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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...