Saturday, May 31, 2014

reach out

Sometimes I write a blog post, publish it, and run, trying my darnedest to catch up with life for the rest of the day, unable to check emails until that night or the next morning.  Sometimes I'll be surprised with the string of comments people come up with in conjunction with blog posts.  Some great questions, things I wish I could sit down and respond to right then.  Sometimes I'll have a minute to jump in and clarify things.  Other times I'll try to respond in a Q & A.  More often, other readers will jump in and give better answers than I can (thank you, dear readers :)

This morning was one of those mornings I checked and found some good religious questions.  I made time to answer, but my comment got so long that it wouldn't publish.

Whoops!

So I'm posting my answer here, just because sometimes it's good to clarify some things.  Especially about my religion.

Keep in mind this is not over thought-out, just put together as a comment before I run help my kids with their Saturday jobs.  But I figured it was worth making into a post because I have realized, more often than not, that my Mormon religion gets misconstrued sometimes.  And I want to put in my two-cents.

Here you go:

Oh my heavens, I'm not sure where the comment is that LDS kids can't hang out with non LDS.  I must have missed that?  

I think one of the very core beliefs of our religion is to love and associate with everyone regardless of any religious beliefs.  And that we are all children of God.  Sure, we should surround ourselves with goodness, but we are all different and learning from those who are different from us is, at least in my mind, essential to grow up well-adjusted and happy.  If we shelter ourselves and try to hang out only with those of our own faith what kind of life would that be?  I doubt our minds would be open to all the goodness that lies around us, in and out of religion.  One of my very best friends in all the world is Catholic.  Oh boy I am so grateful for the goodness she and her family have brought to my life through their example (love you Claudia :).  We've all been raised in completely different ways.  We all have different backgrounds.  We can learn an incredible amount from people who think differently than we do.  

Now, that is not to say that we should surround ourselves with drug dealers (ha!)  And teenagers are, of course, very impressionable.  We should choose our friends well.  But that doesnt' mean they have to be LDS.  We should love everyone and realize that everyone has a different path in this life of ours.  I have come in contact lately, for one reason or another, with some people from very diverse backgrounds.  I am so grateful for the perspective they have given me first of all that there are SO many people out there trying their best with what they have been given, and second, it has made me so grateful for the guidance that the gospel we live has given our family.  I'm so grateful for the standards we have been taught from the time we were young.  I'm so grateful to have so much help in raising my children to be good and loving and contributing members of society.  There are so many people who are muddling through this world of ours struggling trying their best to do what's good and right but they have no framework.  They know in their hearts what is good, but they have never had an example.  Never had a parent with a steady job.  Never been taught that it doesn't bring happiness to steal and cheat through life.  They have no examples.  What are their chances in life?  It makes me sad. 

Ok, I could go on tangents on this topic all day.  

To sum up this little string of tangents, In my mind, the only drawback where we live is that there isn't a lot of diversity.  There are a lot of LDS kids which I love.  There are so many amazing LDS families that I learn from and look up to with all my heart and I'm SO grateful my kids associate with their kids.  But it's easy to get closed off from the rest of the world when there are so many people in your same religion surrounding you.  I'm sure it's that way with ANY religion.  It's easy for kids to think that this is the only way of life which of course it's not.  I am so grateful for my kids' friends.  Some of their non-LDS friends have better standards and make better choices than the LDS ones.  There are so many great kids out there trying to muddle through life and being a teenager is tough.  Just because some kids go to church every week doesn't mean they will make the best decisions.  Teenagers are all trying to figure it out.  We encourage our kids to hang out with kids who make them want to be better, not just in our religion.  But we also talk with them a lot about the kids who aren't making good choices (in and out of the church) who may need a leader.  We try to go through scenarios where someone is making a bad choice.  We talk about what they would do in that situation.  We try to get them ready.  Because bad stuff happens.  And our world needs leaders.  

I am hoping to attend church with some of our non-lds friends at some point.  I want these kids of mine to know that there are tons of religions that are doing their best just as we are. It's all part of life.  We just need to do the best we can.

But boy howdy, all this talk does make me so grateful for the framework of living that my church gives me.  Makes me so happy.  How I hope my children will feel that same happiness and let the gospel we live bring them the joy it has to me.  I hope they will realize that people in and out of our church make mistakes. Leaders make mistakes.  We are all human.  But that we have a Savior who made it possible to overcome all that.  If we remember that, life is oh so good. 

