Friday, March 30, 2012

My Jersey Sponsor (Remix)

So, I posted a very similar blog (the first part is identical, in fact) May 2011, but when I wrote it, I thought of another comparison I could make, so I decided to hold off for a while, rewrite it with the other idea, and republish it. It's not been almost 10 months, so I figured that was long enough. If you'd like to see the original post, you can check it out here.
Soccer is a unique sport, in many ways, but right now I'm going to focus specifically on the jersey. Look at any team in the EPL, and you won't see what you see on, say, an NFL jersey. NFL you see the team name or city/state they're from with the number on the front, then the last name and number on the back. EPL, you'll see a company on the front, with a small shield on the left chest with the team name and logo, then on the back you'll see the name and number. This is also seen in many (though not all, yet) MLS teams. Why is that? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure, but there are some pretty cool looking ones out there. Each team is represented by someone different. Several of the teams are so big, and their partnerships have been with them for so long, that they become seemingly synonymous. I mostly think of Chelsea and Samsung, and Arsenal and Fly Emirates (the same used to be said of Liverpool and Carlsberg and Manchester United and AIG, but they've recently changed). Well, usually you'll only see one company in a league, but you do see Rangers and Celtic (huge rivalry) both sponsored by Carling in the Scottish League. But, you'll never see an English team with their town written on their jersey, it'll always be a company. The MLS is slowly working towards that, with a majority sporting some kind of company.
So, we've come to the part of the blog where we find the relevance of what I just wrote about it our every days lives. It's really quite simple, actually: when we were baptized, we covenanted to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. Once we've done this, we've become a part of a team, but rather than having a company be the displaying name, it's the Savior. We're to live accordingly, and make our actions in line with what Christ expects of us. We're changed, and we are representing something and someone much bigger than ourselves. Just as the company on a soccer jersey comes to almost symbolize the team itself, so should we be closely linked to the Savior. Just like when people think Fulham, they'll think FxPro, people should see us and think of Jesus Christ. We should always be living our lives in a way that would be pleasing to Him, as well as make us an example of the believer. So, wear that name with pride!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gremlins and Their Rules!

Look how cute!
Who's seen the movie Gremlins? If not, go see it... like, right now. If you have, how awesome is that movie? Pretty awesome. I love that movie, because it's not only highly entertaining, and filled with neat little creatures (both the Mogwai and the Gremlins), but it also teaches a very valuable lesson. Not just in how to defend yourself from attacking gremlins or responsibility for pets. The Mogwai come with three very specific, very easy directions to follow: Don't feed them after midnight, don't get them wet, avoid bright light. All you have to do is those simple things, and everything is alright. How hard is that? You just play with your little Mogwai, give him a cool name like Gizmo, follow the rules, and you have nothing to worry about. But of course, it being a movie, it would be quite boring if nothing went wrong. The rules are broken, and pandemonium breaks out. The adorable little Mogwai turns into a not-so-adorable Gremlin. Cue zany antics, more mishaps, and lots of entertainment, and you've got yourself a great movie! But how much easier would life have been for Billy had he just followed the rules?
Oh geez!
Billy's story isn't too different from us. There are rules we have to follow all the time: traffic rules, rules in the classroom, rules our parents give us. There are lots of rules out there. But, most are pretty darn simple to follow. We think about the gospel: We're given rules, commandments, to follow. They're not at all difficult. We aren't expected to do anything we can't handle, and are promised great blessings in return. It should be pretty simple to just go through with it. And of course, just like with the Mogwai, there are consequences to not following these simple rules. These repercussions can make things very difficult for us. We don't want to have to deal with negative side effects, and luckily can very easily avoid that, simply by following the commandments. We can keep our Gizmo a cute, furry little Mogwai, and not have to worry about dealing with a scaly, malicious Gremlin. So, are we willing to follow the simple instructions, and avoid having things get out of hand?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the mission
All the missionaries were having little night visions
Of nice, big packages all loaded with presents
From friends and family all far from their presence.
Their families were sitting right by their phones,
Anxiously awaiting the semi-annual call home.
