Chat With a Mormon Online
Hi, I'm Jared. I've loved to learn all my life, and so, no surprise, I became a teacher! Although endorsed as a language arts teacher (I love the art of words and the power of writing throughout the ages), I also love astronomy, history, biology, anatomy, visual arts, and social arts and culture. My wife and I found each other via online dating (yes, it can work!), and have one beautiful child. For hobbies, I enjoy hiking, creative writing, analytical writing, designing solar systems, and designing "alien" societies. I also love video games, where I can experience virtual realities or simulations (which works well when you like to write sci fi or fantasy).
I was born in a Mormon family, but didn't care much about it until I started searching for truth and meaning in life, about age 17. At that point I started to search, beginning with what my family believed. I read the Book of Mormon for the first time really wanting to, and was absolutely convinced that it came from God. By experimenting with its teachings in my own life--exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of my sins, treating others like my brothers and sisters, and loving God as my Heavenly Father--I found exactly what I was looking for. I've continued searching and studying for decades since, and keep finding more and more to learn, understand, and enjoy. Sure there are still mysteries--but Heavenly Father is a willing, wise, and loving teacher to any of His children who will listen.
Joseph Smith is truly one of those people in history who wrote enough, and has had so much written about him since, that it's sometimes hard to disentagle fact from myth. Long story short, however, I have come to believe that there are key points that must be understood about Joseph Smith if his teachings are to be helpful in our lives. First, he taught and showed that studying the scriptures can lead to a personal relationship with God. Second, Joseph taught that we must follow God's instructions in order to get to know, respect, understand, and love Him. Third, Lucifer is as real as God, but not as powerful; the more we try to follow God, the more Lucifer will try to make us stumble, and if that doesn't work, he'll try to tempt others to bully, insult, mock, and hurt us. Fourth, though we will all face a variety of challenges in life, the more we exercise faith in God, the more we pray for help and listen to God's answers, the better we'll be able to handle our burdens and even pains. This is why I salute Joseph Smith as a hero, as a true follower of God, and a supporter of Jesus Christ. I have found that as I follow his teachings, I have come closer to his Source--our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I will always be grateful for his example to stand faithful under pressure.
As a language arts teacher, I've found (and taught) that words can be fun as well as helpful in life. Because writing came easily to me, I've tried to inspire others to build their language skills first with entertainment, and then with meaning. I like this approach because people like entertainment. Books, movies, plays, even video games--everyone I've met likes at least one of these kinds of relaxation (or excitement). By starting with writing that people already enjoy, that's half the battle. Once they start to build their skills with practice and experiments, and writing becomes easier for them, I then try to get them to think about more important, deep topics. Because all people have had highlights as well as sorrows in life, I try to help them recognize the meaning or the message of the experience. Because this good thing happened to you, what do you think you have to do to experience it again? If something bad happened, what would be some good ways to avoid it or solve the problem in the future? Once people start writing about these experiences, they realize that they have a lot of power over what happens to them in life. By practicing on paper, and hearing the ideas of others, they can better prepare for good or bad situations that come their way.
I recall being taught the "mechanics" of prayer as a young child. I then thought it something peculiar, and not until my late adolescence did I realize there might actually be someone on the other end, so to speak. After experimenting with prayer, and utilizing it as a form of communication, I learned from personal experience that the Person on the other end was, in fact, a wonderful, loving, encouraging Father in Heaven. I was surprised by His love--it surpassed any previous experience I'd enjoyed. I learned that the mechanics of prayer were simply a basic teaching tool. Once I began sharing my true, heartfelt ideas, questions, and concerns with Heavenly Father, I found that He really did know me--better than I knew myself, in fact. Perhaps most interestingly of all, I discovered that my response to His instructions in prayer had a powerful effect on what I could expect next time we conversed. If I was thoughtless or careless about His instructions, it was often hard to even get an immediate response. I found that even someone of His greatness, power, and wisdom could be offended by my actions or attitude. He could share disappointment in my bad attitudes as vividly as He could joy when I followed His counsel and grew. He wants us to learn. He wants us to understand. He wants to comfort us when we're stressed. He's ready and willing to help us find the courage to repent--even when it's hard. This relationship that we've developed over the years, more than anything, is what preserves me, has sealed my diligence and affections to Him, and inspires me to share these feelings with you.
My wife and I were both...late bloomers, shall we say? We'd both given up on hoping to meet "that special one." And yet within three months of our meeting, we married, and have continued quite well ever since. There are, perhaps, few people more unalike than my wife and I.I am far more the intellect, and she the heart. I tend to base my actions on logic and reason, she on spontaneity and an eagerness to help others. Our varying perspectives have, occasionally, led to fireworks. And yet we agreed on one thing before we married: we covenanted at the altar faithfulness to each other and to the Lord. As a result, we agreed on the ethics we pledged to live individually as well as collectively. We agreed that the teachings of the LDS Church had made such an impact on our own lives, that we were eager to raise our children with them. We are now endeavoring to raise our first child with an awareness of Jesus Christ, who has real power, real love, an ear open to our yearnings. We decorate our home with pictures and quotes that remind us of God, His Plan for us in this life, the resurrection promised upon our return Home. In the center of the wall opposite our front door are two pictures: one displaying the Savior on the day of Judgment to remind us to choose the right, conscientiously, and the other showing my wife and I on our wedding day to keep alive the memory of our pledge and covenant to each other, subservient to God. As a result, when we fight, it's not long before one or the other is on our knees, asking for help, for calm, for peace. Not long thereafter, we kneel together, and ask for His forgiveness and healing, and recommit that initial faithfulness to each other and to God. So far, the results have been quite promising!
Hope naturally follows faith. For example, when I read or hear about something that I like, or am interested in, if I really want to see if it's true, that's desire. If I act upon that desire, and start to study it further, I'm exercising faith. While I'm studying, if I find that the idea is true, and brings me more peace, happiness, and improves my life, then my faith is confirmed and I can start to experiment with using the idea in my life. Maybe my first attempts, for example, to love my neighbor, might be a bit sloppy, or even a bit timid. Some neighbors have a lot in common with me, and maybe it's easy to love them. Other neighbors may have very different interests or backgrounds or personalities, and so it could be quite challenging to love them. (Obviously it's easier to love when it's shared). The drive that keeps me trying to love my neighbor, even when I fail, fail, and fail, (or just don't do as well as I wanted), is hope. I hope that I can be faithful to God, I hope that I can become friends with my neighbor, I hope that next time I try, he won't frown when I come over with a plate of freshly grilled steaks rather than cookies (some neighbors seem to like one, others are just fine with the other). Hope for something better gives us the strength to keep trying, even when we've failed. If it wasn't for hope, none of us would improve. But when we do exercise hope, and especially when we ask for God's help, grace, and guidance in our efforts, we tend to get better and better. We learn how to change our approach or our attempt, so we can achieve our goals. And especially when we're working to improve our relationships with other people, we learn to love them the longer and harder we try. This is why "faith, hope, and charity" are listed in that order in the scriptures, and are a key to happiness.
I believe that God loves us, and has sent us here to Earth to learn and "grow up." As a result, the more I communicate with God (through prayer), the easier it is to understand how to deal with tough situations in life. Heavenly Father genuinely cares about us, and not only on Sundays or at religious services. Even while struggling with chemistry assignments at school, I found that Heavenly Father was willing to help me relax, focus, and enhanced my understanding of the subject. As a result, I try to encourage people around me to involve God in their lives, their interests, their hobbies and families, as well as at work.