Thursday, February 26, 2015

Showing My Broken Shelf to My Hubby

In my world, my immediate family is the most important thing to me.  My Hubby and my kids.  The people I would walk through fire for.  This is also a matter of concern within the LDS church because we are taught of the importance of eternal families.  "Eternal" being the key word here.  Because all too often members are taught not to date people outside of the church because you could never have an eternal family, and, even more horrifying, taught to leave their spouse if the spouse has become an unbeliever.  Their family wouldn't be eternal anymore.  So, they need to find someone else to get them to the highest degreee of glory.  All because "Eternal Families."

So, based on this latter teaching, I was terrified to tell my Hubby.  Horrified that he could possibly look at me and say, "Fine.  If you don't want to join me in the Celestial Kingdom, then we can part ways so that I can find someone who does."  Then I would be a single mom with a toddler and a baby and NO job.  Scary.

I don't remember my exact words, but I asked my Hubby to sit with me in the living room.  I wanted to talk.  We sat in darkness, in our basement apartment while I tried to explain my feelings.  Feelings of dissatisfaction, betrayal, and desertion from the church.  I was trying to let my Hubby know that functioning at church was getting harder.  I wasn't sure what was going to happen.  I wasn't sure if I was staying or going, but I wanted my Hubby to know where I was at.  What I was thinking about.  And I wanted our communication to stay open and honest.  Because I truly believe communication is the basis for a loving and functional relationship.

I do not remember any of the responses from my Hubby.  I do remember LOVE.  I remember him assuring me that, no matter what, we were going to stay together.  He loved me.  And not just because we had the same beliefs.  Just because of me.  He loved me and I loved him.  That's all that really mattered.  We were in this journey together.

This is not to say that our life has been easy to navigate.  It wasn't. We had to figure out what would work for us.  We talked about articles I read.  We talked about the church's opinions on political topics.  We talked about church attendance.  For a while, I went.  Then there was a time that I didn't go and just my Hubby and kids went.  But that wasn't working either.  We did finally come to a compromise.  We split our time.  Every other week we took turns deciding what our Sunday would look like.  My hubby would choose church, so we went to church on his weeks.  On my weeks, we usually went to the park or for a hike. Our Sundays were together because that's what we wanted.  Being together was most important to us.

As we talked about different topics concerning the church we realized that we agreed on a lot of things.  If not completely, partially.  We had common ground.  Together, we attended a Candle Light Vigil put on by the Utah Pride Center that showed support of Marriage Equality when the United States Supreme Court was hearing arguments on Prop. 8 and DOMA. 

There was a moment I was unsure what my Hubby would think.  I wanted to join Ordain Women in their demonstration by waiting in line for stand-by tickets to the Priesthood Session.  I even asked him if he would join me.  He did.  My Hubby came with me in both October 2013 and April 2014.  We joined hundreds in support of a better environment for women within the LDS church. 
 Over time,  it became unbearable to attend church meetings for me.  The judgmental discussions and elitism over non-believers was not something I could handle anymore.  I thought we were at church to discuss Jesus.  After a particularly disturbing Sunday School class that demeaned those who have doubts, I stopped going.  The kids and I stayed home while my Hubby attended.  Then after church we would do something fun together.  When I decided not to attend anymore my Hubby was VERY supportive.  He understood.  The anger on Sundays was not worth our family's happiness.  It would destroy the whole day.  Our life was better without me going.

I have heard many stories about couples where one spouse doesn't believe anymore and they are faced with arguments, a multitude of problems, and divorce.  These are all sad and terrible situations.  And my heart hurts for each and every couple.  I have been so lucky with my experience.  My Hubby has been supportive even through disagreements.  Working through was always our main goal.  I'm grateful for his patience and love. 

Broken and Alone

There I was, standing over my destroyed shelf.  A pile of unresolved issues and unanswered questions below me.  Not knowing where to start with clean up.  Not daring to talk to anyone.  My trust in my church had been shattered, which seeped over onto everything.  Trust in EVERYTHING was gone.  And as is well known, trust takes a LONG time to build again. 

Having no answers.  Not knowing where to get truthful answers.  Not wanting to let go of the only life I've ever known.  Scared of destroying my marriage.  Scared of how family and friends will react.  Wanting truth.  Wanting someone to understand.  Needing empathy.  I didn't know what to do.  I was alone. 

