On Being Mormon and Other Dissapointments
My son got baptized this last weekend. (In our church children can be baptized when they are eight years old.) It was a wonderful day for him- for all of us really. I don't usually write about stuff like that here- you know, special stuff.
I don't write about special stuff because there is always some jerk just waiting to tell you that the special stuff in your life is actually stupid and frankly, I don't have the emotional energy to deal with it. But today, I am making an exception.
My son is a sweet boy and he likes church. He was incredibly excited to get baptized and he wanted to invite his closest friends at school. Church is a big part of our life and we talk about it frequently at home.
I have heard people express concern about raising a child in a religion or telling them when they are young what they should believe in. I really do believe that we all make our own choices eventually, despite what our parents want or don't want. And I think that every single one of us infuses our open minded children with our own opinions and loves even if we don't realize we do. So I openly try to teach my children a few things that I think are important for their future happiness. (Forgive me and I will you.)
So my son, he must talk about church at school sometimes and I know he invited a friend from school to come to church with him this week. The funny thing is that (as mentioned) we all teach our children what we believe and rarely do we realize that they will in fact TELL other people what WE mentioned behind closed doors.
My son must have been talking to his little friends about church and somebody told him that,
"Mormon's want to make EVERYBODY believe what they believe!" (The group of eight year olds didn't think to highly of Mormons! Wonder where they heard that?!)
Naturally my son came home and asked if he was a Mormon!
Honestly, I thought it was kind of funny that he didn't know that. We have gone to church every week his entire life and our whole existence is bathed in our religion. But we don't actually call ourselves Mormon's- other people call us that because of a book of scripture we use, called The Book of Mormon. We call ourselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Yes, kind of a mouthful so I get the "Mormon" nickname.)
I told him that yes, people do call us Mormon. He was a little worried about us making other people believe what we believe. So I asked him- "Do YOU want to make other people believe what you do?" He said no. I said I didn't either.
I do feel blessed and I am willing to talk about my religion, and why I think it blesses my life IF somebody else wants to hear it. And YES, missionary work IS an important part of our religion.
I told him I don't want to MAKE other people believe like I do - but it is like having an entire chocolate cake- all to yourself. If you have a good friend, and they are watching you eat it and ask what it tastes like... well- you would offer a piece, wouldn't you? I won't be hurt if they say no- (maybe they don't eat gluten) but I want them to be able to taste it if they want- because I think it tastes good. And they are my friend. And we share with our friends.
It made me a little sad to see my son come home upset about all the things his friends were saying about his religion (there was other talk) and that he was rejected. It was also something of a bummer for him to realize that he too was a Mormon, and his friends didn't seem to think too highly of those Mormons.
So, my son was a little disappointed today because he realized that some of his friends don't think too highly of something that is important to him, and some didn't really care about his special day or his excitement over it.
I was a little disappointed too. I realized that some of the parents at his school probably don't think to highly of me and I had no idea they felt that way. I have never even talked about religion with them but they must have enough of an opinion about it that they shared their thoughts with their young children. Maybe I am a poor example of my beliefs.
I hope I can raise my children to be good people who stand up for what they believe in. I hope they can also find themselves able to have integrity and have opinions and let other people have theirs without hating them for it. I hope my children when they are grown don't think it is OK to make fun of something that is sacred to another- just because it is different from what they believe. I hope they are able to honor other people and their values even if they disagree with them.
And I hope they are strong enough to do the things that they should, and not care about what others think when that doesn't really matter.