yes, Jesus loves me?

guest children, God, Happiness 30 Comments

  1. 19 For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…

This post is by Heather B.   I’ve been absent from Mormon Matters due to the birth of my third child. Its given me cause to reflect once again on the wonder of bringing a new person to this world, and the things I want to teach my children, and the people that I want them to have the chance to become.

One of things I want my kids is to be part of a community that values how great they are, inherently. Not how great they are if they believe in a certain person and/or deity or go through the correct rite of passage ceremonies, or say the right prayers. They are good because they are themselves, because they are beautiful and unique and smart, and loving and full of joy and wonder.

Is the church a community that encourages it’s children’s sense of self worth, outside of their actions or ‘works’? If it isn’t, how can we help it to become one?

Comments

comments

Comments 30

  1. “Is the church a community that encourages it’s children’s sense of self worth, outside of their actions or ‘works’?”

    While there is always room for improvement, I think it is.

    Are you equating “how great they are, inherently” to the “natural man”? I don’t think they are the same thing. I believe we all have great capacity for growth and destructiveness, and it follows logically that in a spiritual sense we try to grow.

  2. Heather, congrats on the baby!

    I share you concerns and, once upon a time, wrote about them elsewhere. At the risk of repeating myself, I think the notion that we are born with a sinful nature is not only ridiculous, but contrary to the Gospel. Folks who use this scripure to teach otherwise, in my humble opinion, are flat wrong. For my wife and I, the Church has been a good community for our three daughters. They are not bound by notions of original sin. Rather, we teach them that they are daughters of God. What more positive message is there?

  3. “Is the church a community that encourages it’s children’s sense of self worth, outside of their actions or ‘works’?”

    More so than any other institution of which I’m aware. Imo, there is a HUGE difference between a scripture that addresses the challenges we face as a result of the Fall as we strive to develop Christlike characteristics (Mormonism) and the concept of original sin that separates us from God by an unbridgeable chasm. (Most of the rest of Christianity) There is a HUGE difference between our conception of exaltation and the corresponding view within every other denomination of salvation. “I am a child of God,” means exactly what you are saying, I believe.

  4. Self-worth is an important thing. But self-absorbed self-worth is a dangerous thing. I see in the rising generation a bit too much of the later. There is nothing wrong with teaching a child that he/she is a highly valued child of our Heavenly Father and was put here on earth to accomplish many great things.

    But, to over-indulge a child so that they “never feel bad about themselves” like not keeping score, not issuing grades, not having a winner and loser is a bit over the top for me.

    Also, I slightly disagree with Shawn about being born with a sinful nature. We are, in fact, not responsible nor do we carry the blame for “Adam’s transgression.” But, if you have ever watched your children when they are small, you will notice they are naturally disobedient, covetous, cruel, physically and verbally abuse on occasion (when they don’t get their way), etc. Our job is to help them overcome this “natural” tendency.

  5. It’s a constant battle, and I think you can gain perspective from looking at it both ways. Yes, children are naturally disobedient, but we’re also commanded to be like them. It’s more complex than just saying “children are naturally good/bad.” I still think that my greatest gains as a child came from when I was not compared to anyone else, but allowed to do what I did best. I was a smart kid who was good at reading and listening, and my parents tried very hard to encourage that. My other brother was good at sports, and my parents encouraged that. We were seldom compared with one another and I think that was the key to my upbringing. It was about being myself and not having to feel like I had to dress/act/be like someone else.

  6. I think the concept of a worth of a soul is clearly present in the gospel message. There is also plenty of support for the idea that we should not judge/condemn one another, but rather love each other.

    I’m all about the concept of accepting and loving people exactly how they are, but I also see the potential dangers of complacency. The whole point of setting goals, working hard, learning, and progressing towards achievement (all of which I would say are worthwhile endeavors) is acknowledging certain deficiencies in ourselves and striving to correct or overcome them.

    Sure, no one likes to be criticized, but I think the reference to the “natural man” suggests a person who refuses to introspectively find room for improvement, and complacently justifies their lack of ambition, and essentially leaves a broad void of unfulfilled potential. The flip side, of course, are the dangers of hellbent perfectionism, which, while it does lead to hard work, etc, ravages self worth and is internally destructive.