One day I remembered that my sister-in-law had added me to a Facebook group a couple of years earlier.  Feminist Mormon Housewives.  I checked it out.  I had NO experience with Facebook groups, so I just lurked for a while.  I discovered men and women like me.  They saw things in the Mormon world that didn't make sense or reflect the teachings we had drilled into us our whole lives.  I had found my people. 

They knew.  They understood.  And there was no judgment.  I didn't have to be silent.  Most of these people were trying to stay and make the church a better place for everyone.  What I wanted to do.  They helped me find the courage to talk to my Hubby. 

I finally had help to pick up and sort through the mess in front of me. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Shelf. . . It Was Just Too Heavy

(If you don't know what I mean when I say "my shelf," then please read this post so you understand what I'm talking about here.  Thanks)

I was "born in the covenant."  My life began in a diverse city.  None of my early life friends were Mormon.  They were all normal, kind people.  But of course we needed to "save them."  My first missionary experience was in  Grade One.  I gave my teacher a Book of Mormon.  In Grade Two, I gave my teacher a Book of Mormon and she attended my baptism.  She is still the only face I can remember from that day; looking up at her from the font.  I'm sure I gave my Grade Three and Four teachers the same gift.  It was right around this time that I learned that my Uncle is gay.  I knew that being gay was "not something that we did," but I knew he wasn't a bad person and I loved him.  LGBT ISSUES - placed on my shelf.

In the summer after Grade four, we moved out of the big city to a small Mormon town.  Here I learned that those who were different were dangerous.  (I was the dangerous outsider.)  Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of friends, but I was the crazy city girl influencing everyone's kids towards evil.  At age 10, I didn't even know what evil was.  Except for what I was told at church.

Speaking of church, it was at church in this little town where I learned about Black vs. White OR Dark vs. Light skin.  This was portrayed in a lesson at church with water, pepper, and salt.  The salt being the good that gets rid of the bad.  The teacher specifically referenced color of skin to the lesson.  Keep in mind, that here in this area, the Natives did not get along with the white people.  (This is a generalization, I know.  I'm sure there are some people that like each other just fine.  But this is my 12-yr-old memory.)  I got along fine with the Natives, though.  This only added fuel to the fire of evil influence that was me.  Over half of my friends were Natives.  RACISM - added to my shelf.

At 12, we moved again.  Back to city life; well suburban life anyway.  This is what is known as "Happy Valley."  Here the culture was different.  When I first got here, I remember thinking, "these people are weird,"  but not really able to place what the weirdness was.  Everyone did the same activities.  Everyone had the same crafty home decor.  Everyone went to the same church.  Everyone had all the same things to talk about.  There also seemed to be no room for error.  ASSIMILATION - placed on my shelf.

Here is where I learned that boys and girls were different.  It's not okay for a girl to want to be into sports and the outdoors; she is supposed to craft, cook, be quiet and have babies.  Boys can play, get dirty, be loud, and have fun.  GENDER ROLES- shelved.

Then there was the difference in activities.  Boys could go on trips, go boating, fishing, camping, shooting, skiing, and a whole slew of other expensive activities, while the girls had to be frugal and go to a leaders home to make crepes, or write out the characteristics they require from their future husbands.  FUNDING YWs vs YMs - on my shelf.

Boys taught to prepare for, get, and use the Priesthood.  The Power of God.  Girls get nothing.  INEQUALITY -shelved.

Girls taught that we control the thoughts of boys and men.  We are to blame for the things that happen to us if we aren't dressed "modestly."  Boys taught that it's the girls fault they think the way they do.  RAPE CULTURE - shelved.

Girls taught their divine role is to be a wife and mother in Zion.  Boys taught nothing about Fatherhood or being a good husband, only about Scouts.  OH, and Priesthood.  DIVINE ROLES - shelved.

As I grew up in Mormon-ville and filled my days with school and extra curricular activities,  I didn't have much to worry about.  We were all Mormons.  Except for my ONE friend.  But we hardly saw each other.  We participated in different activities.  Someone else could handle that missionary opportunity.  EVERY MEMBER ALWAYS A MISSIONARY - shelved.

