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Monday, December 15, 2014

Stigma Shmigma

I have been thinking a lot lately about the stigmas there are that go along with being a member of the LDS faith.  For us males, we get the priesthood at 12 years old. Once we are 12 there is a sort of responsibility that is placed on us. Typically we are to be in scouts, eventually get our Eagle. When we turn 14 we move up in the priesthood from Deacon to Teacher.  When we turn 16 we become a priest. By now we are typically supposed to be preparing for a mission. I love that the church encourages the guys to go on missions. Missions are amazing and life changing for those who are able to go on them that is. I think up until recently I was feeling down and depressed about going on a mission because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle that pressure. Especially dealing with the same gender attraction.  Too many times there are guys who come home early due to depression, or anxiety, or even slipping up with their same sex attraction. I was so paranoid about one of these happening to me that I wasn’t able to open up about it until a recent conversation that I had with my wonderful Mother. She helped me see what I stated earlier, that missions are great! But she could see the strain it was putting on me. I knew the mission is what I was “supposed” to do, but once I finally thought for myself and being put in that situation I realized it may not actually be for me. I have always been more worried about it then excited. Ever since I could remember I have had this thought running through the back of my mind. I know there are going to be people who say I should still try to go, and that’s fine. You can make that decision for yourself when it comes.  This is my decision and I have been in the process of making it my whole life and I have finally come to the conclusion. If after I go to school I’m able and ready to do a service mission then that could possibly happen, for now however I am going to push through and get my life going.

A recent conversation I had with my mom was about choices. She told me that I should look ten years in the future and try to see if I would be happy with the choices I am making now. Granted there are choices and decisions that I have made that I will always be uncomfortable with, or wish I never did. But when I look ten years down the road with this decision, I am happy. I see myself being done with school and moving up in the culinary industry. I hope to also do photography or massage therapy on the side.  I see myself as an active member in the LDS church and giving service to those in need. I know the field of work I have chosen will be a daily struggle with the attractions I have, but with open communication and guidance with professional help and my bishop, I know I will be ok.  My mom told me that if this is what I want, and I am ok to not serve a mission then that is fine, and that me being myself, striving to being a good example to others, and serving others is a service mission all on its own. I love my parents for how they have raised us. If they had raised me saying, “when you go on a mission” or “you’re going on a mission” that would have added to my anxiety and depression so much. This has always been up to me. That’s how it should be because it is my life. Like I said before, I think it is great that the church encourages men to go on missions, but a lot of people in the church don’t take into account people’s personal struggles that may effect the mission.

Another stigma I have found is something that women struggle with in the church. Sure being a homemaker is a great thing to strive for, but there are other things that can be taught along with those skills. I have heard how for most of the activities in the young women they learn how to be in the kitchen, or to be a homemaker. Wouldn’t it also be nice to learn how to change a tire, go camping, learn shoot a gun (if you don’t have a unrealistic fear of them, and even if you do then you can work on getting over it.) I’m not a feminist or anything, but I do think that there are some stereotypes that we can and should break.  Some men have told their daughters that they should focus on getting married and having kids instead of going on missions… but isn’t that the daughters choice? It’s never a bad goal to go on a mission and for a father to discourage his daughter from that kind of makes me sad. Marriage and a family can wait the 18 months if that is what she wants. Society has created this image of women needing to be in the kitchen or stay in the house. Some women however, do need to work and some men do stay at home. Sure they aren’t the typical scenarios but who cares? Why stick to the status quo?  If it works, it works. 

I know that this gospel is true, and while it may be hard to live sometimes. I know it is worth it in the long run. People see the beliefs and teachings as restrictive but they don't understand the eternal freedom we receive by living the teachings of the church. I hope we as a church are able to get to the point were we can just be there for each other and be supportive instead of sticking to the cookie cutter routine and expectations. I have definitely seen an improvement lately but we could still keep working on it. Anyways, I think that's the end of my rant :) Thank you again for all of the continued love and support you all have shown. 

Until next time,

Zac