What I love about Mormonism
Recently I had a friend ask me what my favorite thing is about Mormonism. I was surprised by how touched I was by the question; frankly, I’m much more used to getting the question of, “Why don’t you just leave Mormonism?”, which always stings a little and puts me on the defensive. However, being asked about my favorite parts of Mormonism gave me the opportunity to really think (and then be effusive) about what I really love about my faith and my community. And since talking with her, I’ve been able to really ponder further and come up with even more things that I cherish.
My gut response to this question was that I love the expanse of Mormon theology. I love that we claim ongoing revelation, both to the leaders of the church and to us, personally. I love the hope that comes with that – the possibility not just of change, but of growth and improvement. There’s so much that we claim to know, but honestly I’m much more enchanted by the things that we don’t know. How much more could there be? In what ways are we not yet living up to Christ’s teachings? What truths could be out there that we’re not even aware of? There is so much room for exploration. To quote President Uchtdorf:
Brothers and sisters, as good as our previous experience may be, if we stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop pondering, we can thwart the revelations of the Spirit. Remember, it was the questions young Joseph asked that opened the door for the restoration of all things. We can block the growth and knowledge our Heavenly Father intends for us. How often has the Holy Spirit tried to tell us something we needed to know but couldn’t get past the massive iron gate of what we thought we already knew?
I also adore the ways that Mormons do community. We can take care of each other so well. I will never forget last summer, when I showed up in Utah for my grandmother’s funeral. Not only was her fridge and freezer stuffed to the brim with casseroles, soups, breads, and brownies to take care of the family and friends that would be coming into town, all courtesy of the Relief Society, but there was a jell-o salad sitting on the counter. And not just any jell-o salad – it was lemon jell-o with bananas and marshmallows in it, topped with cool whip, and then grated cheddar cheese on top. To any stranger, it could have seemed like a culinary dare, but to me, it meant so much more. It was so Mormon. I was there, with my people, and they were taking care of me and my family in our grief. Between that and the four (!) pans of funeral potatoes at the luncheon, I felt like I was being wrapped in a warm Mormon blanket for the whole trip.
Relatedly, we do a pretty good job of taking care of each other. While home teaching and visiting teaching rarely work out perfectly, we at least try to make sure that we are meeting the needs of our fellow ward members as best we know how. We bring food and we drive each other to appointments and we watch each other’s children and we sit and we listen. We help repair roofs and we move each other’s furniture and we clean each other’s houses. When we stop focusing on numbers and programs and start focusing on people, we can do great work. Even in a ward where I often feel like an outlier, I know that there are people there who genuinely care about me and my family, and want us to be happy and well.
I love Zion. I love the idea of building Zion, and that we’re instructed to do what we can to make earth as heavenly as we can right now, because heaven won’t be much different if we don’t already care for each other and love one another. I am completely in love with the idea of knitting our hearts together as one, and that we are a communal people who need each other to be lifted into heaven. I love the idea of sealing the entire human race to each other, not just ritually, but emotionally and spiritually, so that we can become a community that loves each other so much that there will be no poor among us.
I love that, at least in my understanding, we tend towards universalism. I love that, while God will force no person to heaven, there will be very few who won’t choose it for themselves with a full understanding. I sometimes think that we downplay just how sufficient Christ’s grace is for us – all are invited to the eternal party. We all get to be there, and it’s our earthly responsibility to build a Zion society that welcomes all, that embraces all, and that wants all to dwell together in peace, harmony, and love.
I love that Mormons love Jesus. We might all love different parts of the stories of Jesus, but I love the anchor that Jesus brings to our community. I find the stories of Jesus to be so radical and mind-expanding: love one another, love your enemies, forgive people, healing is possible, God can and does walk among us, miracles happen, death is not the end, etc. When we tell the stories of Jesus, the boundaries between us seem small, and the possibilities seem big.
I’m not saying that Mormons do all of these things perfectly, either as an institution or as a people, and that we don’t have room to improve. But these are the things about Mormonism that ring true to me – these are the things that bring me hope and peace. We still have a lot of work to do, but we also have so much in our faith to love, and so much to reach for.
What are some of your favorite things about Mormonism?