I'M NOT A POLYGAMIST!!!People have asked me why I'm so upset about it, and why I'm so concerned with what everyone thinks of me. Really, I could care less what they think of me. My concern is for the Church. I see everyone so miserable all the time, and if I had my way, they would understand that there ARE ways to be happy. And I'm not talking, I-got-something-for-my-birthday momentary circumstantial happiness. I mean that if someone asked you about your life, and whether you were truly satisfied with it, you could smile to yourself, close your eyes and have tears coming down your face because you can answer, "Yes!" with all the fervor of your being.... that is what I have. And if I had my way, I would be able to share that with people. But experiences like the one in italics prevent that from happening, and it angers me. It absolutely infuriates me that people can be so egotistical as to tear something apart that they don't understand.
Yeah, I don't think I've ever been so insulted by a teacher as I was today. And what really bothers me is that I said nothing back. Me... the one who trains people in self defense... I didn't say anything.... I chose not to act... and it's just another thing I'll end up regretting and beating myself up for.
And the more I think about it, the more I know I can never do anything about what she did, because of HOW she did it...
I suppose starting at the beginning would be helpful...
I was in English today, and in order to explain to Soon what a talisman is, she started using some example of Joseph Smith, the originator of the Mormon religion. Apparently, according to some book she read, he gave all of his wives some kind of rock or something and told them it would keep them safe or something.... (yeah, but a Catholic can have a rosary and put the same kind of faith behind it, and THAT'S not strange? OK. Fine. And no offense to any of you Catholics out there... I'm just making a point.)
But my teacher initiates a conversation that basically demonizes Mormonism, and has my entire class saying what a bunch of retards the Mormons must be. And it's one thing when a bunch of people I don't even care about start discussing my religion that way because they don't know I'm Mormon... but when the people that are my friends (or at least claim to be) only aggravate my situation by loudly saying, "Wow Heather, that guy WAS A REAL CRACKPOT!"....
(Yeah, that didn't help me there guy. I have never judged you for smoking pot as a means of coping with your life.... don't judge me by the way I deal with mine. Especially since Spence doesn't know what she's talking about.)
There is so much more to my religion than just polygamy. Yeah, a faction of the church out in the middle of no where that broke away from the main church ages ago still practices polygamy. They live in the desert of Utah. They are not the Mormons I go to church with. You look at ANY religion, and there will be the extremest sects that do things that are bizarre. But I don't begrudge them anything, because it's what they know. I don't begrudge ANYONE for their choices. That's just how I am, because I always thought that I would be given the same courtesy by extending it to other people... my mistake I guess.
This isn't even the first time my teacher has done this about Mormonism. She did the same thing to my face right before Christmas break by saying that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon based off of Jewish texts. And that's not what we believe. We believe they were translated off of golden plates that were given to him by God. And I don't care how insane that sounds. Ever hear of Daniel? Or Jonah? Or any of the other miracles that defy logic that are all throughout the Bible? So don't tell me that I'm crazy for believing what I believe. It takes no more faith than reading the Bible-- like any other Christian who reads it and believes in what it says.
The only one that stood up for me wasn't some one I called a close friend. She's a classmate; one that has a good heart, and knows what it's like to be alienated because she loves her religion. Even though she's Catholic, her best friend is Mormon, and she defended our religion by communicating the displeasure that I couldn't bring myself to speak regarding the conversation. I'll always remember her for that, and I'm glad she was there.
A lesson I didn't think I was going to have to learn is that when the stakes get really high, you know who your real friends are. I always thought I was a good judge of character. Turns out, I see good where it exists only when it's convenient. The people I've known for years said nothing to help or defend me. Even saying, "Perhaps we should change the subject," like I was TRYING to say would have been helpful....
Someone I've always tried to help turned on me and did what, I thought, was a stab in the back. (But I know her well enough that she meant no harm, so if you're reading this, know that it's already forgotten.) People who know that I'm Mormon fed the conversation and gave it life.... all of this instigated by a teacher, whom I always viewed as nothing short of professional until recently....
