Are you happy?

June 20, 2012

The past three years of my life have been the biggest roller coaster when it comes to me and my relationship with the church of Jesus Christ of later day saints…. I want to tell you most about the past six months but first let me recap my  history. I was born into the church and raised to be the star pupil of any Sunday school. I was raised in the kind of household that I’m sure many of the readers of this blog are familiar with. I have very kind loving parents but all to often the church routine meeting style was reflected in all family gatherings. For an adolescent young man It’s the kind of thing that turns what is supposed to be a nice family get together into just another boring meeting to be endured in order to earn some freedom to spend time with my non Mormon friends. All through high school and  into my freshman year of college I was always the Mormon kid in the group. The kind of kid who would go to parties but wouldn’t drink, the one who would talk about sex watch porn regularly but still somehow maintained his virginity, I was a classic line treader scared to death of breaking the rules but sure did love getting close. Come to think of it  back then I was even a bit of a jerk. I really enjoyed putting others down.  To me just re reading over this I see that i had the classic symptoms of an insecure bully. Deep down inside I was never truly happy I was always beating the crap out of my insides about one thing or another.

Thats when I went off to my freshman year of college, I went to a small junior college in small townWyoming so really very little changed for me in that space of time. Although I do remember that attending church regularly became a pretty tough exercise for a little while there. That December I put in my mission papers so that I could fulfill yet another expectation that I didn’t fully understand. At this point I think it’s important to brief you a little more about my family. I have four older brothers all of which completed two full years in the mission field, so in the back of my mind all that i could think of was my mother crossing her fingers for a perfect score. I did want to go on a mission, at least that’s what I told everyone. I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.

Eventually the mission call came and it was to the Durban south Africa mission. I was giddy with nervous excitement. It was around this point that I decided to quit lying my mom and actually read the book of Mormon for myself. I powered through that book three times in one week, and ended up with quite an extreme affirmation of its truth, which ended up making me really want to go if only for the sake of that little book.The next step was the temple… This is where it gets interesting.

I was like every other nineteen year old Mormon kid. I had heard tons of clues as to what goes on in the temple but I just couldn’t quite piece it together. it was the ultimate mystery in my mind at that time. Then I went through…. And I thought I was confused before.

Il be honest with ya on this one, I was freaked out . I would have been totally cool with it if I had been told where it came from, but no instead it just had to be a weird ass mystery that no one really wanted to talk about. So now I’m stuck with a fork in the road on one hand I had a overwhelmingly undeniable testimony of the book of Mormon but on the other hand I had no idea what to make of the temple situation.

But I was one of the lucky ones. I have an older brother who I never really new because he was so much older than me but it always seemed like my parents were less pleased with him for some reason. Little did I know how much he knew.  Several phone calls and visits later and i was all of the sudden extremely interested in church history and gospel doctrine. This feeling that I had about it became an obsession to the point where I would wake up in the morning and just want to read more and more. In a one month span i changed my mind about a huge amount of things. It was a major transformation, I went from saying I would never drink a beer, to standing up for beer overnight. Just when I thought thingscouldn’t get any more interesting I left on my mission.

We would e mail every Monday and as soon as I figured out how to use the printer, the Internet cafe became my printing press. I ended up filling two three inch binders with materials that I had read. This thing was full of the classics, like max scousens templesoother he words of Joseph smith, and a history of the temple endowment, And a bunch of assorted posts from my favorite blog sites.

I was like the kid with marijuana in high school and my mission president was the principal. And after eighteen awesome months I guess I had answered one to many elders questions, and handed out one too many of my printings, and I was sent home. I won’t go into all of the details about that here but let me just say there was quite the witch hunt conducted by the zone leaders assistants to the president and the president himself an I was sent home for living a different religion than them.

Im not bitter about it because if it would not have happened I would not be living  the lifestyle that I currently do. Right now I live in the woods most call it camping but I do it on a more permanent basis so I call it living. I’ve turned into a regular pot smoking hippy and I love every second of it. Im poor as dirt and to me that’s pretty rich. I feel closer to god every day I’m out there. These days I’m truly happy, and I’ve noticed it reflects on the way I treat others, I’m much nicer now. I think there truly is something to be said for dropping all your shackles totally transforming yourself  and bidding babylon a fond farewell.

Its really a revolutionary concept if you think about it, the idea that you can be happy and content with life right now in whatever circumstance your in. The idea that the play is much funner if watched from the audience. I love life and I am constantly happy since I moved. I feel like your religion should make you happy. My religion is to love your neighbor. My religion does not bother me. I enjoy practicing my religion. My religion involves my friends. my religion has nothing to  do with church. my religion is to love your neighbor.

Before my mission I don’t think I could have said that about my religion. Can you say that about yours?