Friday, December 20, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

I'm a woman, which means I get irrational at times. (Men do too, but in different ways.) And yesterday, I kind of broke down.

See, over the last several weeks, I've had a series of mild illnesses. A chest cold, which is lingering. A stomach bug, not serious but unpleasant, and my most recent acquisition, a sinus cold. On top of that, I've been trying to get back into my exercise routine. I've slacked on it for a year now, and I don't like feeling sluggish. Basically, I feel physically beat.

And yesterday, it snowed all day long.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Empathy, Sympathy and Pain

This video is an amazing explanation for some of the things I've been trying to get at in my recent posts about sharing pain, and not being ashamed of it. I love it when I can find someone who says what is in my heart better than I can. The website is here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Female Power and Reaching for Perfection

Some argue that men and women are essentially the same, that only a happenstance of biology categorizes them as one or the other. But to me, that same happenstance of biology gives men and women a unique perspective on this mortal life.

Whether or not there is something deeper than mere genes that determines gender, I don't know. Indubitably, there is some gray area when it comes to our mortal bodies and how they express spiritual, eternal gender. That isn't a challenge I've had to struggle with in any significant physical sense. Though I was unashamedly a tomboy as a child, and certain aspects of my physiology make me distinctly unfeminine, I have never struggled with my identity as anything but ultimately female. Perhaps unorthodox, but definitely woman.

But it is not the liminalities of gender in this life across the eternities I want to discuss. Nor is what I write supposed to define how women SHOULD approach their gender relating to the Gospel. It is descriptive, not proscriptive. Perhaps I am self-centered, but this blog is to share my journey, and right now that is learning to explore and trust my perspective. Rarely do I feel prompted to tell others how to act.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Writing About Pain When It's Over

I heard someone recently complain about Ensign articles, that they don't address difficulty or pain until it's over. It's not genuine enough, they said.

On this blog, I have tried to expose my pain even though it's not over. I know that there is something about knowing that other people are going through the same feelings you are that is infinitely validating. It helps someone who has every reason to doubt themselves feel a little less crazy, a little less disgusting, and a little more full of potential. There isn't enough conversation out there that validates pain without celebrating it. And yes, by doing so I've opened myself up to immense criticism. (Which is why I have an approval-only policy for comments here, despite my natural inclination to provide an open forum.) It's been very hard for someone like me, who cares so much about what people think.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear Men: You’re Breaking Our Hearts

I don’t know if what I’m going to write represents more than just me. Maybe I’m alone in feeling this way, but it doesn’t matter. I need to write this for me. Maybe it will let me move past one more barrier of anger and pain. And maybe, if I’m not alone, it will make a difference for someone.

If you were to meet me in person, you would never guess that I have a deep hollow wellspring of pain. And when you read these words online, if you know my previous writings, you could probably chalk that pain up to my divorce. But you would be wrong. My ex-husband is just one data point on a vast continuum of experience. It isn’t my ex. It’s you, men of the Priesthood.

When I was a teenager and watched the boys around me turn into men, I noticed how they looked at girls. Because I was a bit of a tomboy, I also heard it. There may be women out there who don’t get it, but I think they are few. You think that looking at female bodies, those little “jokes” about “wanting some of that,” go unheard, but they don’t. We seem to ignore them, but they stick.

If you’re a good guy, you’re probably saying to yourself right now “at least I’m not one of those scummy guys who only value women for their looks.” But it’s not just the so-called scums. It’s our brothers, fathers, sons, priesthood leaders. Look at this bishop in the LDS church, teaching women that they exist to be beautiful. If it were only the scummy men, it wouldn’t hurt so much. But it’s our priesthood leaders, those who have made covenants to represent the Father.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Seth Smith Viral Marriage Post

An email to Matt Walsh, after his response to Seth Smith's viral post:

I have occasionally read your blog posts, and mostly agreed with you. But I wanted to share a different perspective on that viral blog post by Seth Smith. I don't exactly disagree with him, but I don't exactly agree, either. I hope you consider what I'm trying to say.

