Well, I'm doing a lot better. I sat down after going through that little incident during Halloween and I started reading 1st Nephi. I then began to realize what I was doing wrong...I was just as bad as Laman and Lemuel...murmuring against their God because of their afflictions. I had always drawn a similarity between the great Nephi and myself, considering myself valiant, perseverent, faithful, unmoving...but while I do posess these qualities, I have to admit that I'm no where near where I want to be. I have been acting more like Laman and Lemuel. It's a wonder I haven't been chastized as often as they were. Where is my faith when I sit there blaming God for what blessings I don't have in my life? Where is my gratitude for the Savior's gift to all when I sit there and think I deserve something more than another? These thoughts are not good, and they only bring frustration, uncertainty, and anger. I do not want dark things in my life, and if I hope to get anywhere and to receive the blessings I so dearly want, I have to be like unto Nephi and not his doubting brothers.
I don't know who reads these blogs I write. They are there for my own personal reasons, but I provide a link to them in case anyone might find something of worth in my ramblings. Who knows...someone going through a similar ordeal that I had gone through and recorded...or a family member wanting to 'catch up' with how I am doing. Granted, most people keep their diaries private and no one reads them until they have deceased, but I've thought about it, and decided that since I am such an open person and I am willing to admit to my mistakes and even broadcast them to the world...since I feel I have nothing to hide, and I do not care what people think about me or how odd they may find me...this is the reason I decided to put this on the internet (also because it's already archived and easy to print for future records). If anything I say can be of any help to at least one person, I will feel my decision justified and worth it.
I do not care what people think about me, and for this reason I've always done what I believed to be right rather than what my friends were doing, or what the "cool" people were doing. It wasn't always easy, because we naturally want to be accepted by our peers, but in the end I recognized a respect that others had for me for my choice. Friends might have teased and taunted a little, in good-natured fun, but they never thought less of me. That's the misconception so many people have...that if they do what's right, even if it's down the road less travelled, that the mockings and teasings they may get from friends is going to ruin their lives or friendships. The only way that happens is if you become judgmental and narrow-minded, and don't recognize the free agency that those around you have and are exercising.
I am intimidating, this I know. I scare some people because I have such resolute convictions and ideals. But trust me, there is nothing to be scared about. I am a great friend and I love the people I know for who they are....not for what they do. If I ever try and share my beliefs it is not because I am wanting to force anyone to believe as I do...it is because I care so much about everyone's happiness, and since I'm so excited about what has made me happy, I can only naturally want to share that with others! It can be intimidating but I am really a gentle sweetheart of a girl with a great big heart and a welcoming smile. I love meeting people and learning about them and from them on my quest to become a better person. I just wish some of them understood this and didn't think otherwise...there is no need to be intimidated or afraid. I really am a good person.
I am Mormon, and if anyone reading this is completely LOST when I speak of people such as Nephi, Laman and Lemuel...they are in the Book of Mormon. A great narrative about a family that left Jerusalem around 600 BC and came to the new world. It is a wonderful book full of writings of prophets, of the good and bad times, and of how the people of the new world (what we know today as indians, coined by Columbus' error) did in fact know God. That Jesus the Christ in fact came to the American continent as it is known today and visited His people, just as he visited his 12 apostles and his family in Jerusalem after being resurrected. He named 12 disciples here, on this very continent....this book is a wonderful testimony of the divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And the amazing thing is, the very things described in the book, such as the dream Lehi had about the tree of life, were indeed carved into their temples. This very carving was found much later, after Joseph Smith died, in Mexico. The fact that there are legends deep within the native people of Paraguay of a Lord who visited them and proclaimed the gospel to them. The fact that the measurement system mentioned in the Book of Mormon is still used by the Mayans today. I know this book is true because I asked my Heavenly Father about it. I did as he told us in James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." The Holy Bible, a book which all Christians believe to be holy scripture, tells us that we can ask God ourselves if what we are taught is true! It doesn't matter what religion you are, or if you belong to any religion at all. It doesn't matter what station you have in life, what good or bad things you have done. It says "he giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." I marvel that this very gift and promise is given to ALL MANKIND...and anyone who has access to a Bible can read this. Anyone, anyone at all who has a question about God, or about their own divinity, about why they are here, where to find answers, what is true and what is not...any of these questions will be answered! Isn't that a marvelous gift and promise? But I used this very gift, and I asked. I asked when I was 14 years old, after finishing reading the book for the first time. And I received an answer.
This is why I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love it because the first thing we are encouraged to do is find out for ourselves. No man can make you believe anything. No one can make you do anything. The missionaries themselves, who are out there trying to share the gospel with the world, who are spat upon, sworn at, and threatened every day...they are the first to admit that it is not they who can change anyone. They are doing the Lord's work and if anyone finds answers to questions through the help of missionaries, then they are just instruments in the Lord's hands.
