Chat With a Mormon Online
I'm not your average Mormon. In my congregation I'm known as the tall guy with the long hair who wears the bow ties and sandals to church -- kind of a weird combination of Mormon and hippie. I picked up on the sandals while I was a river guide on the Colorado and Green Rivers for three years, and now that's about all I wear unless I'm jogging or riding my bike; the bow ties I got hooked on when I was a teenager and looking for something unique to wear to church, and they have just kinda stuck since then. And the hair just grows no matter what I do. The big parts of my life right now are being a husband and partner to my best friend, being the father of two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son (and an exchange student from Russia this year), teaching biology in a small university, and getting ready for a half-ironman triathlon this coming summer. I sometimes feel that with everything going on in my life I spend a lot of time frantically just trying to keep up, but there are those moments of joy when I get to go on walks with my wife, see my kids learn an important lesson, or get a compliment from a student on how I've helped them, and that's what keeps me going. The other thing that recharges my batteries is our yearly vacation off the grid. I love taking my family and friends on river trips where we don't see civilization or have cell phone access for four or five days, or going up to my grandfather's cabin where there is no TV or internet -- that's living!
I'm a Mormon because the doctrines of the gospel taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are logical and self-consistent. I'm a scientist, and no matter how hard I try I can't take off that hat when I think about something. I've thought a lot about this church and its teachings, and it makes sense to me that God would have prophets on the earth in other times and places besides the ancient Middle East, including having a prophet on the earth today. It makes sense to me that if God emphasizes the importance of marriage here on earth, that He would provide a way to continue that relationship in heaven. It makes sense to me that God created a plan where we could be parents on earth so that we could better understand Him and his plan for us. It makes sense to me that in order to overcome the demands of justice Jesus Christ would have to carry out the atonement, so that now our faults can be overcome by grace. On a more personal level, I'm also a Mormon because it makes me a better person. Many of the people that I work with are not religious, and some are in fact openly hostile towards religion. These challenges make me think about my religion a lot, and how it is so deeply intertwined with who I am and my actions. I know this gospel is true because I am happier when I live its precepts -- this church makes me a better husband, a better father, and healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically.
The words of the Savior from Matthew 25:40, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," continue to influence my life. At times my first impression is to judge others, but then these words remind me that all of us are children of a loving Heavenly Father who wants each of us to succeed, and my job is to find ways to lift and help anyone I meet. This starts at home where I need to be ready to help my wife and children, even when I'm tired and have things I'd rather be doing, and it extends to all my interactions through work, service, and brief chance encounters. You never know when a smile or a kind word or deed gives much needed hope or help to another!
I love what living this gospel has done for me. As I said above, this church and its teachings are integral to my every day life. This gospel emphasizes the need for each of us to be constantly working to improve ourselves through our own efforts and through reliance on others and our Savior. I feel I am living my faith not just when I am at church or praying or reading the scriptures, but also when I am working on a project with my children, when I'm jogging, when I'm trying to help a student work through a difficult problem, or when I'm doing dishes at home -- all of these activities are helping me to develop attributes such as charity, integrity, and patience that I need to be complete like my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. I am also building important qualities when I let others help me or when I ask for divine assistance to make up for my shortfalls. It seems paradoxical that asking for help is an important part of becoming perfect, but I have seen how asking for help from our Heavenly Father and then receiving it through the service of others builds humility and faith in both parties, and that makes each of us and the world a better place.