Reclaiming Our Innocence wife and I recently went to dinner with our youngest grandson, along with his mom, our daughter, and his older brother. Our youngest grandson is two.

During dinner, he was smiling at me and trying to get my attention. He was excited to tell me something. I turned my attention to him. Then he told me with a huge smile on his face that he had played with Playdough with his grandma (not my wife but his other grandma). His mom chuckled because that little event had take place four weeks earlier!

What my little grandson told me touched me deeply. Imagine being so excited to tell someone about something as simple as playing Playdough—and it happened a month earlier.

Young children in their innocence. Simple needs, simple joys. Untarnished, pure, and appreciative. Full of wonder, with hearts of gold. No ego on their radar. Of such is the kingdom of God (see Mark 10:14–15). As we read in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. (D&C 93:38.)

Again, in verse 15 of Mark 10:

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Innocence is hard to come by when we are stranded in Egoville, the walled town where most of us adults live. In the town is a hill with a machine gun nest on top, a machine gun of defensive words that we use to position ourselves as the winner of every argument, the victim of every wrong, and the one who is always right. It is hard to be innocent when we are blaming, complaining, and ungrateful—the triumvirate of the ego-bound. It is hard to be innocent when we are stuck. And it is hard to be truly happy without some degree of innocence in our lives.

We can reclaim our innocence through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, through repentance, and accepting forgiveness, through a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Where else can we find the path back to innocence, back to our childhood?

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:6–7.)

I believe our innocence stems from our original infancy, before God formed our spirits (see D&C 93:29–30,36). I believe that this essence—our purest essence—is our true inner child. I believe we must go back to our origins to move forward in the eternities, leaving our false, unoriginal selves behind,

For the natural man [or the ego] is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19.)



Are Mormons Brainwashed?

Courtesy LDS Media LibraryIf you’re a Latter-day Saint, have you ever been accused of being brainwashed? This is just one of the labels that have been slapped on us to dismiss us and our beliefs.

When I was first learning about the Church, this and other labels were quickly attached to me: stupid, idiot, dupe, brainwashed, cultist, etc. Even as a teenager, I realized that these were cheap Post-it Note knockoffs—the kind that don’t stick very well.

The psychologist Albert Bandura proposes four ways people are manipulated to disassociate themselves from their consciences:

  1. Offer moral justification
  2. Minimize the consequences
  3. Dehumanize the victims
  4. Displace responsibility
These common human behaviors lead to social marginalization, or worse, persecution, and much, much worse, genocide. It’s ugly business. Really ugly. Labeling others is one of the first steps in falling in with these behaviors. Labels like brainwashed fit pretty well with number 3.I wasn’t raised in the Church and I have written in other posts about my conversion experience. I was not programmed, tricked, deceived, misled, or otherwise manipulated into joining the Mormon Church. My experience was quite the opposite. The people around me were clamoring for me to go the other direction. If there was any “programming,” it was anti-Mormon.

I studied the Church, its scriptures, its history and doctrine, extensively, independently and alone, under lamplight in my room. I also studied anti-Mormon literature. For months, I researched all sides of the argument.

I read or heard most of the claims against Mormonism. They did not move me. They felt empty and false. They were rife with jealousy and contradiction. They were what I have come to call “the Chevy report on Ford.” To be honest, these claims nauseated me. They still do.No one cajoled me to make the choices I have made. I made them on my own under the tender guidance of a loving Heavenly Father. I felt and followed His Holy Spirit. I was led by a gentle, still, small voice. The love and power of God enveloped me. I acted of my own free will and conscience, under the guidance of that power.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. . . . (1 Thessalonians 1:5.)

I chose to join the Church though I was cast out from my home, threatened, persecuted, belittled, shamed, and berated by family and former friends. I listened to them but I didn’t believe them. I tried to not throw gasoline on their fire. It was their fire, not mine. I was singed by it, but not burned.
I had seen a light and power, and I knew that the truth was in that light. I have walked in it my entire adult life. I hope and pray I will have the strength to endure to the end.
As time has passed, my study has broadened and my conviction has only grown deeper. I know that “Mormonism” is true. Label me as you will, here I stand.