Chat With a Mormon Online
I am 37. I feel younger than that - don’t we all. But I expect the arrival of child #4 next month will change that. When my wife and I got married we wanted 6 kids. Until we had one. But we’re still having fun - although 4 is THE LAST - but that’s what I said after the last one. I work in the music industry. My kids think that means I listen to music all day - which I don't. I still don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up. Working with music is much too fun to be a real job. My wife thinks I’m just in denial and I need to accept it. She’s usually right. When I was 19 I left college to serve as an LDS missionary for 2 years in Seoul, Korea - that’s where I first started to think about someone other than myself. You’d think growing up in a home with 6 brothers and sisters would have taught me that already – but I was stubborn. I would not be the same man I am today without having taken those 2 years and committed to something bigger than myself. Since I returned home 16 years ago, not a day has passed when I don’t think of my time as a missionary.
My wife and I use the phrase “in the zone” to describe a feeling we have when we are our best selves. When I’m less selfish, more helpful and supportive, and less critical. When I listen more and talk less. When my heart is soft and my mind is at peace. When I play more with my kids. When I’m more honest, both with myself and with others. When I’m optimistic and excited about our future. When I need things less and people more. When I’m less prideful and more open minded. My family likes me more when I’m “in the zone”. My friends, my co-workers – even I like myself more and trust me, so would you – the alternative gets ugly. I am Mormon because I want to be better. And I can’t do it alone. Life is complicated – and the older I get the more I realize that the maze only gets deeper. And the answers are not in the self-help books or mind control games or diet plans. The only way I’ve found is through the power of Jesus Christ. Because Christ knows me: the good, the bad and the ugly. And because He believes in me. That gives me hope. No matter how hard it gets or how many times I fail, He will show me how to heal, and step by step, how to be my best self. Just like I feel for my own son. My oldest son is almost ten years old. And he struggles. He gets frustrated easily. I see him trying, but sometimes he just can’t. It breaks my heart to see him hurt, sad or lonely. I would do ANYTHING for him – to make him feel better, and to help him make himself feel better so that when I’m not around he’ll be OK. Like Christ does for me. Religion isn’t a study of theology – it’s a way of life. For me, being Mormon means finding real ways, through Christ, to be a better person, to find peace, and to help my family. It’s very personal and it’s part of my everyday life. Because being a better Ryan takes A LOT more time than Sundays. I have a long way to go. I’m not nearly as good as I should be, especially considering all I’ve been given to work with. But I’m trying. And that’s what being Mormon is all about – to just keep trying to be better through Christ.
During my Sr. Year at college, I remember one late night feeling particularly troubled. I was graduating at the end of that semester, dating someone seriously but was still not convinced that she was “the one”. I had been studying for the Law school entrance exam, but earlier that month I had received a job offer to move to Korea and was expected to either accept or decline the offer the following day. And so, following a long phone conversation with my father about the ‘pitfalls’ of abandoning law school to move to the other side of the world, I left my apartment and went for a walk around campus. And that late night, wandered the paths alone, as if they were my own crossroads, feeling totally overwhelmed. What if I made the wrong choice? What if this girl was the one? Was this the right career path for me? I can still remember so vividly the feeling of fear that I had. And as I poured out my soul to Heavenly Father, asking for direction, I did not receive an answer. The stupor of thought did not clear up. Instead, what I felt was, Ryan, just be obedient and trust me and I will take care of you. That’s it, no flashing lights over door #1 or door #2. Just comfort that I didn’t need to be afraid. The following day, still unsure, but this time with hope instead of fear, I accepted the job offer and 3 months later moved to Seoul, Korea. 4 months later, there in Seoul, I met my wife for the first time, 6,000 miles from both her home and mine. She had arrived a week earlier from Canada to teach English in Korea. After we had been married for 6 years, I took Erin and our then 2 children to visit my old college campus for the first time. As we walked around, I was carrying our 2 year old daughter on my shoulders and our 4 year old boy was running around us. The weather was perfect. And I looked over at my beautiful, valiant, wonderful wife, and at that moment everything stopped. And I finally understood the answer to my pleading prayer so many years before in that very same place - "This is what I had in store for you… it was all worth it." How I would have given anything to be able to go back to that boy that night, wandering, afraid, searching for answers, and just give him one glimpse of everything that was waiting for him, all that he had to look forward to. The gospel of Jesus Christ has taught me to trust my Heavenly Father and have hope.
Living my faith is in the details. In fact, some of my work colleagues are shocked when they find out I’m a Mormon. Yes, Mormons DO LISTEN TO MUSIC!. I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve. I don’t hide it either. It’s saying my prayers - and not just when I need something. Being Mormon means nothing if I don't have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. That is the core of my Faith, and for me the best way is to talk with him. This summer I'm trying something new: during my prayer before I sleep, I only focus on the things I'm grateful for - I don't ask for anything. This helps me identify the blessings of the day and all I've been given. Then, in the morning and throughout the day I make my requests. So far I like it. The other essential detail for me is taking the time to study my scriptures every day. There is something powerful and inexplicable in reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible that immediately effects my mood - that smooths the hard spots over and puts things into perspective. Those are the foundation of living my faith: scriptures and prayer. They put me "in the zone" and everything starts from there.