See, I used to believe exactly what Seth Smith wrote about marriage, which is how I lost myself to an abusive marriage. I'm LDS, too. I take the scriptures very seriously. When I made a covenant with my God in His temple, my future-ex-spouse across the altar, I meant every word. I was prepared to give all I had to him. And I did. Piece by piece until there was nothing left. I'm not going to tell you my whole story, but I'm going to try to share part of it in an attempt to illustrate what I mean.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If My Children Aren't Invited, Neither Am I

"Life's full of tough choices, isn't it?"
—Ursula to Ariel, The Little Mermaid

Life as a single parent of young children in a church that almost worships families is often very confusing. You have a foot in two very different worlds: the world of singles who must be in want of an eternal companion, and the world of raising children. One is filled with an endless parade of entertainment-driven activities, the other with a few scattered couples-strengthening and children's activities.

You are both a provider and a nurturer. You do not have the choice between taking care of your family or furthering your career, you must do both. You can gain more education and more earning power at the expense of being there for your children, or you can find a job that is able to let you be a parent when you need to be. Finding middle ground is possible, but difficult. And if you mess up, it is all on you. Other family members and friends can help a little, but you are still a team of one. Your children must learn to grow up quickly (both a blessing and a sorrow) and you must set your teeth and pick what you truly value most.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

They Shall Not Sorrow

Conference brought me peace, but it was not so for everyone. I intended, at one point, to write my perspective on several of the events surrounding Conference, and the applicable talks, but as I have watched discussions and listened, my heart was moved. I feel it doesn't matter how I see a fellow sister or brother in the Gospel erring, nor how I perceive that they have been deceived. What matters most right now is that they hurt and mourn.

I do not really share that mourning, though I believe I understand it. I have been burned by unrighteous male authority many times, myself. I have struggled with some of these same issues for nearly two decades. My journey through those struggles has been far different, but not so different that I cannot feel compassion. And what touches my heart more than the errors of those who find themselves feeling at odds with the Church leadership is the rush to harm them by people who ought to be most filled with the compassion of the Savior.

There are enough people telling others they are wrong. We need more people focused on hearts and tender feelings, offering sympathy and love.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Man, A Woman

When I was a missionary, I was not a very good senior companion. I drove myself very hard, and my companions were along for the ride. This is probably why I never trained anyone. My failures as a senior companion—the "presiding" role in a companionship—illuminate principles of divine leadership and power. What does it mean to preside? What does it mean to nurture, provide, protect? What does it mean to be a good wife, or a good husband? How is the Lord's power different from mortal power?

My thoughts on this topic are a product of my marriage, my dating, the Family Proclamation to the World, some feminist mores, conversations I've had with people, and my observations of others' approach to romantic relationships, divorce, leadership, and parenthood. I talk a lot to people. I'm interested in them, in learning how they deal with life, God, and others. My opinions do not come only from my own experiences, though they are of course filtered through my understanding of others' experiences.

I know most feminists and liberals read the Family Proclamation to the World (the Proclamation) with a critical eye. To them, words such as "preside" conflict with "equal partners." But I have learned to delight in the balance it strikes. It is a remarkable document, especially considering when it was issued. In a recent conversation with my brother about dating, I realized it is what I want out of marriage.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Power in Vulnerability

"You know what, you're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging."

Years ago, I created a fictional character that was almost entirely built around vulnerability. She was able to be hurt again, and again, and still open herself up to loving others without judgment. Even then, more than fifteen years ago, I wanted to be like that. Since then, I fought and fought to gain the ability to be vulnerable. I learned how to stop layering my personality with illusion, and truly allow myself to be myself. Then, the first time I truly put it to the test, that vulnerability was taken advantage of in every way. It's been like I've had to go through that struggle all over again in the last few years. But I think I am getting there.

I find myself occasionally having to defend my choice to stop dating. In a religion where marriage is the pinnacle of covenantal achievement, it has been very hard to let all expectations of it go. But dating, for me, was becoming something where I kept being drawn, again and again, into this feeling that I have to conform to someone's idea of perfection to be loved. In the LDS singles' world, so much energy is bent on becoming that ideal, desirable person. To me, a recovering perfectionist, it is an alcoholic hanging out in a bar. It was simply too hard to continually fight against the current.

The biggest reason why I left the singles' ward and stopped dating was to give myself the space I needed to work on charity. To me, charity and being vulnerable are almost the same thing. When we are able to be vulnerable, we can *see* other people, and love them in their weaknesses. I don't think I can do that in an environment that lends itself so readily to objectification and predation.

