I know Fridays have lately become the day I post a book review but today is going to be a bit different. Instead of reading novels for the past week I have been devoting that time to reading The Book Of Mormon. I feel its time for me to figure out what I want in a religion and since I keep feeling drawn to the Church of Latter Day Saints, I figured I would read The Book Of Mormon to see if it would help me decide if this was the church for me.
I’ve been struggling with religion for a while. When I was really little, I remember going to a small country church in the woods. I don’t remember much. Mainly Easter egg hunting in a white dress. I must have been 5 or 6 because I don’t really remember my sister being about of the memory. After that church, my family switched back to the church my parents were married in, Carrboro Baptist Church. It was within walking distance from our house. It was in the center of our town near Franklin Street and the playground of it backed up to my favorite Chinese restaurant. The side of the restaurant that faced the church had a mural that depicted the garden of Eden. I still remember the controversy over it showing Adam and Eve in leaves. I loved going to this church during elementary and middle school. Many of the kids in my neighborhood and school went to this church. It was a close-knit community within the church. It was comforting place to learn about God and Jesus but it wasn’t a fire and brimstone lecturing. They taught it in a kind and accepting way. On Wednesday nights we would have a church supper followed by Wednesday night fellowship. Occasionally there were overnights filled with Christian stories and hide and seek. It was the perfect church until sometime during middle school the preachers changed. At first it was the same but it started changing to the point that us kids could feel the changes. The Sunday services became more lecturing than before and not as welcoming. My Dad stopped going to Sunday services. He said they were worshiping money and not God. Mom, Magan and I still went but the church kept changing. The children’s events would suddenly be canceled if the University wasn’t in session even though the events had nothing to do with the events. Then there was talk about moving the church. They were moving away from being a baptist church and becoming nondenominational. I remember the last service we attended at the church. I was sitting with my mom when the preacher, Mr. Mercer, decided he wanted to answer a letter he had received from someone in the congregation. He said that the writer of the letter was angry for Mr. Mercer not waving when he drove by in his car so no Mr. Mercer was just going to drive around with his hand up so people can think he is waving at them even if he can’t see them. He went on to address other complaints when a gentleman in the congregation stood up and yelled at him not to air his dirty laundry during a church service. Other people started saying other stuff but I don’t remember if they were saying them to the Mr. Mercer or the people standing up to talk against what Mr. Mercer was doing. I just remember being really uncomfortable. We didn’t go back to that church after that. A lot of people didn’t.
My family started attending a church in Durham where most of the older members of Carrboro Baptist had started going to. I liked it because it was like the old country style that I was used to but I also hated it that there weren’t any other kids there so that meant no Wednesday kid services or Sunday School. My sister found out about a church that was in Durham that her friends went to, so we tried that one out. I really didn’t like that church. The kids/ teens groups weren’t really religious based. It was just an hour to hang out with friends before church service. The church services were just a loud rock band. I like hymns but I don’t see why it needs to like going to concert every Sunday. I stopped going to church for a few years because it just felt uncomfortable.
When I was older and living on my own I started attending a methodist church across the street from my apartment complex. I liked it because it was close-knit country church. The preacher was really nice and funny. He related the lessons of the church services with real life events to make it understanding. I really got involved with the church. I was part of the choir and volunteered often to help out with different events. I was happy there. Occasionally my mom and dad would join me for church services or church events. I really like the style of methodist church services. I liked their traditions and the call and answers during the services. I liked learning about the religion without being lectured or threatened with hell if I didn’t do exactly like how the preacher interpreted the bible.
As life would have it, I would end up moving away from that church and since then have been struggling to find a church that would fit me. Ideally I would love to find one that Jeremy would like to go to as well but Christianity isn’t really his cup of tea. I know that if he does go to church its more to make me happy than because he wanted to go. I understand it. He didn’t grow up in a church like I did and I am not going to pressure him into going to one.
I’ve written before about how I have felt the draw to the Church of Latter Day Saints and that I was talking to missionaries out here. I have talked to missionaries before here. I was talking to them for a bit before I moved to Jacksonville and for a little while after I had moved in with Jeremy. It was great until they were getting upset with the fact that Jeremy and I would be living together without being married. At the time even Jeremy was talking to the missionaries with me. The missionaries said that we could keep meeting with them but until we got married or we decided to live separately, we couldn’t join the church. They even offered to have me move into one of their members home until I could afford my own place or Jeremy and I were married so that we could continue with converting to their church. While I appreciated the offer, it also scared me that they would rather me live with a complete stranger instead of someone who loved me and could protect me if I needed it. That was too much for Jeremy and we both agreed to shelve the issue of religion until we were married. When I started talking to the missionaries here, I could tell Jeremy wasn’t as into as before and probably still a little jaded. It also didn’t help that missionaries kept calling and texting every day. In fact it came to the point were they felt more like telemarketers that I was trying to avoid than a religion I wanted to join. By the time they decorated our door, I had been avoiding their calls for about two weeks. That’s why were more creeped out by them hanging by our door to decorated it for who knows how long than touched by the thought.
Despite all the times the missionaries turning us off of the religion, I still feel like I should be a part of it. The church services I have been to, I really enjoyed. And I like the fact that I can question parts of the bible or The Book Of Mormon and actually have a discussion about it and not be lectured for interpreting it wrong or differently. Also I love how no matter which Church Of Latter Day Saints we attended, whether its here in Iwakuni or Chapel Hill, NC or somewhere else, the services are the same, the lessons and messages are the same for the most part. As a military family, moving often is going to be the norm for us. It will be nice to have one constant in my life. And when we have children, I want them to know the same safety and security I knew in the church growing up. Jeremy and I have already talked about it, and our children will be raised in a church. We want them to have a safe place to go to if they can’t come to one of about something. To me the church is more than just a religion. Its the community and I really want to find a good fit for us.
I figure I would give it one more chance but I am doing things differently this time. I’m putting off talking to the missionaries. I’m taking this into my own hands. I have spent the last two weeks reading The Book Of Mormon. I usually average about an hour a day. It isn’t the easiest thing to read so it is going to take me a few more weeks to finish it. To help with the reading I found a podcast that actually reads it out loud chapter by chapter. It’s really helped me a lot. I listen to the podcast and follow along in the book. I have a notebook that jot down notes and questions to bring up if I do go back to talk to the missionaries. I figure if I can make it through The Book Of Mormon I can make a better decision about if this is the religion and community for me without all the pressure to convert right away. I read the Bible in middle school for a school project, I have faith I can finish The Book Of Mormon. If I convert, it will be for life. I don’t want to continue to struggle with finding a church. If choose to not convert, I’m not sure what I am going to do. With us having to move every few years, I would have to continue trying out churches and leaving churches that feel right when it comes time to move. I have a lot to think about. It makes me feel better that no matter what I decide, I know I have Jeremy’s support.
Thanks for letting me ramble on. Any advice you have, I am always happy to hear it.