But don’t kill yourself over the details. They should understand better than anyone that houses are meant to be lived in, not looked at.
The same goes for your body. Live in it more than you look at it or worry about others looking at it. It’s true when you look your best, you feel your best. But that’s why it’s called your BEST—because you don’t look that good all the time.
Please, for the love of yourself, do your best to find the difference between self-care and self-obsession.
Okay, so how should we approach our “moral appearance”? I find it ironic that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we’re so caught up in looking like saints when it’s obvious we’re all sinners in need of rescue.
We all struggle with different sins. Just because Sally across the street is perfect at studying her scriptures every day doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be. Is it something you should work on? Of course. But this isn’t a “fake it ‘til you make it” gospel. This is a “we all struggle but have different strengths, so let’s do this together” kind of gospel.
Please, just be real about life, about your challenges, and your doubts. You never know who it could help and what kind of help/support you could get from doing so. In our culture, “real” people are so refreshing! Think of the Church as an addiction recovery program, not a beauty pageant.
There’s only one “right way”
The last point I would like to make is that there is not one correct way to live your life. Everything mentioned above stems from the false mentality that everyone on this earth was meant to get baptized, become a conservative Latter-day Saint, and serve in church leadership callings until Christ comes again. This is NOT the case.
Not everyone was meant to get baptized in this life. Important historical figures such as Mother Theresa and C.S. Lewis never would have accomplished the feats they did if they had joined the Church.
Mother Theresa would not have had connections within the Catholic Church to minister to the sick and needy as she did. C.S. Lewis would not have been an inspiration of truth to many different Christian denominations. God needs some of His best warriors on the outside— “behind enemy lines” if you will.
His plan is so individually tailored for each son and daughter that you really can’t look at anyone else’s life and tell them it’s wrong. Just love and trust His purpose/timing.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there ultimately needs to be less judgment within the Church. I admit that I am guilty myself of a few things mentioned above, but I’ve come to realize that as long as I’m right with God and love my neighbor, that’s all I really need.