It was in High School that receiving personal revelation was stressed in my Seminary classes.  This was something I could count happening to me on only one hand.  I didn't feel like direct revelation was mine to possess.  I mean, who can really tell the difference between personal feelings and "The Spirit" anyway?  I couldn't.  And no one could explain this to me.  SPIRITUAL CONFIRMATIONS - shelved.

I attended BYU-Idaho.  I was there the first year it was an official BYU school.  Now, if I thought that "Happy Valley" was crazy, then BYU-Idaho was a whole new world of ridiculous.  However, I fit in just fine.  I could adjust to the rules that I signed up for.  (literally signed for)  College is supposed to be an exploration time.  A time to find yourself, try new things, do something stupid, and come out of it alive and better because of your experiences.  That's not what happens in Rexburg, ID.  No finding yourself.  You do as you're told.  No trying new things.  No experimentation.  No Sandals.  Doing something stupid gets you expelled or worse, excommunicated.  This is a control situation.  Know the rules, do them, go to class, and you'll graduate.

I learned here that this was no ordinary school.  The underlying religious messages weren't so discrete.  I didn't have ONE class that didn't mention marriage.  This was the real purpose for college, to get married.  Not to improve my education or develop my ability to think for myself.    MARRIAGE.  That's it.  Find the man.  Capture the man.  Make babies.  Support the man.  Endure to the end.  DIVINE ROLES - again, placed on the shelf.

Well, I didn't meet someone who could provide for me.  Return Missionaries (RMs) were weird.  I steered clear.  Just my degree for me, please.  But just because the boys were weird doesn't mean I would be weird if I went.  I could be a normal missionary.  So, I decided to go.  Everyone was supportive.  I was called to the Virginia Richmond Mission.

The Missionary Training Center (MTC) was more strict than BYU-Idaho.  However, I signed up for this, again.  In the MTC, I learned that this was not a place for questions and answers.  This was a place for "tough love" and assimilation.  ONLY ONE WAY - thrown on the shelf.

Leaving the MTC.  Hearing a voice tell me not to go.  Calling home and having my Dad (without me telling him what I heard) said, "no turning back now."  So, I went.  PERSONAL REVELATION - hanging over the side of my very full shelf.

The Mission Field.  The place where all unbelievers dwell.  Where they are ripe and all ready to harvest.  Where my mission president didn't think highly of Sister Missionaries, and he didn't feel I had any personal revelatory abilities, and disregarded every feeling I had.  Including me knowing there was a death coming in my family WEEKS before it happened.  This is where I learned that in the political realm of the church, women didn't matter.  Our voices don't matter.  Our presence doesn't matter.  Our opinions don't matter.  (If you want to read the whole story, you can find it here.)  INEQUALITY - hanging from personal revelation.  DISRESPECT - hanging from inequality.  My shelf, getting splinters from the weight.

I came home.  EARLY.  No one said anything.  No one asked questions.  No one made eye contact.  No one knew why I came home.  However, the inability to perform, or depression, or rule breaker lingers in the air.  But no one asks me.  My parents didn't know why.  My stake president didn't even know why I came home.  All he had was a note in my file that said I was being released because of medical reasons. Who knew that choosing to come home was A MEDICAL PROBLEM?  There you have it folks, I CHOSE to come home.

After I came home, I dated, got married, finished school and went to work.  After a few years, I had kids.  During this time of me being pregnant and at home I had a chance to experience multiple male chauvinistic leaders, develop a hatred to the rhetoric that exists in Relief Society, and read EVERYTHING I could find about my beloved church's involvement with Prop 8 in California and earlier in Hawaii, and the "therapy" used to treat those people who are burdened with the struggle of "Same Sex Attraction."


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Shelf

Everyone has a "shelf."  Most people don't know that they have one.  It's the place where we place things that don't seem quite right, but we convince ourselves that we are imagining it, or we can't change it.  So, we place it on our shelf for review later.  Most of the time "later" never comes. 

