I warn you in advance... this is a long post that won't be like my normal ones. Given recent events in our little blogger world, I thought it was time to share.
Growing up just outside of Charleston, West Virginia, I had some technical difficulties in life with depression and anxiety. Some of it was the result of bullying, which prompted my parents in tenth grade, to transfer me into a Christian School. They thought it might be a more positive environment for me. Not so much.
I was the only Mormon in a very small school. The tenth grade class was something like twelve kids, and our days alway included a prayer in class and a devotional. So it wasn't long before it was my turn to give the prayer in prayer circle. Everyone said I prayed different, not bad -- just different. One of the kids went home and asked her parents why I said Heavenly Father and acted very personable towards God. The parents answer? That I was a teenage Mormon Monster, bent on luring their children into my cultish ways.
The parents shared this opinion with the other children's parents. Within a week, I had f*** the cultist, spray painted on my locker. Bottles of soda were chucked at me during lunch and some students refused to even be in the same room with me. Their parents told them I had horns. Literally.
I was tormented and my life made a living hell, all because I prayed differently. It was still to the same creator, but very few saw it that way. Within the month, the board of the school met and decided to "ask" me to leave on the grounds that I was not Christian. The prnicipal and I had actually become buds over the weeks of dealing with the viscious attacks. When he gave me the news, it was sadly and with a note of irony -- "For not being a Christian, you are the most Christian girl I know."
I was chased by metaphorical pitchforks while they accused me of being a monster. But it was fear that turned these "good Christians" into the monsters. Fear and hate will do that to you, and often it is ill informed and ugly. I wish I could have explained to these parents that I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But if I had, it probably wouldn't have done any good. Because hate is also blind and deaf.
I tell you this beecause there will always be someone out there that chooses to inflict their inner pain upon you. You have the choice whether to become like them, a bully who lashes out at any one who believes differently than you, or become a tolerant and loving person that reaches out to understand those who are different.
This may seems like a post bashing southern bible belters. It's not. On a whole, they are good, hospitable and charitable people. So are we. Please remember that and let this serve as a reminder to us, as Mormons, that if someone is a democrat, or gay, or chooses to ascribe to a lifesyle different than your norm -- don't attack them or their beliefs. They are entitled to theirs, just as we are to ours.
Love thy neighbor, love thyself, and by doing so -- you love thy God.
Thanks or tuning into. You can visit me more at my blog, Finished being Fat, or friend me on Facebook Author Betsy Schow