Image: The Salt Lake Temple in Utah. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
When I was around 18 or 19 years old, I was leaving the movie theatre late one night when I accidently hit a large concrete pole with the front right hand corner of the car. I was horrified. Horrified. I jumped out of the car, and there was the front bumper of Dad’s car, lying on the ground.
I cried the entire way home. I couldn’t believe what I’d done, and I couldn’t stop looking at the bumper bar on the back seat in the rear-view mirror. I remember asking Dad if he would mind coming outside for a minute. You would probably have to know my Dad to really understand, but he’s about as wonderful a father as you could possibly hope for.
He stood there for a moment, taking in my evident apology and regret as I sobbed and nonsensically gestured to the front of the car, and the bumper bar on the backseat. Then he started to laugh, gave me a giant hug, told me everything would be alright, and we headed back inside. I don’t think I ever heard him mention the incident again.
I’ve reflected fondly on that night many times over the years, and it’s become a treasured memory because I see so clearly in my Dad’s reaction a reflection of the kind of relationship I also have with my Heavenly Father.
Despite my best efforts and the things I do manage to get right, I also make a ton of mistakes and get myself into all sorts of messes and scrapes. But as I come to Him in prayer, blubbering and worrying, I can almost feel him chuckling as he surrounds me with love and the knowledge that everything will be alright if I just try again.
And that faith and strengthening power forms the foundation for literally every aspect of my life. It’s not just a vague hope, or a nice idea to me. My tangible and repeated experience really is, like the Psalmists of old, that ‘the Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped’ (Psalm 28:7).
I was born and raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You may have heard us referred to as ‘Mormons’, which is a nickname we have because of our belief in the Book of Mormon – a book of Scripture we hold sacred as another testament of Jesus Christ, alongside the Bible. I read from one or both of these books of scripture daily and love to feel their power and peace flow into my life as I try and live by Christ’s teachings.
There are just over 135,000 members of the Church in Australia, and over 14 million members worldwide (in over 176 countries and territories), so there’s quite a few of us around!
But my experience is that there are still a lot of misconceptions about what we believe. Of fundamental importance is probably just an understanding that we’re Christians. We believe that our souls are eternal, that God is the Father of our spirits and that we can return to live with Him again when we die.
We also believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Saviour and we remember His atoning sacrifice as we partake of the sacrament in our Sunday worship services (similar to taking communion in other churches). We also believe that the original church that Jesus established when he lived on the earth was lost and has been restored again in our day with priesthood authority, apostles, and a prophet to lead us.
Like many other members of the Church, my beliefs play a large part in determining the lifestyle that I lead. The Church’s strong emphasis on families as an eternal unit is reflected in how much I enjoy spending time with my large and ever growing family (eight nieces and nephews and counting!).
My life also reflects the Church’s emphasis on further education, and an emphasis on service and humanitarian efforts (our local congregations, for example, are led by volunteer, unpaid members). I also strive to follow traditional moral values such as honestly, integrity, hard work, chastity before marriage, humility and kindness.
But to really understand why I live the way I do, I think you’d have to appreciate that my religion is an extremely personal thing. I find great strength and comfort in discussing the large and small details of my life with God and my experience, time and time again, is that He answers, teaches, and guides me.
So simply put – I live the way I do because I believe it’s true and because it makes me happy.
This is part of a megastory on religion in Australia today. Visit the megastory here.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.
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