Thursday, May 17, 2012


Each of us have our belief systems and the way we practice them.  It's been interesting lately to hear so much about how people look at my religion.  I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- otherwise known as the Mormons or for short LDS.  I've heard some pretty outrageous ideas about who we are.  A cult, that we brainwash our children, that we have little horns (that one makes me laugh) etc.  But I think mainly it breaks down to this, education and comfort zones.  We are often uncomfortable with things we aren't used to.  I don't see what seems so "weird" about my religion because I practice it.  It's normal to me.  Since I was young I've lived in highly populated LDS areas.  The community I live in now is the least LDS concentrated area I've ever lived in yet I still have a lot of LDS friends.  I also have non-LDS friends but I've not been exposed to a tremendous amount of other religions, or at least not while they are practicing.  But I had quite the uncomfortable experience of my own just this past week.  I hesitated blogging about it because I don't want to come across as mocking or disrespectful.  I've decided to write about it though to show that all of us, no matter what our religious beliefs can feel awkward when faced with a new way of doing things.  Also, it helped me understand what others might feel when it comes to that 'you do it different than me' feeling.
I was at the Idaho Department of Labor (job service).  I was working on a resume in the computer lab when I heard a lady a couple seats away slam the desk and mutter the F-bomb.  I looked at her and realized she was an acquaintance that used to drive a bus for Tim, the disabled person I take care of.  An employee approached her and asked her if there was something she needed help with.  She gave a very irritable, "NO!"  I wondered what was wrong and thought maybe I'd just give her a minute to cool down then say hi- which I did.  It was like a different person emerged when she saw me.  She was happy to see me and asked me about Tim.  I asked her about her boys and she lit up.  She shared with me that one is in Bible School,  one is a youth minister and I can't remember what the other is doing but all three of her boys are very active in their church.  She beamed- a very proud mom as, it sounds, she should be.  Then she started to tell me how they've been blessed so much since they left her abusive husband.  She told me many of the blessings God has poured out on her and her boys and how grateful to Him that she is.  Then she asked me what my religion is.  I told her.  She said something to the effect of, "I know other people who think you guys are weird but I just think you're all so nice and I respect you because you all do more for people than anyone else I've ever met and you're the nicest people around."  I thanked her and told her we try to emulate Christ in the way we live our lives.  She told me she is very active in her Pentecostal church.  The conversation was fine up to this point.  Not awkward at all.  But then...

She told me she'd recently learned to anoint her hands and touch people with them and proclaim for people.  She said that because Jesus hung on the cross and said, "It is finished." that as followers of Christ we can proclaim things that God has to then do for us.  I'm not sure how she got from point A to point B but this was our first religious difference to come up.  I didn't say it out loud.  I want to have respect for her beliefs and I certainly don't need to get into a battle over what's right and wrong and interpretation etc.  In her defense, we didn't spend the time on this topic for me to understand it completely.  My own belief is that I don't tell God what to do.  I can ask with faith and if something is his will then he can make it happen if he chooses.  I do believe that he wants to bless us because he loves us and we're his children.  I also believe that we have many unseen blessings and that although something seems right to us, we may be wrong.  He sees the big picture.  I may not get what I want, no matter how "good" it seems.  Moving on.

The idea of her anointing her hands and touching people with them seems similar to the priesthood.  The priesthood is the power of God.  I believe in order to have this power it must be given by someone who has the authority.  I don't believe she does and so I felt funny about this.  Again though, I didn't think it was for me to disagree or tell her I think she's wrong.  She has a right to her beliefs just as I have a right to mine.  I like to have a healthy, common respect and I was trying to understand.

Well, we talked religion for a few minutes and then I let her know I needed to leave.  She said, "Before you go I have to say a prayer for you.  Do you mind?"  Honestly, I don't mind people praying for me, I can use all the prayers I can get.  I also believe that when it comes to prayer it doesn't matter what our religion, God hears and answers ALL prayers.  At the same time, I wasn't sure what to expect.  There were people around.  