I think a huge point of the Gospel is that we have been given the ability, through the sacrifice of the Savior, to be vulnerable. Understanding this is the key to heaven, which I'll be soon be writing about. Consider this a bit of a prelude. Listen to this woman. She knows what she is talking about.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Loving When You Get Nothing

"I know God loves me. He's finally given me everything I wanted!"
—Facebook post of a newly engaged woman

I am a perfectionist. Some people say that with a bit of pride, "I'm a perfectionist!" Glad to show they always try to do their best. But perfectionism . . . the real thing . . . is nothing to take pride in. I've been thinking about my perfectionism quite a bit lately. It is rooted in a deep-seated knowledge that I cannot be loved unless I am perfect. I've struggled with it from birth. Unfortunately, my experience has almost unilaterally provided evidence that it is true: being loved is dependent on being flawless. On conforming to expectation.

It was this perfectionism that drove me to work so hard on my mission I was fifteen pounds underweight by the end, and that led me into an abusive marriage. It causes me to push people away the moment I feel I've disappointed them. It gives me this haunting fear that I will never measure up, will always fail at anything that is truly important to me, and that I will always be unloved. It robs the Atonement of its power. I fight so hard against it, but it is always there.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Beauty in Grief

Most of the time, we think of grief as losing a loved one. But loss of faith, a marriage, a hope or dream, or even a way of life can also shake our world to its very foundations.

Just this Sunday, I substituted for a Sunday School class to teach teenagers how following the commandments can help us be like Heavenly Father. Never before have I struggled with a topic the way I struggled with this one, and I didn't expect it. Not only did it tap into my understanding that I can never be like Heavenly Father, not really (since I'm a woman,) but it tapped into the biggest source of my grief. It is not my marriage that still haunts me, my fears and pain regarding that are long resolved. It isn't even my relationships afterwards to which my intermittent sorrow clings. It is that I have lost faith that "after much tribulation, cometh the blessings." Believing that has lost meaning. It is the things I have worked the hardest at that fail most spectacularly. I have struggled long and hard within myself and with the Lord to discover what I'm doing wrong, what I could do better, without answer. Whatever it might be, I am at a loss to change it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Unfeminist

First, I want to establish that nothing I say here is about you, whether you are a male, female, feminist, humanist, or male chauvinist. It's about me, my perspective, my experiences. It isn't meant to denigrate anyone else's perspective or experiences. To be honest, it's internal and personal musing which I'm choosing to make public because it might help other people solidify their feelings on the topic, or maybe not feel alone. It will probably be boring to most people, but I'm writing it first and foremost for me. I reserve the right to change my feelings on this, as I do on anything I ever say online or off. I'm a work in progress, and have no intention of ever being a public figure or politician, so I'm free to change and grow.

I have read some, but not all, popular feminist publications. I have listened frequently and participated somewhat on feminist blogs, both LDS and non-LDS, for years. I have friends who identify as feminists, and friends who wouldn't touch that label with a 10-foot pole. Some people would say that my opinions and outlook are decidedly feminist, some would say they are grotesquely patriarchal. I've been called the entire panoply of names from both sides of the fence, and lost friends in both yards. I am also a survivor of domestic violence, a single mother, fairly well educated and reasonably intelligent. Nothing you say will change my opinion of my own intelligence, my status, or my past experiences, so don't bother. Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way (which goes to prove how much this topic feels like a minefield for me,) I welcome any flavor of polite, thoughtful discussion should this post gender any.

I do not identify as a feminist. I used to. It's not because I don't believe in anything the feminist movement supports, or because I love being oppressed since it makes me comfortable. Far from. In fact, anyone who knows me very well knows that I'm not one to be silent in the face of injustice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Explaining the Importance of Marriage and Family

The last two Sundays, I substitute taught the 12-13 year old Sunday School class. These are the same children I taught a couple of years ago. Perhaps because the universe (or God) has a sense of humor, this time around I taught preparing to receive temple ordinances, and how to explain the importance of marriage and family to others.

