Today is the ten year anniversary of my baptism. Forgive me for being sentimental.
To Larke- thanks for giving me that Book of Mormon, for talking to me under the stars about what you believe, for never forcing your views on me, and for everyday since then. Your strength and Christlike love have been things I have tried to emulate as I have tried to be this thing we call a Saint. Before we decided to be married, I had a picture of you on your mission that I carried with me, and Iâ€™d look in your eyes and imagine that those were what Christâ€™s eyes looked like.
To Seth and Taylor- thanks for being my missionaries. No other two would have gotten me through. When I needed to talk about pre-mortal spiritual handshakes and what the purpose of existing forever was, you were still available. A lot of missionaries wouldnâ€™t have done that. Your friendship and strength have pulled me through some tough moments over the years. Knowing you are still there means a lot to me.
To Jon, Chad, Sal, Caitlyn, Matt, and Mark- Thanks for being my friends when I first joined the church. You were there everyday, even when I wanted to be left alone, and you fellowshipped the heck out of me. We talked about girls, went dancing, placed proximity mines, did McTwists, and talked about naming children â€œShort Sleeveâ€. You all were awesome. You made the Gospel something we discussed everyday, not just something I did on Sunday.
To my in-laws, thanks for making your home my home, your family my family, your stories my stories, and your food my fat cells. Thanks for telling me straight from the get go that the church is full of imperfect, crazy people. Most of all I am grateful that you taught me that Mormon women are awesome, strong, butt-kicking wielders of Christâ€™s name. I canâ€™t wait for my daughters to grow up and be like you.
To my mission President and his wife, thanks for telling me rules were meant to be broken, for telling your conversion story every other zone conference, for using the word â€œpisscicleâ€, and for telling us your Baptist preacher was right, you were brainwashed, otherwise you wouldnâ€™t be in the Philippines for three years. Thanks for loving me like a son and for treating every missionary with respect and dignity. You were the best mission president I could ever have had. And your wifeâ€™s favorite ice cream being coffee flavored just tops it off!
To my first Branch President, thanks for being there for all my questions and confessions. Thanks for being easy going about things like Coca Cola, R rated movies, and when I quoted Scrooge saying â€œbah humbugâ€ in the church bulletin, or for saying that you thought Joseph Smith was joking when he said â€œmore goodâ€ was the translation for Mormon. Thanks for giving me a calling right away, and for making me your executive secretary the day I became an Elder. Thanks for telling me to stop reading the Miracle of Forgiveness and for constantly talking about how you only had a couple years until you could go on a full-time mission.
To that guy who only knew me for 5 minutes but offered to pay for my mission: I turned you down, but Iâ€™ll never forget you. I have forgotten your name, but you I will never forget.
To Truman Madsen, thanks for making tapes about each of the prophets. I gained a testimony of each listening. Thanks for hinting at all the amazing stuff underneath the surface. And thanks for being my wifeâ€™s stake president. Sorry about saying sometimes you sound like you are doing a Captain Kirk impersonation.
To the Internet Mormons, thank you for being there from day one. When I was investigating, Jeff Lindsay was there, 1 Minute Answers was there, Mike Ash was there. When I got into some anti-stuff when I got home, thanks for not minding that I used the internet to e-mail everyone of you (and 50% of the BYU religion department) I could find e-mail addresses for. The fact that every single one of you e-mailed me, a stranger, back wasnâ€™t lost on me. Thanks Kevin Barney, for being there to take care of my fears about the Tanner Satanism Stuff. Thanks Julie and Ardis for being two of the most incredible women I donâ€™t really know. Thanks to Blake, Jacob, Jeffrey Gilliam, Jonathan Stapley, and Geoff J. for helping me become acquainted with a depth of theological thought I otherwise never would have known. And thanks to Steve Evans for personally emailing me one time when he was worried he had offended me.
To my Family and Friends from before, thanks for respecting my decision, and for reading books I sent you and for sending me things in the paper that mention church welfare or mention Indians having boats that sailed across the ocean. Thanks for only occasionally teasing me about my magical underwear. Thanks for accepting me for who I am, even when I was a jerk and refused to eat when we went out for dinner one Sunday.
To those who didnâ€™t make it, Iâ€™m sorry for not being a better friend. I know you told me that I should have fought harder and debated more with you, but Iâ€™d rather respect your choices and hope you respect mine.
To God, thanks for these past ten years of my life. I wouldnâ€™t trade them for anything. I donâ€™t know or understand why you love me so much to have given this life to me, but I believe you did. I hope I can give it back to you. Thanks for giving me a reason to care.