We are as far from a cult as can possibly be. In fact, I think we are farther from the definition of the word than most "accepted" religions. We are not told that we cannot know the mysteries of God (although obviously we can't know all of them in this lifetime...there are too many). We are not told to just listen to our preachers. We are not told that prophets no longer exist today (why then, would the Lord bless the world with prophets in the ancient days but not today? Does that make any sense?) We are not told that we will go to hell if we do not believe. We are not told that God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one personage (does that make any sense? Why then would Jesus pray unto himself in the garden of Gethsamanee?) We are not told that we hold the burden of Adam's sin. We are responsible for ourselves. And going along with that, we believe that Adam and Eve did exactly what they had to do "So men might be". The Lord had to give them a commandment so that they would make the first choice...to either follow it or to not. But in the state they were in, while in Eden, they did not know right from wrong. They would have remained the same and never had children, and we never would have even been born. By giving them that first choice, our gift of free agency was born. We are not told that marriage is "for as long as you both shall live." Anyone who truly loves their wife or husband, and children, would not be able to bear the thought of that holy bond of family ending at death. And the truth is...it doesn't. Families are forever. Our marriages are done in our beautiful, simple holy temples, where we are sealed, through the Authority that God has given, to be married for eternity. That our children will be sealed to us for eternity. That we WILL be together forever someday. Isn't that most beautiful and wonderful promise? And it's true! Anyway, our religion also doesn't change to conform to society.....or to keep up "with the times". God has plainly stated in the scriptures that he is the same "yesterday, today and forever". Then so would his gospel be.
Many people have asked me how I could live such a life. That I was not free, because I followed all these strict rules, such as no drinking, no smoking, no sex before marriage, no this and no that. I just smile and am not sure what to say to them. It isn't that difficult. Sometimes it CAN be, granted, but life has always presented challenges for us to deal with. That is what LIFE is. But what few seem to understand is that for the most part, I am simply following the 10 commandments. I am also following a way of life that leads to peace, prosperity, and joy. So I can't get drunk and let my inhibitions free for one night a week. Well first of all, I CAN, but I won't. It's not that alcohol is bad, but it is so easily abused and so much sorrow comes from the abuse of it. Our church doesn't tell us to not drink alcohol because it's BAD. They urge us not to because of what misery it has brought to billions of people. Sure, you could be one person who can handle your liquor...someone who drinks only on special occasions...and that's great. But very few people seem to be able to drink in moderation. And besides, why even play with fire? It doesn't make my life any worse just because I don't touch alcohol. It doesn't mean I enjoy life less. I actually feel that I am freer than most, because 24-7, I am in complete control of my mind. I have nothing else to blame. Same with tobacco and drugs, or anything addictive. Why let a habit control you? That's ridiculous. Mormons are actually quite masters of the mind, we have excellent self control. We make mistakes and we flub sometimes, and sometimes we might even do something quite dreadful. But the fact that we are trying to make our lives and the lives of the people we care about better...this brings an unexpected freedom that few can understand.
The same goes for sexual relations. I'm told I'm missing out. I've heard a million excuses, "well, your sex life is important. If I wait until marriage, what if my husband and I aren't compatible sexually?" Seriously, folks, that is your decision. But be mature about it and just be honest...you don't have to make excuses. You want to participate in it and that's it. You're human, we all are. Those feelings and desires are natural and God-given gifts. I just believe, along with most people in my church, that sexual activity has been reserved for within the bonds of holy matrimony. If you think about the real purpose of sex, it is to produce offspring. Think of animals...they don't do it because they get pleasure out of it, they do it because its their nature. It's the same with us, except we have that gift of experiencing pleasure along with it. I personally think that gift was given to us also to be a trial and a challenge, to see if we could recognize the sacredness of this beautiful bond between a man and a woman, and see how we treat it. Sex is the greatest power we posess...by using this power we can create another human being! Science perhaps can tell us all the mechanics of it, how it happens biologically...but what they can't tell us is why. Why does the sperm and the egg fuse together to create an embryo? The answers to these questions have been with us for as long as mankind has walked the earth, but few will recognize it.