Mormons also have a shelf.  Most do not know it exists.  This shelf holds different things for different people, all with differing excuses as to why this problem should be ignored.  Here are some examples that I have collected from myself and other Mormons and ex-Mormons of what might be on a Mormon shelf with the possible accompanying justification:

  • Polygamy - "as long as I'm the first wife"
  • Distribution of Church funds - "they are called of God, they must be inspired to where the money goes"
  • Earths existence in years - "our time is different than Gods time"
  • Dinosaurs - "our time is different than Gods time"
  • Scriptural Inconsistencies - "I don't know all that God knows.  It will be explained later."
  • Temple Ceremonies - "I need to attend more; I don't understand yet."
  • Temple Changes - "Revelation"
  • Scripture Changes - "Revelation"
  • Inequality between YWs and YMs - "boys are different than girls"
  • Priesthood - "It's just the way it is."
  • Church Involvement in Scouting - "it's not really a 'church' program."
  • Masturbation - "cultural teachings not doctrinal teachings"
  • Gaudy Temple Materials - "only our best for the Lord."
  • LGBTQIA treatment by the Church - "those things didn't really happen.  Our leaders would never do those things."
  • Women without decision making powers - "that's the responsibility of the Priesthood, I'm just a mother."
  • Horrible things said by Prophets - "they are fallible men working with an infallible gospel."
 These are just a few of the many things that Mormons have put on their shelf.  These issues pile up on top of each other until the shelf can no longer hold the weight.  And it breaks. Bringing everything that has ever been placed on the shelf back into the light; ready to be focused on again.

This crash brings many into the questioning-Mormon world.  A world that makes no sense.  A world where all your ally's now view you as the enemy.  A world where trust is lost.  A world where finding truth becomes imperative to survival.  So, you begin your journey.

This is where I began mine.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Goals and Theme

Last year was all about Authenticity and Moving On.  Having a theme helped me to focus on my goals for the year.  So, obviously, I needed to come up with a theme for 2015. I've been thinking that new experiences, strengthening friendships, volunteering, simplifying life and loving myself will be a huge part of my year.

I want to have the courage to do new things, trust people, and live life for my family.

My Goals:

  • Learn Spanish
  • Read 100 Books
  • Eat Clean for ALL 12 months this year
  • Drink more water
  • Early Bed time
  • Run:  3 5Ks, 2 10Ks, 1 Relay, 1 Half Marathon, 1 Triathalon
  • Get Ready for each day
  • Give myself "Me Time"
  • Be In the Moment
  • Spend less
  • Volunteer once a month
  • Simplify

My Theme:

Vulnerable Courage

It's going to be a wonderful year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 The "Let It Go" Year

2014 has been a year of ups and downs.  A year of fear, a year of courage, a year of smiles and a year of tears.  This year was a year of discovery. This was my "Let It Go" year.  The year for authenticity.  And I feel accomplished.  I have been myself without regret or shame and have begun a new phase of adventure.

My Discoveries for 2014:

  • Learning that hard work pays off, 
  • true friends love you no matter what, 
  • family is not defined by blood, 
  • patience does work sometimes, 
  • reading is a love of mine, 
  • truth matters
  • history matters
  • vulnerability matters
  • a friend to confide in is important
  • friends come and go
  • authenticity is happiness
  • elation comes when I least expect it
I'm grateful for this year.  It was wonderful.  It is a great foundation for courageous experience.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Gathering Christmas

Gathering ChristmasGathering Christmas by Larry R. Laycock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a wonderful way for me to celebrate my Christmas season.  This book has drifted around my house since I was a little girl, I try to read it every year.  The spirit that flows through the book will touch your heart. It reminds me what the true spirit of Christmas is all about. It makes me want to be the beggar woman at Christmas.  I hope you enjoy it.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wife No. 19 by Ann Eliza Young

I recently read Wife No. 19 by Ann Eliza Young.  

This was her account of life in the early times of the LDS church and her experience being the 19th wife of Brigham Young, the prophet of the LDS church at the time.   I really enjoyed reading this book.  Ann kept my attention well throughout the book.  She does jump back and forth in time with her stories, so you have to pay attention closely.  Her story will pull at the strings attached to your heart.  If you have any interest in the culture of the LDS church at the beginning of it's creation, then this book is intended for you.  I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Good Samaritan and Ordain Women

I am not a member of Ordain Women (OW). But last year I felt the need to understand better why women wanted to be ordained.  I spent months reading about it, asking those involved, and discussing the many different reasons for why they have chosen to support OW.

What I found were reasons based a lot on the inequalities between male and female members.  ALL of those reasons reflected feelings I have experienced through out my life.  I spent most of my pre-teen and teen years asking, "why do the YM/Priesthood get to do things that the YW/RS don't?"  The answers always varied, but never felt adequate.  I have spent my adult years watching the marginalization of women within the church suffocate women's identities, individuality, and the impact they could make within the church.

