I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, colloquially known as the “Mormon” church. My faith journey has led me to a Baptist belief, and I no longer identify as Mormon. However, some aspects of my experience I have carried with me inform my current beliefs and values. 

My mother’s side of the family has been involved with the Mormon church since before Nauvoo, a key historic site where the Mormon “saints” found refuge from persecution. My ancestors helped build Nauvoo and its first Mormon temple out of a disease-infested swamp. 

On my grandfather’s side were some of the earliest converts to the Mormon church. Some martyrs for their faith at the Battle of Crooked River in 1838

I grew up hearing stories about their ancestors’ sacrifices and determination to uphold their beliefs. They persevered despite facing the very real possibility of death because of their religious convictions. 

Although I no longer share the same faith that of my ancestors, I carry their stories with me. They have made me who I am.  

I honor their sacrifices. I have deep respect for their sacrifices in the name of their faith. 

In celebrating their steadfastness, I carry with me a firm belief in the faithfulness and love of God. As I carry with me an appreciation for those sacrifices and a love for my own faith, I value the devotion others show to their faith. 

I was twelve when I was first allowed to enter the Temple in Portland, which was the nearest to where my dad was stationed in Vancouver. It is still one of my favorite buildings. Inside and out, it is a beautiful and well-maintained space. 

I still carry a love for the beauty of Mormon temples, although I no longer believe in the beliefs that give them a reason for being. I can appreciate the attention to detail given to create a space intended to be holy. We should seek to emulate this care in creating our own worship spaces.  

We cannot earn God’s love because it is already freely given. But we can honor God in the spaces we create, whether a chapel, park or a table in a coffee shop.  

In high school, I went to seminary every morning before school, either at the church building or a church member’s home. I would wake up at 5:00 am to make it there by  6:00. We studied and read every page in the Old and the New Testament and the Mormon scriptures. 

This regular practice of studying scripture daily helped cultivate a love for God’s word. In those early mornings, as much as the teenage version of myself hated waking up, I grew closer to God through the written word. 

From this experience, I carry the importance of reading and studying scripture. That knowledge has given me the ability to find solace and guidance in God’s word– especially in times when I have struggled with loss and my mental health. This assures me that no matter what I am going through, an answer can be found either in the Word or the Spirit’s influence in my life.

In Mormon culture, participating in missions was expected. As a child in Sunday school, we sang “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission,” and the words still echo in my ears. 

We were taught to prepare to leave home for up to two years to serve. Mormon missionaries must learn the language spoken by the people they serve. 

I still carry the importance of gaining an understanding of the people I am trying to serve, practicing cultural humility and communicating in a language they understand. I want to meet them where they are, not require them to meet me where I am. 

As a future social worker, this shapes my values and approach to serving my community. We shouldn’t force our culture upon someone but educate ourselves and learn from them. 

We all carry things from our past experiences. What we carry shapes who we are.  

Without my family’s history within LDS, I would not be here. Without the experiences I had growing up in the Mormon church, my beliefs and values would not be the same as they are today. 

These experiences have shaped how I view and interpret the world around me. 

I am not Mormon. But I was. And that is an identity I carry with me. 

What do you carry that makes you who you are?

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