For some, it's their first, for others their last,
But either way, the time goes by quite fast.
But even with the excitement of gifts and phone calls,
The missionaries were still out in the snow fall:
Sharing a message about this wonderful season,
And what exactly is the true reason.
We honor the birth of our dear Lord and Savior,
Who came to this earth and did us the ultimate favor:
He gave up His life so that we might live.
So this Christmas season, let us to him give.
Let's give Him our time, our effort, our heart,
Our all, our devotion, let's all do our part.
Now my farewell, 'fore we go fight the good fight:
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas everyone! And remember, this time isn't about receiving or decorations, it's about our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Every Who Down In Who-Ville Like Christmas a lot...
But The Grinch, Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But, Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistleoe wreath.
"And they're hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer.
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!"
For, tomorrow, he knew... ...All the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They'd rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast! And they'd FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least!
And THEN They'd do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They'd sing! And they'd sing! AND they'd SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!
"Why for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming! ...But HOW?"
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
"I know just what to do!" The Grinch Laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, "What a great Grinchy trick!
With this coat and this hat, I'll look just like Saint Nick!
All I need is a reindeer..." The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch...? No! The Grinch simply said,
"If I can't find a reindeer, I'll make one instead!"
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
THEN He loaded some bags and some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh and he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said, "Giddyap!" And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos Lay a-snooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
"This is stop number one," The old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
"These stockings," he grinned, "are the first things to go!"
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos' feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!"
And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter
Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,
Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?"
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
"Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied,
"There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side.
So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here."
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he got her a drink and he sent he to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
And the one speck of food The he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
Then He did the same thing To the other Whos' houses
Leaving crumbs Much too small For the other Whos' mouses!
It was quarter past dawn... All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
"Pooh-pooh to the Whos!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
They're just waking up! I know just what they'll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
The all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!
That's a noise," grinned the Grinch, "That I simply must hear!"
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.
It started in low. Then it started to grow...
But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he... ...HE HIMSELF...! The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Conversion

So, for my newest blog post, I've decided to simply regale you with a personal story that's very near and dear to my heart: My conversion story. Now, if you know me pretty well, odds are you've heard this story, at least in part. There are several people out there who know a grand portion of it, many who know all but the finest details, and a few that were there for it. However, even those present from the beginning to the end... well, actually, no one was there from the beginning to the end. But, those who were there for the time of investigating this Church, even they are devoid of some things. So, for those who don't know me or my story, or those who want to learn more, or even for those who just want to hear it again, here it is:
It all started, I guess, when I was born. I was born into a good Christian family, and baptized into the Methodist Church as a baby. There we went for several years before moving to Massachusetts. Upon returning to Colorado, we started attending a Presbyterian church. That lasted another few years, until moving to an Evangelical church. We were pretty well rooted there, and attended regularly for about three years. At the age of twelve, my dad passed away. This shook me to the core. It's never easy to lose a parent, especially at that age. This made me question a lot of things, including the existence of God. Thanks to some friends who already weren't very religious, or who were also at that time questioning the same thing, I very quickly fell away from religion. What at first was simply a dislike for church turned into a dislike of religion, which became very heated and angry. I became hostile and antagonistic to people of faith, especially when they tried to talk to me about it. I would go out of my way to make sure religious people knew that I had nothing to do with their silly ideas. I even remember a specific occasion after a football game at my high school. I went to talk to a friend of mine who was talking to a girl. It quickly came out that she was Mormon, and if there was any religious person I would give a hard time, it was those crazy Mormons. This being the first time I'd ever met her, I still had no problem giving her a hard time about it, making her angry enough to storm off. Yep, that was me.
During this time, from about 13 to 17, I developed some very interesting views on... well, everything. In a nutshell, I was anarchist, atheist (and eventually even nihilist), anti-American, anti-big business, anti-media, anti-... everything. Like the line from the Marlon Brando flick "The Wild One", when he's asked what he's rebelling against, he answers "What've ya got?" That was me! I made my views and opinions very well known, and would never shy away from a debate or argument. At this time, I also grew into a new social/fashion statement, by subscribing to what is commonly referred to as "punk". 9-inch tall, blue mohawk, plaid pants with zippers and patches, band shirts, studded jackets or vests, covered in patches, pins, band logos, etc. Children were terrified of me, their parents even more so, and, at least once, people actually crossed the street to avoid me. I had absolutely no problem with this. I had my group of friends, and they were all I needed.