    The balance seems to exists in between. I think it’s fully appropriate to instill in your children a strong sense of self-worth and express that your love in unconditional. However, I don’t think this should inhibit you from encouraging your children to formulate a sense of morality, and help them progress and achieve that which they feel is right and praiseworthy. But through whatever shortcomings they may encounter in these endeavors, they should know that their worth as a person is unchanged. While their worth is not contingent on their efforts, hopefully, their sense of worth will in turn motivate them towards worthwhile efforts, as opposed to letting them leave their life unfulfilled.

  7. I have always felt that the proper LDS interpretation of our nature is that we are inherently divine, thus starting out pure, and then we gradually degrade ourselves by our choices.

    I disagree with Jeff’s take on children. I don’t think they are naturally disobedient, covetous, cruel, physically and verbally abuse, etc. Those are negative (read “sinful”) labels we place on similar behaviors when coming from a responsible and developed adult, but its not fair to apply the same connotations to those behaviors with children.

    Keep in mind that we pretty much never can observe what comes truly natural to a child without the influence of their environment. Children explore their boundaries and flesh out their universe in a sort of behavioral sonar. They attempt a behavior and gauge the effectiveness and acceptability of that behavior based on how the environment reacts to it. Thus, morality gets shaped AFTER they attempt what might seem like an immoral action based on the negative result.

  8. We want to rear our children in an environment where they feel God is intimately interested in them. Where they can grow in faith and hope in Jesus Christ is their Savior. That they are separated from Him in our naturally selfish nature, but by His unconditional love and grace He draws us unto Him in faith. That Salvation is a living quality of their relationship today and forward. Where they can learn the Spirit can and will move continually with them as they trust in God. That they will find the Bible meaningful, engaging and a trustworthy guide. That it’s okay to be thoughtful, doubtful and even skeptical.

    That we parents will always be there for them. That their pastors will shepherd them in a way that is meaningful — and if not they should seek that out, or ask us to help them seek that. Where we attend church we strive to be a family decision.

    That they needn’t be “good enough” before they deserve to be in a quality relationship with God. That “churchiness” is not the best way to measure a quality relationship with God. That they can see things like baptism as something they get to choose when they are ready. Where they see obedience not as a step of filling a checklist, but as a progressing walk of trust in God.

    Where gender roles move outward from within their soul and spirit, and not from what’s between their legs.

    That meaningful relationships endure beyond death.

    That their gifting and life’s purpose is for them to pursue together with God, and that it needn’t look the same as their parent’s walk and other people’s walk. That they needn’t excel at everything, or look a certain way on the outside to be right by God. That it is rewarding to pursue their passions with a commitment to excellence.

    That they can view their community of faith, their church, as something that they get to choose as they are moved and directed by God. That there are different seasons for things in life. That they should seek opportunities to expand a serving and giving heart. That consensual choice and liberty is their heritage. That worship should speak to their soul and lift them up. That they can see certain ways of doing or saying things are sometimes ways we can choose to belong with others, but are not usually what makes us right by God. They they needn’t walk alone, but seek out intentional relationships where they can have honest and truthful exchange.

    That we may try to practice our faith more like the “Romans”, and others may do so more like “Galatians”, like “Pharisees”, or even not at all, but that, if they choose, they can find value in others of different walks.

  9. Ditto to Clay’s first two paragraphs. I reject the notion that my children are sinful by nature. Are they not quite as well-behaved as I would like sometimes? Sure. But screaming in sacrament meeting does not equate to a “natural” tendency toward such behavior. Quite to the contary, the rest of the time they are perfectly wonderful.

  10. Re: For the natural man is an enemy to God

    I’ve been listening to a Christian Pastor’s sermon on the wrath of God, and appreciated his view on being an enemy to God from a non-Mormon perspective. He quoted Psalms 5:3-4:

    For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

    Then Psalms 11:5

    The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.

    His point was that in order to understand how much God loves us, we first have to understand how much God “hates” us, all of us being sinners and falling short of His glory. He loved us enough to give us an advocate; enough to make a propitiation for our sins. If one was to stack up all verses talking about God’s love and all verses talking about God’s wrath, the stack talking about God’s wrath would be higher, according to this preacher.

