if you don’t know or haven’t figured it out yet, i’m a mormon. or more officially, i am a member of the LDS church. it is a pretty integral part of my life, and part of the reason why i started this blog. if you don’t know what it means to be LDS or why that would drive someone to start a blog with the sole purpose of expressing their daily thoughts and frustrations, you have so much to learn. haha just joshin…kinda, but you can ask me about it and i’d be happy to explain. for now, for this post at least, you should know that i am a mormon, and at church my calling (job/responsibility) is a primary teacher. i teach a class of rowdy kids that will all turn 8 this year. oh yeah, in our church you get baptized when you turn eight.
on the first saturday of most months at 9am sharp you will find me in a chapel surrounded by people i’ve mostly never met dressed in my sunday best. i’m attending a baptism. baptism day in any christian religion is a big deal and the same goes for us mormons. but you won’t find loud music or crowds of cheering people. the chapel is quiet, the service is simple, and even though it’s an event for multiple children, they do a pretty good job of making it personal.
if you’re familiar with the mormon religion or culture at all, you can probably picture the scene perfectly. if you’re not, think very quiet, very reverent church meeting with women dressed in modest dresses and men wearing slacks, white shirts and ties. all the people tucked into pews quietly waiting or listening to whats being said. oh, and there’s also a row full of kids and men, who we primarily assume are their dads, wearing funny white jumpsuits. (that’s right. jumpsuits. like mechanics or janitors might wear, but all white with no name tag sewn on. if you ask me, it is one of the top three most hilarious mormon phenomena.)
while i don’t stick out like a complete sore thumb at these events, i would definitely say that every month i get a few backwards glances and second looks. red flag number one: i walk into the meeting by myself and sit by myself. this is only of any consequence because a baptism is a family affair and 95% of these people don’t recognize me. red flag number two: my nose is pierced and i have a few piercings on one of my ears. body piercings, other than one hole in each ear lobe for women, are not really a thing in the mormon church. in fact we’ve been told not to have them. what can i say, i’m a rebel. red flag number three: sometimes my skirt or dress does not go all the way to my knee. what?!?!?! ‘that’s crazy’ you might say. i know, i know. again, i’m a rebel. I like to live my life 1-2 inches above the knee. but listen, it’s fine. more and more women are living this life of adventure and thrills because skirts that go all the way to your knee are difficult to find. i’ve just accepted that and moved on with my life.
if you’re thinking that this must be a horrible group for judging so quickly, don’t. the few people who stare a little bit too long don’t mean to do it, and i know they usually aren’t doing so abusively. it’s just programmed into their brains to notice when someone doesn’t look or act like them. (ps – this is a product of the religion’s culture not doctrine, i’d just like to clarify that.)( pps – you know what? it’s a product of human nature and junky societal ‘norms’ as well. we all have the tendency to judge others in us but it’s often heightened in religious contexts.) now, if they knew that i was responsible for teaching some of these young children the gospel of jesus christ every single sunday, then some lesser minds might be blown. some actually hurtful or doubtful thoughts might enter their brain. but maybe not. either way, i don’t really care. i’m not there for them. i’m their for their niece or nephew, i’m there for their grandson, i’m there for their cousin, and honestly i’m there for myself.
i might not ever belong in that chapel with all the people that i’ve never met. i know that because i consciously made a choice a long time ago that sets me apart from them. but i showed up, and i do belong in the smaller room. the room where just the family and friends (of the child i know) are relocated to when its time. the room where we go to watch that punk eight year old kid get baptized. the actual baptism is real short. its special, but probably not how you’d expect it to be if you’ve never seen one. again, it’s quiet and reverent and simple.
what makes these baptisms, these first saturdays, special to me is this: in that room, with the other people who care about the smelly kid in my church class, i get to share in a special kind of love. a love that recognizes and celebrates an individual as a son or daughter of god. in that room the lines don’t blur and there is clarity. there is peace for me even in a place where i may not look like everyone else or have a story like most of the people there. i love that. i love the raw human connection with the people i don’t know and sharing a brief moment of meaningful eye contact with the people i do know. everyone in that rooms belongs there. i think anyone could belong there if they knew what was good for them.
all these words for that? i really need to get my rambling under control. i’ll work on it. it’s just that these baptisms are the place where i consistently feel this clarity, peace, and love. church, and it’s various activities, doesn’t always bring those feelings for me. i just wanted to take some time to reflect, revel in, and be grateful for these thoughts. no one ever required, or even asked me to attend these baptisms. it’s not part of my responsibility as these kid’s teacher. i just started going and haven’t stopped. that kind of speaks for itself about how important 9 am on the first saturday of the month is for me.
this post has a lot of information about my religion and it’s baptisms. i promise, i am not purposefully evangelizing or trying to send you weird subconscious conversion messages. part of my inner conflict (that sounds dramatic) is a struggle to find balance with my religion and my relationship with my husband (who is not the same religion). this struggle rarely affects my daily life, we are genuinely happy and healthy, but sometimes weighs mentally heavy on me. that’s why i started this blog, to express those emotions and reach others that may be in a similar situation. so, religion will be discussed but is usually just an element in the story not the purpose of the story.