First off I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope everyone has a wonderful time spending the day with family and friends. My family and I will be spending the day with our close friends and it’s bound to be a great day.
Now let’s get right down to my post name. As a convert to the church, I often get asked why I chose the LDS church. When I visit with the missionaries and tell them about myself they always want to know what prompted me to pick the church that I did. I have my stock answer which involves the telling of a story. The story goes like this, when I was fresh out of college I went out to Arizona to visit a good friend of mine and while I was there her family and I went to church and they just so happened to be LDS. We only stayed for the sacrament meeting and honestly at the time I had thought very little about the experience. Back then religion wasn’t something I thought much about, nor was it something that I had any interest in learning more about. However, when my son was born I did start thinking about religion. I wanted him to have a strong belief system, I wanted him to have something more than what I did. I thought about it for several months before I decided to actually do something about it. As Wyatt’s first Easter rolled around I made the decision that I would go to church on Easter Sunday. Of course, this prompted the question: which church did I go to? I was out of my depth, I had never really gone to church, I had no personal experiences really to call upon in my search. Yet, I did have that one sacrament meeting that I had gone to with my friend from Arizona. It had been nice enough, people had been warm and welcoming. It was really the only one I had any experience with so by default that’s what I chose. So I got on LDS.org and looked up where the church building was and showed up Sunday morning. And that was that.
So that’s the why behind why I picked the church that I did. It’s a nice story really, I mean how cool is it that the one time that I had been to church that I really remembered it was an LDS church? As far as these things go that seems like a pretty clear message to me that God is everywhere all the time wanting us to choose the right.
Despite that though, it’s not why I chose to stay. I don’t often discuss why I stayed with the LDS church, why even after three and a half years (two of which have been really rough) I still remain an active member of the church – or at least I try to be an active member. It’s not really something that gets talked about because I don’t often talk with nonmembers about my religion and I feel like this question would only be asked by a nonmember. Members of the church undoubtedly get it or maybe they just assume why other members stay apart of the church.
This why is pretty simple and straightforward though. I stayed because it’s not just a church. It’s not just about religion and God. Yes every Sunday we learn and grow and hopefully, we come a little closer to God and our faith is strengthed, our covenants renewed for another week. All of the things that you would expect from church happen, we pray and we study scriptures and we try to better ourselves in an effort to be more like our Savior. However, that’s not all there is to it. The LDS church is a family, the members take the time to get to know you, to reach out to you, to help you. The LDS church is a community.
Now I can’t speak about other churches and how they work. I can’t say that other churches don’t do what the LDS church does. There is the possibility that they do. However, being as I am a mostly inactive member I don’t know if there is any other church that would do for me what the LDS church does for me. While I’m sure other churches support their members and help them when they can, I’ve gotten a sense that they don’t necessarily try to reach out to the members who struggle to make it to church, they don’t reach out to completely nonactive members in an effort to help them. I could be wrong about that, but as I say I’ve never had any real experience with any church other than the LDS one.
I do not make it to church most Sundays, between not being able to drive and having two kids… Sometimes it’s more than I can manage. That, however, has not stopped others from coming to me. My visiting teachers still come once a month to visit with me and make sure there isn’t anything I need. One (sometimes both) of my visiting teachers also volunteers to babysit both of my kids for me and my husband so that we can have a night to ourselves. My home teachers still come to visit me as well, bringing a message with them to share with me and in that small way they help bring God into my home and keep me connected to the church. The missionaries will often stop by as well to bring me a message, or to read scriptures with me.
You might be thinking, well that’s all good, but that’s all religion-related so how is that really anything more than what a good LDS Christian would do? You would be right, but that’s not all that my church family does for me. This month I received a simple message in the mail with cash, “Merry Christmas” was all the note said. It wasn’t signed and there was no return address on it, but there are really only a very small handful of people who know that my family has been struggling financially for most of the year and every single one of them is a part of the church. Then last week one of my friends from the church stopped by to see me. She wanted to drop off some cookies and a card from the bishopric for me since her husband (who is my home teacher) wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t drop it off himself. When I opened the card from the bishopric and saw that they too had sent me money I was nearly reduced to tears because it really cemented the idea in my head that I am not alone. It reminded me that even while I am not the most active member, the church is still there for me when I need them, helping me and caring about me.
The reason I’ve stayed with the LDS church despite all the struggles I’ve had is because it’s my family. They are there if ever I need them, sometimes they are there even when I don’t ask, supporting me and helping me and really I couldn’t ask for more from a church than that.