Mormon Discussion

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sacrifice or not?

There was a comment recently that gave me much to consider. The gist of the comment was that a religion should make you happy, not miserable.

And then I started to wonder...what makes me happy? What WOULD make me happy? Does church make me happy? Do other things make me happier?

Church makes me happy. That much is true. But church also makes me uncomfortable. Church also makes me stick out. Church also makes me feel guilty for everything from not paying a full tithe to prefering a "Real World" marathon over a church dance. Church makes me angry, church makes me feel constricted in terrible ways, church makes me second guess myself, and church makes me feel like I can never be the Mormon I'm supposed to be.

Other things makes me feel happy without all those other feelings. My wonderful, beautiful, sensational non-member boyfriend makes me incredibly happy. He makes me believe that good things do happen. He makes me cheer up. He gives me hope for the future. He makes me feel content and satisfied.

Dancing with my friends at clubs makes me feel happy. It makes me move my butt so I'm getting some exercise. It makes me smile.

Then there are things that I think would make me happy. Or at least, more comfortable. I've never drank before, but there is a certain elegance associated with wine with dinner. I think I would like that.

I'd like (and have enjoyed on many more occassions than I'd like to admit) a two-day weekend. Sunday is spent sleeping in and then going out to have brunch with friends and family.

What would make me happy? I'd be very happy without church in my life. Not that I don't want church in my life, just that I'm not one of those people who believes that anyone without church is someone to be pitied and they must have a horribly unfulfilling life. I could be very happy without church.

And church makes me feel things other than happy. Is this a bad thing? Does this mean that church isn't the right one for me? Or is guilt, shame, anger, uncomfortableness, awkwardness, and generally feeling like you don't belong all part and parcel of the whole "sacrifice" idea? Am I supposed to be miserable at times due to a direct correlation between my church attendance and my miserable feelings?

How do you know that a religion isn't just demanding the appropriate level of sacrifice from you when you feel unhappy with it or the decision you have to make because of it? Or is sacrifice something different? Is a religion supposed to make you unhappy as well as happy? Are other things supposed to make you happier than the religion? Does that mean the religion is flawed or that you just aren't embracing it correctly?

Is it sacrifice or simply not the right fit?