However, just as is common amongst all teenagers, something had to give. I couldn't just keep this up forever. Cue the Mormon girl. I started working at a movie theatre that my brother worked at shortly after I turned 16. A few months later, a coworker's younger sister started working there too. We started a friendship, mostly based on being coworkers, but it soon became a legitimate friendship. We started hanging out on our time off, and talking pretty frequently. We both were very aware of each others views, and that they conflicted entirely. Eventually, with seemingly no reason, I actually developing feelings for her; feelings that were not reciprocated. After several painful months (painful because of my unreturned feelings, and painful because of how much it reminded me of the typical teenage love story on movies and TV shows), I finally won the girl. The details of this part, and the relationship overall, are unnecessary to the story. After a while (and after winning over her family, which was, believe me, no easy feat), the subject of religion came up. At first, very little. Just a mention or a question here or there. Eventually, those questions started coming from me (the first question I even asked was why they crossed their arms when they prayed, instead of just folding their hands).
I was soon asking a lot of questions, many that my girlfriend couldn't answer. She suggested I ask missionaries. I firmly said no. I then started asking my very good friend, who had some, but not all, the answers. He then referred me to his dad, who was the Bishop. I had a pretty good relationship with him already, so I was okay with that idea. I asked him every single question I could think of. I could tell that this made him, my girlfriend, and her family rather excited. However, once I was done with my questions, I was done. There was no further interest expressed. Some time later, my girlfriend got a restrengthened testimony, and realized just how important the Church really was. She became more persistent in her intents of me at least investigating the Church. After many arguments and excuses on my part, I folded.
I started meeting with missionaries (Elder O'Brien and Elder Higley), at first simply to appease my girlfriend. The first lesson was probably rather rough for them, and I made no intent on showing interest. However, what God wants, He gets. The next time we met, they went over the Plan of Salvation. Something about what they said struck me. I will now make a quick side note: Nothing about an afterlife was new to me, and it wasn't a specific doctrine that they taught me that got me. I can't say that one specific thing they said really made me pay attention. I can't even be sure it was the principles themselves. Simply stated, I felt something as they were talking. I attribute it to it being the Plan of Salvation, with my father having passed away. It may not have been nice to know what actually happened to him, but at least to know that something did happen. Back to the story: They could tell something was impacting me. My demeanor, my posture, everything changed. They cam back with renewed vigor, and finished the lesson. At the lesson, besides the missionaries, were also my girlfriend's dad and the Bishop. At the end of the lesson, my missionaries asked me to say a prayer. I hadn't prayed in about 6 years, and the idea terrified me. Elder O'Brien suggested that we all kneel down, and each person, starting with him, then Elder Higley, then my girlfriend's dad, then the Bishop, would offer a prayer. When it got to me, if I felt inclined to go ahead and pray. If not, I would just give him a little head nod, and he would end it. When the prayer got to me, I was quite ready to have it just end, until, without thinking about it, or what I was saying, and with no recollection of anything I said, even to this day, I offered my first prayer in years. Upon saying Amen, I was greeted with happy, excited faces and handshakes. All I could think was "Oh, crap".
