I Have Something to Say About That…

Thoughts from Author Jenny Proctor

You’re a Mormon? And a Christian?

11 Comments

Last week, Jordan fell outside a friend’s house and punctured the back of his leg severely enough that we thought it best to head to the doctor’s office for stitches, and a tetanus shot. He’s fine now. He endured like the tough kid I know he is and, save six stitches to be removed next week, and a bandage just behind his knee, he’s good as new.

Though my friend offered to keep the younger children while I took Jordan to the doctor, I opted to take them with me so they could get all get a flu shot. I’d already called the office. They could see us right away. Surely, a trip with all five wouldn’t be that difficult.

And God bless the doctor’s office who took my kids to their break room and pumped them full of vanilla sandwich cookies and Little Debbie cakes, it wasn’t that difficult. We managed quite nicely until just before the doctor’s PA finished up the stitches. By this time, treats were eaten and children were restless and my nerves were slowly beginning to unravel. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel though, so I was keeping it together. I didn’t, however, have the wherewithal to come up with a reasonable answer when the PA innocently asked me if Christmas was just a “low key” time of year for us.

He knows my family well, and knows we are Mormon. While I know it wasn’t formed to insult or offend, his question did demonstrate a lack of understanding about the Mormon faith. I’m not sure at what level his misunderstanding lies. There are faiths that believe in Jesus Christ and choose not to celebrate holidays in the traditional sense. He very well could have been making such an assumption about Mormons. But it’s also possible, because it happens so frequently, that he would assume Mormons don’t celebrate Christmas because many believe that Mormons aren’t Christian. Except, I am a Mormon. And I believe in Jesus Christ.

With four children running circles around me, and the fifth needing a hand to squeeze as the last few stitches were put in place, I just didn’t think to say more than, “No, we do celebrate Christmas. The big tree, nativity scenes, the whole nine yards.” And even that came out halfheartedly. Looking back, I should of said more. I should have taken the opportunity to make sure that he understood that I am a witness of Jesus Christ – that I know Him and love Him and live for Him every single day. We celebrate Christmas to honor His birth – to remember the incredible gift that His life was, and to recognize how completely the world was changed when, in that humble stable, HE was born.

I admit, sometimes I grow weary of finding myself so frequently on the defensive. It often feels like those that choose to live without religion all together are met with less opposition than those who choose to live in a manner that isn’t completely mainstream. I know, because they are growing up in an area very similar to where I did, that it’s quite possible my children will be faced with countless experiences where their faith and beliefs are tried and tested. They will have friends that say hurtful things. They will be misunderstood. They will be antagonized far more than their friends who choose not to go to church at all. Hopefully, like I was, they will be stronger for it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not often left shaking my head. With so much goodness and truth and light and love, with so much happiness abounding within the Mormon faith, why must the misunderstandings and ill conceived notions persist? People won’t remember that Mormons provide millions upon millions of dollars of humanitarian aid all over the world every single year, that they teach wholeheartedly the message of Jesus Christ, that they focus on the importance of family, the sanctity of marriage… but I’ll be hang dogged if anyone will ever forget that once, they heard that Mormons wear funny underwear.

I fear I’m coming across a bit cynical, and I don’t intend to. Generally speaking, I truly love and appreciate any opportunity to discuss my faith, even if it means answering questions about my underwear. You can only beat wrong information if you’re willing to replace it with what’s right, so whatever your question, I’ll answer, with a willing heart and voice. You’ll only have to tolerate a little bit of my venting in the process.

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11 thoughts on “You’re a Mormon? And a Christian?

  1. I have been Mormon my whole life. I had to defend my religion every year in school from 4th grade until 11th grade with one particular girl. It was a constant struggle with her, it was brought up almost daily with no teacher intervention. It was frustrating and really got me down at times, but as an adult and looking back I want to thank that girl because I think she made my Faith stronger because I did have to defend it and I made myself study and study so I would be ready for her arguments. I am proud to be a Mormon. Just today I read an article about Mitt Romney and someone commented he is a Mormon and I had to respond to the lady in IA with a simple "and?" It's sad to have such a narrow spectrum.

  2. I have appreciated Mitt Romney's candidacy for the simple reason that it gives me a chance to correct misconceptions among my friends and acquaintances that I didn't even know were there! So far I haven't encountered any animosity….just misinformation. And it feels good to clear those things up!

  3. Feeling much like you, I shared my feelings here http://www.mormonmommyblogs.com/2011/12/im-christian-and-im-mormon.htmlThe ignorance can only be remedied when we're willing to state in plain terms who we are and what we believe.

  4. Love this one today. I have had the same experience and just think that we have to keep trying and working and sharing and loving those around us. We educate them by the way we act and behave around them. We educate them every single time we open our mouths and dispel a myth or an illusion. We teach with every word and with every action. I think you did amazingly well. Next year, send a card, or a story, or a small gift that shares a little bit more of your belief. Now you can plan for the next challenge. Just remember, We are His hands, His eyes, His ears while here upon the earth. We are the ones who will change the way people look at us. Love your thoughts today.

  5. Your PA was taking care of your injured child, plus three others, and you are worried about his making conversation about your holiday? It appears to me that he is acting in a christian way and you are projecting something negative on his polite conversation.

  6. Anonymous, you're right. He was making polite conversation, and I responded politely as well. I'm not trying to project anything negative on anyone. I mentioned in my post that I knew his comment was not made to offend or show disrespect, but it was based on a misunderstanding of what Mormons believe and how we celebrate Christmas. Though I didn't share his remark word for word, it was clear that as far as he understood, we, as Mormons wouldn't be celebrating Christmas at all. I never said he wasn't polite. I never said our conversation was negative – only that he was misinformed. Which then led me to discuss in my post the many experiences I've had where people have been misinformed about what I believe. Unfortunately, many of these experiences have had a more negative tone. This post is about much more than just one conversation. I love my doctor. I love his PA. I appreciate the way they care for my family. And, I hope as they continue to care for and interact with my family, they'll come to know and understand a little bit more of what Mormons believe.

  7. If it is any consolation, it isn't only the LDS that is sometimes considered non-Christian. I was raised Catholic and was told by a Baptist that I couldn't possibly be a Christian if I was. Perhaps the PA got LDS confused with the Jehovah Witnesses who do not celebrate Christmas or birthdays.

  8. I don't understand how people think we aren't christian when Christ's name is in our church title. haha. Sounds like you handled this gracefully. Don't get too frustrated mama, it's great that people like you are out there to set people straight and let them know what we truly believe. Ignorance lies in many things when people don't understand. Just gotta set them straight. you rock!

  9. I grew up in NC and I got this from time to time. The one instance that really stands out right now, because it parallels your experience, was when a teacher in high school(who'd worked with my grandma and knew her well) turned to me in a discussion and asked if Mormons celebrated any holidays in December. The class was mostly evangelical Christian, but we did have a Muslim, Buddhist and Hindi student in the room.I said, "Well . . . Joseph Smith's birthday is the 23rd . . . but we celebrate Christmas."She was so apologetic, because she did know that we were Christians, but she'd forgotten. This teacher was Jewish, so maybe categorizing Christian sects wasn't high on her list 😉 .I think it's a good thing you nicely set him straight. For every misconception we correct, you just have to wonder how many people out there think the same thing but aren't brave enough to say it to a Mormon, or don't know any. Ah well.

  10. I think the thing that most non members wonder about is why there is so much emphasis on Joesph Smith rather than Christ. I know for me and my family we will be putting the Book of Mormon away this year and concentrating on the true Word of God….the Bible.

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