The temple has been very rough for me since my divorce. It used to be the only place I felt at home, but having lost some of the covenants I made is especially painful when I attend the temple. Maybe it's ironic, having a divorced woman—and one who chose to file, no less—teach preparation for the temple and the importance of marriage and family. After all, from the outside, it could easily be said that I did not honor my covenants in the temple, and that I obviously don't value marriage or family all that much, since I gave them up. In many ways, it was a little humiliating to stand before these twelve- and thirteen-year-old boys and girls, as yet largely untouched by the pain of sacrifice and loss, and try to teach them something for which I'm a very shaky example.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Polygamy: My Internal Evolution

I have never written my feelings on polygamy on this blog. Probably, in part, because it is such a hot-button topic with so many emotions in so many people. And certainly, in part, because polygamy is largely irrelevant to me. I have so many immediate points of doctrinal practice that occupy my mind, a large part of me is happy to relegate polygamy to the realm of "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

But, perhaps shining a little illumination on my thoughts will help others of you who find this a louder dissonance figure out a way to navigate through your struggles.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Growing in Unbelief

I have a family member who seems to be in the process of leaving the Church (maybe already left.) And as most of you who read this blog know, I used to participate quite a bit in online intellectual discussions about the gospel and about the Church. I still comment here and there, but I don't participate the way I did. Mostly because I've heard, studied, and pondered most of the things discussed and come to form understanding or opinions about them already. Not being naturally inclined to nonproductive confrontation, I've lost interest in fighting about the things I believe with people. With that in mind, I use a very light hand with this person.

Increasingly, it just feels unwise to defend the Church much beyond bearing testimony. I have learned so much by the hardships of my life, and the emotional and spiritual struggles I have survived. It's like I have this deep, lasting fire inside my heart. I sometimes just want to shake people and say, "can't you see?!" "Can't you feel how much God loves you?" "Can't you open your heart to truth?!" But I don't, of course. And because the passion burns so bright and hot in me, I often hold my tongue. Not because I'm afraid of what will happen to me, but because I'm afraid that by opening my mouth, I'll do more harm to their search for truth than good. Though I so badly want to help.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Having a Hard Time

I've been thinking a lot about toxic people and negativity. If it isn't already obvious, I've had a really hard time the last five years. I've been that toxic person everyone tells you to stay away from.

I destroyed myself trying to become the wife my husband wanted me to be, dealing with having to abandon my child every day and work while watching our money vanish without knowing why. I found out my husband had a vasectomy after "trying" for several months to have another baby and fearing our failure was my fault. I subjugated all my hurt and insecurities in order to support him through our couple's counseling, thinking our marriage was getting better and healing, finding out his surgery worked and I was pregnant again, only to have it all blow up in my face beyond any redemption. I went through a divorce that completely undermined any shred of self-esteem I pretended to have.

I made a nuisance of myself to the few friends who would listen...until it got too much for them and I learned to shut myself up. I fought far beyond the limits of my own strength to preserve my faith, pretend to be strong for my children, stabilize my finances, deal with stress-related health issues during my pregnancy, try to heal from that, and finalize the divorce. Once I got through that, I had to navigate the leftover effects of fear, and the attempts at emotional onslaught through and to my children.

By a little over a year ago, it mostly settled out and I thought my efforts finally met some success and peace. But then my job went crazy, and I lost it, tried to take that loss and turn it into a chance to go back into my first field, discovered that wasn't possible, and found a (very good but not dream) job, where I have been ever since. I haven't even touched on the emotional turmoil I have gone through with trying to overcome my fear and open my heart to dating.

Now that I'm on the other side of all of it, it feels a little easier to forgive myself. It also seems impossible that most of that could have happened in only five years. No wonder the last year has found me almost completely without motivation to try with ANYTHING any more. There isn't one aspect of my life that hasn't been a fight.

Listing it like that shows me the amazing protection I have had from my Father in Heaven, the support I have had from my mom and a couple of friends, and my inner strength that I can't see when I just look at today. I am very aware of how much of a burden I have been to people in my life, how events and my struggles have left me largely stripped of all close friends but my parents, and how my normally slightly cynical but ultimately optimistic personality has really taken a beating.

It has also given me perspective to reanalyze everything I believe about God, and my relationship with Him and His children.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Complexity of Modesty

"Men and society tend to objectify women. When women dress immodestly, they are communicating a message that they are sexually available. You can't blame men for assuming that a woman is available if she's advertising her assets. It is much easier for a man to see a woman as a whole person if she is wearing clothes that are considered modest for her culture."

"Women are people, no matter what they are wearing. Men should take responsibility for their thoughts and actions, and no longer victim-blame women for 'asking for' objectification. What women choose to wear doesn't always have anything to do with wanting to attract a man. Women should be able to wear whatever they want without other people turning them into an object."

