Wednesday, August 12, 2015
I've often been asked how I can believe in a man that lied, misguided, used people, stole, had many wives, and on and on. My answer to that is always the same. It makes me believe in him more. Let me explain.
When I was growing up I was taught that Joseph Smith was basically "Christ incarnate". That always puzzled me because I thought he was just a man that was doing the will of God. Making him the 2nd Christ led me, and so many others to believe he was something different than a man called of God. It led me to believe that he did nothing wrong. That never sat well with me because that meant I couldn't relate to him whatsoever.
At the age of 14 when I left the church I started to read all about the founder of my church. I started to hate him even more. I started to hate him more not because of the things he did, but because of the way I was taught to believe in him in my youth. Joseph Smith wasn't perfect. That's something I've come to love about him now. As a 14 year old girl though, that went against everything I had been taught and everything I believed. What a found out later in life is that to truly know if something is true, you have to discover it for yourself.
I'm having a difficult time with people these days who leave the church in their later years and say they were lied to. It bothers me because I think, "How did you ever say you believed in something when you knew nothing about it in the first place?" The reason I was gone from the church for 10 years was because I had to do my research. I had to know the good and the bad. I had to know it all, because then and only then could I decide if I believed. At the age of 14 I knew that I couldn't tell people I believed in a church I knew nothing about.
As I grew up and studied more and more about Joseph Smith, the more I hated him. The more his lies, secrets, and actual history, came to me; I despised him. I thought he was a liar, cheat, and a thief. If we're being realistic, he kind of was. The thing that occurred to me though, is that I had never read the Book of Mormon. I had never read the keystone of the religion that I was raised in. If I didn't read their book, how on earth could I know if I believed it or not?
As I started the Book of Mormon, and all the way through, I knew for a fact it was true. I knew these people existed, and that this incredible story was true. What did that change about my feelings towards Old Joe Smith? Not very much. The thing it changed though, is that I knew that he was inspired by God. I know God lead him to that Book, and that it was translated correctly. Nothing else mattered to me. If the Book was true, than Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and I believed the rest would work itself out, and it has.
After I accepted that the Book of Mormon was true, I started reading every history book about my church that I could. I know I believed the Book of Mormon, but to say I believed in the church meant I had to know about my church. The more I read and learned the more I saw and believed that the church and it's teachings were true.
Let's just say for fun that I didn't believe in my church. I'm still a better person living within the guidelines of my church than I was when I wasn't living them. My church teaches incredible morals, family values, respect, honor, and all the things that I want for my future family. Even if it isn't true, I'm better being part of it than I am being not part of it.
As I've learned more and more (and by no means am I a scholar), I learned how much I appreciate and truly love Joseph Smith. I love him for his imperfections. They're a testament to me that the church isn't made of perfect people that I can't relate to. The church is made up of imperfect women and men that are trying to do their best. What a beautiful way of life. Each of us make mistakes, but we're each trying to do better. I respect Joseph Smith for that. I respect him because he was a MAN, not a God. He was just trying to do the best he could with what he was given.
Our church may not be perfect, but it's the most perfect for me. Our leaders make mistakes, say things that offend, and even make us sound crazy, but we're better being part of this church than we are not being part of it. I'm grateful for those imperfect people because they made me feel a little closer to my Father in Heaven.
I know my church is true. I believe it. I'm grateful for it's teachings, and values. I'm grateful for the men and women that make up this church, and all they teach me. My only hope is that each of us has something that brings us as much joy as my church brings me. If it's not my church that brings you joy, I hope whatever you love brings you peace, happiness, and joy. I'll respect your choice, and I appreciate you respecting mine. What it all comes down to is the 2nd greatest commandment ever given. "Love one another, as I have loved You."