I have heard it said many times that Mormons are not Christians.
In fact, I grew up defending my faith and telling my non-LDS friends why I was a Christian. It was my least favorite thing---being told I wasn't something that in fact, I was.
I'm going to be real with you today. My goodness, this realness is a bit scary because I've kept this to some close family and friends but I feel like it's a good time to open up now.
My name is Suzanne and I am a Christian. Beyond that, I have yet to figure out what I am or who I am. Actually that's not completely true. I know who I am. I know I am a child of God. I know I am a lovable, laughable, loud, sensitive, compassionate person.
But I am currently attending more than one church---and sometimes, I venture to other churches too.
And today, I tried out a new church and in the middle of the service, they began to talk about Mormons and how they aren't real Christians.
I breathed. I breathed some more. I sighed heavily and I knew it wasn't right.
It wasn't right.
Because whether I am a Mormon or not, Mormons are Christians.
As a young girl, this argument always confused me because I was taught about Christ every week at church. My daily prayers have Jesus' name in them. I would hear about Jesus Christ and I knew He was real and that He died for me.
I've always been a Christian. I'm not a Christian now that I am attending a contemporary Christian church. I was already a Christian.
And what I know---one of the only things I am completely sure of---is that I want to be like Jesus Christ. I want to be compassionate and loving and patient toward the people who step in and out of my life. I want to see them as children of God. I want to love without judging them.
I often find myself saying "love wins". I understand that this saying became popular when the Supreme Court ruled in favor if same-sex marriage but I don't see it as a same-sex marriage quote. I see a completely bigger picture where love triumphs above all evil and harm and heartache.
There will always be people for us to love.
I can tell you how easy it is to focus inward and feel sorry for the love you've lost and the pain you're feeling. I have struggled deeply with losing people who I trusted my heart with. It is messy and hard.
But I want to pinpoint something much bigger and more powerful---loving others.
Finding those who may not feel loved and loving them.
Seeing the people who look troubled and smiling at them.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of the woman who had committed adultery. I have read through this story many times and imagined how I would've felt if a group of people had found out some of my worst sins and taken me in front of my Savior to judge and ridicule me.
I read that story and I get that woman. I understand her. I feel her pain and agony as she fears for what Christ will say or do.
But my favorite part is when He walks up to her and asks her to stop, to repent of her sins. He seems gentle and loving in that moment.
Did He condone her behavior? Nope.
Did He love her? Absolutely.
And then He turns to the people ready to scorn her and He says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."
Right then and there, the chills start and I feel myself nodding and agreeing.
Because yes! Do we all not struggle and sin daily?
It's beautiful. So many things that I stand for can be found right in that Bible story.
I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus Christ. I know that He was crucified on the cross for me and for you. I know that He was resurrected three days later.
I know that He lives and that He loves me.
When I fall short, He picks up my slack. He is my cheerleader and every day, He hopes that I will find happiness and love in my life.
And I do! There is so much beauty in my life. So. Much. Beauty.
This struggle has not been easy and I have spent many nights crying on my knees, pleading with God to just give me an easy answer so that I wouldn't be so scared. I didn't want this. I fought it silently for a long time. I struggled alone.
But then I reached out. I started to become stronger and realize that I am going to be ok. God knows me and He will give me answers when He knows I am ready. He will guide me where I need to be. And if I go the wrong way or I make mistakes along the way, I know He will be there.
Because really, what I want is a relationship with Him. What I really want is to feel close enough to my God that I can trust Him and not worry about what everyone else will think of me.
I don't have to have all of the answers right now. In fact, I doubt they will come soon or easily. But I am a daughter of God and He is not ignoring me. I feel so many amazing things happening in my life and among the fear and the worries, I also feel so much love and freedom to be who God wants me to be.
I am His and that will always come first.