You know, sometimes it also comes down to obedience. Being obedient does not prohibit us from enjoying life. But naturally, we are rebellious. We don't want to be told what to do. We want to explore and experience life in a way that gives us the greatest pleasure, in a way that is to what we perceive to be our greatest advantage. You know what? Fine. But I seriously get a kick out of it when people tell me that I am inhibited. That I don't understand life. That I am weak because I need a religion to tell me what to do, or to make sense of things. When in fact, I'm the opposite of everything they tell me I am. I don't need a religion to tell me anything, because I went to the source Himself and asked what to do. The fact that the LDS church was the instrument in guiding me to those answers IS the key here. That church is true...it has to be, because its teachings are the same as the answers I have gotten from God himself. The same answers that God will give any human being who asks humbly and with earnest. It's not about me thinking I'm superior, or that my church is better than another church....it is sooo not that. You have to think at a different level to even begin to understand. But being a member of my church has brought me the greatest joy I could ever experience in life. It has guided me to finding the answers to my questions. It brings the Spirit to me, that witnesses to me every day the beautiful truth of life. My prayers and my faith have healed me physically. I have seen others miraculously healed. I have been saved from grave danger because of it. I have been protected and preserved. Those who say it is the foolish imaginations of men to believe in a God are only fooling themselves. It takes a strong, faithful person to get through this life and all the trials and suffering that comes with it...yet someone who can get through and still help others and serve others and most importantly, LOVE others while suffering so. It takes complete faith to believe you really WILL see your deceased parents again someday. The cop-out is those who believe they turn to dust and that is it. Oh, what an easy explanation of life and death, LOL. But what is the struggle on this earth for then? If all we did was live and die, why not live in a state of pure ecstasy? Why would we have all the sorrow and grief that this life offers? Why even bother being a 'better' person? Why even bother loving and helping others? What would be the point??
So if you do conclude that there is a God, you would want to understand why He created you. (By the way, we believe God is our Father quite literally, and that he has a body...he's not some floating thing up in never-never land...and he's not to be feared...he LOVES us and wants us to return). If He is, in fact, your Father, you would at least expect he has expectations for you, such as your eartly parents (or surrogate parents) have done. It's your job to find out what those expectations are. And unfortunately, so many don't want to hear those expectations, they think it's too hard, so it's easier for them to just deny the existence of God than to actually follow His plan for each of us. It is soo easy to forget about Him and to just go on in life, doing whatever we want. But why, then, do we have a conscience (aka, the Holy Ghost)? If we were honest with ourselves and asked ourselves about what we are doing...we would know the answer and whether it was right or wrong...without ever having to step inside a church. All those answers are attainable for anyone looking! But it's too damn easy to just bury that inside and ignore it..especially when it's contrary to our own will and pride. I've done it myself...it's unfortunately way too easy to ignore that prompting to stop what I am doing because it's wrong. Unfortunately, Satan has a a deep grip on all of us, and if we allow him, he will confuse us and bewilder us and even pretend to be what he isn't. (Another side note, we believe that Satan, aka Lucifer, our brother, was with us and our Eldest brother Jesus Christ, along with our Heavenly parents in the prexistence. Two plans were presented before God...Christ's plan was to allow us to all have free agency and choose for ourselves on this Earth..but by allowing that we would all commit sin and therefore we would need a Redeemer, which He was. Lucifer's plan was to force mankind to always do right..and therefore we'd all return to our Heavenly Father, unlike Christ's plan. However, with Lucifer's plan, we wouldnt' return, because we would have not grown or experienced anything. Without choice there is nothing. We wouldn't know joy from pain, good from evil, life from death,...there must be opposiiton in all things and with Christ's plan we had agency..and it was up to us, with the help of his Atoning Sacrifice, to return). He has a role in all of this too...and he wants us to be miserable like he is. He will do anything he can to persuade us to veer off the path that God would like us to follow.
Ok, it looks like I summed up a lot of what I believe. If anyone has read this, you might be thinking I'm completely off my rocker. Well, that's your agency to believe that. But let me just end with this: I KNOW that this is all true. Again, not because I'm superior...but because I exercised the gift that God has given all of us..to ask. I belong to my church out of my own choosing, because it teaches good principles and encourages us to continually ask our Father in Heaven what is right and what is wrong. I asked about this Church, and this is the Church that was restored from Christ's original church on this earth. This is the Church that has the truth and the answers...the church that wants to be an instrument in the lives of every brother and sister on this Earth. Great peace and happiness is promised...not by the Church, but by God, to us individually. And I am so grateful for that! I'm so grateful to have the knowledge I do, and I just wish everyone I knew and loved had it too! To experience the true freedom that comes from doing what is right! It is an unbelievable feeling and to be able to understand life to the best of our capabilities (which are limited, of course)...to understand someday we too can be Gods and Goddesses of our own universes...to understand the great simplicity that lies in this Great Plan...the simplicity that mankind has corrupted and tried to destroy through the power of Satan himself...it is just such an awesome thing to know! It's so great to know there is a living prophet today who talks with God! Who is a good and humble man, not seeking power or prosperity! It is so great to know revelation is still available to men! I am bearing my testimony, and I don't care if many of you think I'm nuts, because I know it's true. I know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know it more than I know that my mother loves me. I know it and I would die for this knowledge rather than deny it. And that knowledge is such an exquisite gift, one that works so gracefully with our greatest gift, namely, the Atonment of Jesus the Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, brother and friend.