Lately, I've been thinking about my religion and how it labels me to the world. I normally don't care too much what box people choose to put me in, but I was thinking: if I HAD to explain it to someone, what would I say?
My main issue here is that many people assume that, because I am Christian, a Latter-Day Saint, and have lived in Idaho and Utah that I am well-intentioned but also naive, sheltered, or close-minded. Being religious can give others the impression that I believe solely in black and white. Heaven and hell. This doesn't sit with me well for a few reasons:
1. A person thinking I only live life in black and white will feel judged by me simply based on the fact that they are living differently than I am. They become defensive before we can even interact.
2. I am expected to have a precise, thought out explanation for each of my beliefs (and any beliefs associated with my religion or the people participating in my religion) lest I be deemed a "hypocrite."
3. When others feel that I am looking at them in black and white, they feel the need to judge me the same way and I don't like it anymore than anyone else does.
One of the most liberating parts of having a relationship with a loving Heavenly Father is knowing that He truly loves all of His children. He knows what they would do in any scenario. He knows all intentions and the complexities of human relationships in ways we couldn't begin to comprehend. This takes incredible pressure off of me! I do not NEED to go about my life thinking that others are all good or all bad. I can live my life in a way that makes me feel safe and heard and loved without making someone else feel the opposite. I can look at people who are making decisions I never would and say: "I don't get it, but I'm here for you." I don't have to understand them, or convince them or save them. I can offer what I have in my life and be okay if they say "no thanks, I'm good." I can stand up for myself and my choices and defend my right to live the way I choose just bravely as I would stand up for anyone being bullied.
I don't have to stand with conviction on every issue that comes up in my religion. There are some things I have to do, and there are some things I don't. I feel that I have to do my best to live the commandments as I believe God has revealed them. I don't feel like every political belief I have represents whether or not I am living those commandments. I can't imagine that God will ask me my stance on gay marriage, or ordaining women to the priesthood, or if I think Diet Coke is just as bad for you as coffee. But if He does, the beautiful thing I know is this: whatever my answer, it won't be black and white. Luckily, my Heavenly Father has the infinite capacity to handle that.
The closer I get to God, the less black and white things become, and the more just WHITE everything is.