    This concept is a bit different than the LDS community’s view that “I am a Child of God and He has sent me here.” Primary, Scouts, Young Womens all give opportunities for achievements to be accomplished. When LDS kids get to high school and beyond, they are frequently more prepared to give public addresses and be a leader in a club or a study group because they have been doing this already within the organizations of the church. The concept of individual worth should begin with the rearing of children by parents who
    “reflect once again on the wonder of bringing a new person to this world.” I wish some of my LDS peers had been kinder to me as a child/teen AND I wish that I had also been kinder and more inclusive during the same years.

  11. They are good because they are themselves, because they are beautiful and unique and smart, and loving and full of joy and wonder.

    I want a place that nourishes my children, but that also challenges them and demands things of them.

    It is too easy to find places that will adore you for being bright or pretty and then not do anything more but leave you with an inflated ego and no sense of duty, love or care for others.

    A place that values goodness of Spirit and light.

  12. I’ve never met your kids, but I work with kids with severe behavior problems, and I have some experience with addiction and recovery. Sometimes people don’t like what I have to say.

    Disclaimer off.

    It is our natures to be enemies to God, and I’m not going to waste a second trying to figure out if that manifests itself when we are children or when. Enmity with God is pride, and we all have struggles with pride in our hearts to go through if we are to find our way to bringing those qualities of childhood to play in the adult world. One help we have with that is the weakness we are all given by God — it allows us the chance to become humble. It helps understand the need to turn to the Savior and his Atonement for help in changing our hearts and putting off the natural man in each of us.

    Your children are children of God, and have infinite potential. They should feel loved by you as a way of helping them feel God’s love. They don’t need to know about this “natural man” stuff before they’re 12-14. They do need to be taught that their choices matter, and what right and wrong are, and that choosing the right is always best, and that choosing to repent when you choose wrong is just as important.

    Life is hard, all the way through. We do our children a service when we support them as they learn their ways through the hard parts, as it prepares them to deal with the other tougher things that they will have to go through later when we aren’t in a position to be as much of a protection for them as we can when they are smaller. Ultimately, they will have the lives they choose to have, regardless of what you teach them, but giving them support and structure and love and good learning gives them options to make better choices than they could without that.

    The Church will never be just what you want it to be. It will also never be totally evil. It won’t do your job for you, but it can help you do your job. You can help improve it by living correct principles to the best of your ability, and then taking that experience to teach those correct principles to the best of your ability.

    All of this is true of everybody. And I’m really tired now. I’ll be back later.

  13. #1 Adam F. – I think what I’m trying to say, is that there is a difference between teaching a child that they are inherently good, but have the capacity to make bad decisions if they are not careful (which is what I try to teach my kids), and teaching a child that they are inherently broken, and have to do xyz in order to be considered good by their heavenly father (which is very loosely what the church teaches). This bothers me.

    #11 Stephen- I agree, we should challenge our kids. But I think there are good and bad ways to challenge them. I don’t think you have to tear a kid down to challenge them. And I don’t think that telling a child that they are bright or pretty means that they will have an inflated ego if they are also getting other messages along with it. For example, if we, or anyone tells my three year old daughter that she is cute, or beautiful, she will respond “AND smart!”. We taught her that on purpose. She is smart and has potential and we want her to focus on that at an early age. And I like how it makes the adult who compliments her stop and think about what they just said to her. Maybe they will compliment something else next time 😉

    #7 Clay- I agree. Every child is different, and who knows where nature ends and nurture begins? My 5 year old son is one of the sweetest, most loving kids you will ever meet. Always willing to give a hug, I can count on one hand the number of times he has hit anyone, adores his baby sister, and all babies in fact. Didn’t grasp the idea of competition until he was in pre-k. I don’t think he is a freak of nature. Lots of kids are like that. (I don’t take credit for it either, I think I’m a good parent, but I also know I am lucky)

    speaking of kids, mine need me, more later…

    #10 Rigel When I try to imagine a god who is a Heavenly Father, it’s hard for me to understand that he has to hate us on some level. As a parent, I just can’t fathom that. I agree that there are a lot of opportunities for accomplishment in the church for it’s youth when done right. I know a lot of boy scouts who coasted through though, because it was part of the church program and not really optional. They don’t take pride in what they did, because they didn’t have to work for it. And I worry about the young women, and the very narrow scope that they are encouraged to accomplish things. The speaking in front of a group thing is a valuable tool,.

