A creed is a statement of belief. It sounds so absolute. “This is what I believe. Bam.” At this point in the story, I had no idea what to believe. I knew God was real, because He was making it very difficult to keep denying Him. But beyond that, I had nothing.
At Plymouth, we recited their covenant. The minister explained it to me that it’s like a creed, but a little bit more flexible. Huh? Anyway, this is what we said
In the love of truth and in the spirit of Jesus, we unite for the worship of God and the service of all. We seek to know the will of God and to walk in God’s ways, made known or to be made known to us; to love one another, to proclaim the Gospel to all the world; to work and pray for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of our shared humanity. And we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the gift of life eternal.
I liked it. I felt warm and fuzzy when I read it. It still felt too much like the Nicene Creed and standing up with the rest of the congregation reciting it every week just felt too Catholic Churchy for me. For a very long time, I refused to stand or say it, but I eventually came around.
The same Sunday as the Alma discussion with Brother F, the president of Relief Society handed everyone in the room a notebook. She explained that it was a gratitude journal and asked us to write in it the things we are grateful for everyday. She said that at the end of the year, it will be a testimony of God’s hand in our lives. There was a big ol’ picture of President Hinkley glued to the front and decided I wasn’t going to take one. Save it for someone who will use it without spite. Sister C handed me one anyway. It’s orange.
I got home that night and pulled it out of my bag. I had no idea what I was supposed to put in this because I didn’t feel that I needed to thank God for the things I was grateful for. Instead, I decided I could use this orange notebook to figure out a creed. If I write something I believe in everyday, maybe by the end of the year I will have a bona fide creed. I was grasping at straws in the belief department, so I figured this could be a good start.
I only wrote in it for three weeks, because three weeks after I got this notebook, I was baptized. Go figure.
Here are some excerpts from LadyMo’s journal as the missionaries start filling the font.
Jan 2: This year, I plan to try some scary new things. My goal for 2011 is to figure out what I believe in. I want to find strength in a creed that makes sense to me and one that comforts and empowers me. There are many things I’m unsure of and many things just cause me so much pain. I’m very conflicted and very unsure of my motivations. The first step in this discovery is to write what it is I actually believe in. Maybe someday these things will spell out a creed that will give me any direction or any solid ground to put my feet on.
To start, I believe pancakes taste good. God, this feels ridiculous. I need You to let me know what’s real. You’ll know how to let me know. I will try to pay attention. -LadyMo
Jan 3: God, the stars were beautiful tonight. The hot shower calmed me down. Time spent with You was needed. With this, I struggle. When I’m doubting or feeling conflicted, remind me of this struggle. This is worth every energy to get to know you, even if I still don’t know You. Help me out, okay? Thanks. – LadyMo
Jan 5: I believe we are all experts in our own identity, privilege, and oppression. We need each other. In the northeast, it’s easy to think we are the universe and that everyone should act and think like us. Because we’re right, obviously. Moving to Kansas shattered that in such a good way. I have learned that we each hold a key to the complete truth. We are all right, but no one singularly. We need everyone of us, all of our knowledge and experience, all thrown into the same hat to find truth. I can know my truths. I can’t own anyone else’s truth and I must respect that. Stop having all of the answers, LadyMo. It can be enough to know what’s true for you, and to defend it. But I don’t have to defend this at the expense of other people’s truths. God, will You help me with this one, please?
I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I felt the Spirit so strongly when writing this last entry. I put a little star in the margin because I felt very different when I wrote this. I knew these were not my words, because, hello, I’m always right. Even when I’m wrong, I’m right. And when I’m right, no one else is. But this time, it felt different. Writing those words, “Stop having all of the answers,” meant something. That sentiment mattered. But I didn’t know why yet.
Jan 9: I believe that God is real and He is working hard to let me know. It’s been a few days since I’ve last written, because I’ve been afraid to confront some things. It’s been hard to continue denying God. Why am I still tap dancing with this? Who am I trying to prove something to? And what am I trying to prove? Today at Plymouth, we sang a song: Will you love the you you hide if I but call your name? Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same? Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around?
Why am I so afraid of this? I prayed at the Mo church today. “Help me be a little bit more open. Less of a jalapeno, more of a grape. Keep my mind open. Okay? Thanks.”
God, I need You to help me learn more about you this week. Even when I’m afraid to talk to the missionaries and to admit anything to them, help me admit it here. I will keep reading. I will read everything You’ve got. I want to know that You believe in my family. -LadyMo.
And voila, LadyMo’s journal. I was working so hard and yet was still so afraid to tell the missionaries. Imagine their surprise when I told them I decided to be baptized.
So much love,