This is my first post, so we’ll see how this goes.
First off let me start with a bit of background on myself. While the chances are that most of you who are reading this know me, at least enough to have gotten ahold of this link you might not know much more than the basics. My name is Kayla LeAnn Barnett (formally Schultz), I’ll be twenty-seven in exactly one month, I’ve been married to my husband (Brandon) for three years now and we have two amazing kids: Wyatt who will be four on Sept 25 and Kenzie (McKenzie) who just turned one Feb 23. I’ve lived in Missouri for the past five years now and before that I lived the whole of my life in Illinois. I went to college at Illinois State University where I got a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I currently work at Cerner (Healthcare IT company) as a Software Engineer. So basically I write computer code and the company I work for makes software for the Healthcare industry. I am an avid reader of mostly science fiction and fantasy and because I couldn’t embrace enough of the stereotypical nerd/geek I also play video games (xBox and PC).
Still wondering about the “mormon” in the title of this blog? I’m getting to it. Just keep with me a little longer.
Back in 2012 I flew out to Arizona (because hey I had just graduated college, what else did I really have to do with my now very abundant time?) to visit a close friend who lives pretty much out in the middle of nowhere there. I stayed for about a week and while I was there we attended her church. She was (and is) a member of the LDS church; see mormon. Now I didn’t think much about the sacrament meeting at the time and if I’m being honest I can’t even really remember much about it: except that we sat towards the back and it felt like dozens of people came by to say hi and to see how my friend and her family were doing.
Fast forward two years to 2014 and I’ve now had my son and I’m pretty happy with my life. Who wouldn’t be? I had a boyfriend, a beautiful and amazing son and a job that supported the three of us that for the most part I enjoyed doing every day. Yet I felt like something was missing. I felt like there had to be more. I felt like there needed to be more for him, my son. As most people do when they feel like they’re lacking something essential in their life I turned to religion (as an alternative to drugs, alcohol and other dangerous and bad habits that people, hoping (like most I assume) that religion could give me the peace I was searching for, could provide me with that sense of fullness. This of course brought on the all important question of: which religion? This was then closely followed by: which church? I mean these are questions that define people, they’re big and they’re personal and they’re important.
When you grow up without religion – with just this vague Christian background where you know terms like ‘Jesus’ and ‘God’ and ‘Christ’ and ‘The Cross’ but have no real context for which to actually understand their value, their worth, their true meaning – you’re not going to have a great sense of what to answer for these questions. It can be pretty daunting, pretty overwhelming. People have gone to war over religion, over their beliefs and the non-belief of others so clearly it is a big deal and choosing wrong is a very legitimate fear; at least it was for me.
Growing up we didn’t pray at the dinner table. We didn’t read from the bible. We didn’t even go to church (I think I had been to two or three church services as a kid). We didn’t really talk about faith or God or any of the rest of it. There was this vague concept in my head that God existed and he had made everything and he had the power to do miraculous things. Knowing what I did of God as a kid I was actually quite angry at him for a really long time because of the lot in life that I had been given. I was angry that my parents had gotten divorced. I was angry that my father let me to be with his new family. I was angry about a lot of things that weren’t my fault and I couldn’t be angry at my father because he wasn’t there to be angry with and I couldn’t be angry with my mother because she had gotten the crappy end of the deal just like me. So that left me with this God that I had in my head. I could be angry at him because he was everywhere and if he was so all powerful then he could’ve prevented these things from happening to me, he could’ve saved me this pain and anger and hardship that I had gone through. It took me a long time to realize that this just isn’t how God or religion even work, but in the head of a teenager it seemed perfectly logical.
Now when you take all of this into account you might be wondering: how the heck did she even end up going to church and how did she make the choice of LDS? A couple of things led to the decision I made to attend to church Easter Sunday 2014. The main thing being that I had my son. My perfect, beautiful and absolutely amazing son. I had been given this tiny human in my life and I was expected to raise this tiny human, to take care of him, to bring him up right so that he didn’t turn out to be a complete and total jerk in a world that quite frankly is filled with jerks. How was I going to do that though? How was I going to raise him right? How was I going to teach him and give him all the things that he would need in his life? I had no idea (most days I still have no idea, but that I feel is part of being a mom – at least I hope other moms feel just as lost as me some of the time). I had this notion in my head that if I could find faith, if I could find religion and give that to my son then he might have something I never did: he might be able to have this thing that was bigger than him, this thing that was bigger than me and bigger than all of us to believe in and that it could then see him through on his darkest days and he would be stronger and better for it.
So my son was my motivation to go to church, but how did I finally settle on LDS? Remember that friend I mentioned several paragraphs ago? The one in the middle of nowhere Arizona? Remember how she was a mormon? Remember how she took me to church with her family? Well that’s what ultimately led to my choice in churches. I remembered how all of those people had stopped to ask them how they were, I remembered that kindness, that sense of community, that sense of family and I thought: that’s what I want. I wanted a place where I wasn’t just going to be told that I’ve sinned (let’s face it we all sin and I have done a large amount of it in my past, I didn’t need a church to tell me that) and that I needed someway to repent for those sins. I wanted more: I wanted to belong, I wanted to connect, I wanted to not feel so alone in this journey to find faith.
Now let me tell you about that first day (and then I promise I’ll hit publish and you’ll very soon be at the end of this post that is now much longer than I actually thought it would be). That first day I showed up – I was twenty-three at the time and my son was about seven or eight months old – and it was just me and my son. I knew absolutely no one and I had no clue what exactly to expect. I walked in a few minutes before service was due to start (because back then I could actually make it somewhere on time instead of being late for most everything as I am these days) and it was pretty full. I wasn’t sure if I should find somewhere to sit by myself or if I should sit near other people. Almost as soon as I walked into the chapel though one of the members approached me. She wanted to know if I was new or if I was visiting. When I told her I was new she offered for me to sit with her. She didn’t even have to think about it. From that first day I didn’t even have to worry about sticking out, about not fitting in, about not belonging because from that first day someone was right there reaching out and helping me.
And the rest as they say is history. I was introduced to the Elder missionaries and I started the journey to becoming a member of the church. The intent of this blog is for me to write about things that I’ve learned along the way. Things that I believe in, things that matter to me. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be doing weekly or monthly posts or simply posting when I have something to talk about, we’ll just have to see how it goes.
As promised: this is the end of this post, if you made it all the way through thank you! I hope you liked what you read and will read more when I post more!