Originally Posted by OneBeanBiker
If someone can decipher my meaning, please help. If not, I'll come back later to try and make sense.
I think I get what you're trying to say. I'm a convert of just 23 months, but my life before the church was wholly
incompatible with gospel standards. As a result of that, I've had trouble at times connecting with members of my ward. My first few weeks in my first ward had some awkward moments. I would meet people and try to get to know them, but we would just end up looking at each other smiling with nothing at all
to say to each other. I could tell I was loved there and people were glad to have me in the ward, but my social culture as a new convert had a lot of maturing to do. It still does.
The other side to that coin was that most of my life long friends took it personally when I wouldn't go out with them for a drink anymore. I eliminated that aspect of my life all the way, and some people saw that as my thinking I was better than them for not drinking anymore. No matter what I said or did they couldn't understand that by refusing to go to a bar with them, I wasn't saying that I was better than they were. Or, that they were better than I was. If anything, I was trying to show them that we were all
better than needing a drink to be friends. No such luck, though.
So here's my advice ...
--Learn fully some of the reasons behind the lifestyle conditions that our church places on their members. As an example ... Law of Chastity: Sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness in our church. Word of Wisdom: Avoid addiction. There are secular benefits to every "rule" the church has. You shouldn't (and you don't) have to figure out and be able to explain them, but in can help when trying to connect with non-members. Even if you're answer is simply "God said so." Say that and be confident and comfortable with it. So ...
--Don't be embarrassed about the teachings of the church. To the world, the idea of not living together before marriage or only having one sexual partner your entire life can come off as naive. And if the only values you share with your significant other are worldly ones, then those ideas may very well be naive. Let them know that being a Mormon is not some Sunday activity, it's a lifestyle that carries real consequences. Adding to that ...
--Keep a sense of humor about our culture. I promise you that the average non-member has questions and misconceptions about Mormons and would LOVE a chance to get answers directly from the source. We've become popular in recent years. I read a study that said 85% of non-members have met a Mormon, but only 14% of them say they know what our beliefs are. So when they ask you about sister wives or salamanders, don't take it personally. Be able to laugh it off. And be sure to return the favor ...
--Ask them questions about their culture as well. See if they have any funny drunk stories. Ask them about their worst hangover. But after you've talked about the differences between you, then find out what you have in common. Life outside the church does consist of more than rated 'R' movies and happy hour at the local pub. Acknowledge the differences, then move past them to see where you stand.
Lastly, if you come across a situation and you're totally stumped, come back and post about it here. This board is heavily focused on information and advice. Sometimes whether you want it or not.