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.

Friday, January 9, 2015

How I Stay

It's not exactly a secret that, while I defend the Church online, I often struggle with it personally. I am a divorced, still and probably endlessly single mom. I am an opinionated and outspoken female. I am great at acquaintance-friendship, but struggle mightily trying to find the real thing. My schedule means that I say "no" far more than I should, if I were a "good Mormon woman."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Objectivity, Subjectivity. Fear and a New Year.

Most of the time, I try to live as objectively as possible. Of course, actual objectivity is impossible, but I generally try. I want to be fair to others, and most of all I want to invite the Spirit, which testifies of truth.

But this isn't a post about what is objectively true, it's a post about feelings. Pure, unadulterated, vulnerable subjectivity. Sharing what I subjectively experience makes it very easy for me to be attacked, but I'm tired of holding myself back so that I won't be vulnerable.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Privilege and a Testimony of Polygamy

In watching various people address the new publication of information by the Church on Joseph Smith and his wives, I feel similar to the way I did when watching the reaction to 9/11*. Because I'm a relatively self-centered person**, I have spent a great deal of thought analyzing my reaction to understand it. Why, in a world where so many are so shocked and appalled by the Church's admission† to the extent and nature of Joseph's sealings, am I utterly unaffected?

Of course, the reason is complicated, based on a many-layered set of experiences and ways I've processed them. But I thought I'd tease out a few things that I've not seen anyone else hash over.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm Watching You

So this would have been more appropriate in October, with the creep factor and all, but I didn't think of it then. With my diminished interest in commenting online, I have found myself prioritizing what I read, too. I've noticed that when I see someone has commented, there are a few names which always interest me in the original post and make me click over to read.

There are, of course, other people whose comments I appreciate. I'm bound to think of more and come back to add them later. And certain topics grab my attention, no matter who addresses them. But if you ever wondered if I blog-stalk you, this is your time to find out. Think of it more as a "I'm thankful for these people's online participation," and it can be appropriate for November, too. And a bit less creepy.

In basically alphabetical order:

Monday, November 17, 2014


A few years ago, I sat across from my midsingles' ward bishop. He was newly called, and (I would find out years later) exactly what the ward needed: someone to organize and utilize the immense opportunity to serve that the midsingles represent.

I've had impassioned discussions about how I hunger to find some service opportunity, something that can utilize my skills and actually matters to someone, but since I can't commit to at least 4 hours every week, the shelters and DV women's groups are closed to me.

But just today, I heard about this amazing new endeavor by the Church called JustServe.org. Although sponsored by the Church, it is not a church program, but is intended to be a community program. With this tool, people all over the world can sign in, submit projects, and participate in local service endeavors.

I have heard that missionaries, Eagle Scouts and Laurels, and individual members are being encouraged to use this site to find ways to improve the community and help those who really need it. It's barely starting, but I can see this becoming an amazing resource for people like me: with far more room in my heart than in my schedule.

What to you say? Time to get to work!

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