Thursday, September 25, 2008

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints..

I was talking with my little sister today. We were talking and talking.. Just having a good conversation and we started discussing "Utah Mormons." It was a short discussion but it has pushed me over the edge! (don't worry in a good way!!) I can no longer keep this thought/idea in my head. So I'm going to share it..

Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a talk (click here for entire talk) in December 2007... I am going to obey. He says, "There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time."
He then asks the Members of the Church to join the conversation..

So... Here I am joining the conversation. Lately I've been thinking about some stuff.. And the last line that I quoted (the red words) have really been on my mind.

In the past few years I have heard the comment, "Utah Mormons." It has ALWAYS bugged me.
When I was in high school I had a good friend that moved to Utah and he became more inactive and started doing a lot of things against what the church teaches. Due to the fact he moved we grew apart. I wasn't that into email and such neither was he.. I then moved to Utah myself. A few weeks before I moved back to Washington he happened to walk into the Denny's I was at. He had to wait for his to-go order so he sat down and we talked. We decided we needed to keep in touch more often and began emailing each other. In one of the emails he wrote (along the lines of) "if I hadn't moved to Utah I would be active." This really started a fire in me that has continued to burn.

In these last few months I've had more experience with this comment and cannot be silent anymore.

What comes to your mind when you hear, "Utah Mormons." I know a lot of the people whom read my sites are mormons. And yes, there is an inside stereotype of "Utah Mormons." It's fun to joke about to most people and so on. But have you ever stopped to think about what the term "Utah Mormons" means to none members. Have you ever thought about the confusion we as members are sending with people whom we don't think are listening. Lets stop it! Why? When people associate our church many associate it with Utah. If we, as members, are saying bad things about "Utah Mormons," we are teaching others that our church that our church is bad.

I have known to many people that have used the excuse of living in Utah and being around "Utah Mormons" to leave the church. Let's stop it. Let's kill that phrase. Let's come together as a Church and show that we are united. Put aside the jokes, the negative comments, and anything that will give a negative feeling about the church.

I just am tired of hearing it as an excuse to be inactive or leave the church. I know, people are going to be inactive or leave either way. But why assist them in leaving? The other night at a Girl's Night Out, I was talking with some women in my ward who love going out and doing their visiting teaching. I however suck at doing mine. The women their gave me all the excuses I needed to get out of visiting teaching.. "you have two little kids" "your husband works weird hours".. etc. etc. etc. Honestly I almost felt justified in not doing my visiting teaching. I could have gotten away with never doing my V.T. again. :-) But I was fast to respond with the truth.. "I just am not perfect at it. I have no excuses I'm just not perfected in that aspect of my life now."
I bring up this story because if we put aside the excuses we might actually find ourselves helping others to realize why they are really leaving the church. Things like "well i started smoking and drinking and I'm not ready to give those things up." or "i've never actually tried to find out for myself what really is true.." The reasons that are the truth. And once we know the complete truth we will be able to assist members and non-members better in helping them learn more about the gospel.

Soo.. After I have written this.. Hopefully it is understandable.. If you're still reading this.. I urge you, I plead with you, I beg you, whatever it takes... Please stop using the term "Utah Mormon" and other terms that will help make excuses and limit the truth. Honestly I feel EXTREMELY passionate about this. Let's drop the missinforming and unite and strengthen the church and strengthen the missionary effort.

Okay.. Thanks for letting me vent. Truly, it's been something on my mind a lot lately and I was about to burst!


Youngbergs said...

Go Melissa! You made some really good points. It gave me something to think about. . .

Kaitlyn said...

I have been meaning to comment on this post, i will soon.... probably tomorrow during blaine's nap ;)

Kaitlyn said...

I really enjoyed reading this post... sorry it took me so long to reply.

I think that you brought up a good point that everything that we say (especially as members) contributes to the overall feeling of others about the church. That we are responsible for the image of the church and members that we put out there for the world.

I know that i am guilty of using the term Utah mormons. I do feel as though the term would not be out there if there wasn't some evidence to back that up in some way or another. I have a lot of family that lives in Utah, the majority of which are not members. They have had a difficult time fitting in there when they were in high school, etc. Because they were not members, those who were members didn't want to be friends with them, etc. I have also been in a relief society in Utah where one lady was talking about how she "lets" her daughter play with a non-member but only at their house.

I guess what I am trying to say is that in some clusters of "Utah Mormons" there is a certain naivete and close-mindedness. This is not to say that everyone that lives in Utah is this way, etc. There also seems to be more mormons in utah that don't live the standards of the church than other places (although perhaps that is because there are more mormons there it seems like there are more- a ratio thing),

ANYWAY, this post got me thinking that regardless, I shouldn't talk about Utah Mormons for the reasons that you stated. I am definitely one of the guilty. I am, however, grateful that i had the opportunity to grow where being Mormon is different and i think that it made me stronger because of the fact that I had to choose this for myself more so than i think i would have if "everybody was doing it."

Anyway, that is quite the earful for a blog comment. You just really got my brain going. :)