I’d spent the last few weeks trying to figure out if my blog was something worth maintaining and updating. I recently started using it for a weight loss project, since blogging about your change of lifestyle and diet has been shown to increase adherence to the new routine, but that one purpose alone didn’t seem sufficient.
It seemed clear to me that for a blog to be of value, it needs to have a theme and a purpose, rather than simply be a vessel in which to pour out random and occasional thoughts when I have the time or the inclination. A couple weeks ago I had one of those shower-epiphanies (quite literally) and came up with a thought for a personal blog project for the next few months. The theme/title of this project is “Mormon-Positive.”
To be brief, I will be cataloging ways in which my life has been improved by being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Sometimes, being a Mormon is not the easiest thing in the world and there are times when I can clearly see that finding another church or simply not being a church going person would greatly simplify my life. Yet, I am compelled to stay. I want to catalog why that is.
My longer explanation of how I got to this epiphany was that I was pondering on several things and they melded in my mind into this project. The four main thoughts that conjoined into this project were:
- A piece of advice that a family friend gave me right before I went on my mission regarding journal keeping. He said that we often use journals to explore our complaints and problems in life, which can be helpful, but if that becomes the focus of our journal writing it means that the good things don’t get recorded. Since blogs are modern-day journals it seems as though a lot of time spent writing and reading blogs is on the complaints of life, not the positive aspects. I myself have been guilty of this, so it’s a personal critique as well as a public one.
- A TED talk on how stress is not necessarily the evil it has been portrayed to be and can actually be your friend. As I’ve watched it a few times, and as I’ve looked at the research that has backed her up, I’ve been amazed at how true it is that a change in attitude about your stress seems to be the key not only to stress management, but excellence in life.
- Another online video, this time from a PragerUniveristy video on five lessons Dennis Prager would like college graduates to know. Specifically, his first idea (at 0:21 in the video) is that “the greatest struggle in your life is not with society, it is with yourself.”
- The final thought came from a comment my wife received in an email. Essentially, my wife was told by the author of this email that she would be a better person and live a happier life if she eventually learned (like the email author) that the LDS Church is a fraud. That way we could let go of false beliefs and stressors that hold us back from living fuller lives. This was a personal email from someone my wife intimately knows, not one of those form-letter collections of complaints against LDS doctrine and practice that are often circulated by people as they’re leaving the church.
I think that we in our society are often too quick to demonize hard things, especially when our perception is that the hard thing originates due to an organized system, whether culture, government, church, society, etc. Our primary inclination is to change the system (which often times is necessary) rather than looking internally and figuring out how this stress that came from something external could be used to improve ourselves internally. I can think of many ways which my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has made my life harder, but many of the hardest things about being a member of the church have been the things that have led me to the greatest personal improvement.
My goal is to write at least one blog post on this topic a week until September. Depending on how this project goes I might continue it. Most of my posts will likely be recollections from the past, focusing on stories that have the blessing of hindsight. However, if something contemporary happens in the next few months, I might also write about that as well. If you like this project and feel like adding your own voice to it, I’ll be using the hashtag #mormonpositive on twitter whenever I share one of these posts. I’ll happily link any outside posts on this topic back to my blog.
(Given the timing of when I finally finished this intro and first post coinciding with the news flurry that is the announced church discipline hearings for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, I feel I should point out that this is something I had intended to write for a couple weeks and I had been working on my drafts since early this week. This is a personal project that I wanted to do, and is not a response in any way to the news of the day.)