Friday, April 24, 2015

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life UnarmedCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FANTASTIC read. This is an honest reflection of Glennon Doyles life. She hides nothing and shares everything. Funny, sad, exciting, and traumatic events that teach her of love and life. Everyone should read this book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 23, 2015

22 April 2015 REMEMBERS 22 April 2005

Ten years ago today, I got a phone call that changed my world.  For better or worse?  That's all a matter of opinion.  And for me, that depends on my day and mood.


I was sitting at a small brown desk, in my black skirt and button up shirt.  Studying.  Both of my companions were sitting at the kitchen table engrossed in their early morning scripture study.  The phone rang.  We all looked up, startled.  Because this is a very odd time for us to be receiving a call.  My senior companion gets up to answer the phone.  Before she gets to it, I say, "It's for me."  I knew.  I can't explain it.  I just knew.  And I knew it was bad.

My companion hands me the phone.  It's the little old lady at the Mission Office.  She tells me that my cousin passed away yesterday.  I started pestering her with questions.  NONE, of which, she could answer.  I tell her that I'm going to call home.  She stammers, "oh.....oh......okay."  I hang up.

I knew it.  It had been weeks coming.  I had told my Mission President months ago that someone was going to go.  He told me I had nothing to worry about.  By doing this, he was telling me that my feelings/intuition/spiritual revelation or whatever you want to call it, meant nothing.  NOTHING!!  And he was wrong.

The next few weeks were terrible.  I couldn't concentrate during personal or companion study.  I couldn't go out and preach to people.  I stood in one person's doorway, let them get to me, yelled at them, realized what I was doing,  then just turned and walked away.  All while my companion was left, dumbfounded at the door.  I wouldn't tract after that.  Something had to be done.

The only person worth trusting and listening to was my companion.  She saved me.  She let me know that everything would be okay.  That our Mission President was being an ass and a coward for not addressing his obvious lack of revelation/spiritual guidance concerning me and my situation.  His lack of care.  She helped me find the courage to do what my heart and mind had been telling me since I got off the MTC bus at the SLC airport.  Be Strong.  Be Yourself.  Be Confident.  Listen to your soul.  GO HOME.

I went home.  I went home with all the emotional baggage expected from someone who had just discovered the true order of Men and Women in my church.  I learned that the organization was more important than the individual members, that women are not really taken seriously, and that standing up for myself would leave me vulnerable to personal attacks from within the church.

Mostly I learned to stand up.  In a community that keeps the status quo at all costs, I stood.  Timid at first, but I was up.  Confidence, strength, and gumption all grew over time and kept me standing.  My thirst for honesty and truth combined with my conviction for equality helped my feet move me to a place of true happiness and love.


This year was the first year I could mourn my cousins passing without anger.  There was so much tied to that one phone call that I never truly grieved.  This past year has been one of grieving.  Grieving for his soul taken too soon.  Grieving for our bond that I miss.  He was funny, charismatic, and fiercely loyal.  He looked out for me when I was a freshman coming up to the High School.  He was even proud to acknowledge that we were related.  My protector.  He came to all of my Softball games.  (yes, I know his girlfriend was on my team, but he was still there.)  He took me out on the freeway for the first time when I was 16 when no one else wanted to take me.  He was my closest cousin.  He was my friend.  I am truly blessed to have known him.

Not one day goes by that I don't think about my cousin.  I miss him.  I wish he was here.  And before now, his death was tied to me recognizing all the terrible aspects of my religious life.  I must acknowledge the significance of that phone call on that horrible day.  The peace and joy I have found are a direct result of the call.  And I can finally separate the two instances.  I can happily remember my cousin and his beautiful life.  It's not tied to my 10 years of struggle through the trenches of LDS policy and culture anymore.  They finally stand on their own.

Big things happen on 10 year anniversaries.  This anniversary gives me peace.  It gives me a piece of happiness back that I thought was stripped from me.  It gives me that ability to say good-bye and remember the joy of the days that were.

Good-bye, Dave.  I Love You.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Discussion: The Temple: Initiatory and The Endowment

WARNING:  In this discussion I will talk about the Temple.  I will quote from the endowment.  I will NOT, out of respect for all those that hold dear and truly believe, be sharing names, signs, or tokens.  Please understand this was a HUGE topic for us to tackle, which we did many, many times.  This is the basis of our conversation.

LDS Church Teachings (and some of my history):

The temple was a beautiful castle.  The place I wanted to be married.  The beauty and elegance was placed in front of me as the ultimate goal.  The place I would get to make covenants with God.

I love to see the temple.
I'm going there someday
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I'll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.

I love to see the temple.
I'll go inside someday.
I'll cov'nant with my Father;
I'll promise to obey.
For the temple is a holy place
Where we are sealed together.
As a child of God, I've learned this truth:
A fam'ly is forever.

Janice Kapp Perry
Children's Song Book

The place where I could study and learn new wonders of Gods plan and the gospel.  The temple is "a house of learning. There we are taught in the Master's way."  --Elder Russell M. Nelson

So, I did all the things that would allow me to enter the temple:
  1. Pray Always
  2. Read my Scriptures Daily
  3. Keep the Commandments
  4. Be morally clean
  5. Pay tithing
  6. Practice the law of health (WOW)
  7. Have no affiliation with any organization that does not live up to these standards
I held a temple recommend every year since I was 12 years old.  The youth of our ward went often to the temple to participate in Baptisms for the Dead.  When I was old enough to have friends that could drive, we went to the temple to do baptisms weekly.  By this time I was also participating in Seminary 2-3 times per week.  (I had release time for Seminary)  I read my scriptures often.  My youth scriptures looked like this:

Yes, I had a different set of scriptures for different periods of my life.  No, they didn't really shut. Having multiple sets of scriptures was a way for me to see my progression in my scripture studies.  I went to all the firesides I could.  I loved attending the temple to do baptisms.  I really wanted to do all the things I needed to so that I could participate fully in God's greatest blessings.