I hesitantly said, "Okay.  Hoping we'd go in the bathroom or something."  She said great and jumped up.  I grabbed my things and followed her.  I breathed a sigh of relief as we entered the lobby we must be headed for the bathroom.  I breathed that sigh to soon.  She passed the bathroom door and headed outside.  I thought, Oh good, we'll go around the building where we have some privacy.  No such luck.  Just outside the front doors she stopped and turned to me and said, "I'd like to make a proclamation for you."  I politely said, I don't fully understand your proclamation and I don't feel comfortable with that.  I am okay with a prayer though."  She didn't appear at all offended and asked what I do with my hands when I pray?  I showed her that when I say my personal prayers or pray in church I fold my arms.  (Our family holds hands when we say our daily family prayers together.)  She told me that she believes that when we pray we receive and so asked me to hold my hands out palms up in front of me.  At this point I was looking around to see how many people were going to witness this.  The answer at this point was at least 5.  I was grateful for the darkened windows on the building.  It was easier to pretend no one was inside looking out.  I quit looking, I was feeling very awkward.  As LDS we pray in church as congregations, we pray as families, we say our own personal prayers, we pray in group leadership positions and I could name many more etc. but this is not how I'm used to doing it.  OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE!  
James 6:5-6

5 ¶ And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are:
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners
of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you,
They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou
hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy
Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Please don't think I feel she's a hypocrite, I don't.  Really, if she wanted to have more of a group we'd have stayed in the computer lab where there were at least 50 others who could have witnessed it.  Maybe she thought the bathroom was inappropriate.  I do share this scripture to show my belief and the way I practice my prayers though.  It's not for show, it's between my Heavenly Father and me.  It's to gain a personal relationship with him.  It's in private more so I can listen and try to feel what he may be communicating back.

This nice lady then raised her hands and started to say a very flowery prayer.  And while she wasn't yelling, she wasn't quiet either.  I shut my eyes tightly, afraid to see how many people might be gawking at us.  I felt so completely conspicuous that I started wondering what the people around us were thinking.  I was glad my bishop had a job.  I didn't think he'd be at job service and I didn't want to have to explain what I was doing.  I could have been wearing blinking lights and felt less obvious.  Where was the nearest hole?  The elaborate language (yes, it was in English) she was using was very difficult for me to follow.  It felt more like a bunch of words to me than communication- I'm sure she knew what she was saying though.  (I did think it was ironic that these words were coming out of her mouth just a few minutes after the F-word).  I believe that language is very powerful see this post on language.  After what seemed like a very long time (but was probably a minute or so) she finished.  She lowered her hands and said, "I can see the Lord covering you and your family with a blanket of love right now."  I thanked her, (that was a nice sentiment and I'm pretty sure she was speaking metaphorically) and we parted ways.  I did a very good job at just walking and not running to my car.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh in the car.  I think it was a release of that distress and awkwardness that had been wound up in me for the past couple minutes.  Honestly, I was dying to share this experience with my husband.  He says I always get into crazy situations - Go figure.  This was a new experience, not one I want to relive. I'll stick with my way of praying.  But it has opened my eyes a little more to what others may think of LDS people.

So, to my non-LDS followers (if there are many of you).  Is this what it feels like to be around us?  Do we do weird things you aren't used to that make you feel awkward?


  1. That is very interesting would of loved to have been there so we could look at each other and say O...K... I love your stories. I learn so much from them and glad that I can learn through you!

  2. Andrea,

    I was glad no one was there I knew, although now we could have a good chuckle. Thanks for loving my stories. I love sharing them.

  3. Yes...awkward! But I know that it really only seems weird to us because we're not accostomed to it, and I'm sure some of the things we do are very strange to other people. Very funny story, thanks for sharing!

  4. Non LDS here... But I am also very non Pentecostal. In my experience the Pentecostals are about their power and their authority. They say it is given to them by God but if that's the case then their sin nature leads to many abuses of it. Pentecostals drive me nuts. They are some of the most irrational and self absorbed people I know! Sorry for the rant. I am a non Pentecostal that is stuck at a sort of Pentecostal church. Very difficult for me.

    1. You are in a tough position. I just checked out your post about your situation and now I understand it a little better. I can only say that for me, to worship in a way I don't feel is right, or better, to not worship in a way I think is right would be torturous. I'd definitely go where I belong. As for the friends at the other church, they could still be my friends, we just wouldn't see each other on Sundays.

