I was raised in a very staunch Catholic home and I will always have a deep love and appreciation for the Catholic church. It provided me the preliminary tools I needed to prepare myself for what would prove to be an increasingly interesting transition.
Before my baptism, I thought my relationship with God was already perfect. I thought I couldn't get any closer to God, that I couldn't learn any more. And I'll admit it-- there was a time I believed that being baptized just meant sealing the deal.
Boy was I wrong.
Everything I do now is totally different. The way I pray, the way I fast-- even the way I receive revelation is totally new and different. I'm able to recognize more of God's tender mercies in my life than ever before and His presence is so much stronger. The sacrament means so much more to me and my testimony has grown in ways I could have never predicted. And that's just in a year.
However, I've noticed something curious throughout this year, too. Although I fully identify as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I don't quite feel like a Mormon.
I have a strong testimony of the LDS church. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is all encompassing and I know that the love God has for His children is real and I know that I feel it every single day. I know that that Atonement gives me the strength to overcome every obstacle. I'm anxiously awaiting the day my family can be together throughout eternity and I weep when I imagine the day they rediscover these things. I know Joseph Smith and every other prophet ordained by the proper priesthood authority is a true prophet of a living God. This includes the current prophet and president of the LDS church, President Thomas S. Monson.
So when I say I don't feel like a Mormon, I mean I don't quite feel like I can fully identify with the informal culture associated with the word "Mormon." The LDS Church has a very distinctive culture and so does the Catholic church. Both have an incredibly strong emphasis on family and both have remarkable leaders. However, there are certainly very significant cultural differences. It's hard to summarize exactly what these differences are, but imagine "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" meeting "19 Kids and Counting" and that's kind of what my brain is sorting through right now.
My mom's bowling team came up with the word "Mormlic." They coined the term to describe someone who has ties to both the Catholic Church and the LDS Church. I'm really trying to be a better Mormon, but there will always be a part of me that will be just a little bit Catholic, and as hard as I try I can't convince myself that that is going to hold me back.
Heavenly Fathers gives us both trials and blessings as means for us to grow. If we ever forget those experiences, we're sure to forget the lessons learned as well. I was born into the circumstances I was for a beautiful, meaningful purpose, and half the beauty is discovering that meaning for myself.