I support those requesting more equality within the church.  I support those who want to be accepted within the church for who they are, not what they are expected to be.   I support those who want to have women's voices actually make a difference within the church.  I support those who wish to have women and men work side-by-side in the decision making processes within the church.  I support those who believe that women have more to offer than flower arrangements, table cloths, and center pieces.  I support those that promote the idea of men and women each being responsible for their own thoughts and actions.

Knowing that I support these things and that lots of these things are some of the reasons that women are involved in OW, means that I can relate to the request of the organization.  I understand where they are coming from.   I don't have an emotional pull/need towards ordination.  I do see benefits of women being ordained.

I stood patiently in line with a couple hundred men and women requesting admission to last years October Priesthood Session.  I didn't go because I need to be ordained.  I went because I understand what each of these men and women feel.  I understand where they're coming from.  I also went because, after talking to so many people, I felt that this group was going to be grossly under-represented because many women didn't have the ability to get to the session for themselves.

In Luke 10: 25-28, Jesus was asked "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" and with great wisdom answered with his own question, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?"  The lawyer answered saying,

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."

Jesus confirmed, "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live."  But here the lawyer didn't know who his neighbor was.  Jesus continues to explain by giving us the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Explaining that even those we disagree with, are not socially acceptable associates, or that we were taught to hate are, in fact, our neighbors.

Now here is where we all talk about the love and compassion that the Samaritan bestowed on the the man from Jerusalem.  He was a Godsend to his fellow human being; truly a miracle.  But instead of talking about the Samaritan, I'd like to talk about the man from Jerusalem.

In this story he is stripped, beaten, and left for dead.  I have never experienced this and pray I never do, but lets imagine what he is feeling.  Hurt, violated, worthless.  Then he has, not one, but multiple people see him and walk by.  These actions could solidify feelings of worthlessness, depression, and succumbing to death.

But then there is someone who stops to help.  This person cleans the mans wounds and carries him to safety where he can get the best help.  The man now might feel hope, love, support, understanding, and compassion. SAFE.

The men and women I know who are members of OW, and those who are not (myself included) but question other aspects of our LDS culture and church, feel these emotions. When members of our own church pass us by, count our concerns as unimportant, and scream hateful words at us this solidifies our feelings of worthlessness within the LDS Church.

This year, I will again be joining Ordain Women in Salt Lake City.  I will go, not because I feel the need to be ordained, but because all women need a voice within the church,  all women need a place to feel safe and secure, and all people, members and non-members alike, need never feel criticized for searching for answers.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Spirit

I was a little concerned when this came up today on my news feed on Facebook: 

"Because we need Christmas we had better understand what it is and what it isn't. Gifts, holly, mistletoe, and red-nosed reindeer are fun as traditions, but they are not what Christmas is really all about. Christmas pertains to that glorious moment when the Son of our Father joined his divinity to our imperfect humanity." 
-Hugh W. Pinnock

I do my best to make sure my kids understand what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate it.  And in my house, it's about Jesus Christ, his birth, and all the love that he shared with everyone here on earth. However, I have to disagree with this statement of gifts, holly, mistletoe, and red-nosed reindeer not being a part of the true meaning of Christmas.  

Christmas evolves every year.  People keep old traditions, and create new traditions that fit better with their families, but I think no matter what is changed it's never the Spirit of Christmas.  I still see hope in children's eyes when they see Santa.  Santa is just another representation of love, caring and sharing of self.  I see excitement of giving when gifts are given, even from the smallest of children.  Gifts are an expression of caring and friendship for the recipient.  Holly in wreaths and decor at Christmas represent truth.  Truth in our relationships with each other.  I see love expressed under the mistletoe.  Love just beginning and love enduring many years.  Reindeer along with Santa have their place too.  They aren't just mythical creatures created to pull Santa around.  They are the mode in which Christmas spirit is delivered.  It could be through a friend, loved one, or even a stranger by way of a smile, an act of kindness, a gift, or a song.  There are many ways that the magic of Christmas can be shared.  We just choose which is best for us and our personality.

I hope during this Christmas season we focus on what Christmas is and can be, not what it isn't.  Christmas is love, kindness, and a time for helping those in need.  God let us all remember this now and throughout the year.


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