I came across a quote posted by a friend of mine that read:

The difference between spiritualism and religion is that spiritualism is pro-light, while religion is anti-sin.

Or something to that effect. This quote bothered me because I felt that it maligned religion. I asked this friend for some clarification; it seemed clear from their response that they had had a rather negative experience with religion. They explained that they felt that religion (in general) micro-manages the lives of its adherents and focuses on telling people what they can't do.

Well, I don't pretend to know everything about what my friend has experienced. To be sure, there is no perfectly lived religion on earth. I can understand to some degree where negative sentiments about religion come from. However, I am happy to report that my experience with religion has been a profoundly positive one.

I came across the following in the Book of Mormon:

And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good…
(Ether 4:12)

My religion is very much not about what one can and cannot do. Rather, my religion is about living to maximize joy. All those things that we are told not to do are things that, in the long run, will bring sadness.

(I would like to note that by joy, I mean something distinct from pleasure. Pleasure is a transient, ephemeral sensation, whereas joy is a deep, pure, lasting happiness.)

I try to focus on what I can do to bring more happiness to myself and those around me. Often, that means trying to find people to serve. There's a quote that I like from a video about service called Lift. If you haven't watched it, it's only a few minutes long and well worth it. You can watch it here.

It's interesting, the dichotomy between healing the body and healing the soul. When we heal the body, it's always an inward effort. We're always paying attention to ourselves. When we heal the soul, turning inward doesn't work. And the triage of the soul is found in turning outward to other people.
(Lift at ~7'14")

I am grateful for my faith because it doesn't restrict me from things I want to do or coerce me into doing things I don't want to do. It has taught me to tame my naturally destructive tendencies and to nurture my good impulses. It has made me happier, and has given me peace and direction in my life. I am a better person because of it.


Photo credit: Photo by Marcus Dall Col on Unsplash