By the end, I learned through the lesson I hadn't prepared that it's not baptism were spreading but closeness to God, i.e. perfect happiness.
For the record, I love my faith for a number of reasons, mostly because:
- I know who I am. By broad stance stated by church leaders (Woman. Equal. Nurturer.) and personal pronouncement via my Patriarchal Blessing (Leader. Happiness-spreader. One who will endure and believe) and day to day guidance (Don't quit your job just yet, dear. And go befriend that girl who's lonely). So when feminists and anti-feminists wrestle over what I should be doing with my time and my life, and self-help books shout contradicting advice, I can take their arguments with the grain of salt that is their bias and proceed with what I know is my path (or at least what I know of my path. Thank heaven for a little ambiguity).
- I've got the big picture of how my little life fits into what came before it and what will come after. It's hard to see past the muck of the day to day sometimes, I'll admit, but when it comes down to it, I know that life is 1) all about progress, growth at whatever pace is moving forward, and 2) meant to be lived. Filled with people, love (towards friends and strangers alike, in the form of bonds, forgiveness, and good old fashioned thoughtfulness), and experiences (that help lead to that progress I was talking about)
- There are people who I can and should ask for help. And to whom I should be offering my time and energy. Love (mentioned in no. 2) is built by giving and receiving. This community is waiting to be had in branches of the church all around the world.
- I have a weekly reminder to get back go reality and keep my priorities straight. This comes in the form of the sacrament, where I officially check in with God about where I'm at, and through the other two hours and fifty minutes of the three hour church block. Examples, formal lessons, just being in the building is an automatic reboot.
- There is something expected of me. Or, the whole world doesn't revolve around me and my impulses. I could go on for days about why I think moral relativism is so destructive to the world. The Wikipedia section (from a Buddhist perspective of all things) sums it up nicely: "Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality." I believe in a basic truth; all religion is based around it. Sure, there are cultural expectations that are more or less optional, but we don't get to pick and choose which kinds of good work best for us and talk our way out of the rest.
In short, my favorite Primary song from my youth: