Today a friend of mine posted one of her blog posts on Facebook. I hadn't read her blog for a while so I took a few minutes to see what she has been up to. It made me laugh and made me sad at the same time. Laugh because she is funny and sad because I sometimes miss being around friends who aren't trying so hard to be perfect. Don't get me wrong - not all of my friends in Utah are like that. But some days it seems that way.
When I moved to Virginia in 1997 I was a mess. I mean, really - I had graduated from BYU and stayed in Provo for two years and was not married. I was 25. That meant that I was an old maid. Certainly by Provo standards in the mid-late 90s anyway. I hadn't planned on doing anything with my life because it was all supposed to be taken care of with marriage and children. Ironically now I am married with children and I have more of a zest for "Who should I be when I grow Up?" than I did 15 years ago. Anyway, I moved to Virginia because I didn't know what else I should do. This particular friend moved to New York because she didn't know what else she should do, either.
The other day I was at breakfast with a friend of mine and we were discussing how even though you grow up, the cliques of high school don't totally go away. People still lump together based on commonalities such as love of music, love of running, love of crafts - whatever they like to do. I seem to be more apt to lump myself with messy people, and I don't mean in terms of their houses. I have a lot of friends who lead emotionally messy lives. They live outside the cultural bubble that resides in Utah. I'm not Utah bashing - it's just the truth. There are cultural bubbles everywhere - some people fit into them and some people don't. In Washington, DC I was in the middle of a political cultural bubble that I didn't fit into, either. I still loved it there, and I still love living in Utah, too. People are quirky wherever you go is the point I am trying to make. It's just a different breed of quirkiness.
Most people grow up wanting to fit in - to something. Feeling like an outsider is difficult. The comment that I left on my friends blog post was in response to her concern and guilt that she doesn't love the temple the way that she thinks she should. What I said was, "We all have our achilles heel when it comes to religion." For most of us it is something that we think we should believe or want to believe because everyone around us believes it. If we don't believe it, or struggle with it, then we feel guilty, like we don't have enough faith. I don't think this is true. I think that we are all on a very long journey here and this life is just a part of it.
We have read scriptures with our kids on a regular basis for a few years now. This year we decided to listen to them on the way to school. Then a few weeks ago I changed my mind. The kids weren't listening and so what was the point? I switched tactics and it seems to be having more of an impact. We are moving very very slowly - verse by verse - in the morning for 15 minutes before we leave. I think it took us a few weeks to get through First Nephi. There are five kids with me in the morning and we all take turns talking about what the verse means, what the lesson was that Nephi or Lehi was supposed to learn. Why they didn't leave Laman and Lemuel behind even though they were acting like turkeys? We relate it to their current lives - why Laman and Lemuel wanted their stuff, for example. I talked to them about how angry they would be if they had to leave their Wii or DS behind. For the first time we are digging deep to relate these lessons to what they are experiencing right now in their lives. It may take us until they all graduate high school to get through the Book of Mormon, but I would rather log experiences than reading hours.
And, since Nephi has always been a bit of an achilles heel for me, I feel this is a better way to get to know him and appreciate him for the efforts he made to be good, since it is something that I often struggle with on a daily basis.
This quote was put up in vinyl on the wall of the Junior High that my kids will someday go to. It comes from Apple Computers and was an advertising slogan that came out in 1997, the same year I moved to Virginia.
"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward. Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels? We make tools for these kinds of people. While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
So if you don't fit in with the music people, the running people, or the craft people, don't despair. It doesn't mean that you can't find common ground and be friends. It just means that you might be more of a crazy one, like me. And that's ok, too.