Sunday, April 2, 2023

The Pain of a Shining Light

When I began this blog, I really had no idea how much rain could—and would—come down. 

My experiences with the gospel seem to be different than most. I took the leap of faith and tumbled down the ravine. The things are taught in Church to solve problems didn't work for me. In fact, they made things worse in some cases.

It's been a rough few years. My kids have been suffering from the burden of emotional and physical abuse from their father. The damage is pernicious and possibly permanent. I've lost my heart to post, preach, or much of anything beyond survival. But I think I'm finally reaching a tipping point.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trowels and Muskets

I was 17 years old when I first walked into my dorm room at BYU. The last two years had been a struggle. When I was 15 years old, my previous best friend spread rumors about me and her boyfriend to explain why I didn't hang around her any more. Her family didn't often attend church, and I was often the one who drove her to and from youth activities. The last couple of times, she and her boyfriend made out in the back of the car while I played chauffeur. It made me uncomfortable, so I had gradually pulled away from our friendship.

The rumors were vicious. At school, everyone pretty much just rolled their eyes and didn't believe her. It was different at church. I had to sit in the pews, hearing people whisper about me. Grown women called "Jezebel" at the back of my head. My bishop called me in, heard the whole story, and believed me. That was the only support from the adults in the church that I got. My young women's leaders would give lesson after lesson about chastity, calling on me pointedly. It got so bad that my own (very faithful) parents told me I didn't have to go to church any more if I didn't want to.

But I refused to let them drive me away.

When it came to applying for universities, I ignored the many recruitment brochures from very good schools. I could have applied and been accepted to MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, or Yale. But I knew that the entirety of the church couldn't be what I'd experienced up to that point. I knew there was only one way to know the truth.

In the end, I only applied to BYU.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Why you can't fast your way into getting what you want....

On the 7th of April, 2020, President Russell M. Nelson joined the Catholics on Good Friday by asking for a worldwide fast to "prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic." He also invited anyone not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to join.

Since then, people have been going to Facebook to declare "I will follow the prophet!" and with memes like this one, suggesting that fasting will bring the outcome we all want.

Unfortunately, this meme is a perfect example of why 256 character soundbytes can't effectively communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This particular meme was something said in a very specific circumstance regarding a very specific situation. It does not follow that it applies to something like fasting away a pandemic.

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.

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