Thursday, August 29, 2019

Child Abuse and the New Training Module

The new training for leadership of youth isn't great, but it's not terrible. A few thoughts I had while taking it:

This is really good:
"Coercion can occur when a leader compels a child using religious language or authority to imply a spiritual obligation or duty, permission, sanction, punishment, justification, intimidation, or threat. This is contrary to the Savior’s teaching that individuals should lead “only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41)."
However, I think we need to be more explicit about when someone invokes someone else's authority to justify what they say. Judging someone as not following the prophet because they make choices that don't align with whatever trendy program or catch phrase is most recent is abhorrent, and falls solidly under this category. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

I, the Samaritan

In many ways, I have been richly blessed in my life.

The Spirit led me to a career that has made it possible to support my children. I have been raised in a faith that has sustained me and given me joy when life has often given me little reason for it.

But I am a Samaritan.

I am divorced and remain unmarried. For a host of reasons, I do not anticipate marrying in the temple again, and so I will not marry. To make things worse, I do not easily fit into the typical category of the divorcées and widows, available when the youth need a service project and otherwise silent.

My sins are branded on my face. I could not hide them if I wanted to. They have beaten me, wounded me, left me for dead on the side of the road. They are made plain to me every time I go to church, every time I think longingly of peace I once felt in the temple. There is no escape from being repeatedly reminded of my failures if I want to remain faithful in the Church.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Is "Violence" Really the Right Word?

He sat across from me, behind a desk. He was soft-spoken, the quintessential shy guy in the corner. When he asked me that question, "Is 'violence' really the right word? Doesn't that water down the word 'violence'?" I had been trying to explain to him why I—why people like me—so often felt that the church was not for us.

He knew from a previous discussion I had with him that I had been struggling with the changes in the Church. The efforts to pull back from the burden the church places on people have left many of us at the edges feeling even more adrift and on our own than we already did. 

I had stumbled over trying to explain how the things we teach at church conflict with our lived experience, when the pinnacle of church attendance—being sealed to a spouse for all eternity—was one of the sharpest tools in our abusers' box, and the promise of trying again brings feelings of fear and inadequacy rather than peace and hope. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

When Charity Causes Death

Have you ever felt that you fail at doing the right thing? Maybe you have tried to be a good spouse, but find yourself always falling short. Maybe you have a coworker who doesn't seem to like you, no matter what you do to mend fences. Maybe you have a child who has chosen to reject your beliefs, and you feel like you have failed them. Or maybe you find yourself battling a destructive habit, only to find yourself succumbing again and again.

This is a feeling with which I have become very well acquainted. The pang of failure has become an old friend at this point in my life. The Lord is working with me differently than He ever has before, to the point that I sometimes wonder if it really is Him.

Today, as I sat during sacrament thinking over these things and trying not to cry, I remembered something that happened to me when I was six years old.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Changes in the Church: Separating the Wheat from the Tares

Sistas in Zion posted this to their Facebook page not long ago. It is a sentiment that I am finding expressed more and more often in the whirlwind of changes in the Church. This idea that the changes in the church will prove those who are truly the Church of God and those who are not.

Those who follow the prophet, do what he says, are those who will be proved faithful, and those who do not are simply not strong enough. The wheat and the tares will finally be separated.

I admit, I've had a very hard time with one of the changes. The manner in which church was shortened and this "Come Follow Me" program was rolled out has been a huge hit to my faith. Because of the 2nd and 4th/1st and 3rd alternate between Sunday School and "the Quorums" as I think of them, my kids will go months without one type of instruction or the other. This policy seems to have sprung from the mind of the privileged, those who have had the luxury of making their kids go to church every week, those who are firmly and safely in the center of the flock.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Living with both fear and faith....

I lived in an almost constant state of fear for years. October is a hard month for me, not only because it was one of the incidents that I experienced, (I am reminded every time I see a fog machine,) but because it is National Domestic Violence month.

Every year, I consider wearing purple on the day of the month that he left me. I only did it once. A tiny, purple ribbon. The truth is, I don't want to dwell on what happened in the past. I don't want to be reminded. It's not really a part of my life any more. And I certainly don't want to talk about it.

But I don't have much choice about being reminded, so I choose to talk so that other people can feel a little less alone. And still more can catch a glimpse of a world I hope they never have to truly understand, no matter how much I long for understanding.

Getting out of my relationship didn't help the fear. It honed it. As with most abusive people, the loss of control made him truly rage. And that rage echoes through the years. He simply can't let it go completely, and focus on his new wife and his kids. But it's okay. Every time he tries something new, he loses a little more power. So rather than focusing on that, I want to talk about hope and faith in the midst of fear.

We all have had cause to fear. Fear not being good enough. Fear judgment. Fear loss of blessings if people knew what we were really like. Fear being alone. Fear loss of children, spiritually or physically. Fear the loss of our spouse, of being looked down on by our neighbors. Fear of not being right. Fear of sickness or death.

And often, you hear that fear cannot exist where there is faith. But it can.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ brings joy, but it is not always the type of joy that led the sons of God to shout and all the morning stars to sing. Sometimes it's a quiet joy, the joy that comes from knowing that there is someone out there, an omniscient being, an omni-benevolent God, who knows you, knows your sorrows, and is willing to sorrow with you, even if that sorrow is temporary. He doesn't tell us to buck up and get over it. He weeps along with us.

I often picture that, when I mourn with no one to hear, knowing that my mourning is really kind of stupid, after all. My kids will be fine. They are learning, in spades, to distinguish between truth and error. That's exactly what we're here for.

To me, faith is not dressed in white, holding a candle, with softly flowing hair. Faith is battle-scarred, dressed in filthy fatigues, mustering just one more smile, one more act of charity, one more attempt to drag our fellow soldiers out of harm's way. Faith makes mistakes, but keeps trying because she knows in whom she has trusted.

I can't see even the next step in front of me, and I've lived that way for years. But I keep walking, because I'd rather fall while trying to serve my God than stand still and wait for a rescue that may never come.

So for me, as hard as it is, October is a time of faith. I don't know what eternity holds. There isn't much hope in what we know so far, for me. But I know God. I know my Savior. And I choose to keep walking, whether or not I wear a purple ribbon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Where Culture and Doctrine Collide—The Cult of Positivity

"There is a truth deep down inside of you that has been waiting for you to discover it, and that truth is this: you deserve all good things life has to offer."

—The Secret

"Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth,...And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above...."

—D&C 59:3-4
I have often heard it said that the best lies are 99% truth. It has been said of Satan that he leads us "carefully" down to hell. One of the things that culture teaches us is that we deserve. Advertisers make millions, maybe billions of dollars per year on teaching us that we deserve good things.

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