  14. “Is the church a community that encourages its children’s sense of self worth, outside of their actions or ‘works’? If it isn’t, how can we help it to become one?”

    I think the very essence of our church is its hands on.
    But wilt thou know, O vain man that faith without works is dead? James 2:20 (A widely used Scripture in the church)

    My daughter just finished her personal progress.
    Personal Progress Goals

    • Compile your personal or family history using journal entries, pictures, and important papers.
    • Instruct or tutor someone in an academic subject, music, a sport, or an artistic skill.
    • Carry out a project to improve the living situation of someone in need.
    • Direct or participate in a youth choir, a play, a talent show, or an art exhibit.
    • Learn a marketable skill that could help you in a current or future occupation.

    ( Most of the goals I think are really good even if you were a non member you could strip out what you considered dogma and feel its something that would encourage self worth.) Like it or not I think a lot of peoples self esteem comes from what they accomplish in life.

    IMO-Until you can become transcendent, above all the need to achieve to feel self worth its here with us to stay. I think it would be hard to turn a church around that its very essence is on achieving HT/VT duty to god, personal progress food storage, genealogy temple attendance, etc etc etc. To take on an Eckhart Tolle kind of consciousness is against its very nature.

    This is a very complicated topic. On one hand its great to be part of a religion that encourages us to be the best we can be physically, mentally, professionally, spiritually.

    But when it goes to far when young men are committing suicide because they don’t feel they cut the grade. Utah leading the states per capita with anti depressants and personal bankruptcies than its gone way way to far the other way.

    Heather Great Post – You have made us a lot more conscious!

  15. James- I think you hut on the basic struggle I have: Does a system that is based on works healthy for children when we also teach that in the end you can never really do enough anyway? where do we draw the line to create some balace, and how do we do it?

  16. Were all rewarded for jumping through hoops! We all like the pat on the backs for being a good scout or a young woman. Or a compliment from a bishop for being a great elders quorum president or visiting teacher. Even prospering for doing a good job at work feels good!

    I definitely think it’s a phase we all need to go through – living in the material world! The quicker though you can come out of it and see it is sort of transparent stuff and not that important the better. I think you can teach your children along the way about function and roles- so they get a healthy perspective.

    If you listened to the Stages of Faith the church is stuck in stage 3 many people in the church see things literally (God made the earth in 7 Days) they would have no idea what is an Allegory.

    To turn the church around that so highly esteems achievement, I think is an up hill battle.

    The only way it can be done is grass roots. Look at what Mr Dehlin has done in raising the consciousness of us all.

  17. Clay,

    “I disagree with Jeff’s take on children. I don’t think they are naturally disobedient, covetous, cruel, physically and verbally abuse, etc. Those are negative (read “sinful”) labels we place on similar behaviors when coming from a responsible and developed adult, but its not fair to apply the same connotations to those behaviors with children.’

    We can’t confuse “sinful” nature with being evil. I do not think children are evil. So, i ask this question, if you do not think that children have a sinful nature, then why do they need to be baptized at age eight for the remission of their sins. While children below age eight automatically receive the Celestial Kingdom does not mean they do not sin, only that they are not held responsible for those sins until age eight.

  18. “if you do not think that children have a sinful nature, then why do they need to be baptized at age eight for the remission of their sins”

    I actually don’t know. Where did the specific age of 8 years old come from anyway? My daughter is 8 and although she is now baptized, I don’t see at all how she even comes close to grasping the kind of accountability that is assumed by this concept of the age of accountability. I’m not talking about expecting them to behave nicely, I’m talking about the implication that their eternal life is now in their hands and in their judgment, as is represented by their baptismal covenant. My daughter so does not get that.

    “While children below age eight automatically receive the Celestial Kingdom does not mean they do not sin, only that they are not held responsible for those sins until age eight.”

    Hmmm. I would think that point does more to support my case than it does yours.

