Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Still Waters

When you don't know me,
my life seems peaceful.
I have a good house,
a good job.
Children who love me.

When you don't know me,
you see the bread I bake,
the quilts I make.

You see my knitting,
cooking, gardening,
hiking, praying,
teaching, hoping,
believing.

And you are jealous.

But you don't see
what lies beneath.
The tossing and turning
when I should sleep.

The nightmares that come
in night or day.
You don't see heartache
that never goes away
under the smile I
paint on for you.

You see all the pain
of your life,
and think that mine
must be much better
because I have learned
to smile when I want to cry.
Comfort when I want to be comforted.

You don't see how
my loneliness cannot find
what compassion creates.

How I have learned to hope,
when hope is darkest,
laugh when there is nothing funny
in life.

If you knew me,
you would see
the real things I have
accomplished.

How, when I despair,
I seek someone who needs
a hug.

When I ache,
I find another's wound
to bind.

And, pray for better
when I despair
of ever finding joy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Abomination of Desolation and a Little Fig Tree

Before you try to read into what I'm about to say, and boil my words down to a "HATEZ TEH GAYZ," I'm going to fully admit that my words are about the legal ratification of gay relationships (vis a vis gay marriage) BUT that they are about much, much more than that. Most of you who read this will call me a bigot, insist that my opinions come from hatred, and soon (once you have power to do so) you will probably physically revile and attack me and my family.

So be it. I hope that when the time comes, I will be able to face it with courage and kindness.

For a long time, I have been fairly silent on the subject of gay marriage/civil unions. I probably will be again, once I've posted this. The only chance I had to vote on it so far, I voted to support gay marriage/civil unions. But my opinions have changed since then, and I become more sadly convinced of them as time goes on. My opinions haven't changed because of gay marriage, or gays, or aversion to homosexual attraction. They have changed because I've been taught of a much larger picture of the role of religious beliefs in a public sphere, and it is that larger picture I wish to address.

Friday, April 17, 2015

"The Spirit said...Slay him."

The first truly troubling passage in the Book of Mormon comes when Nephi, the hero of the book so far, is commanded by God to kill someone. Now, I have never killed anyone or any thing larger than a spider, but I have been present at the death of animals. Death, like birth, is a sobering and humbly powerful thing to witness, let alone do.

For several verses, Nephi rationalizes what he's about to do. He creeps into the city towards the house of Laban, pausing only to assure us that he had no idea what was about to happen. As he comes closer to Laban's house, he sees a man fallen down dead drunk. As he comes closer, he sees it is Laban and furthermore that Laban has his "exceedingly fine" sword with a hilt of PURE GOLD and a blade of precious steel (which is nearly as expensive as gold.) He's just laying there in the muck with his ultra-fancy sword strapped to him.

(I've always wondered, where were Laban's friends? Surely he got drunk WITH someone, and wasn't randomly wandering the streets. How did he come to find himself alone this night? Did his friends feel guilty the next morning, when they realized he had been killed?)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Marriage Contract

You might wonder why I, as a woman who was single longer than I was married, and whose life as a divorcee is now longer than as a wife, might come and talk about what marriage should be. As a failure, perhaps I have no right to counsel those of you who have kept your relationships intact.

Since my own marriage (and even before,) I have watched all of you who are married. I have watched for signs that marriage can be what I think it is. I have found a few people who I believe live what God intended. But I have also found plentiful evidence that being married does not necessarily teach one understanding of marriage.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Liberal Mormon

Why, when those who agitate, prod, question and demand call us "TBM" as though belief is something shameful, do we turn around and label them as "Liberal Mormons," mock them with "clever" poetry, and pat ourselves on the back for not being like them?

Are we so jealous of their position that we must toss away the better part of faith in Christ in order to join them in the work of destruction?

Far better that we remember: obedience is unto righteousness, faith is unto the power to heal the brokenhearted, and exaltation can never be achieved without the pure love of our Savior coursing through our collective soul.

If we cannot hang upon our own cross of public opinion and summon an outpouring of love for our accusers, we can never be the disciples of Christ that we think we are.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ordain Women, Midsingles, and the Trouble with Agency

Have you ever wondered why a third of the hosts of heaven left God to follow Satan? I have. I've spent hours of time wondering why, when presented with God's eternal Plan, some shouted for joy, and others left the service of God forever. When I was younger, I couldn't comprehend it. How could someone, faced with the prospective glories of exaltation, simply leave them behind? As an adult, I'm starting to understand.

We often talk about the Celestial Kingdom as if it is heaven, and everything else is a version of Hell. We Mormons haven't really left our Protestant ideas of glory or punishment behind. We act as though, by following the commandments and doing all that we have been commanded to the best of our abilities, we will be justified by our sacrifices, forgiven by Christ, and enter into the Father's presence. But it doesn't work like that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Help Me Stay?

There are no comments here on my previous post, but I have observed some Facebook conversations about it which made me think I definitely need to clarify.

I didn't write "How I Stay" so that I could get pity or compassion. I didn't write it to guilt people who happen to have intact and more-or-less working families, nor to tell people in wards that they're doing something wrong. I wrote it mostly to people like me: people who struggle and need some tools to fight harder for what they really, deep-down, want. But this one is to people who aren't struggling, and want to know how to help. I'm going to try my best to give you some tools to try.

The fact is that me and people like me KNOW we are different. There is nothing you can do to make us feel not-different. All your efforts in the world can't erase the pain we've felt as collateral damage in someone else's attempts to "be true to themselves" or whatever other reasons lurk behind our lives.

It's like I told a friend recently: you can't be responsible for other people's feelings. But what you can be is compassionate. And I think that's what the questions and comments are really getting at: how can you show compassion and make space for difference?

I have a few thoughts on that, but first I want to point out that "divorced people," or "people who have lost children," or "people who struggle with the Word of Wisdom," or "people who struggle with pornography," or "feminists" or whatever other category leaves someone feeling on the fringes, are first and foremost PEOPLE. Every single individual has individual needs or hopes. Don't take my word for what will help them. Ask them.

Secondly, don't expect them to tell you right away. Most of us are well aware of our other-ness. We often feel like burdens, and abhor the thought of being more of a burden. Granted, some of us accept as much help as we can get. I'm not one of those, and based on observations, I think that those who gladly consume others' resources are a vocal minority.

So, first search your own soul. Do you REALLY want to know what we need? Because it's probably going to cost you something, even if that "something" is nothing more than your own paradigm. If you really want to know what we need, you're probably going to have to ask more than once. You're going to have to show that you really mean it, and you're not just offering to assuage your own guilt at being more blessed/differently blessed/luckier than we are.

So with those caveats to what I'm about to say, here goes my attempt to give you some concrete tools. I'm not trying to share specifics of what I personally need in my situation as a divorced single parent, but to share more general tools to help approach anyone who doesn't quite fit into the standard Mormon mold. Please take what I say and apply it to whatever circumstances surround you. It may be that it doesn't help, but I hope it does.

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