Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's Stop Worrying About Being the Same

I love Utah and I love living here. But I don't always feel like I fit in. See, I'm a card-carrying Democrat. I voted for Obama (both times!!) I support Gay Marriage. I don't like BYU sports. I don't like U of U sports. I don't actually like sports (but that's a post for another day.)  I think we should have a law banning cell phone use in cars. I'm anti-gun. I let my kids watch a lot of TV and eat trans fats.

Did everyone stop reading? See, sometimes living here I feel like I have to keep a lot of those things secret. I'm not ashamed of them. I'm not ashamed of any of them, but I feel like I worry so much about fitting in, or offending people or whatever that sometimes I keep them hidden. Sometimes it's easier to smile and nod when people are talking about sports like I have ANY idea what they are saying. Or when people curse Obama for how he ruined their life, I usually keep my mouth shut.

I feel like in Utah...and parenting...and life, really, there is a strong desire to be just like everyone around you. Like maybe if you are not raising your kids or living your life the same way that everyone else is you are somehow failing. Or maybe everyone else is on to something that you have missed, so therefore they are all doing it better than you. (That's how I feel about the TV show Arrow. Like I've really failed at something because I am not watching Arrow.)

Obviously things like politics exacerbate that feeling of different-ness. With social media, our whole lives are on display to be judged and poked over. When I was in college I didn't necessarily know the political leanings of my friends unless we actually had a conversation about it. Now I can just check out some one's profile and infer a lot of things about their life based on which things they've liked. And it is easier and easier to surround yourself by people who think the exact same way that you do and assume that everyone else is clueless, or uninformed, or obtuse.

There was a talk at General Conference that's really stuck with me. Surprise: It was by every one's favorite GA Crush Fantasy, Elder Uchtdorf. But maybe, you didn't hear it yet because it was at Priesthood Session. (Maybe you did - I think there are about 10 readers of this blog who are male.) It was an amazing talk. I wanted to stand up on my chair and cheer, but I think that is frowned up. It's called Four Titles. Essentially the talk is about the role we all play here on Earth - how we are imperfect, but trying. And there was one section that really jumped out at me. President Uchtdorf said:

But while the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities.
 It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all its far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences. (Emphasis mine.)
I think what he was trying to say is that it is OK to not like BYU or U of U sports. And it's OK to make your own informed choices about how to raise your kids, even if it's not what your neighbor or sister is doing. And it's OK to be a Democrat. That is the genius of God. We live our lives, we do our best and we worry about our own Salvation, not our neighbors. The Atonement is there for everyone.

So let's stop trying to be the same. Let's respect each other and be OK with being different. You can be a Republican, or a Libertarian or whatever and I'll be a Democrat. You can be pro second amendment, and I'll be anti-gun.  But we can still be friends. But will you please tell me what is going on on Arrow? That show is
getting a lot of buzz and I feel like a failure that I'm not watching.

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