For years, I've been trying to distance myself from being pegged as "that kind of Mormon." You know what I mean—the stereotype we all conjure up in our head and usually describe as narrow-minded, judgemental, self-righteous, naive, and sheltered.
But it wasn't until recently that I began to wonder if "that kind of Mormon" even exists. Living in Utah County, the heartland of the Utah Mormons, I have a whole host of LDS friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, but most of our conversations together revolve around how much those stereotypes annoy us and how none of us really fit into cultural expectations. We even often get frustrated about those judgmental Mormons who give us a bad wrap.
The irony wasn't lost on me that the people I was most judgmental of were judgmental people. But I couldn't help it. Though it made me a hypocrite, those kinds of people drove me crazy!
But then I read a blog that caused me to step back, reevaluate my own assumptions, and wonder if we need to give ourselves a little bit more credit. I’m not saying that Mormons don’t have their moments when they are stuck up, biased, or just plain wrong. We do. And I am not saying that there won’t be people in the Church who are prideful, judgmental, or self-righteous. There will be. All I am saying is we should stop judging each other as judgmental and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Here are just a few reasons Mormons may not be as judgmental as you think:
1. We often see what we want to see.
My whole life I've heard that Mormons, and especially Mormon women, are judgmental and harsh. That thought broke my heart. But I'd heard it so often that every time I heard a comment or saw a social post or received the brunt end of someone else's hate, I saw that as evidence.
However, I never stopped to think maybe the reverse was true. I never stopped and collected evidence to prove that Mormons, especially Mormon women, are kind, loving, and accepting—until recently. And I found what I was looking for.
Of course, Mormons have their moments of pride, self-righteousness, judgment, and even hatred. We're human. That's what we do. And while I can choose to get frustrated by the imperfections of those within the Church, I've chosen instead to embrace them, because the simple fact is I wouldn't belong in this Church if it was made up of perfect people. And neither would you.
So if you're looking for the flaws, believe me, you'll find them aplenty. Mormons are no different from anyone else in that respect.
The difference comes when you begin to look for the good. Yes, we sometimes say the wrong thing, act without thinking, and even act in vengeance or jealousy. But we keep trying. We keep learning, teaching, and surrounding ourselves with goodness in the hopes we can gain more of it. We keep serving, interacting, and loving even when it's hard in the hopes that one day it will become natural and easy to love as Christ loves. Rarely have I found a community like the one within our Church where people are trying so hard to do what is right, even if sometimes we miss the mark or misunderstand what that truly means.