With which do you agree?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Believe in Broken Wings

A wonderfully caring and charitable comment by Glenn in my last post gave me reason to think, to evaluate the message I am sending with this blog. (Thank you for that, Glenn.) Sometimes my posts here seem very self-judgmental and harsh. But they only reveal a small part of who I am. I created this blog, very specifically, to illustrate the hardships of life in a doctrinal sense, to share my journey as a disciple in the hopes that it will bring hope and increase faith in others. These posts do not reveal the entirety of who I am, not even close, but they are the part that is meant for this blog. I have another, which I don't write in as often because many of my most beautiful and sacred moments are so personal, which focuses more on happiness in life and less on the sorrow and struggles. But in this blog, if I can look at my own weakness and failings and still find hope, maybe my example can lead others to hope, keep them from giving up. Sometimes the most beautiful song comes from those with broken wings.

I take my journey on this earth very seriously. I don't have many years here, and this opportunity to learn with an imperfect body and imperfect understanding is all too fleeting. Granted, I often examine my life far too critically. It's something I have always done, ever since I was three years old and my mom had to forbid me from writing my name for a week after finding me banging my head on the desk because I couldn't get one letter to look like hers. Perfectionism is a thorn I have always struggled with.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Best Two Years

I have often heard people refer to their missions as their best two years. There is even a movie about it. And I've heard many people mock the idea of a mission being their best two years. Usually because missions are so hard and miserable. Who can honestly enjoy being rejected on an hourly basis, working so hard at something with so little personal reward? You've got to be insane, or brainwashed. Or brain dead.

To be honest, my mission is not the best two-year span anymore, though it was. That honor currently goes to my most recent two years. But directly after my mission, I would have said it was my best two years without any hesitation. Not because it was fun. It was actually pretty terrible. I would explain, but that would be a VERY long blog post. So I'll give a light sampling. Under my first mission president, incredible focus was placed on memorizing the discussions. We were even considered "greenies" (newbie missionaries) until we had memorized and passed off word-for-word the first discussion. (They still had the seven discussions, then.) Eventually, we were expected to memorize them all.

I don't memorize. Generally, I think memorization is a waste of time that undermines comprehension, especially with something like missionary discussions. Being who I used to be, I vociferously refused to do it. (My poor 19-21 year old district leaders really got a workout trying to be my Priesthood leader through the entire duration of my mission. Any of them who still wish to serve God in a priesthood capacity after experiencing mission-me really deserve some kudos.) I did eventually cave, but only because my mission president told me that while I didn't have to do it, it would really help my district leader if I just bent to the unnecessary rule.

The bulk of my mission under this president was an ongoing battle of wills between me, my district/zone leaders, and the mission numbers.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ritual Storytelling

"Mommy, can you tell me the story of when I was born?"

As I smiled and sunk into the familiar story, which I have told each of my children dozens of times, I watched their little faces. As I told of the pain of labor, little worry lines would appear between their eyebrows. They laugh at me as I reenact my groans of pain going over small bumps in the road and my ogre-like hollering as I went through active labor. But then comes the important part, for them, as I describe what it felt like when they finally entered the world, the look in their small dark eyes as they opened for the first time, how it felt to hold the perfect, tiny, new human being. I tell them what their eyes said to me, the way they smelled, how it felt when they took them away from me for the first time. I tell them how special they were to me, how I felt to be a mother. I watch their eyes light up, their faces relax in satisfaction at knowing how loved they have always been.

They know how the story ends. They don't ask me to tell it because they want to hear the story. Rather, they need the message in the story and what it means regarding my connection to them, and theirs to me.

The Church has its stories, too.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cultural Violence in a Mormon Setting

In working through the emotional sludge pit after finding myself in a marriage fraught with violence, I have developed a keen awareness of patterns of behavior and modes of thought that open the door to violence. Over time, I have realized that these red flags do not define domestic violence, nor guarantee it. But they do nurture it. The biggest red flag of them all is objectification of the opposite gender.

