Living in Utah my entire life has kept me relatively sheltered, and I’ve been so very grateful for it. I’m sorry to say it did not prepare me for my first negative, ignorant response to sharing a bit of our Church’s history.
Earlier in the year I discovered a wonderful site geared towards Christian writing. It had been around for a while, and is quite famous for putting together writing anthologies. Each week a ‘subject’ contest would challenge those opting to participate. The stories, essays, or poems could not go above 750 words (especially challenging to a long-winded writer like myself). The subjects could range from ‘Children’ and ‘Anger’ to ‘Worship’, and we only had a week to write.
After several months I’d made it up to the Advanced level, and had taken what I was to write about very seriously. I’d even pray about what message Heavenly Father wanted me to portray.
One particular week the subject was ‘Bold.’ I prayed and prayed, and nothing came. The weekend passed me by, I continued to ask, and still nothing. I would start writing something only to leave the project partially done, as it didn’t feel right. Monday night inspiration finally came, and my immediate response was to tuck it away where it wouldn’t bother anyone.
You see, so far as I knew I was the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doing these challenges. This story, the one I wanted to tuck away, would declare precisely who I was and what I believed. As much as I am not ashamed of my beliefs, I am greatly affected by the harsh words of others.
So I kept on praying. Monday passed on into Tuesday. Still the story refused to remain hidden. Tuesday passed on into Wednesday and time was running out. The more I prayed the harder this particular story was to ignore (anyone who has a ‘story’ to tell knows exactly what I mean). At last I gave in, did a bit of studying, and wrote my story.
Everything submitted in these challenges is free for others to comment on. My very first comment confirmed my greatest fears. I believe the woman’s first sentence was, “Let’s not forget that Mormons are not Christian.” It got worse from there.
Though no one else commented on what she said, I felt as though my heart had been ripped out of my chest and trampled on. I was confused. Others had posted stories on Jewish ancestors, Muslim accounts, or various religions who didn’t even believe in Christ. Only then did I realize this site, based on Christian views and beliefs, had no tolerance for Mormons.
Through this experience I found one other member of the LDS Church, and discovered her introduction to the intolerance of our religion was far worse than mine. She encouraged me to pray about staying on, which I have done. The two of us know we can work as missionaries in our own way – through our writing. In fact she’s had several people ask about our church because of her works.
For those like me, who are growing up surrounded by fellow members, I offer you my own challenge. Don’t be afraid to share the gospel. Many people you come in contact with will not believe you. Many will despise you. Yet as any missionary will tell you, it will all be worth it if we can plant a desire in even one soul to find out a little more about the LDS Church. Beyond this, I can promise you the Lord will bless you for having the courage to put yourself out there.
….For those who would like to know what story I told, tune in to my next post.