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Dear MMB

Dear MMB,

I was wondering if you have ever done an article on the issues/ problems converts to the church face, particularly with family members who were or are against the LDS religion. I come from a small town of Dutch Christian reformed. We grew up in a small tight knit, dutch, Christian community. Good people just very set in their ways, and their heads are full of misconceptions about the LDS religion. I know of only two other people from my small town who are now LDS. One of the converts are in Utah now, but she is having a very difficult time with her family accepting who she is and what she wants to believe. And her in laws are not the close knit Mormon family she was hoping for.

I currently live in Kalamazoo, MI, and my friend says she lives in Provo. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

Didn't know if you knew of any convert support groups? Is that silly to ask? She really wants to reach out to someone in her boat. My family at 1st was skeptical but are now accepting and loving. My extended family on the other hand is another story.

Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time,

This question is one of the many reason's we keep putting so much time and effort into the MMB. We want a place that women can turn to that will offer them the needed support, encouragement, advice and love.

We turned this over to our fellow MMB members to answer Kasey's question, and here are a couple of the responses that we received. Please feel free to answer her in the comment section as well.

Tiburon - Convert of 13years
Blog: Shark Bait

I joined the church 13 years ago today. It was a very difficult decision for me – one that I agonized over for nearly two years. I was dating someone who was very against the church. Two of my four parents were also opposed to my joining the church. They actually belonged to a church that had an activity on Wednesday nights called “Save a Mormon Night”.

I spent months and months poring over the Book of Mormon. I tried to find some reason not to join. I prayed and begged the Lord to give me a sign to know that it was true – and when I finally received that sign, there was no way I could deny it. I knew that I needed to be baptized.

I went to the Stake President because I was very conflicted about what to do. On the one hand I knew that I needed to join the church – and on the other hand I knew that my family would disown me.

He had some very interesting (and surprising) counsel for me. He suggested that I go ahead with my baptism and not tell anyone about it. He said it might be best for my family to see that I was the same ol’ Tiburon that I had always been. He even hinted that they might not even notice a change. He made a deal with me that we would do the baptism as long as I promised to tell my family by my one year baptism anniversary.

I was baptized on August 4, 1996 with 22 missionaries in attendance, most of whom had had a hand in trying to convert me. Beyond that, I was on my own. I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t tell my roommate. I didn’t tell my boyfriend.

The only support group I had available to me was my singles ward and an amazing bishopric. I often found myself in their office bawling my eyes out wondering if I had made the right decision.

Over the course of the next year, the boyfriend and I went our separate ways when I realized he wasn’t what I was looking for in an eternal companion. I became active in my singles ward and I dated a lot of great LDS guys. I moved to Utah and met my sweetheart and we became engaged. At the 11 month mark it was time to tell my family about my conversion.

To say that I was nervous would be an understatement. My mom and stepdad took the news very well (neither of them being active in their respective religions). My siblings all seemed to take the news fairly well – they are scattered all over the religious spectrum.

My dad and stepmom were a different story. They yelled and screamed. They hung up on me. They refused to talk to me. They didn’t come to my wedding. I wrote them a very heartfelt letter explaining what had led me to join the church. I also pointed out that during the year that I had been a member I was still their daughter – they never even noticed a change in me. I hadn’t gone and joined a cult, I wasn’t living on a commune, I didn’t sacrifice small farm animals. I was just me - the same Tiburon that I always was. I did my best to bear my testimony to them. I let them know that I was a Christian and a follower of Christ’s teachings.

Eventually (over several years) things got to a point where we were willing to agree to disagree.

I wish I could say that things have gotten better. For the most part I make it a point not to discuss religion. I try to avoid the topic because I know that it will lead to a fight (especially with my dad). They still get their digs in when I go to visit. They try to find fault in the church and in the teachings and in the doctrine. Do they succeed? No. The doctrine stands up. The church is true and no amount of hate is going to change that. We all have our free agency and I understand why they feel the need to share their feelings.

But I also understand that I need to do what is right for me. And I am doing it. And it feels good. I feel as though I have been through a refiner’s fire and have come out on the other side with a stronger testimony and a closer relationship with my Father in Heaven.

Natasha Loewen, convert of 13 years
Blog: Becoming Something

None of my family nor my husband's family are LDS. We're not overly close with them so if they don't understand or like our church membership, I could really care less. However, I do have many close friends who are not members of the church and their lack of understanding can sometimes be frustrating.

The response I get from friends now is better than the response I got years ago and I think the reason is that I'm less pushy than I used to be. I don't get defensive. I don't ever try to change their behaviour, like asking them not to swear around me. I don't find ways to bring up religion so that I can have an opportunity to bear my testimony about the Word of Wisdom or something like that. Because my attitude toward our religious differences is very relaxed, they have relaxed around me and they ask more questions now. Recently, a very non-religious friend wrote this to me: "I just want to say that in my entire life's experiences, I have never encountered anyone whose religious belief system was so strong and so thorough AND who also posessed the ability to comprehend the belief systems of others and respect them to the level which you state. I am truly blown away by this ability.... I deeply respect that you are able to feel your soul so strongly benefit from being a Mormon, and yet do not feel the need to force the LDS Church on others."

She got this from some things I wrote on my blog. What's helped the most is writing a blog where I don't talk about the church all the time but rather have occasional posts wherein I share my feelings. I also poke fun at myself and at the church and express appreciation for people of other beliefs. This has done more than I can convey to open up my friend's hearts and has contributed to the conversion of one person. My goal is not to convert people but to help them understand me and enjoy me though I'm one of "those crazy Mormons". A blog is unique because you can share what you want to share and word things carefully, without forcing anything on anyone. They choose to read or they choose not to. It's very unintrusive. (And you absolutely cannot make religion the main topic or the very people you want to have read it will never read it.)

If you're never preachy, pushy, defensive, judgmental, or self-righteous, people WILL come around to respecting your religion or at the very least, it won't be a hinderence to how they experience your friendship. Having a good sense of humor about life and people, and not being shocked and offended at every example of non-Mormon behavior in the world, is really all that's usually needed, I think, to keep religious differences from being a problem.

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