In the spirit of openness and positivity, I have been trying to be more accepting of things that naturally present themselves in my life as of late. Somehow I knew this would inevitably bring me to a point where I had to stop avoiding missionaries when I saw them. Which, living two blocks away from an LDS church, happens quite a bit.
I’m not opposed to God’s presence in my life, but in recent years (also read as: the years since I left my Catholic School upbringing) I’ve felt more and more disconnected from organized religion and churchgoing itself. Without making this a rant on “Things I Don’t Like About Organized Religions”, I’ll sum it up to be understood as being a part of the millennial generation that says they are more spiritual than religious.
It’s a strange circumstance I’ve found myself in because my belief system has been very rooted in Catholicism for my entire life and my family very much still identifies as “Catholic” even though none of us are practicing the faith any longer. Specifically, none of us go to church anymore but still do things like pray before every meal, talk with our guardian angels, and say things like, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” So I guess… Yep, Catholic roots are still there.
A few months ago, I was approached by two very sweet LDS missionaries who, coincidentally, crossed my path exactly outside my house as I was returning from my daily walk with Koji. They asked if they could pet my dog and we got to talking about all sorts of random things. Eventually, they got to the pitch of inviting me to tour their church and I realized I had no reason to say no. So I agreed.
That night I then told my family about how I would be touring the Mormon church the following day and everyone’s response was pretty similar. Just a simple “Oh, Jordan.” followed by some chuckles.
After agreeing to go on the tour I started thinking about what I should expect from the visit since, to be very honest, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will not be converting. Like I said, I’ve been trying to be very open-minded this year and have been trying to be more welcoming to new opportunities as they present themselves. So I chalked it up to an opportunity for me to learn more about a particular religion that I have no personal experience with. I love learning new things and I’ve been on a recent spiritual quest, so this clearly was an opportunity sent directly from God for me to learn more about the religions of the world.
Some may say this was God sending missionaries to pull me to convert, but I respectfully disagree. They were without a doubt sent by God, but the goal is not my conversion. This much I know for sure.
So I met up with the two girls, or Sisters, at the church and we proceeded to talk about the things we had in common before we even started the tour. I learned we all enjoy the outdoors, even though we agree it rains just a little too much in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for our liking, and we are all foodies. We exchanged a few, “OOO, but have you tried this type of ice cream” and again, found a lot we had in common. So if I had to rate them as individuals, 10/10 would recommend befriending missionaries. They are super sweet girls and their energy was beyond positive and friendly.
We said a prayer, which was lovely, and then proceeded to walk into the chapel where they told me about what happened in this particular part of the building. The chapel reminded me of the Catholic church I grew up in. Simple, seating focused around the front/altar area with some key differences here and there. No statues of anything, nothing too ornate, songbooks in the pews, and a palpable sacred energy in the room. It was sweet.
We then moved on to the gym, which I didn’t know was a feature of LDS churches, but hey, it reminded me of attending a school associated with a church so no judgment here. They told me there was a talent show and both guessed that I had some sort of special talent, one guessed a pogo stick and the other guessed a unicycle. So now I have a few ideas for what to work on to develop a special talent.
Next, we went into what I think was called the primary room. It was the room where younger children would go during either the second or third hour of church (I can’t remember which) and talk about their relationship with God and Jesus and all that jazz. In the back of the room was a baptismal font/pool where they told me they baptize people either once they turn 8 or go through the process of conversion and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I started to ask questions about women and their role in the church which transitioned us perfectly to the area where they told me women met to talk.
Overall the tour was really nice and it was great to have a few of my questions answered about a faith I haven’t learned in depth about.
However, like I mentioned before, I won’t be converting any time soon. If my conversion was based on just the sister missionaries alone, I would have done it. But my core personal religious and spiritual beliefs are in such direct conflict with what I gathered to be the pillars of the Mormon faith, I can guarantee I wouldn’t be a good fit. I don’t like to follow rules, especially ones that tell me my role as a human being are boiled down to the fact that I am a woman. Sorry, but this is also a big part of why I stepped away from Catholicism as well!
Overall, I would recommend that people listen to their own gut instinct and maybe take a missionary up on one of these offers. The girls were lovely and had wonderful souls that I feel blessed to have crossed paths with. It was wonderful to talk with educated young women who were so rooted in a faith and love for Jesus that I personally haven’t experienced in many years.
While meeting the Sisters was amazing and hearing about their church and faith was inspiring, it also made me feel very confident in my personal choice to not convert, as well as my current movement away from organized religion. I think this experience was sent by God as a lesson. Obviously, I could convert or start going to mass again, in any religion, and someday I might start doing that again. But for now, I think this was a great lesson from God that I am confident and happy in my decision to step away and explore spirituality and other modalities of faith for a while.
I implore you, dear reader, to take a chance on something new. Opportunities for growth and education present themselves all the time, but how often do we quickly say no and turn away without a second thought? Take a chance to learn something new, even if it seems like something you think you already know about yourself. You’ll be surprised by the people you meet along your path of self-growth and the knowledge you walk away with because of it.