I hope that my children will know, as my parents so beautifully taught me, that the LDS gospel is all about love.  Not judgement.  Each week as we go to church we are reminded of that.  And at the center of it all is Jesus Christ who we should try to be like if ever there is ever a question.  I hope they will realize that He loves us and is cheering for us no matter what happens, no matter what mistakes or what rivers of sorrow come our way.  If we can always cling to the centerpiece of the gospel, the Atonement, then life just makes sense.  And glows with beauty.

I'm obviously so very grateful for my religion.  For more on that read this post back here: http://www.71toes.com/2012/08/conversion-and-love.html

11 comments:

  1. Very well put Shawni. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about love, forgiveness, compassion, inclusion. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Some of my very best and dearest friends are people who are not of the same faith as me. They have taught me so much about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also teach my children to associate with people who help them to be better and strive to do what is right, regardless if they are LDS or not. I also teach them to be kind to everyone and include all and be an example to those who might need a little extra help.

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  2. Hi Shawni,
    Thank you for this. I've been really worried that my comments had upset you or anyone else, I didn't mean them to.

    Thank you for your great example.

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  3. Makes me proud, as all your posts to, to be your Dad!
    And might I just say that you are doing a better job at all of this, and at parenting in general than we ever did. So great to see you and Dave as "new, improved versions."

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  4. Thanks for all your explanations. I think there are probably a lot of misconceptions about Mormons as well as probably other religions too.

    It sure is hard though...isn't it? The other day I was talking with my 13 year old son about good friend choices and while I want him to stay away from certain kids (those who I think may be a bad influence etc.), I also feel like those are the kids that need a friend!! Choose good friends but also show compassion to others who behavior you may not approve of. I am finding that hard to teach and hard to think about my kiddos interacting with "bad" kids :}

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  5. Now please help us know how and what conversation helps to have with out kids!

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  6. I have randomly wandered to your blog and read this and just had to comment. My best friend growing up was Mormon (it is her blog that starting the wandering that lead to your blog) and I am reformed Jewish. Both of us were in the religious minority growing up in an area that most kids had no religion. Although many of our friends had no religion beyond "Christmas and Easter", we had great friendships with them. However, it was really nice to have each other, especially between the ages of 16-18 when our other friends would really push us on our beliefs. They were pretty respectful of our moral lines but really pushed us on our beliefs. It really helped us to have each other to talk about having a belief in G-d and how to handle the questions. Basically I just wanted to say that when your kids find themselves in a place where they might not have any one else of their religion around, let them know that having someone who has faith, even though it is not the same faith as theirs, can be really helpful when you feeling all alone. We now live half-a-world away from each other but stay in touch and are raising our families in our respective faiths and find things to talk about all the time.

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  7. I am Catholic, and a few of my best friends are Mormon. My Catholic daughter attends the Mormon teen dances on Saturdays and loves them! (she calls herself half Mormon) You are correct. It is about finding people with like minded values and morals no matter their religion or background. We attended the Mormon Easter play last year and they are going to be present at my daughter's Confirmation. There truly is not a Mormon cult;) Thanks Shani! When I have bad parenting days, I come to your blog for inspiration from past posts.

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  8. I appreciate you clarifying this. I enjoy reading your blog, but always wondered if you and your family only associated with people who are Mormon and Caucasian.

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  9. Thank you so much!! I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints too, and I feel the same way. I so often find myself appreciating other faiths for their goodness and contributions around me! I have long felt a kinship to Catholic friends who are also poked fun at for their large families and their love of family. Thank you for recognizing how hard we all have to try to raise good children (in and out of our faith!)

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  10. Hi Shawni,

    I so love your blog.

    Do you have contact information that you share? I have a question to ask you about speaking in Utah, but can't find any contact info on your blog.

    Would you mind sending it to me at jwboysrus5@gmail.com or you can just link this photo and leave it in a comment on my blog. I won't publish the comment.

    I would greatly appreciate it!

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  11. Love this shawn. Just getting caught up on your blog. I love what you're doing here. You are my hero.

    Love from all the Boston Shumways

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