And the one who spoke up for me wasn't who I thought it was going to be... instead, THAT person left her comments with me this morning... and to that person, who claims so succinctly that I'm basically a horrible example for my church, I say "Consider how far I've come. And at least I'm TRYING, even if I always seem to fail with you. And for that, I'm truly sorry."
I said nothing. I teach self defense for a living, and I was frozen in my seat. It felt like sitting in the middle of Hell. I was shaking I was so angry, but I couldn't speak. And I knew that, no matter what I said, I couldn't improve the situation. I only would have shouted and made a scene, solidifying in everyone's mind that all Mormons are crazy.... but instead, I sat there and said nothing. I grappled with my rage in silent agony... I allowed the situation to step on me and fade into the distance.... and while it was Christ's way to turn the other cheek, it isn't MY way... it isn't what I wished to do... I wish I could've defended the church. I wish I could have said something that shut that stupid woman up. I wish I could have said or done anything that would have left something better about the gospel with people. But I didn't. What kind of servant am I?
Everyone needs something to believe in. I've made my choice. I have the experiences to back it up. To me, they are enough to keep me in the church, no matter what anyone may say. If the Church was just a bunch of polygamists, do people REALLY think I'm stupid enough that I would stay there? Is that it? I'm trying to understand... and I come up short.
I'll never forget coming home and collapsing on the floor, because I lost the will to keep myself together. All I want is for people to let me have my religion. I don't have much in this life. I work in a karate school, and I do more volunteer work to make a difference in this community than probably most of my school combined. That, and church, is the only thing I really allow myself to take joy in because they're things that aren't tangible and can't be taken from me. I go to school, I work hard, and all I want is to be left alone. I want to be left to my sphere of existence in order to have my peace. Yet I can't have that. I give of myself constantly to people, despite my anti-social tendencies because I DO CARE! I care a lot... more than I want people to know. Why can't that be enough for now? Why can't people see what I'm trying to do?
My experience this afternoon only exemplifies WHY I believe in God. I had to sit on my living room floor, and was crushed because, once again, I had no one. My mother is one of the many who thinks I'm a freak for being Mormon. My friends just proved to me that they didn't care. My Mormon friends weren't home from school yet, and what could they say? There was nothing they could say... I called them, and they were angry... but anger doesn't really do much except raise your body temperature, I've come to realize... once again, people failed me. That's what people are good at: failing one another. And I'm not saying I don't. I'm just saying it's something we do.
Can you blame me for not being satisfied with that answer? For wanting something more? For wanting to go to a church that truly makes me feel that I CAN be better? God is very real to me. I wasn't just converted to Mormonism. I was converted to a way of life that has cleansed me from the inside out. And it hasn't failed me yet. It's not that I've sacrificed my free agency to a bunch of Bible beaters. HARDLY! I live the lifestyle because I've learned that doing what I please doesn't make me happy. I finally accepted that my way doesn't work. So I've changed my ways. I'm a better person for it.
And so it kills me when people look at my religion, and see Polygamy. They then turn to me and ask, "What are you DOING?!"
And to them I say, "Not being a polygamist, for one. I'm being happy. What are YOU doing?"
The church supported polygamy at a time when being Mormon was a good enough reason for someone to kill you. The early saints were forced further and further west, away from everything they had ever known and loved with nothing but what they could carry in covered wagons. If the Christians didn't kill them, then the journey would, more likely than not. There were so many widows that could not care for their children during the voyage that the Prophet (Joseph Smith), had no choice. He received revelation to allow polygamy as a means for taking care of those who were left that didn't have fathers and husbands. The society was extremely patriarchal, and therefore, polygamy became necessary. Don't you think that the saints struggled with that? And they did it out of obedience to our Heavenly Father. To me, that is true faith. To believe something even when it sounds crazy, or asks of you what society tells you is too much, is faith.
Our present-day Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, says that to discuss polygamy, or to give it the attention that it receives is absolutely unnecessary, and I agree. The church is not about polygamy. Mormons are not polygamists. And that's all I have to say on the issue.