  19. Jesus was baptized, and technically didn’t need to be, right? He was perfect. I don’t think a child of 8 can really understand enough to commit to join a religion either, but baptism seems to be part of the indoctrination and teaching process for LDS children. Does that make sense?

  20. Believer’s baptism vs. infant baptism has been a strongly dividing concept in Christian history. It continues to be dividing, though at least I don’t know that we’re killing each other over it any more. I think there are good biblical cases to be made for either. From a salvationally-necessary sacramental perspective I have to give the nod to those who practice infant baptism. For those who look to the Bible and see a case for an outward, obedient expression of a conscious, maturing salvational commitment of faith in Christ, I think it better to be baptised when one is a willing believer.

    LDS Age Eight of Accountability doctrine is arbitrary and nonbiblical but familiar and sympathetic from traditional cultural perspectives. Like other churches with coming of age/age-of-accountability perspectives, they are trying to grapple with practical limitations of what the Bible fails to clearly answer. For example how to deal with grace and sin — in other words to answer how much prevenient grace (Light of Christ) covers unintentional sin before choice separates us permanently from God without our extending willing faith. Where LDS takes an odd twist is that it is also sacramentalist. LDS Age of Accountability practices help make a practical place in church culture for children to belong “in the covenant family” that Believer’s Baptism doesn’t quite do as well in other churches. But obviously, if thought through Accountability perspective isn’t really a harmony of the two major biblical baptism perspectives. It has its weaknesses, too.

    I wish we could find unity to see baptism, however it is practiced, as a matter of cultural initiation, of belonging, and that this is good and worthwhile to our life of faith, but not reflective of our place with God. I wish we could agree that Christ saves through our faith, whether it begins at the rite of baptism, whatever age that is, or whether the act merely symbolizes externally a faith commitment already made internally. I wish we could see that Salvation is really His work and not ours, and not let things like baptism and communion divide. But for those believers firmly at one pole or another, there is no unity ever to be had on this.

  21. From D&C 68:

    26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.
    27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.

    So I guess that’s where it comes from.

  22. Clay (21). I think you’re right. Forgive a little irreverence, if one could call it that, but the “scripture-ese” way that Doctrine & Covenants imperatives are written is so peculiar to me. This is I think a very typical way to answer the LDS position, however, so I don’t disagree with you. Where I see Christian sacramentalists digging out Bible scriptures like Acts 2, and 1 Peter, and believer’s baptism types digging out scriptures like Romans, Galatians, Hebrews and Colossians, the case, really, for the LDS position really comes down to an extra-biblical (prophet) authority said it is so. No thoughtful exegesis or systematic theology — the position is just definitively the way the policy is. Yet, ironically, LDS and trad. Christians all are appealing to authority, so our methodology aside, you’d think we all could learn to be more humble in the “conclusiveness” of our respective positions.

    Heather (19): This is interesting that you have framed baptism as the maturity to decide to join a religion / church. I don’t mean this to me critical, but to show it as a very different perspective we had when we, and our son, were baptized as evangelical Christians. Our LDS family just doesn’t get our frame of reference that we didn’t join “a church”. We do see baptism as a part of belonging to the Kingdom of God, as part of a greater, invisible church, but it wasn’t about our affiliation with a local congregation, and not really about the cultural preferences of the way it was performed. We don’t think of ourselves as “members” as much as partners of our congregation, and baptism isn’t seen as a quality of that relationship, really — it is a quality of our obedience to and relationship with God. Not that our perspective is the only right way, but your way of saying that helped me see again why it is so hard to bridge understanding with our LDS family. I wish I could figure a way to say it better so it communicated.

  23. “Our LDS family just doesn’t get our frame of reference that we didn’t join “a church”. We do see baptism as a part of belonging to the Kingdom of God, as part of a greater, invisible church, but it wasn’t about our affiliation with a local congregation”

    JfQ, this really helped me to better understand your (and other “evangelical” Christians’ perspectives. Thank you. 🙂

  24. Thanks Adam. And thanks for putting “evangelical” in quotes. It’s becoming less and less a precise and singular term for dividing Christians from other Christians.

