Religion Magazine

Making Sense Of Our Journey

By Ldsapologetics
Everyone is on their own journey which is theirs to make sense of, no one else can or needs to make sense of it. Not truly. So here is mine and I have only made sense of some of it.
I was born in Salt Lake City in the summer of 1979. My parents are both racist, my dad is also sexist. They divorced when I was 4. My mom got full custody. I moved to a new town and school every two years at most and after 7 th grade I moved to a new school every year until I graduated high school.
My Dad is schizophrenic and has had daily meds, monthly therapy and hospital visits from time to time my entire life. Mental illness is still stigmatized but not like it was in the early 80's. I grew up meeting and identifying with schizophrenics and other mental illnesses my whole life from the homeless to nurses. Not everyone with an illness will talk about it. Because when kids at my school found out in the 3rd grade I went from being a cool kid to completely ostracized. But it made me more understanding and compassionate especially of those who have been shunned.
In another school I was one of four white kids in an otherwise black school in the 2nd grade. When I came home from school and "acted" or talked "black" my mom would flip out, yell at me and use racial slurs while making me understand I am white and need to act like it. Like when all my friends in school had corn rows and I asked my mom if I could get them. That resulted in an epic meltdown.But moving around the country and being the new kid almost every year, forced me to be respectful and understanding of all people despite any difference in race, gender, religion or anything else that normally separates us.After I was discharged from the Army I lived in Waianae, Hawaii on the island of Oahu. It was one of the roughest parts of the island. In the Army we were warned not to go there as it was notoriously dangerous for soldiers especially white soldiers.
When I was still in the Army my girlfriend lived there. I showed up in Waianae in uniform on more than one occasion. I made friends easily even in a supposedly rough town, even in uniform.
I made friends easily because I understood others and I understand respect. That's all it took. I made friends with homeless people, with everyone who worked at the 7/11 or at the grocery store. And these people looked out for me. They diffused tense situations for me too.
Given that I spent my whole life moving from one city to another, always being the new kid in school, I find it easy to make friends. I am at ease in strange places. I am fine being the new guy.
I also respect others enough to learn and listen to music they like or read the books they like and especially to learn about their religion. Reading sacred texts has always been inspiring to me. Understanding what others like is good but to understand what they hold sacred is a sacred kind of respect. I don't have to believe every religion is true in order to understand them. 
Which I did learn growing up. Mostly on my own because even though I was raised LDS on my Dads side, when I asked my Mom if I could go to church she would send me to whichever church was convenient and I didn't know that all churches weren't Mormon til I was 6 or so. When I was asked not to come back to a baptist church for telling the others kids in church about the Book of Mormon. Specifically about the stripling warriors. The kids thought it was awesome but the adults had a meltdown.
Their "Christlike" love was strong until they learned I was Mormon then it evaporated and turned to ugliness and bigotry. Something I studied to prove or disprove in the words of Christ, but I was never able to find such ugliness or bigotry in His words and teachings.
Even when I lost my faith at 12 and was an Atheist until my 30's I still studied the New Testament's account of Christ and His teachings. He was harsh at times but He preached love and inclusion not hate and exclusion and fear. Religious truth claims aside I felt it was the right way to live. And I tried to live by that. Even as an atheist.
Because I feel that Christ was all about love, understanding, further light and knowledge, respect, inclusion and acceptance I love my gay neighbor. I love my Mexican neighbor, I love my addicted neighbor, I love my neighbors in prison, I love my neighbors at war, on all sides since I am commanded to love my enemies. I believe that how I show love to all God's children is proof of how much I love God.
Because God sees us cheering on the war and killing one another, and He loves us still. He sees us putting profits before lives and health, and He loves us still. He sees us stealing from others to buy for ourselves, and He loves us still. So who are we to love each other any less?
Growing up I couldn't afford to have any prejudices because my survival depended on getting along, on making friends and church was the only staple in my life. And my take on the gospel may reflect what I grew up learning but I also think the gospel was meant to be inclusive, loving, understanding and I thought of Christ as a bringer of further light and knowledge.
Others may think I'm wrong or that I've over simplified the gospel but for me I have streamlined my understanding and it has amplified the personal philosophy that has helped me my entire life.
Love is based in understanding and respect. Hate and bigotries of every kind is based in fear. Weakness gives into fear, love is nurtured by strength, honor and character.
My life is meant to make sense to me. Not anyone else but I hope I made sense out of the journey I shared with you.
Making Sense Of Our Journey

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