It still took several months to get me ready. In that time I still met with the missionaries and progressed. When I finally decided to be baptized, I told the missionaries "I'll do it, but give me time. I need to tell my family". It took me a long time to work up the courage. I was quite aware of the feelings members of my family had toward the Church, and what they would think if I told them I was joining. Finally, I buckled down, worked up my courage, and broke the news. The reaction was about what I expected. I moved forward anyways. A few weeks later, on July 2nd, 2008, I was baptized by Elder Higley. Elder O'Brien got transferred about a week before. I would like to say that, after this, everything went smoothly and life was grand, but that would be a lie. Don't ask why, don't try to figure it out, and don't try to have me figure it out, but shortly after baptism, I reverted to old ways. I once again denied a God, and did some pretty stupid things. Sometimes, God brings us low, just so He can raise us up. My girlfriend dumped me. Talk about sucky, huh? Amidst lots of moping and self-pity, and more than a little bit of House (great show), I had quite the experience. I was sitting in my living room, watching TV, when, clear as day, I heard a very distinct voice in the back of my head say "God has always been there for you. So has Jesus Christ". Nothing eloquent or fancy, a simple statement just like that. There was no way I would have thought that on my own. Not a chance. Why would someone who denied the very existence of a God have a thought like that? This made me realize that I should at least try this thing out. What would it hurt?
Me with Elder Higley (left) and Elder
After that, I decided to go to church voluntarily. I started going to the student ward with my friend, and making my own friends. Soon, I told my boss I could no longer work Sundays. I was meeting with the missionaries weekly, and reading my scripture and praying. I was making huge changes in my life, and even started admitting, to my friends and to new acquaintances, that I was LDS (however, I was using the term Mormon). About 6 months after I was baptized, I went to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. A few months after being baptized, I decided I wanted to serve a mission. Almost a year later, I got the Melchizedek Priesthood, being ordained by Elder O'Brien, who had gotten transferred into my student ward. After many other helpful moments, both good and bad, I was finally able to submit my mission papers, and in February got my mission call to labor in the Montana Billings Mission. I reported to the MTC on May 5th, 2010, and have enjoyed every second of it, to this day.
My story is nothing amazing, or even unique. Everyone must have a conversion. At some point, we all need to know that the Church is true. My baptism wasn't anything of extreme import. The only difference between mine and a life-long member was mine was 10 years later than normal. I am so incredibly grateful for the experiences I've had, and for this long process that has brought me to this point. I've experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. As much as I'm grateful for that, I'm grateful for this opportunity to share the Gospel and what I've found for myself with others. I love my Heavenly Father and am eternally indebted to Him for all He's done for me. I love my Savior and His selfless sacrifice for me and everyone. I'm grateful for the people who have helped me along the way and who have impacted me so much. I'm grateful for this Gospel and this Church.
Me after my farewell talk

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Joy to the World...Cup

What is that, you may be wondering. Well, that is the trophy that you receive if you win the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup is the largest tournament in any sport (this doesn't include the Olympics as those are several different sports. I'm simply referring to within one sport). This is the most sought after trophy out there. Every four years, 32 teams from around the world gather in one place to compete. The greatest of the greatest, the best of the best, the world's elite all come with their A-game, ready to throw down and give it all they got. This isn't just a cross town or even cross country rivalry. This isn't just for the fame and glory of your specific team in one region. This is for the whole shebang. These players represent their entire country, and are vying for world recognition. This is the WORLD Cup. This is truly the only international, worldwide tournament, which is why it's such a big deal to win it. There is no other trophy that has as much pomp, holds as much grandeur, or claims the most respect as this. It's small and simple, but is most coveted above all other trophies. Who wouldn't want a little of that?
Most soccer (football) players will never even enter into the World Cup. That's just how it goes. Only 32 teams can enter, and of all the hundreds, if not thousands of players in each country, not many will get to have that experience. Even the best players who do make it to their national team may never have that opportunity. Some countries just aren't good enough. But anyone who plays soccer and pursues it as far as they can dreams of making it to the World Cup and getting that trophy. It's something they've grown up watching and fantasizing about. For many, it's a life long goal, and for those who have realized it, it's something they looked forward to all their lives.
Before the coming of the Messiah, Prophets had prophesied of His coming. Prophets such as Hosea, Isaiah, and others gave us things to look for: they told of His birth, His ministry, and His death. The Jews looked longingly for the Savior and Messiah, one who would rescue them. Eventually, the idea became one of a political savior, one to come and rescue them from bondage and restore Israel to glory. The expected a king, a conqueror to come and lead them to power. That was not what the Christ's mission was to be. It was never intended to be, and no prophets had even hinted at that idea. He was to be born in humble circumstances, and be rather low key. He wasn't going to be a warrior or a general, and He wasn't going to fight any wars. The Christ's purpose was to save us from our sins.
