It seems too often that we, humans of the earth, are a people who are crippled by fear. I myself am no stranger to it. Fear is so common to us and is shared by all but is still uniquely ours.
I can remember a poignant time when I felt myself constrained by the familiar bounds of fear – that in regards to my faith. I was 13, gangly, with a wavering self-confidence to match. I was neither popular nor unpopular. I was stuck between the person I knew I was and the person the crowds wanted me to be. Most of the time, I felt terribly lonely.
My beliefs certainly were not the way to become popular. I was a baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or a Mormon. This wasn't unique, however – almost everyone in my school was as well. Rather than solidifying the standards and beliefs of our church, the familiarity with the doctrine often seemed to engender the opposite: people were cold, crude, and ridiculed the things I held most sacred. Being “Mormon” was not a distinction – it was spectrum full of varying levels of commitment to the teachings of Christ. Most of us wanted to be good, but not too good, as that would single us out for vicious teasing. No one wanted to be branded a “Molly Mormon”. Those kids were little goody-two shoes; people who sucked the fun out of everything and were looked down upon.
I was so afraid of being called a Molly Mormon, and sometimes I was. I knew that the church was true but didn’t always want to show it for fear of being teased. Though I never did anything terrible, I didn't live as true to my knowledge of God as I could have. Sometimes I was quiet when I should have spoken up in defense of Christ.
I understand so much more clearly now – most of my misery came because I didn't always stick to the things I knew to be true. I knew I had a Heavenly Father who loved me and knew my name. I knew I was His child. I knew that I had a Savior: Jesus Christ. I knew God wanted me to become the best person I could possibly be. He wanted me to be true to Him, which would also mean being true to me.
The experience of Peter and John so adequately explains what I was facing and what I needed to do. The leaders of the Jews had brought the two apostles before them and threatened them, demanding that they stop teaching of Christ.
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
And then, a page turn away, they boldly restate their determination to follow Christ:
Acts 5: 29 ¶Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Obey God. Don’t be afraid to live your lives true to your religion, whatever it may be. Whether you are Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or more, never let the opinion of man hold you back from following God the best way you possibly can. Don’t let your fear hold you back; it will only make you miserable. God loves you. He loves you where you are and knows what’s best from you. His sole purpose is to help you develop into the wonderful person He knows you can be. Though our beliefs on how to worship God may differ, I promise you that if you are true to the knowledge you have, you will be happier.
So it was with me – after that dreadful year of middle school and in the safety of a summer afternoon, I made a promise. I told God that I would show my love for Him on the outside no matter the consequences; that I would obey His rules first rather than hesitating under the glare of my peers. That following school year marked the turn of a new chapter in my life. Though I didn't know who I was in full, necessarily, I had decided who I was going to become: a disciple of Jesus Christ and someone who is in His gospel to end.
-Submitted by Karen F.
-Submitted by Karen F.