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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This Mormon Moment Isn't For Us



by brettmerritt (bio)

via Salt Lake Tribune

Regardless of how you'll vote in this election, wasn't it sort of cool to see Mitt Romney on stage for the first 2012 Presidential Debate? There he was. Mitt Romney the Mormon candidate for POTUS.

Is it really our Mormon Moment? The term is so catchy. So encompassing. I love, love C. Jane Kendrick's opinion on the Mormon Moment. She, rightly, expresses a wariness of the term and the more I read about this exciting if not controversial Moment, the more I think we're missing a potentially golden opportunity.

I think the press that the Church has gotten is helpful. The interviews that many of our Brothers and Sisters have done in the public eye have been, for the most part, wonderful to read and watch. But ...

The Mormon Moment isn't about us. It's for them.

This isn't our time to finally talk about ourselves, dutifully police website comments, and share inspirational videos, although that's fine if you have the time to do that. Rather, I think it’s a chance for each of us to really be authentic, let the world observe, and enjoy their moment with us.

We need to be ourselves. Let that do the talking, even if that means letting people see our flaws, ecclesiastical and personal.

I read recently that, because of the attention we're getting, we need to be on our best behavior. I know the intent wasn't to encourage us to be disingenuous but as I thought about it more, I felt like I was being asked to tow the line just because so many people are watching. Like, because people are paying attention, now we should be good? We should reeeeaalllllllly watch our language, not smoke, and keep our thoughts clean? "Quick! The teacher is coming! Look busy!"

For some, the natural state of being is this "best behavior" and that's great. Be that. But there's also a reason there are stereotypes of Mormons. It's because for so many generations we've all tried to be the same person: the perfect, humble, eight-child-rearing, aw shucks, bread-making, believer of whatever the Church tells us to believe. I know this because I grew up during a time where, despite all my family's honest problems, we still tried to put on a typical Mormon front each Sunday proclaiming "All is well in Zion!" as my parents slowly grew apart and divorced.

None of us are close to perfect. I think it would do our religion more good if people saw us letting our guard down a little. I'm not saying we go drinking with our colleagues or anything (unless you're the kind of Mormon who happens to frequent bars). But are we really so afraid that others might view us as regular people who get angry, cheat at Scrabble, and say damn-hell-shit every now and then? We should be more afraid of alienating those around us because they think we're not relatable.

Am I saying to be of the world? No. I'm saying be yourself.

Am I saying you shouldn't be a good example? No. I'm saying exemplify the parts of the gospel you live, work on the ones you don't.

I think I should focus more on being a good person than being a perfect Mormon. What do you think would be worse: starting up a gospel conversation with a non-member after you've seen a R-rated movie together ... or .... trying to explain yourself to a non-member who sees you leaving a R-rated movie after you've told them all Mormons don't watch them?

I recently read an article in the Ensign by Stephanie J. Burns and Darcie Jensen called "Sharing the Gospel By Sharing You." I recommend it. They write about how we need to be living testimonies, be friends first, listen with love, and then share the gospel naturally.

The point is that, yes, the best way to share the gospel is to live it. That's true. It is very important to try to live the Gospel perfectly. But when we fall short, as we all do, it's better not to hide our faults from the people who need to know that we actually use the Atonement instead of simply professing to believe it.

So while the rest of the world is having their Mormon Moment, remember it doesn't belong to you. Remember to smile, be kind, be real, be honest, be funny, be passionate, and be you. The moment will fade and the spotlight will dim. If we've done our jobs, they won't remember magic underwear and secret temples. They'll remember you. The Mormon who stubbed his toe, dropped the F-bomb, hugged his kids, drank Coke Zero, and worshiped the Almighty God every Sunday. And, when they ask you what you really believe, you can have your moment. And it will be amazing.

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