Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Good and the Bad Part II

I believe I left off at the point in which we returned to Logan in 2006 after living in Ann Arbor for 6 years and San Antonio for 1 year.

Our move back to Logan turned out to be necessary for Steve's work, but I worried my sanity was hanging on by a thread. I had so much anger over my previous experiences in Logan and so much worry about the influences of which my child was about to be exposed. However, it became apparent, quite quickly, that my perspective in the 7 years we'd been gone had been altered and in the next 4 years Logan became my home.

I think a lot of the difference the second time around was the fact that I am a mom and so my involvement in Sophie's life helped me make friends that had the same parental interests. I also served on a non-profit board for a multicultural center and I became active in the community, which gave me a cause outside of myself. Steve loved his job teaching high school and though we never made a lot of money, we had a home in a neighborhood which we loved, 5 minutes from the mountains, and a walk away from the downtown and the university. (Ok, why did we leave? :) )

As I felt more comfortable with myself in Logan, I was able to reach out to people who were part of the dominant culture (politically correct speak for Mormon) and ask them the questions I'd been wondering. These questions turned into thoughtful exchanges and I felt my anger turn into understanding. The Mormons were not bad people - the Mormons were like the rest of us, they believed in something and they felt it was good and they wanted to share it with others. True, the religion tells them to share it, but still.... I saw my previous role in my prejudices against Mormons: I made a lot of blanket assumptions. How does one work toward understanding? By engaging in dialogues that are honest, respectful and continual and by really trying to see things from another's point of view based on that person's experiences, not your own.

A lot of the nasty rumors I'd been told were also disproven: 1) Mormons will not attend a church other than their own. We invited friends to attend First Presbyterian with us (I'm not Presbyterian, but it was a great church for those interested in community service and thoughtful dialogues) and they did! 2) When people find out you're not Mormon, they will not let their children play with Sophie. Not only not true, but quite the opposite: Sophie had friends over nearly every day, Mormon and non-Mormon and some of the kindest people toward my daughter were devout Mormons. 3) When the Mormons find out they cannot convert you, they will ostracize you. Who knows, maybe I'm delusional, but it seemed pretty clear to me that our Mormon friends knew where we stood on the issue of religion, but they still hung out with us and yes, invited us to church functions - some of which we happily attended. When it came time to move from Logan it was many of our Mormon friends who prepared meals for us and helped with the packing and hauling - without an agenda.

I still have anger over issues in which the Mormon Church has stances differing from my own, but I voiced my opinion while we lived in Logan and I found friends who are Mormon who offered their support - this does not mean they agreed with me, but they could see my side. I tried to reciprocate in the areas in which I did not agree. I think this mutual attempt to understand is what made the difference.

So now here I am in Jackson, Michigan and I miss Logan so much sometimes it physically hurts - but life is about change, about stretching oneself, about living in the moment and who knows, maybe we'll end up back in Logan someday for round 3!

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