Sunday, July 20, 2014

One Woman's Mormon Temple Experience

It breaks my heart to see so many people struggling in the wake of excommunication. It is like a sea of disquiet. I know I can help one soul at a time, but right now the pain is overwashing anything I could do, so I'm mostly just listening.

There is so much discourse about women's terrible temple experiences, how the endowment ceremony hurts them, how it keeps them unable to understand their place and who they are as women. Right now all the stories seem to be about how unequal and terrible it is. But I believe in the power of stories. Parts of my story can only be shared one-on-one, in person, when moved by the Spirit. But right now I feel constrained to share something publicly. Maybe seeing how I process my temple experience can help someone else who is trying to understand.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Sin of Pride Within the Church

"...Ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."
3 Nephi 11:38

I think Satan rejoices just as much over smug self-satisfaction as he does about those who error in doctrine. Contention is not just about asking questions, it's also about condemning those with different paradigms than ours. Not all who subscribe to OW are in open rebellion, and I think those of us who don't believe in liberal principles or female ordination need to guard our borders against pride just as much.

It is so easy for us to look at those who perceive the world differently and think we are somehow better and more righteous. But I think that when we become comfortable in our service to God to the point that we believe we are right and others have nothing to teach us, we run the real risk of pride.

Pride is not only the enemy of humility, it is the opposite of charity. Charity is more important even than faith, for faith fails. If we are earnest disciples to Christ, we will inevitably reach some moment in our lives when our faith is not enough to pull us through. But when those times come, we can cleave to the Savior by emulating His charity. Charity is more important than knowledge. Though we are to gain as much knowledge as we can in this life, we will not likely gain it all. There will come a time when our own understanding and knowledge will fail us. But we can fill the gaps of our understanding with a love for God and His children.

No one is entirely lost, no one is entirely saved. None of us are safe, even if we accomplish our Church service, support our leaders with silence and compliance, and do all that we are asked in this volunteer church. We can still fall prey to pride, to vain ambition, to the idols of the world. The Church of Christ is not made up only of members, nor is it only those who have been baptized. The Church is all those who repent: those who repent of misunderstanding doctrine, and those who repent of a lack of charity and compassion. Both errors I see just as much in "faithful members" of the Church as in those who are considered less faithful.

"Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.

"Therefore, I will unfold unto them this great mystery; For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts; Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely. Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church."

D&C 10:63-68

All the repentant will have a chance to be baptized. All will be able to make those covenants. But not all who are baptized are repentant. I challenge any of you who disagree with people like the OW movement to humble yourself in prayer and pray for that charity which is the end of all pride, all fear, and all death. That charity is the most powerful gift God can bestow.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Name Blotted Out

Like everyone, I just heard of Kate Kelly's excommunication. I expected to feel somber at the news. I didn't expect the tears.

I do not agree with Sister Kelly's actions in any way. Yet, I had still hoped there would be a way for her to repent before excommunication happened. I imagine to myself what it would feel like to be cut off from the Church. That it would be devastating is without doubt. I imagine her family, her children, her husband and herself. This has to be a sobering experience.

While I would probably have chosen no differently, had I had to make that terrible decision, still it cuts me. I may not entirely understand it, but I mourn. I mourn any time I hear of someone leaving the Church for any reason. I wish that she had not felt that she had to give up her covenants in order to "be authentic."

I hope and pray that she finds a place in her heart to make those covenants again.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What it Means to Repent in the Face of Excommunication

I have never been called before a disciplinary council. But on my mission, I experienced something similar. Near the end of my mission, my mission president was released and a new one was called. My first mission president had incredible perception by the Spirit. He allowed me to be the kind of missionary I was drawn to be, even though it caused considerable upheaval and confusion among the ranks of the elders called to lead me in my work.

I remember going to interviews with him, which happened once every six weeks, nervous that I was going to be called on the carpet for the disagreements about how to conduct missionary work I had been having with my leaders. Every new set of leaders in every place I was moved (and it was frequent, at the beginning of my mission) was a new battle. They were called to report numbers of baptisms and lessons taught. I was inclined more to concentrating on the people I came in contact with, feeling strongly that counting numbers was not going to be effective in the area I served.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"It's Personal"

Like everyone who wants to do better, be better, I sometimes struggle with my relationship with divinity. I have been amply blessed in a myriad little ways. Nothing major, until recently, but repeated small nudges to say something or check on something that ended up saving me just enough to keep me sane. Some days, it has felt like I'm barely holding on with torn and bloody fingernails, but have been touched with just enough extra energy to keep holding on. It is like I'm part of a vast chorus where, hoarse and broken, my voice does far more to create dissonance than beauty.

Recently, the hand of the Lord has been much more obvious. For the last month or so, I have been attending a ward temporarily while I am in transition from one house to another. This ward has several women who are going through divorce. As I've learned of them, and heard some of them speak, I felt prompted to bear my testimony in Fast and Testimony meeting.

This was a difficult proposition because my testimony, as I have said before, is not smooth and pretty, cut to show light and sparkle. It is cracked, crazed, with deep inclusions. It's a bit off-color. The deliverance I've prayed for over the last several years has been slow in coming. Most days are beautiful, but I still sometimes crack under certain types of pressure which I feel ought to be long gone. I'm still triggered, sometimes, over silly things.

I've been in a liminal state for some time, but it is a liminal state where I feel unseen things are happening, that I am being pruned and developed for some specific purpose. I am changing in ways I can't quite see, let alone quantify. I have started several drafts for blog posts but never finished them. I find myself with few comments to make on others' posts. Whatever changes I'm going through don't fit labels easily. I am becoming, but I'm not becoming anything.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Ram in the Thicket: a Personal Interpretation of Abraham's Test

Once upon a time, there was a man who had been promised by God that his children would outnumber the sands of the sea and the stars in the sky. But he and his wife despaired as time and time again, his wife was unable to bear a child. They prayed and waited patiently, but still there was no hope. Eventually, his wife even gave her husband her handmaid as a concubine and surrogate, to perform what her body would not do.

Imagine the depths of her joy and self-recrimination when that handmaid succeeded in bearing a son almost immediately.

Imagine her pain when, long after once-beautiful Sarah was too old to have any more children, a perfect stranger wandered up to their home and told her husband she would bear a son.

Imagine her joy and consternation when it turned out he was right.

Her son, Isaac, was a miracle child. Not only was he born to a mother who had long since given up all hope of having a child, he was the fulfillment of prophecy. Through him, all the promises of the Lord were finally possible. He proved that God's promises would never be forgotten.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


For me, the Church's campaign Because of Him immediately evoked Kelly Clarkson's song "Because of You" which perfectly captures every ounce of my fear that my choices will affect how my children see themselves. I'm busy. I don't always give them the time I wish I could when so often I'm struggling just to keep a livably clean house and cry only when they can't hear me.

"Because Of You"

I will not make the same mistakes that you did.
I will not let myself
cause my heart so much misery.
I will not break the way you did.
You fell so hard.
I've learned the hard way
to never let it get that far.

One of the main reasons I decided to divorce was for them, because I saw that I could never be a good mother while I was scrambling to figure out how to be an acceptable wife. I saw that I couldn't serve two masters: my God and my husband. Not when one was trying his hardest to keep me from becoming anything but what he wanted me to be for himself. Trying to climb out of the emotional hole I found myself in has been hard. I have a hard time wanting to let myself love again because it makes me and my children vulnerable.

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