Those who looked for the Savior were well acquainted with the many prophecies of Him. He was the most anticipated of births. Everyone wanted the Messiah to come. It was a long awaited arrival. Just like the players who practice and train all their lives to have the opportunity to play in the World Cup, and achieve amazing glory of winning, the Jews longed for the greatest prize of all: Salvation. However, just like those players who, while hard working and achieving much individual success, just couldn't achieve the grandeur of the World Cup, there were many who missed the wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father. They disregarded this humble Jesus as simply a carpenter's son, and no one of real significance. Because of their own pride, they rejected the Man they had been waiting for their whole life.
Jesus Christ and his Atonement are the greatest things to happen to us as humans. Because of the gift of the Father of His Son, and the gift of Christ of the Atonement, we are able to have Salvation. As much as I'd love to win the World Cup, this is a much better award. I'll take it. Remember this this Christmas season, and don't worry about the little things. Remember: Christ is the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Who are You?

Who am I? A pretty standard question. Sometimes asked in confusion, such as in situations of amnesia, questioning one's true identity, or having Alzheimer's, shouting it while flying through the air and tackling someone ("Scrubs", anyone?). It can also be a deep question, requiring some thoughts. Look back at your life, and you'll often wonder who you are compared to who you were. Or, when a major dilemma comes up, it may cause you to question yourself. Or even when a major life change occurs, you may be pondering just what kind of person you've become as a result of it (I had one of those a couple years ago... check out this blog about it!) But, it's important that we have that sense of identity to allow us to truly understand ourselves, as well as our relationship with out Heavenly Father.
So, quick side tangent: I love punk. I've been into punk since junior high, and it's just fun. It's loud and aggressive and very expressive (well, some times, at least). I also love ska, because when it comes to having fun with music, it's hard to beat ska. I will now reference a couple bands to illustrate my point. DRI is a hardcore punk band from the '80s. In a song entitled "Who Am I?" (fitting, right?), they raise that very question (over and over again). "Who am I?... A human being... This strange thing... Not what I seem." And there you have pretty much the whole song. It's a short one. Kurt Brecht poses the question, then answers it. He is a human being, a strange thing, and not what he seems. He reasserts this several times, until culminating in affirming (repeatedly) the his DRI... DRI... DRI. That's his identity. Jumping over a bit to a band that I absolutely adore, We Are the Union. They do an awesome job of meshing punk with ska. They have a song entitled "Ourcore", which is a song all about their individuality and refusal to fall into a cookie cutter mold. A line they use towards the end (that often gets in my head) goes "We're just being who we are! We take the road less traveled by!". A powerful line, referencing famous poetry, put to angry punk/ska riffs. What more can you ask for?
Both these bands, in their songs, raise very profound points on their identity, that we as members of the church should be able to relate to. Kurt Brecht answers the question saying he's not what he seems. How accurate is that of church members? We seem like the everyday person, but really we're covenant people. We have a higher standard because we have more awareness of the desires of our Heavenly Father for us. We Are the Union assert that what they do is who they are, and that involves taking the less traveled road and not just following the crowd. I think about this in terms of my mission: I often wonder what people think of us when we're out in public in regular clothes. They obviously have no reason to assume that we're Mormon missionaries, they're just going to assume we're regular twenty-some year old guys. Well, the average twenty-something year old guy has quite the reputation, and it's not entirely unfounded. So, when a group of us missionaries, disguised in regular clothes, are out in public, I wonder if people notice that we're not swearing, or talking about girls or how drunk we got. It's an interesting thought.
And more than just members of the church, everybody has an identity (obviously). How many of our brothers and sisters don't even know who they truly are? Romans 8:16 tells us: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God". We ARE children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. Each of us is loved, and each of us has that lineage. That's who we are: Children of God. And this should influence us in many ways. As we are Children of God, we should be willing to do what He asks, just like we would our earthly parents. Also, we should take it upon ourselves to teach those around us their true identity. EVERYONE is a Child of God, and He loves us all.