Objectification is very hard to define for someone who has never learned to see it. For one thing, it is almost necessary to objectify to a point. It is such a common thread of life, we hardly notice it. If we were to see each and every person we pass in our lives as a person, we could easily go insane. It's just too much to process the real needs, motivations, and basic humanity of everyone all at once. Our brain filters the influx of information to our conscious mind, and with people this means we don't always see them as more than a prop in our life. Because it is necessary to a point, the difference between necessary and inappropriate objectification is sometimes difficult to parse.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Healing Through Repeat Trauma

When I first created and named this blog, I didn't know it would be so prophetic. Then, I only chose this name because it fit my screen name, and I loved the parable of the houses built upon sand and rock. Since then, my house has truly been buffeted by storms I did not imagine at the time. There have been times that I was sure that my foundations would crumble. I could feel some sands upon which my life had been built washing away from under me. There have been times I've clung desperately to the rock that was left, sobbing for help. Some of those times, there was someone to help. Many of them, there was no one.

After the night my ex-husband left for the final time, I had symptoms of post traumatic stress. For days, I got no sleep and for weeks I got very little. Someone would use a word, or I'd see an object that was involved that night, and the world would skip ahead. To others, I would cease to respond for a few seconds as my mind blanked out. Certain interactions, especially those involving any kind of conflict, no matter how mild, would leave me trembling for hours. I'd get flashbacks. And that is only a few of the things that had suddenly become a part of my life for months and years.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Passing of an Amazing Woman

Sister Monson passed away. My prayers are with the Monson family, she was truly a disciple of the Lord.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

This is Water

Recently, I went through and cleaned out my friend list, eventually narrowing it to only 100 people, over half of which were family. I emptied my inbox and changed my life. But I wasn't able to formulate exactly why. With my self-reflective tendencies, I worried that cutting off many of my contacts was a sign of depression, or that it stemmed from some undefined need to exert some control and simplify my life. But today I saw this video, and it resonated with me. THIS is the largest reason why I've been simplifying and making changes.

But for me, it is about religion. Almost a year ago, I looked at my life. It was divided.

Monday, May 13, 2013


It seems to me that the covenant life is becoming more and more misunderstood by the bulk of society. It's not just about religion, but about the principles of hard work, love by duty, loyalty to principles and people beyond oneself. There is so much power and satisfaction in self-discipline. It is no wonder that those ignorant of the power have a hard time understanding it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Damaged Goods

Elizabeth Smart recently commented on the evil of teaching people that their worth is tied up in their sexual inexperience. I agree wholeheartedly with her. Of course, "teh interwebs" has glommed onto her words and twisted them to attack the Church. Which is all really quite boring to me, same story different details. Except for one thing.

I have been a victim, too.

I have written before why I stayed in my marriage. When I was married, I felt like the least wind could shatter me. I was constantly worried about what I said and did. I would hang up with friends and family as soon as my husband was due home because I wanted him to feel my love and attention. I would do activities only after they had been suggested by my spouse, because I wanted to be available for him. I endured two years of torture because I wanted him to be satisfied and pleased. I watched our money drain out like water through a sieve, and felt guilty that I wasted money if I bought something for the house. I went to counseling in hopes that I could be fixed so that the "communication issues" in my marriage could be resolved. But nothing I did made him feel loved. No changes I made helped me communicate with him. Things only got worse the more I tried. Eventually, the marriage deteriorated. I ended it only at the strong promptings and counsel of the Lord, and to protect my ex-husband and my children.

The news can give people a wrong idea about domestic violence. Only the most egregious and horrifying stories hit the news. But once someone has been injured or killed, the entirety of the work of abuse has already been wrought. Abuse isn't first about being hurt. If it was, anyone would get out. But abuse is first about duty, love, obligation, about feeling like if only you worked a little harder, did a little better, things would change. It is an emotional landscape which is carefully terraformed by the abuser. And it works best on loving people who try to be selfless.

For this reason, I keep chewing over the discussion surrounding Elizabeth's comments. You see, I believe that I'm damaged goods, too. It's not something that counseling can help me with. Because it isn't in my mind or reason. It's in my heart and experience. They are a lot harder to convince. Especially after I've tried to convince myself time and time again, only to fail.

Monday, April 29, 2013

About Not Belonging in the Church You Belong To

When I was a teenager, my family moved to a town within the Mormon Corridor. (Western-ish U.S.) For the first time in my memory, I lived among a significant percentage of fellow Mormons. During this time, a friend of mine accused me of several things that I did not do. While no one at school believed her, some of the members of my ward did. They would whisper in the bench behind me, calling me Jezebel. My lessons in Young Women were pointedly pro-chastity. I was called into the bishop's office for a detailed interview. Fortunately, he believed me. He was the only one (besides my parents.)

