This story is written from the point of view of my childhood self growing up in the LDS church…
This is what I said in church yesterday. I messed up and instead of saying “I’d like to bear my testimony,” I said “I’d like to bear my family.”
The reason I said this is because after you say, “I’d like to bear my testimony, I know this church is true,” you are supposed to say, “I am grateful for my family.” Well, I just stood there saying I would like to bear them. I felt so embarrassed especially when I saw my mom looking at me funny.
Mom always gets serious in church. I try to focus and be serious too. After all, I know Heavenly Father is watching me. But sometimes I giggle and daydream too much. Then I get in trouble because I’m the oldest and I should know better.
Why do we have to go every week and wear dresses? Why wouldn’t Heavenly Father like me to wear pants in his house? It is the Lord’s house but I think he must be kind of bored visiting there because it is so plain and brown and business like.
I imagine Jesus walking through the halls while my sisters and I go to Sunday School and he is in a huge white light. His feet don’t touch the ground. He just floats like an angel checking up on all of us. I am not scared to see him even though I’m not perfect like he is. Besides, I bet I am one of the few here that can see him. It is probably because I am one of the chosen, special spirits being born in The Last Days. Soon Jesus will decide the world is just too mean and he’ll come back and set it right again.
At least that’s what Gran says. She also told me that I have to be careful because I am so special that Satan will always try harder to trick me to do the wrong things. Satan doesn’t want me on God’s side. Well, I do try to be good and nice to everyone. But sometimes it’s hard.
Our family is big. Since I am the oldest, I always have to help out with everything. Mom is mean sometimes. She yells and calls me names. I just try to remember the letters W.W.J.D. My friend Melanie’s dad put this all over their house. It stands for “What Would Jesus Do?”
“What Would Jesus Do?” I did hear that he kicked a bunch of people out of the temple once. He was no wimp. Well, I am not a wimp either. I can even beat up my neighbor Travis Blackhurst! I know because we used to fight sometimes when playing Dracula. But now we are friends. Travis even stood up for me at choir practice on Wednesday when Kelly punched me in the face. I got a black eye.
It was hard to explain the situation to Mrs. Emil, one of the 6th grade teachers. She gave me a speech about how the student body president should not have a black eye. Well, I showed mom my cartoon drawing of Mrs. Emil and it made her laugh until her face went pink. I like it when mom laughs.
Did you know that I am the first girl to be student body president at Greenwood Elementary? My sisters helped me a lot because they told people to vote for me “or else.” They really aren’t mean though. They are just strong. We all are strong. That comes from being the descendants of the pioneers who came to Utah.
I am glad I am a Mormon. It is the only true church on earth and the Prophet really talks to God in the Temple.
But do you want to know a secret?
I communicate with God too. I drew a special picture for Heavenly Father and left it at the foot of my bed one night. It was the one of the Bible with a rose. I sketched it really carefully. I didn’t even trace it. I asked Heavenly Father to come and get it while I slept. And guess what? The picture was gone in the morning! It’s a miracle. I hope I get more miracles. But mom said I shouldn’t pray for them or else I’ll be like the evil people who don’t believe in God and challenge God to give them signs.
Mom said we should just believe. It is like that really pretty song the older girls sing in Young Women’s called, “I Walk by Faith.” I don’t know though. Sometimes I wish for more than faith.
Amy Wright Glenn earned her MA in Religion and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught in The Religion and Philosophy Department at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey for over a decade. While at Lawrenceville, Amy was the recipient of the Dunbar Abston Jr. Chair for Teaching Excellence. She is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, a DONA certified birth doula, and a hospital chaplain. Her work has appeared in International Doula. She recently published her first book: Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula; you can read a review written by another FAR contributor, Molly Meade, here.
4 thoughts on “An LDS Girlhood by Amy Wright Glenn”
Hope you will share what happened after that, as your bio suggests a journey…
Love the child’s voice and point of view. Right on, write on!
What is e.e. cummings’ quote? “down they forgot as up they grew” I think. It is from “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”. I hope your inner child held onto some of that magic forever.
A beautiful reflection piece!