Wednesday, July 10, 2013

To stay or not to stay in the Church

While conformity is the norm of the Chinese culture, I am getting more and more messages from some of you indicating your contemplation on leaving the Church feeling you no longer belong. Guilty as charged. This question has popped into my mind more than you can think of but please hear me out. Just like President Kimball said, I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can tell you how I feel.

 The past few weeks I have been pursuing a discourse and stumbling on some power struggle and unreasonable restrain chaos among members. To be utterly honest, there were certainly moments when I was screaming in my mind thinking “What in the world these people are thinking”. In the midst of contention, what gives me strength to go on is my testimony and firm belief of individuality in a collective gospel.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is what brings us all together regardless of our age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and culture. It is the foundation of our life and the guiding principle on how we work our way through eternity. While we collectively grow together as a people, a Church, individuality is essential and to be respected. Getting my patriarchal blessing has been the best proof of how much Heavenly Father truly knows each of His children and wants us to be different. It gives me hope and strength to turn my back on conformity and stereotypical expectation and just be who I am.

If you notice the latest implementation of new church materials (e.g. Preach My Gospel, Handbook 2, and the new youth curriculum), teachings in the Church are evolving to be more flexible, catering to individual needs, and less structural. It occurs to me that as a collective whole, we are finally mature enough to take teaching and learning experiences to a higher or personable level. What do we do if it’s still not happening? There are a few tricks I use to work my way through disappointment and frustration.

1: Rediscover your sense of humor. Be the wild card and just laugh the heck out of ridicules while you are expected to go ballistic. Last night in institute, a fellow classmate made a comment calling a Book of Mormon male character was a woman implying he was a wimp.  Instead of punching him in the face (although that was tempting), I laughed and responded “Oh come on, you just married one.” Our whole table burst out laughing and he got my message alright.   

2. It’s okay to say NO! It is a common misunderstanding that love thy neighbor means pouring your heart out to everyone. When your fellow brothers and sisters walk all over you, it’s okay to say no and stop it. It doesn’t mean that you’re not charitable or not longsuffering enough but it simply means you love them in a hi-bye manner.

3. Stick with what I know to be true. Some people may question the validity of my knowledge but we all know who the source of all truth is. Once I have a spiritual confirmation for my decision, I go for it and I am never alone. Look for people who will understand with an eye of faith.

It is a difficult journey and the trials can seem excruciating. I choose to stay because I have had far too many experiences assuring the truthfulness of the restored gospel. It gives me every bit of courage to try again, trust again, and be the change I desire earnestly to see. 

“A man of your kind has to live with his conscience.
A man has to live with his principles.
A man has to live with his convictions.
A man has to live with his testimony.
Unless he does so, he is miserable—dreadfully miserable.
And while there may be thorns,
while there may be disappointment,
while there may be trouble and travail,
heartache and heartbreak, and desperate loneliness,
there will be peace and comfort and strength. “

----- President Gordon B. Hinckley


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