Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Standing Alone

Many years ago, when I was a Young Adult in the Church, Kathy, one of my LDS peers in our Branch in Minnesota, nicknamed me “Pious Pat.” She thought that I was overly zealous about things to do with the activities and the beliefs of the Church. Her intent with the nickname was an obvious put-down. She, on the other hand, maintained an aloof, cool, slightly mocking demeanor about anything to do with the Church. Clearly, in her view, I was so UNcool. At this same time, I had another LDS friend, Evelyn, who, while she didn’t make fun of me, seemed to view my enthusiasm as unbelievably na├»ve. Fortunately, during the same time, I also had other LDS associates who were as equally devoted to the Church as I was.

Both of these young ladies were regarded as “active” in the Church. But somehow, their devotion or dedication, in comparison to mine, was lukewarm, at best. Sometimes my enthusiasm was slightly dampened by their jaded and jaundiced view of me. Nevertheless, I continued to share my thoughts and feelings (testimony) about the Church (doctrines and beliefs) with them at every opportunity. I couldn’t help myself. I found everything about the gospel to be “a marvelous work and a wonder.” So much so, that I couldn’t keep quiet about it. Unfortunately, I can’t say that they were ever persuaded by anything that I ever said. Tragically, one of them eventually committed suicide a short time after her marriage, while the other one settled into a lifetime of inactivity.

More than forty years have passed. During that time, I have lived in eight different Stakes in seven different cities in four different states. In all those places, I have always found both kinds of LDS associates—those who shared my love of the gospel, as well as those who were only lukewarm. Ironically, in spite of being surrounded by others who cherish their own testimonies and commitment to the gospel, sometimes I have felt quite alone. Especially when those whom I have expected to share my values and viewpoint have turned away from me, as if to say, “aren’t you being just a little too  --  pious?”

Standing alone again and again over a span of forty years is lonely. And disheartening. Oh, to have the heart of Moroni! I fear that I have not had the strength, the courage, the fortitude of Moroni who really had to stand alone.

During General Conference time, though, I always feel comforted and not alone. As I watch Conference, I am thrilled at the visual proof that I am not alone. About 100,000 people assemble in the Conference Center during the five sessions of Conference each April and October. As the first session opens and the camera scans across the audience, I feel like I am standing next to Elisha of old, who is saying to me: Look! They that be with us are more than you thought: you definitely are not alone!

And during those two days of Conference, I feel that I truly am part of the “mountain” filled with angels and chariots of fire. I feel courageous and strong! I have the heart of Moroni.

Only four days to go!