Over the last few years I’ve been making an effort to share my testimony of the gospel online. I never could have imagined the types of things people would say about me just for doing so. I mean…I grew up in California in a place where there weren’t a ton of Mormons around. Most of my friends weren’t members of the Church…so I’ve been made fun of in the past. None of it was ever hostile. Just friends doing what friends do to any Mormon that is outnumbered 20 to 1 in a baseball dugout. It’s all good. 🙂
But as I’ve published a few blogs over the last couple years now, I’ve been dumbfounded by the number of people who have relentlessly made fun of me and my testimony in the most callous ways. It was hard at first to read the comments and messages, but in time, it taught me a huge lesson. So I want to tell anyone that has made fun of me for “staying in Mormonism” a couple things so that you will know what’s in my heart regarding the Church and it’s validity.
I want you to know that I’m just a normal guy that wants to do the right thing in life. I’m constantly and honestly trying to learn, research, and grow. I’m not being “willfully blind” to the truth and thereby abiding in a lie because I have nothing better to do. I have no interest in living a lie or dedicating my life to a fraud. I have no desire to get up at 4:30 am to teach a seminary class or to work an early morning temple shift if everything I believe about the restoration is made up. I have no desire to give up 10 percent of my income for nothing and no desire to give up my Sundays for no good reason. I have nothing to gain temporally by staying in the church.
When I left on my mission, I also had nothing temporal to gain by leaving. I was already 21 years old, a full scholarship to play baseball in Hawaii, interest from a couple major league baseball scouts, a fiancee, lots of friends, surfboards, and my parents never pressured me. No one came up to me while I was 21 and in college and said “hey…I’m gonna bring you in on this fraud, and I want you to give up everything you’re doing to go around and lie to people…and oh by the way, you’ll get nothing for it in return.” Do you realize how fast my 21 year old self would have told the dude to “get lost” had that been the case?
My point is that there is absolutely no good or logical reason why I would leave on a mission and continue as a member of this church unless I honestly believed it was true and good.
So when someone writes to me (which is quite often) and tells me that they know, that I know, that I am lying and purposely trying to lead people astray by giving my own personal testimony about what I believe regarding the truthfulness of the church…my only question is WHY? Why would I do such a thing if I didn’t honestly believe it was true? What is the gain? The motivation? Even just one valid reason?
No one paid me to serve a mission. I didn’t get any kind of temporal reward for those two years or any of the subsequent ten years of church service. There was no conflict of interest. No secret plan.
When I returned home from my mission, I’ve had no reason to lie and say that I loved my mission or go on about it being a defining moment in my life. It makes me sad when people that don’t even know me tell me that I’m lying about my beliefs. Again…why would I? Why waste the time and energy? I have no ulterior motives for staying in the church other than the fact that I believe in it. I truly believe in it. If I didn’t believe it was true, then I would chalk it up as just another man made institution and be on my way. Are you kidding? If I thought it was a fraud…I wouldn’t waste another moment of my life thinking about it.
But for me personally, I truly have nowhere else to go. I’ve incessantly studied other religions and philosophies for years. I’ve looked deeply at agnosticism and atheism and tried to find some semblance of logic in them. I’ve studied every ounce of literature I could get my hands on that is critical to the Mormon faith. And still…the validity of the Church is logical to me. I’ve searched high and low and haven’t come across anything better. Like Peter said…”to whom will I go?”Absolutely nothing that I’ve studied satisfies my innate deepest desires and hopes the way that Mormon doctrine does. That has been my experience. I can’t argue or dispute what I’ve felt and heard.
Everybody believes something. If I was to read a blog that someone wrote, and it contained a testimony in which a person believed in Lutheranism, Agnosticism, or Wiccan…I would have absolutely no desire to write mean things about that person. I might disagree with the things written, possibly consider it misguided, or just pass it by for being so ludicrous as to not be worth my time…but never would I imagine spending so much time trying to prove that person wrong. I don’t dislike that person just because I don’t agree with their beliefs about God. At the end of the day, regardless of a person’s belief, love is always better than hate. Positivity and respect is always better than negativity and disdain.
It seems as if so many people want to control the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of others. I’ll sometimes hear from people that make fun of me by calling me a “TBM” which stands for “True Believing Mormon” and then I’ll read one of their comments in which they admit to being a “TBM” only a year or so ago. They’ll get mad at me for being a “TBM” just because I didn’t have the same negative experience that they had that caused them to stop believing in the church. They want to ridicule me into not believing anymore just because they’ve stopped believing…and if I don’t listen to them right then and there…then I’m accused of perpetuating and covering up a lie as if I’m privy to some kind of underground information. It’s what atheists have done to believers for ages. “I’ve stopped believing…and now you must do the same…or your an idiot.”
But here’s what I can’t understand. Why would anyone on earth spend their time thinking and worrying about the church if they don’t believe it’s true? If it is indeed a fraud, and you have already moved on, saved 10% of your income, freed up loads of time, and broken free from the “shackles of Mormonism” then what motivates you to ever read one of my ignorant blog posts, discuss it on Reddit with the basest of language, write apologetics, create video rebuttals or entire podcast series’s against what I’ve written, or what FAIR’s written, or any number of LDS writers have written? I like my belief. It makes me better. Plain and simple. That fact only helps me to treat others better which is an overall micro-benefit for humanity.
There are a lot of people who will concur with the fact that being a member of the church makes them happy. Many of those same people are they who know what it’s like to not have the church in their life. They’ve seen the contrast and can attest to the stark differences. That is real. It’s not hype. It’s not made up. There is no other motivation other than following what they’ve felt in their heart.
I understand that everyone is not the same. I have plenty of friends and family members that have chosen a direction and belief system that is completely contrary to everything that I believe. But I have no desire to argue with them or criticize them for the path that they have chosen. I just love them…and am grateful for our friendship. So you can make fun of me for being a Mormon…but please just realize this one thing. I absolutely believe it is true. With all my heart…I believe that it is true.