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Socialphobes and Zion

Tonight we made cookies and brought them to neighbors in response to our stake president asking us to perform acts of kindness for our neighbors, especially for the less active or non-members. It’s a little awkward that bringing cookies was all I could think of, as if such were the only socially-acceptable way to make contact with the foreigners next door. Technology has truly made us friends with people on the other side of the world and strangers with our next-door neighbors. But I guess you have to start somewhere. And it did work. We had a great conversation with our neighbors and learned a lot about them.

Sometimes being a Mormon can be painful. It requires us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. Like contacting our neighbors. Like being … (shudder) … sociable. I started out very shy in elementary school, but I soon learned that I wanted to be a funny kid, which required me to transcend my comfort zone. I grew to be okay at making friends and engaging in small talk, but it never came naturally. When I let nature get the best of me throughout my life, I degenerated into a recluse. I can recall social settings, even in college, where I was seen as the quiet one, the anti-social one. Even when I really tried to be sociable, in some settings, I just couldn’t small talk, let alone talk as a friend.

But that’s okay, right? That’s just who I am. Sociality isn’t one of my fortes. I don’t want to be the nagging elder who calls each month for your home teaching report. I don’t want to be that unnaturally friendly guy at church who always says hello and has stupid sunshine in his soul. I don’t want to be like Jesus and disregard all social barriers, making my primary concern in life the welfare of other people. I don’t want to love my neighbor, I just want to love myself.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we could find God by abandoning society and meditating in the woods? Perhaps we can. But Mormonism comes with this horribly inconvenient doctrine that it’s not enough just find God, we have to be like him.

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