Monday, August 12, 2013

Mormon Underwear and Delta Flight 107

“Are you a Mormon?” came the question as I returned to my seat on Delta flight 107 from Frankfurt to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.

A humored, “Yes,” was my reply.  Although I often wear a BYU jacket while travelling to potentially spark this exact conversation, the man’s question still caught me off guard.  I laughed, “I am a Mormon. How’d you know, did you see my jacket?”

“Your jacket? No, I didn’t see—oh, no I didn’t realize you were wearing that jacket but that would make sense! I thought you were a Mormon because when you put your bag in the overhead bin I saw your underwear and thought they were Mormon underwear. Then I watched to see if you and your wife drank wine when dinner came and thought, ‘They have to be Mormon.’ Will you tell me about the Mormon Church? I know nothing about it.”

This man knew of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—perhaps a little more than the average person—and when he saw a few signs that I may be Mormon, he watched for others to confirm his theory.

Be Thou an Example of the Believers

How important are our actions? This man’s best friend is LDS and numerous others of his colleagues and associates in life. Gratefully, he has had only great experiences with members of the Church and thinks highly of us.

But what if his friend picked and chose which commandments he wanted to live? Or what if our interaction had not been so positive because my wife and I decided certain of the teachings of Jesus Christ were not so important on our trip? This man had not seen my jacket but was familiar enough with the Church that he knew my white undershirt or the band of my white underwear were not just ordinary undergarments. What if Alyssa and I had decided to “really enjoy” all of the free benefits of our first-class seats? What if our choice of media entertainment for the flight had been less than exemplary of a disciple of Jesus Christ? Normally no one would know or care what movies we were watching. But this gentleman knew of the covenants we had made and was watching our every action. What would have happened to his image of the Church and of those who profess to love and follow Jesus Christ if we had decided to take a day off from being disciples of Christ?

I am reminded of a quote from General Conference a few years ago:
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009

Our actions when we think no one is watching or when we think no one will know the difference truly show who we are and what we believe. No amount of words or outward public showing justify or allow any less than full-time devotion to what we have covenanted to live. If we act different when surrounded by strangers, the things we profess to believe on Sunday have not sunk deep into our hearts. However, if we are truly converted and truly understand the importance of the lifestyle we have chosen, we act in accordance with God’s will in all things and at all times because that is who we are.

“Be thou and example of the believers,” taught the apostle Paul, “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

A lifestyle wholly devoted to God secures for us peace of mind and true happiness. Our conscience will be clear before God and we will experience joy in being an example of the believers and serving those around us.

My new friend and I enjoyed a wonderful conversation about jump rope, various places he’s lived, and of the “Mormon” Church. During the conversation he revealed that he was undergoing chemotherapy for a cancer that he already beat once before. He talked about how awful and painful the treatment is and divulged that he has thoughts of ending his life rather than continue to endure the pain associated with cancer and chemo a second time. We talked long and deeply of the purpose of life, of faith in God, and of the love God has for each of His children, including him.

It was a unique experience and I am grateful for it. But it never would have happened if the members of the Church in his life had not lived their religion and if my wife and I had chosen to forget ours for a plane ride. Although I do not know what has become of my new friend, I hope and pray that our conversation had some sort of positive influence on him.

I leave you with the words of our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson:

“The Lord is in all of our lives. He loves us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His help. As He guides us and directs our prayers, we will find the happiness here and now that He desires for us.”

May we all be examples of the believers that all may know of His love for them.


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