Disclaimer: I do not want this blog to become a place of contention, or of political and religious debate. It is a selfish destination for me, a place where I can connect with people who are enduring the challenges of life, where I can post pictures and videos of my beautiful child, and I can momentarily relieve my mind of the crushing grief that rests upon it. I hope as you read and comment you will approach it as a sacred place, as I do.
I have felt compelled lately to write about my religion, and I have hesitated. There are so many negative connotations, and strong feelings tied to this simple word. My inclination is to ignore the compulsion to address it, and to speak of more neutral topics, but my thoughts on the subject won't rest. So here it goes.
Recently my religion (Mormonism) has been thrust into the spotlight by politicians, by comedians, and by the media. I believe the attention is mostly positive, and generally leads to greater understanding, but occasionally I am disappointed by the portrayal of my faith. It is so easy to focus attention on hypocrisy, on abuses of power, and on political differences. And surely these negatives need to be seen and addressed. However, I find myself wishing that I could remove the generalizations, the stereotypes, and the occasional poor examples that are paraded around as truth. I long to introduce the world to the many "religious" individuals and families who have cared for us since Jonah died, and even before his death.
I wish you could meet the older couple from our congregation who came to shine Jordan's shoes before Jonah's funeral. The husband sat on our couch, apron clad, and performed this humble act of service. His thoughtful wife handed him his brush, and polish while we spoke softly about Jonah. It was such a sweet experience. They were not asked to do it, they did not receive special recognition. They simply felt compelled to help, and I believe they were inspired by the example of their Savior, Jesus Christ, washing the feet of his disciples. They continue to check on us, to bring us food, and to hug us anytime they see us.
I think of the many women who have come and cried with me, who ask me to walk with them, who call me, and who bring me meals. I know these women are trying to fulfill the commitment they have made to "bear one another's burdens" and to "mourn with those that mourn."
I think of my mother's charitable sisters, who are not of my faith, but who write me beautiful messages of encouragement and kindness. These wonderful women know how to strengthen the feeble knees and lift up the hands that hang down.
I think about the many people around the world who have prayed for God to sustain us in our trial, and I believe He has.
I know that there are hypocrites in this world. There are many who would hijack religion to serve their own selfish needs, their desire for power, or to take advantage of the less fortunate. But it is unfair to judge a religion by those who claim it, but who in fact do not live it. Hypocrisy is its own religion. Wouldn't it be better to judge a religion by those individuals who strive to live it truthfully, although sometimes imperfectly...Individuals like my neighbors, my friends, and my family.
I am aware that religion is not the only source of kindness in the world. Many people are compelled by generous hearts, inherent charity, and not by religious conviction. But many are, and I am grateful to be surrounded by people of many beliefs, who strive to live their religion, and allow me the opportunity to be a witness to and recipient of the manifestation of their faith. Most importantly I am grateful for my religion, and for the framework it has given me to grieve with love and hope.