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Hi I'm Serena

I think deeply about issues, but am confident that God can stand up to my best questions.

About Me

I remember standing against the school wall at recess, 9 or 10 years old, viewing the playground and field, and imagining interesting possibilities: "What if what I see now is not in fact real? What if the world I see is just in my head, and the only real one here is myself?" Although intriguing, the question also disturbed me. I put it aside, choosing faith in a reality outside of the world in my head. In the book "On Intelligence, the author compares our minds to little black boxes, accessing the outside world only through the senses. Should any of these senses malfunction, we may experience as reality events that exist nowhere else and are experienced by no one else. What then can we trust as real? What should we label as "true," and what should we set aside as a figment of our imaginations, or a "bit of undigested beef?" (Scrooge, A Christmas Carol). My younger brother suffers from schizophrenia. The summer I returned home from college, he announced that he'd seen a vision. Thus began years of hospitalizations, periods of mania and depression for him, and further questions for myself. When I likewise experience anxieties and depression from time to time, I struggle to pinpoint - is that real? Or is that just me? There is a truth I have found I can rely on again and again: God is real, and knows how to prove himself to us if we seek to know him for the purpose of following him. He leads infallibly to truth. One I bear witness to is the divinity of Christ.

Why I am a Mormon

My parents are both converts to the church. As a child I listened to their conversion stories with awe. I wanted to see my prayers answered as they had, and experience guidance and promptings from my Heavenly Father. I sang songs devoutly, and said my prayers. Around age 8 I lost a sparkling shoe buckle at a church event and prayed that I would find it again. My youth leader drove back to church and we all looked for my sparkling buckle, but it was never found again. At home I wondered why God says he answers prayers, but he didn't answer mine. I thought about whether or not I should be mad, and then told God - I guess the shoe buckle isn't really that important. I'm going to believe in you anyway. I grew older and experienced gentle awakenings to God, many through study in the church - scriptures that opened and enlivened my mind; prayers to find lost items, more important than shoe buckles, answered; feelings of peace and happiness. I didn't consider these things sure proof - just reasons enough to keep believing. It made me happy to believe in God - a loving Father in Heaven watching over me and asking me to do right. And I believed he would give me stronger evidence if I stayed devoted to him. At age 17 I was sitting in a church conference when a church leader, called to be a special witness, shared his witness of Christ. Never before or since have I experienced the spirit of God as I did that day. It was like rushing waters crashing over me. A power outside of myself witnessed the truth that Christ is my Savior. Whenever I have questions concerning God's plan, I remember that God is a lot bigger than me. His voice alone is like a wave of rushing waters. I want to be lead by God, and although people in the church aren't perfect, if we are striving to be lead by God, and are willing to come together in unity, then the church will be lead by God. Despite bumps in the road, I see evidence of God leading this church and his people again and again.

How I live my faith

The Church of Jesus Christ is a true and living church in so far as the members actively invite Jesus Christ to be their head through prayer, scripture study, and faithful, open-minded heed to inspired counsel from leaders. This is what I strive to do. I contribute to the truth of this church by being true and faithful to my covenants with God. I'm not saying I or anyone else in the church is perfect. Like the early Saints in Kirtland, I have said to myself "I disagree with this leader...should I continue to follow him?" I have worried, as Oliver Cowdery did, why do the laws of the church and the laws of the land disagree? Oliver Cowdery, when he was rebaptized, admitted "I have learned there is safety in the body of the church." Like Oliver Cowdery, I have learned that Truth is much larger than myself. And as a disciple of Christ, I am committed to seeking for truth. The scriptures say "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." When I am confused, I begin by "trying," or putting to test, the word of God. If it's true, it will stand up to my questions. I often begin by turning inward for a witness from the Holy Ghost. Thoughts come to my mind as I pray or read the scriptures. Are they true? I don't know, so I ask for a witness from my heart. Feelings of peace and joy are the result of choosing truth. But what if I'm still confused? What if my anger, self-doubt, depression or illness is getting in the way? I look for a second witness to either confirm my impressions, or to give me greater knowledge and change my point of view. These witnesses are people I trust and admire, people that I look to for spiritual counsel - those that are living in a way that would allow them to receive inspiration from God, or who simply love me. They may even be a professional counselor. Through work, study, prayer, sharing my burdens with others, and heeding counsel, I feel that peaceful confirmation of Yes! Yes, hold on to that. Yes, it is true.

Why do Mormons perform proxy baptisms in their temples?

I love the analogy that as Christ was able to pay the punishment for our sins on our behalf, so we are able to be baptized for our deceased relatives on their behalf. Here we see that proxy acts are legitimate in God's eyes. A dear friend of mine from another faith told me excitedly that her mother had been instrumental in helping a dying woman accept Christ before her death - otherwise this woman might have gone to hell. I feel similar excitement when I am able to be baptized for my relatives. Our doctrine on heaven and hell is a little more complex that what my friend believes, but like her I believe all mankind should have the opportunity to know Christ and to choose whether or not to accept him. I know from the study of history and from visits to my brother-in-law's homeland of Uganda that many people never have the opportunity in life to learn about Christ, let alone be baptized. A kind and merciful God has provided a way before the final judgment day for all men and women to learn about Christ and to choose whether or not to be baptized. Show more Show less