This time of year I try to remind myself that I have so much to be grateful for. I am a generally healthy person with a sound mind, I basically won the lottery when I was born in America, I have a great family, I was privileged to a great education that has led to a good job. I have some really supportive friends who have stuck with me through this emotional journey and kept me from self destructing. I am an independent woman. I have many freedoms that many do not enjoy elsewhere in the world.
Even as much as I’ve struggled my whole life with religion, I’m trying to remind myself that despite what I disagree with or don’t understand in regards to the church or religion in general, there are many things my upbringing provided that I am deeply grateful for and wouldn’t trade for ANYTHING. In this season of Thanksgiving I want to highlight some of the things I’m grateful for that are a result of my LDS upbringing.
A Very Secure and Stable Home
I feel that this deserves to be at the top of my list. I am extremely fortunate to have been raised in a home as stable and loving as the one I was blessed to be born in. The LDS church emphasizes that the family as pretty much the most important thing in the whole wide universe. My parents are the ultimate example in my eyes of what marriage should be. They literally NEVER fight. I can only hope that I will end up with a marriage that is even half of what my parents have. The church teaches that families are forever, and they mean it in a literal sense. Not just a casual ‘I love you forever’ kind of way but in a you are SEALED together by the power of Almighty God for all time and eternity. Now, where I struggle is with the catch. That this promise is contingent upon obedience to God’s commandments. It’s hard for me to believe that God would really isolate the disobedient from their more obedient family members. However, my parents took their covenants with God seriously, and still do, because they want this promise fulfilled. The result was a very stable home, so no matter how I feel about the underlying doctrine, the result was a home filled with love and centered on morals and values. Which leads into the next thing on my list.
There’s Value in Values
I don’t think anyone who has even the tiniest bit of wisdom could argue against this. Values have value. Period. No matter what religion or philosophy, having a set of values to live by provides structure and consistency. Being taught to love and serve others, to apologize and forgive, to be humble and teachable, to respect your parents and elders, etc etc, all gave me structure and guidelines to take into a CRAZY world where all of the above is often tossed to the wind. The church is excellent at promoting stability in the mad world through sticking with a set of values. No matter where I am spiritually, when I eventually have children I am determined to raise my them with a strong set of values.
A Sense of Purpose
I was raised with a strong sense that this life mattered, that it all had a purpose. I knew where I was in the grand scheme of things. I knew where people went when they died. For a long time I didn’t have any fears about death or wondering what the point of all this was. I had the answers. I didn’t questions them. This provided me with a sense of security (albeit a somewhat sheltered sense). Sometimes I miss the simplicity of just accepting certain teachings without question, but alas, I grew up….although I’m glad I had it for a time. I still know I have purpose, it’s just my perspective has shifted some.
A Feeling of Belonging (most of the time)
Mormons are my peeps! Always will be. It is what I know best. Growing up in the church gave me a place with people that would always welcome me. I had loving leaders and friends I still treasure. Although I often struggled to fit in with or understand really orthodox mormons, I always found some of the less orthodox people to hang with. Those were my peeps! I have many great memories of some really great times!
I Have Agency!
At least I didn’t end up being born into some cult religion that has no doctrine of agency at all. One where you will do things their way or no way. At least I always had a choice. Even though there sometimes may be enormous social pressure and guilt tripping going on to try to keep you there, you still have your agency. It is a core doctrine of LDS theology, and I am grateful I always knew that in the end, everything I do is my choice and no one else’s. Because I learned about agency, I was able to use it to get where I am. I am grateful for this.
I will leave it at that for now, although there is much more I could say that I am grateful for. Hope everyone has a wonderful holidays!