Wow . . . that was scary just to write. I did not grow up in Utah, once I moved here I found out that sharing you’re a Mormon, is not always a positive experience. When I first moved to Utah people would ask me if I was a Mormon, when I told them yes they would say oh, are you a Molly Mormon or a Jack Mormon? I was confused. If I swore someone would comment that I must not be a good Mormon, if I did not want to go to hang out with him or her, I was a judgmental Mormon. I was just trying to be me, to grow up and to figure out who I really was.
I had a testimony then, and I have a testimony now. I know what my beliefs are; I also know what my strengths and weaknesses are. I need my religion, and my beliefs in my life. I need to pray to my Heavenly Father daily, I need that spiritual guidance. I knew this then, I know it now. It takes work to live obedient to my beliefs, some days are better then others. My religion, my relationship with my Savior is personal and for me. A part of my personal belief is that you have to live it and do it for yourself. You can do and say all the right things, but if in your heart you do not feel it, it does not count, that is a personal belief of my own.
I never felt so judged or watched. It was weird it was hard. And most of the time it was from others who were not Mormons or who had chosen to no longer be Mormons. They acted like I was the one passing judgment, when the truth was they were judging me, what they thought I believed and how they thought I should be living.
I stopped telling people I was Mormon, I would avoid the subject, hide it from those around me. It felt like they were attaching me personally and I was not strong enough to defend myself. I moved here not knowing anyone and not having family around. I was trying to make friends and connections here.
I have never pick my friends based on their religion; my choice was made on how they treated me and how they lived. Why was I not treated the same way? Most of my friends then and now are not mormon, I like being around others who are different then me.
Fast forward . . . many years and I am still selective about what I share about my personal beliefs. Where I work part time, I am in contact with people visiting Utah for the first time. They have questions about Mormons, sometimes about Temple Square, but usually it is revolved around the Utah Liquor Laws, so it is not a time to share my real beliefs. I usually respond with “I am a Mormon but I did not grow up in Utah. I am not sure why the liquor laws here are so different from other states.” Then I ask them about their liquor laws, and honestly the only thing they know is that at 3 am they can still get a beer.
I guess I want people to know who I really am; before I share with them I am a Mormon. I guess like everyone I don’t want to be stereo –typed.
In the perfect world I would like to respond.
“I do belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormon church as you know it. It is a great blessing in my life. I believe in Jesus Christ, I know He is my Savior, I rely on Him daily. This church is right for me. I don’t expect it to be right for everyone. I am happy to talk about what I believe if you want, I am also happy to keep my beliefs to myself, and just be your friend.”