Being a Mormon is tough.

There’s a lot to do, there are high standards to live up to, there are meetings a few times a week and three-hour blocks of meetings on Sundays. There’s a strict moral code and a code of health that prohibits tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, anything harmful, and even says to cut back on the meat. There is no pay for church service, and we pay 10% of our income as tithing to help with construction and maintenance of buildings, church programs, etc. and we pay other offerings to feed and care for the poor and needy. President Uchtdorf expounded on those responsibilities and others during General Conference a couple weeks ago.

He also talks about the boundless blessings and opportunities that come with being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He talks about how the Church belongs to and is directed by the Savior, and membership in such a church and adherence to its teachings will bring you much closer to the Savior. The Church requires, and therefore cultivates, an active faith and a lifestyle of doing good to others. The priesthood authority found in the Church of Jesus Christ allows us to pass through the narrow gate of an authorized baptism and move forward towards the ultimate goal of being sealed to our families forever (That means that even after we die, we’ll be with our family, and we can have faith in that assurance now).

It is tough. It’s one of the most rewarding things to be a part of, but being a Mormon is a tough thing to do. That’s part of why people leave the Church. If a leader makes a mistake or offends, people leave. If it’s not cool or popular to be a Mormon, it’s kinda hard to stay active. If your friends aren’t Mormon and make fun of you for being Mormon, it’s less than comfortable to stay. If your old lifestyle was just too much fun to leave behind, you may want to go back. If you are trying really, really hard to be a good, active member of the Church, but you make a stupid mistake (and don’t get upset at me calling them stupid mistakes, I’m referring to my own mistakes), shame becomes a powerful force against anything that would keep you there surrounded by other people who suddenly appear perfect and would be horrified if they found out what you’ve done. You won’t feel comfortable anymore… and you’ll leave.

I have a friend who left for one reason or another. He’d left before because drinking was too much fun. Then he showed up at church drunk, and a loving member kept him there until he’d sobered up enough to realize what was going on. He decided to stay. He grew and learned and became very strong in the gospel. He had a powerful testimony, and when he spoke of Jesus Christ and His redemptive power, I didn’t feel like the earth shook, but rather that it stood still to listen. I haven’t seen him in about 2 and a half years now, but I do remember that about 2 years ago, I learned that he’d eft the church again. Too many rules, too much structure, too much oppression. It was too hard for him, and his old lifestyle was too fun and relaxing.

He called himself “Crazy” and an anarchist, wild-child, bat-outta-hell type. He’d gone back to who he was before the gospel of Jesus Christ had changed him. It was a sad thing to watch the violence, the debauchery, the vulgar and crude language and the drinking and disregard for authority whatsoever as it appeared on my Facebook from time to time. It got so bad that I wrote this about it.

But he’s back.

He made a new Facebook profile and said goodbye to his old life. He’s back at church. He’s repenting and changing and reading the scriptures and the words of the prophets and sharing them with others.

He’s back, and my heart is full. My friend is back.

It doesn’t matte who you are or what you’re going through, you can come back.
It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. — Jeffrey R. Holland.

If you have a friend who has left, don’t give up. Love them and pray for them. They might come back, and when they do, your heart will be full. Just let them know you love them.