      I know the Lord knows what's in your heart...that matters greatly. He'll guide you where you should be. Good luck with this decision. I hope you are happy with it soon!

  5. Please don't think that is how other christians act. Because it's really not. Pentecostals are an extremist group and their beliefs are not exactly what most mainstream christians believe. I almost posted this to you personally, because I know I could get blasted for this. I was raised with one parent Pentecostal and the other Catholic, so I have seen both ends of a very wide spectrum. As for LDS, I don't know that much about it other than you all seem to be a living example of your faith. The only 'weirdness' I have ever seen is the preparedness thing. But if I heard the explananation, I might understand it more.

    1. I'd love to explain! Just like anything in life, we'll have an easier time overcoming obstacles and challenges if we're prepared. I'm assuming you're talking about food storage. For many years our church leaders have urged us to have a storage of food and other supplies (toilet paper, fuel etc.) for anything that can come along. I really believe that this is counsel from God. Similar to when the Lord sent Pharaoh the dream that Joseph interpreted and they received the warning that there would be a famine, so they stored grain, which enabled them to get through the famine where other lands around them didn't do so well.

      We live in a time where there are economic problems, earthquakes, tsunami's, tornadoes, etc. We never know when disaster will strike or even financial stress like losing a job, or hours etc. Being prepared before hand is wise and allows us to not only get ourselves through a trying time more easily but it allows us to help others where we otherwise may not have been able to.

      We've had times where I've been VERY grateful that I have food on my shelves so that we can put our money on something unexpected or a bill rather than have to worry about groceries.

      We also believe in being prepared spiritually. Not just for the second coming (really any of us could go at any time) but to be ready to spiritually help our children or others who need us, and that also truly helps us stay on top of our challenges.

      Being prepared truly gives me peace of mind.

      Does that help take the "weird" out of it?

  6. Wow, that would totally put me out of my comfort zone too. I mean, I've prayed in public like blessing a meal or what not, but never just out and about. But me being a converted LDS, I'm really, really shy about my prayers. When the primary president asked me if I'd do a closing prayer after a ward activity I totally just blurted "nope".
    I think it's hard for some people, regardless of their religion (including some LDS) to understand that what may be normal for them just isn't normal for others but in my experience LDS folks are very non-pushy (ok, except maybe missionaries LOL!) and because our religion is looked so weirdly on at times, most LDS are so tolerant of other religions.
    I love this. I love being LDS. But then again, I'm a little weird LOL!

    1. I've learned that weird can be good. Who wants to just be the same as everyone else, right?

  7. I can only imagine how awkward that all was, good thing you took it in stride and with grace. I'm not an LDS, I was baptized Catholic. Though now I'm more inclined to spirituality than religion.

    I admire people who openly live their faith and share it with others. People who are congruent with their beliefs in words, thoughts and most importantly, in actions.

    It's sad sometimes when I see people who go to church all the time but curse and gamble when they're outside of the church.

    Religion really is a very touchy topic and you're right, we are all entitled to our own beliefs and the best way really is just to respect each other and agree to disagree.

    1. I agree with you. Religion doesn't seem to mean much if it's only lived on Sunday. That's hypocricy. I guess we all have things we have to work on. Once in a while I notice little hypocricies in myself and I have to start repenting and changing but I do try to remember I'm a daughter of God everyday, not just on Sunday.

  8. Like you, I have great respect for other people's sacred practices. I can so see myself getting into the same kind of situation! :) I know we Mormons have different ways of doing things and I imagine that we make other people uncomfortable at times. But I do hope we are never guilty of trying to be seen of men.

    1. Glad I'm not the only one that would have chosen this!

  9. Again I had to smile at how much you and your mom, get/ or got into the most awkward of situations:) (I love that you share, I miss my sister and her stories so much!)
    I too have the utmost of respect for others and their religious practices, convictions. Every man has the right to worship according to the dictates of his/her own heart.
    I remember attending a prayer service with a friend at his pentecostal church while still in high school. It was a much different experience than I had ever experienced previously.
    Prayer had always been and still is a sacred and personal experience when I communicate with a loving Father in Heaven.
    Thanks for another great post! xo


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