I’m a Mormon.
Or for the insufferable sticklers out there, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Savior dearly, but the title of His church is quite the mouthful. Personally, I don’t mind the nickname, Mormon, like some do. It’s easier to say and the prophet Mormon was a pretty incredible dude that I have no problem associating myself with. He may feel otherwise.
Growing up in congregations in Sacramento, CA., I looked around and realized that, though my hometown is considered one of the most diverse cities in the world, there were a lot of people that looked alike to my young eyes. My family looked different. Now, before I move on, I want to make sure that everyone reading this knows that I never once, to my knowledge, encountered any kind of prejudice or racism from my wards, but in my own mind, I didn’t always feel like I belonged.
I am half Samoan and half whatever the politically correct version of “white” is nowadays. My parents were divorced before I was born so my knowledge of my Samoan culture or heritage was limited. I looked different than most, okay, all of the kids in my ward. There was a Samoan branch in our Stake, but my lack of knowledge about that culture made me feel unwelcome to fellowship with any of the kids that happened to look more like me.
Not only did I feel like an outsider by the way I looked, but even more so, in the way I felt and in how I saw the world. I looked at the families around me, and some of my leaders, and saw perfection. I saw the epitome of what I thought a good Mormon should look like. It wasn’t me. I was a Mormon Misfit.
What I’ve come to learn and understand through life experience is that almost everyone we encounter in the church feels this way. As I’ve served in callings alongside many of those that I had assumed were the “perfect” Mormons, I found that they too had doubts, insecurities, and challenges. They experienced moments when they felt like frauds for being Lamans or Lemuels sitting in, what they also assumed to be, a congregation of Nephis.
The gospel is the great equalizer. It forces us to step outside of our comfort zones and serve and love those that we may not have otherwise chosen to even interact with. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come naturally, but I am grateful for an organization that has put me in circumstances that have helped refine my guarded soul.
We are all Mormon Misfits. We have different backgrounds and different cultures but the same hurt and the same joy. We have the same faith, which has the power to gather a bunch of weirdo’s together into a collision of beautiful chaos. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we offend. But oftentimes we soar and do a whole lot of good.
So a call to arms to all Mormon Misfits:
Continue to believe, and go and light the dark.