On Marriage, Metaphors, and What Being Mormon Means to Me

My relationship to Mormonism is like my marriage.

When I first married my husband, I thought he was one way.  Handsome, funny, vibrant, talented, charismatic, intelligent.

And he is all of those things — and much, much more.

But the more I got to know him, the more I became acquainted with his faults.  His inflexibility, his quickness to anger, his tendency to withdraw emotionally even when I need him.

It was a terrifying discovery.

Because as a young woman, idealistic and naive, I believed that love makes everything better — and that “better” means smoother, simpler, without stress or strain.

What, then, to do when I discovered that it was harder than I thought it would be?   That along with the intimacy and joy, I’d be fighting through pain, frustration, anxiety, even heartache?

If it’s really right, shouldn’t it be easier than this?

The answer, it turns out, is NO.

You see, as I wade through the thick and thin of day-to-day living with this person I know so well, I begin to catch a glimpse of what I must look like through his eyes — and discover that for every complaint I have about him, surely he’s got one for me: I’m selfish, sloppy, stubborn, thoughtless, and profoundly unkind.

I begin to recognize how desperately I need his forgiveness and compassion if he’s going to put up with me a moment longer.   And that, in return, I simply must extend the same to him.  After all, I don’t have the moral high ground.

And in that moment, he stops being an idealized version of what it all “should” look like, and becomes a real person — an often-brilliant, sometimes-bumbling, living, breathing human being with God’s craftsmanship shining out of him…a  man whom I love much deeper now than before I made that discovery.

The Church is the same way.

It’s a mixed bag of goodness and badness, giving and taking, serving and abusing, freedom and control, truth and error.  Just like anyone.

Just like me.

But there is something noble about loyalty.

There is something — dare I say it? — Christlike about seeing a group of people for what they are…warts, scales, sins, and all…and choosing them anyway.

So I choose the Church because I love the Church.  The way I love my husband.  The way I want to be loved.

And that’s what being Mormon means to me.

Please note: Because I discuss him, my husband read and reviewed this post before I published it.  He agrees that he’s pretty dang awesome with just a few minor flaws (*grin*), though he questioned my use of the word “bumbling.”  Let the record show that he does not bumble; it’s mostly there because I thought “often brilliant, sometimes- bumbling” was a groovy-sounding alliteration.  🙂

About Katie L

A doubter by nature, a believer by grace.

Posted on March 29, 2010, in Mormonism, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Bah. Every man bumbles. Why, I did it just yesterday… somewhere on the floor is a tiny, tiny iPhone screw from a repair I thought I could pull off, and did! Only, the iPhone doesn’t actually work any better now than it did before… 😀

    Those are beautiful thoughts, Katie, more or less reflecting my own attitude toward the Mormon people.

  2. Katie,

    Thanks for this. It is a beautiful piece of writing, but even more than that, it is a lovely, meaningful discovery.

  3. Katie…OH how I needed to read this post today. I wish I had the ability to express my thoughts and feelings as accurately and beautifully as you just did. Thank you so much!!

  4. 🙂 I like this post–I think every woman comes to this discovery at some point in her marriage (well, at least it should). The key point to tie I think is that like we must be forgiving and seek forgiveness ourselves from our husbands, we should pursue the same in religion.

  5. Katie, I completely agree with the husband/marriage imagery. I think one think that you are missing with the whole Mormon thing is that the church is more than just the crazies, it is more than just a life style or a imperfect people. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and because it is run by crazies, the church itself isn’t perfect, but the doctrine and the principles are. So perhaps that is what we are trying to achieve in our marriages, the perfect relationship between each other and God. A balance that allows us to serve each other and a loving Heavenly Father who in turn will serve us by his many blessings. Great post.
    (I also love that you let your crazy husband read and approve the post before it was published. I have made that mistake in the past. Good job.)

  6. This was really nice. Everyone and everything has flaws. What frustrates me most is when people assume that everything in the Church is perfect. I like the idea of loving it for it’s imperfections, like we do people. That is really a great thought. Thanks for this post Katie! 🙂

  7. You could have just asked any of us Langston brothers, and we could’ve told you from the beginning how short tempered, stubborn and grumpy Lanny is 🙂 But we still love him none-the-less.

    I’ve said this from the beginning of your marriage, I think you two are perfect for each other. I’ve seen some bad examples of marriage in my life and don’t have a lot of faith in the ideal of marriage as a result, but I think what you and my brother have is very special and awesome. I’m very happy that you are a part of the family. Give that brother of mine a big hug from his little brother. Love you guys.

    (also, very good post. I like the comparison)

  8. Thank you, everyone — I’m glad to hear that this post was helpful to some of you! I really appreciate your additional thoughts and insights.

    And Todd…love you too, brother. 🙂

  9. Katie, that was another excellent post. I like your approach.

  10. Total bumbler. All men bumble. Man who says otherwise is a bumbling liar.

  11. I think this a great post (and I, a fellow alliteration-appreciator, ADORE the bumble).

    However, I’m grumbly at Kullervo today. So I don’t wanna hear about how I have to forgive because of my own danged flaws. 😛 But when I get over myself, I will agree wholeheartedly.

    And, by the way, if anything was going to convince me to come back to the LDS Church, it would be something like this. Every church has flaws. Relationships (church and family) are about making a choice to stick with it anyway.

  12. I completely agree with this. I got married almost a year ago..and went through the temple almost a year ago too. I have had a lot of eye openers to both my marital and spiritual relationships. They made me anxious, but ultimately I decided both were so worth it.

    Get post.

  13. Katy, I know, right? Totally sucks to be nice when you want to be mean.

    Also, props on the excellent use of a triple-A alliteration.

    Jo41, thanks for your thoughts — and thanks for stopping by.

  14. I think learning to let go of the ‘idealism’ that we incorporate into our expectations of the world, our partners, and our life course is an adventure in and of itself. I have learned that as you so eloquently put it we learn to appreciate what we come to discover. The funny thing is it takes time and practice being able to recognize the looking glass works for both parties.

  1. Pingback: What I’m Thankful For: Being Mormon « Standing, Sitting, Lying Down

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