I am Mormon.
Being Mormon means praying. It means praying at stop lights, at the grocery store, during soccer games and kneeling on the floor of a messing toy room surrounded by your family. It means praying so long, you forget where you began and where you ended. It is prayers offered in Tagalog, sign language, and Russian. And knowing that Heavenly Father hears you all the same.
Being Mormon means 19 year old boys, far away at the ends of the earth. They are sitting in white washed rooms, in cinder block houses, some with flooring, some without, sharing their testimonies and eating fried cockroaches. They are flung to far corners of the planet, to places few have ever heard of, where they speak the native language and write home about having tape worm and hand washing their own clothes in a small creek.
Being Mormon means your wedding isn’t at a drive-through chapel with Elvis. It’s a spiritual ceremony with quiet laughter and streaming tears in a holy temple with spires piercing the heavens. It means wedding receptions where the finest thing may be waxy chocolates and sparkling punch and a basket ball hoop covered in balloons and streamers. But it's heaven and means eternity.
Being Mormon means not knowing exactly how many children Heavenly Father would like you to have, but being terrifyingly open to it all the same.
It means loving those children. Bearing them one by one, and then settling into your family structure, at last, like a comfortable chair. It means growing with your family, mellowing with the years until your children become your greatest offering to God. With a prayer, you place them on the altar, step back, and realize they are your life's work.
Being Mormon means funerals where the meal afterwards (the ham and funeral potatoes, lime jello and mint brownies) are as much anticipated as the stories told and songs sung, remembering your grandpa, your baby niece, your dear friend, now gone. But you know you will see them again, and along with hugs from everyone in your ward family, somehow, that helps.
Being Mormon means singing. Singing in a choir, in a congregation, at the top of your lungs or whispered hums in a baby’s ear. Songs that teach you the heart of what you believe. And you carry them with you as truth, flung over your shoulders ready to rescue you from dark and sad places.
Being Mormon means taking steps from darkness into light. It means taking your heavy heart to Christ and sharing it with him. Letting it go. It is the Atonement and forgiveness. It means service, even when you'd rather not make another casserole or be a nursery worker when you have 2 children already in there. You do it because you love Him and in truth, it is your privilege.
Being Mormon means falling asleep reading the scriptures more times than you'll ever admit. But knowing they are there, all the same, to wrap you in comfort and sanity.
It means Joseph Smith, the sacred grove, the visiting angels, and The Book of Mormon. It means finding out for yourself one dark night while kneeling. Knowing it was real. Knowing that it's true.
For every Mormon there is on this beautiful earth, there is a different growing up in the gospel experience. The flavor that gives to an individual’s testimony is unique every time. But it is all real and true. It is all of us.
I am Mormon. It is who I am.