My spiritual journey began in a community center, surrounded by tons of cool kids. I had heard that tons of cool kids hung out at the community center, but the truth was that the community center was full of amazing kids. It was like I had walked onto the set of a Music Television programme.
“Welcome to Straight Edge,” said a cool boy. “My name is Chip and I’ll be teaching you all about the power and wisdom of the Book of Mormon.”
Whoa…a youth group? But I’m just a kid who enjoys fun and love. How could the teachings of Joseph Smith and Mormonism ever be relevant for me: a god-fearing virgin?
Chip grinned at all of us and then broke into a fit of giggles. We all started giggling – had we just been had?
“Okay, that’s enough horseplay for today,” said another boy, who had been standing at the back of the room. “Thanks Wesley, for that colorful introduction.” We all laughed because the boy’s name was really Wesley. “Let me introduce myself,” said the new boy. “My name is Chip and welcome to Str8tEdge, a Mormon youth group.”
Oh man! We had been had! I would eventually learn that all the kids loved to horseplay around before our meetings.
“Sorry for all the joking around, guys,” Chip said. “But we wanted to show you that even spiritual people can have fun.” Everyone was having tons of fun, so we all nodded our heads.
Someone started laughing and it was one of those laughs that’s incredibly infectious. It ended up being a great laughed shared among friends.
All of these kids were super nice – one was even wearing a shirt with a cool rock band on it. It was a Green Day t-shirt.
“Does anyone have anything to share with the group? Maybe an instance where their faith was tested?” The Green Day kid raised his hand. Chip pointed towards the boy. “Hey, a Green Day fan! Anyone else here a fan of Green Day?”
I gasped – we had all raised our hands.
“Yeah, I love Green Day,” said the Green Day boy.
“We all do,” said Chip. “They are a great pop band.” You could tell he
was a real fan.
“I wanted to ask you about sin. Like sex and things.”
“Hey, just remember that you deserve someone who loves you for you, not just for your body,” said Chip. “Don’t be an American Idiot by going to hell for having sex.” He said it in a way that reminded me of American rock group Green Day.
I was really relieved because not wanting to be an American Idiot was the whole reason I had started this spiritual journey in the first place.
Then I raised my hands in the air.
In the end, it turned out that I was pretty spiritually ignorant. For example, I had always thought Mormons weren’t allowed to drink caffeine. ‘That’s wacked!’ I had thought. But I was totally wrong: the truth is that Mormons are absolutely prohibited from drinking “hot drinks,” which is why we were all gulping down tons of soda.
After my spiritual journey was over, everyone in the youth group played this game called “longest French fry,” where you try to see which person has the longest French fry by lining them up on a table (we had all gotten French fries for dinner). It was a really fun game.