  25. Just for Quix- I totally understand what you are saying about baptism. I was raised as a ‘christian’ and was ‘saved’ when I was 14. Like you, it was more a decision about faith than a membership. But can an 8 year old really make theological decisions like that either? I don’t think so. My husband and I do not currently attend any church, but have always said we would allow our children to do so. HOWEVER they would have to wait until 18 to join a church, be baptised or take any other such major step. I just can’t believe a small child, or even most teens have it in them to make those kinds of far reaching decisions.

  26. The reference requiring a child to be baptized at eight also seems at odds with the conditions described in Moroni 6:1-4. These include:

    – Showing forth a broken heart and a contrite spirit
    – Witnessing they have truly repented of their sins
    – Taking on the name of Christ with a determination to serve him to the end

    Once these attributes are achieved, the candidate can be baptized.

    From verse 4: “…after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ, and their names were taken…”

    So, how many eight year olds are able to fill this bill? On second thought, how many mature members of the Church have met these criteria???

  27. Heather (25): I completely see where you are coming from. If you are worshipping now within the LDS tradition I think your decision to have your children wait till 18 is one that should be supported and respected. When we we’re LDS we wanted our 8 year old son to wait but we relented to the pressure from family and leadership (or at least felt we were relenting). But on the other hand we were not clear and direct either. So I don’t place blame other than acknowledge the pressure to do things the same way as others do — which is the price of belonging to any faith community. And unless we shelter them from any belonging to a church till that age, we cannot completely eliminate these pressures. (And I think the risk of sheltering our kids from the positive influence of a healthy church isn’t worth trying to eliminate these pressures.)

    Whether it is LDS kids getting “indoctrinated” via baptism at 8, or evangelicals expecting someone who got baptized as a baby to get rebaptised as an adult, or expecting a certain way of publically professing faith to be saved, there are cultural trappings that can work with, or sometimes out of step with the work of God in an individual believer’s heart. But, as said, there is a lot of positive a healthy church community can offer.

    So to offer a little counter perspective: if we can allow God’s work is His to redeem all those who would have Him as Lord, then we have to allow that baptism isn’t really a “theological” decision per se. It is an extension of faith in Christ’s Atonement (Romans 6), even if church traditions nuance the meaning. Think of the Ethiopian eunuch — when he was converted through Philip (Acts 8) baptism was an immediate profession of action in his faith. He wasn’t completely unfamiliar with scripture, but Philip brought new light and he took action in response right away. We also have Acts 2 where 3000 were baptised in response to the work of the Spirit. It’s not like any of them could expanded deeply on theological matters, either. I don’t argue with taking one’s time to think thru the decision. But we should establish one-size-fits-all standards either.

    So if we allow that God can reach His own in many ways, and that baptism, even if it has some sacramental meaning for some, is still ultimately useful to be seen as our response to His Spirit as acting on our faith in Christ. Then we have to allow that when a child is 8, whether they are 18, or whether they are a mature adult, can have a changed heart and honestly react to God’s grace at any time. When we impose any deadline for baptismal action, whether it is a church Accountability tradition, or whether it is us as parents, we should be sincere to acknowledge we are imposing an arbitrary “OK God, you can act now” imperative on Him. I do believe for minors we should trust a parent, generally, as best to evaluate faith maturity which may come later than age 8 or 12 or 14. But our ecclesiastical leaders are also helpful if we have a healthy relationship with them. Therefore, I suggest we should school our children in faith and have them approach the baptismal act with respect and individual consensual meaning. But we should have some flexibility to allow that God will reach them in His way at the right time for them. That very well could be at 8. Or, in my case, at 38.

  28. JFQ- I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. I was raised more or less christian, became active in a baptist church in my teens and was baptised. In college I joined the LDS church, and went on to be married in the temple. Within the first couple of years of my marriage my husband and then I left the church. We now worship very occasionally with the unitarians but don’t consider ourselves christians. I’m the resident exmormon/devils advocate blogger 🙂

    And I do agree, everyone should have their wishes respected regarding what is taught and expected of their children.

  29. Heather: Sorry I blathered on then. Maybe someone else will enjoy 🙂

    My wife and I are former LDS, too. Because of family and interfaith efforts that interest me I’m both making peace with my past and finding authentic bridges of understanding with LDS people. So I think I’m a friendly contrarian around these parts. 🙂

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