I received my Endowment in 2005. The Initiatory was interesting, but fine.  The endowment session was nothing new.  It was a reiteration of the Plan of Happiness, with a few extra details.  A lot of standing, sitting, standing, and then sitting again.  We raised our arm to the square multiple times in the exact same manner as is done to sustain church leaders in any other meeting within the church.  Nothing too out of the ordinary.  I did, however, finally understand why people outside of the church would think that we were a cult.  All the standing and sitting and raising of our right hands, it just made sense.  But it was all good, because I knew we were not a cult.  But I could now understand the misinterpretation. 

The temple was beautiful.  The windows, the chandeliers, the furniture, everything. . . gorgeous.  It was quiet and peaceful.  And I remember being disappointed that there was no wonderous mystery revealed to me that day.  But I returned often so that whatever I had missed on that first exciting day, I would not dismiss in future visits.

Sadly, for years I missed them.  I missed the subjugation that I was being placed under.  I missed that my covenants were made with my husband and not my Father in Heaven.  I missed what the temple endowment declares as my eternal role.

Within the Temple Endowment:

to the SISTERS:  "Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become hereafter Queens and Priestesses to your husbands."

to the MEN:  "Brethren, you have been washed and pronounced clean, or that through your faithfulness, you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.  You have been anointed to become hereafter Kings and Priests unto the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Isreal forever."

to the SISTERS (indirectly):  "We will form a woman to be a companion and help meet for him."

to the MEN:  (there is no equivalent declaration of companion)

to the SISTERS (indirectly):  "Elohim:  What will you call her?  Adam:  Eve.  Because she is the mother of all living"

to the MEN:  "We give you dominion over all these things, and make you, Adam, Lord over the whole earth, and all things on the face thereof."

declared by the SISTERS:  "Adam, I now covenant to obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto the Father."  (This is the ONLY time we covenant with any specific person and it's "Adam.")

declared by the MEN:  "Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments."

From then on, no one seems to covenant with anyone, even God.  We all "covenant before God."  Also, when asked to participate in the True Order of Prayer the women are not allowed to be in Gods presence.  They are asked to cover themselves.  "The sisters in the room will please veil their faces."  And the men are never required to separate themselves from God in any similar manner.

I spent 25 years being told things like:

"Every woman has as certain a right to approach the throne of deity in prayer as does any man.  I am convinced that our Father in Heaven loves His daughters as much as He loves His sons and that He is as ready to hear their pleas and grant their petitions."  -- Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, pg. 40

"Rise to the great potential within you."  -- Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, Pg. 11

"Be a woman of Christ.  Cherish your esteemed place in the sight of God.  He needs you.  This church needs you.  The world needs you."  --Jefferey R. Holland, To Young Women, Nov. 2005

"He hears your prayers.  He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations.  And He knows what you can become through faith in Him.  Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an "[heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ." --Jefferey R. Holland, To Young Women, Nov. 2005

The Problem:

My Hubby wanted to understand why I didn't want to go to the temple anymore and why it was a touchy subject.

Thoughts and Fears:

What if my Hubby doesn't understand?
What if he thinks I should fill my declared role?
What if he doesn't care?
What if he thinks my reasons are stupid?

The Conversation:

This discussion was filled with a lot of me talking.  Understandably because we're talking about my personal experience and feelings.  My Hubby asked a whole lot of questions and then listened.  We went through all the above mentioned information and SO much more.   My Hubby hadn't previously recognized any of the inequalities, but when would he?  If the men all just pay attention to their part of the endowment, then they would never notice.  And the phrasing of the endowment for both men and women is so similar that they might just assume that we are repeating the same thing they did.  I mean, I don't think I always paid complete attention to what the men were repeating.

The issue was that I was taught of equality for men and women.  An equal partnership in marriage and life.  Then I entered the temple, this supposed miraculous place of peace and joy, only to find that I am not equal.  I don't get the opportunity to covenant with God.  I don't have any interaction with God at all.  I have to have a mediator.  Someone to relay commands and guidance from God to me.   I don't get to choose what I want to be.  We are commanded to be "Queens and Priestesses to your husbands,"  and become a "companion and help meet" to them and to take our place as mother.  In one moment, every dream and aspiration I ever had was taken from me and replaced with my duty to my husband.

This is disturbing to me.  This is a contradiction of teachings.  This is why I cannot attend the temple.  I will not submit to the notion that I am less than.  The notion that I require permission and guidance to speak to the God I was taught loved me for me.  God is described as respecting me as much as He respects my male counterpart.  I am expected to spend my life making and keeping myself "worthy" to be in his presence, the temple, only to find that He demands that I cover myself and never receive instruction directly from Him.  These expressions of women being unworthy is malicious.  And I can't be in a place that causes my heart pain.

What Happened:

My Hubby understood the best he could.  We talked about this often.  My Hubby is an advocate for equality, so he sympathizes in the best way a male Mormon can; loving me and supporting me in my decision not to attend the temple.


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