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Still Here

I Choose God

“Lord to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life” (John 6).

Last year, I read an article written by a millennial. With hordes of young adults forsaking church and religion, he asked himself, “Why am I still here?” It was thought-provoking. He proposed institutional changes, but I stumbled on that question. I’ve been asking myself ever since, “Why am I still here?”

Here, with God. Here, religious. Here, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s not cool, and it’s certainly not convenient, but here I am. WHY?

Why am I still going to church when moms that I meet at the park are turning down my invitations and saying, “Oh no, we’re not religious”? Then things get a little awkward, and they avoid me. Do I have something contagious (I sort of hope so!) and why don’t they want to catch it?

Why am I still here when my long-time pen-pal writes asking me about my religion’s stance toward homosexuality? I worry that our differing morals will end a friendship.

Why am I still here when admired role models leave the faith? They seem happy. Trendy. Unbothered by modesty standards, food codes, and sexual mores.

Why am I still here when the local Christian book shop stocks anti-Mormon literature so heavily? Would it would be easier to ditch the titles and just live by my own conscience?

I am here because

I love the story of Christ. We become the stories that we tell, and this one is, well, exalting. Redemptive. The Creator himself submits to the agonies of sin and foolishness in order to save the creation. “Mountains shall depart and hills shall be removed,” (Isaiah 54:10) but His kindness will not depart from us.

Do I need that kind of kindness? Yes! For myself, and to share with others. Because I’m sinful and foolish and prone to self-belittlement and judgment of others.

I am here because

No one else chastens me so gently or so thoroughly. Good friends will assure me of my goodness and inner devils will assure me of my flaws, but the Holy Spirit reveals my flaws and then entices me to be better. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, I’m becoming a better version of myself.

Repentance isn’t easy or comfortable, but it is the invitation that I need most. I don’t find it in self-help books or social media nearly so often as I find it from God.

I am here because

I’ve lived just long enough to realize that entertainment and comfort aren’t the highest pleasures; I NEED to serve, to connect, to be of greater use to God and man. My devotion to church and to God spell out my purposes in life.

I’m not very good at it yet, but I WANT my entire life to be wrapped up in loving God and loving neighbor as self (Matthew 22:37-38). Thanks be to God for the invitation.

I am here because

The Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon improve my life. Sounds trite? I say it because Isaiah’s poetry is one of my favorite life perspectives. Because Moroni’s persistence inspires me on hard days. Because I have seen regular, devoted scripture study sooth social anxiety and marital grief and motherly angst.

I can’t say that scriptures are the most EXCITING thing that I read, but they are the only things that I’ll never stop reading. Because most of the books that I read are current and earthy, but scriptures are old and heavenly. I need more of that in my life.

I am here because

Church is good for society. Think of it: masses of people put on nice clothes and gather together to speak kind words, observe old rituals, worship of something larger than self, and pray to a higher power. All without pay or promise of entertainment! I mean, if that’s not the best thing that society has to offer, I don’t know what is.

I am here because

Church is good for me. Sociologist Emile Durkheim theorized that the purpose of religion is to create social cohesion. I’d argue that church is more than community, but I’ll be dashed if I wouldn’t stick around just for the people.

I am here because

My family is here.* My children, my parents, my siblings. My grandparents, and my great-great-grandparents. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is my heritage. You might find that a strange reason to stay, but I feel at home here.

I am here because

My faith in Jesus Christ and his prophets is to blame for every good thing in my life: My education, my children, my marriage, my love of neighbors. If I am grateful, peaceful, kind, or happy, it is because I am committed to God.

So why am I here?

The answer, in verse, was answered first by Peter. Other disciples were leaving the faith. They were offended. So Jesus put the question to Peter: “Will ye also go away?”

Peter’s response: “Lord to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life” (John 6).

I can’t speak for all of eternity, but I will speak for my past and present, for thirty years of experience: God gives LIFE to me. And it is good.

So however inactive and nonparticipatory my millenial peers may be, you can plan on seeing me at church. This week, and the next. And every week after that.

I’ll stay here. Here, with God. Here, with religion. Here, with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

* Not everyone can claim the faith of their parents. Grand applause to all you pilgrims of faith.

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Jenny Harris
Jenny is a star-gazing, book-clubbing mother of two. She has a Master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, which is mildly comical (but also a boon in parenting and relationships). Her kids will attest that she’s crazy about reading aloud, time out of doors, and creative play. Her family’s goal is the “abundant life,” as prescribed by Jesus. You can read more posts by Jenny here.

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