This was the first time in my life that I was the target of someone's concerted manipulation of others to hurt me. Church was a nightmare for me, and I grew to hate it. But I knew that not all Mormons could be like that. A desire to prove it to myself contributed to my decision to attend BYU. There, I learned what I went to learn, that Mormons are not as cookie-cutter as people like to think, and that there were others like me who believed as I do.

But that feeling of being an outsider has never quite faded.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Sorrow

In the mornings and throughout my day, my Facebook is filled with people posting "uplifting" quotes. I know that many people feel supported and uplifted by positive thinking quotes, or lists of what to do to be "happy." I'm not trying to put that effort down for them, but just to mull over why it doesn't work for me.

When I hear things that say, essentially, "just think yourself out of sadness or negativity," I hear "your sadness is not valid, your negativity is all in your head. You don't (or shouldn't) feel what you feel. If you were a better person, you wouldn't feel that way." It's a lie, a pervasive and sneaky lie that masquerades as truth. Happiness doesn't drown sorrow, sorrow births happiness. We NEED to experience pain and sorrow, in order to know joy.

We tend to believe in our medicated, comfortable lives that pain is evil. If something causes us pain, it must be changed or avoided. Well, my life has an element in it that causes pain that I cannot remove. Though a part of me wishes it were simply gone, I am thankful for it. It has taught me that not everything which causes pain is evil.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Trees or Veils: a Division of Authority

In 2010, Valerie Hudson Cassler presented an idea in FAIR that addresses an idea of Priesthood and Motherhood. While I think there is some valuable insight into our eternal nature in this theory, it has one huge problem. It isn't doctrinal truth. Unfortunately, the idea has exploded across LDS blog thought, finding particular root in faithful feminists, that is people who support the Church and also believe in feminine eternal power, that women are not subjected to men via the priesthood, but have access to their own brand of power that works in tandem.

A very rough summation of the theory, in case you didn't want to follow the link above and read it for yourself, is that there are two Trees, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. In this theory, Eve was foreordained to partake first of the first Tree (of Knowledge of Good and Evil,) ushering mankind through that phase of existence and Adam is then to partake first of the second Tree (of Life) and usher mankind through that phase of existence (per Lehi's dream, I imagine.)

I can see why this idea is compelling. It explains why men have the priesthood and women do not, but still validates that women are powerful and important to God's plan. There is a very similar hypothesis that women and men are to preside over different veils, that women preside over our first birth (into mortal bodies) and men preside over our second birth (accept Christ's atonement.) This is slightly different, but still the same general idea. There are several problems with it, however, which I don't intend to touch upon until the very end. First, I'm going to take Elder Holland's advice and lead with what I know and believe.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Modesty: What's Your Policy?

Sure, hemlines are in the right
place. But is it modest?

You can't be modest and fashionable.


Now that the screams of protest have hopefully faded a bit, I'm going to share a few thoughts that I have been mulling around over the last several months.

I have a daughter about six years old. Despite my initial attempts to keep Barbie out of the house, after I decided to change my tactics and let the dolls into the home, she has developed a fascination with Barbies. I have also purchased several Barbie movies, which both of my daughters love. They're not as bad as you'd think. But, predictably, fashion plays a part in all of the stories. Several months ago, she expressed a desire to be a fashionista/model/rock star when she grows up. (The exact title changes, but the idea is the same.) I had a problem with this, but couldn't put my finger on exactly why. At first.

Who wants to waste time
tugging at hemlines?

When I was a teen I rolled my skirt tops like most girls whose parents didn't let them wear whatever they wanted, but relatively speaking I have always been fairly modest and largely unconcerned with fashion. As long as the colors don't clash and the clothes are comfortable, I'm good. It hasn't hurt that I have never been anything close to runway model material, nor that I always had tomboy tendencies. I rarely have a desire to wear anything that requires maintenance. Never having really challenged the LDS standards of modesty, I didn't have an informed testimony of it, just a trusting one. Knowing I'd have to present a good case to my daughters, I decided it was about time I developed one.

Enter Beauty Redefined. Lindsay and Lexie, the founders of BR, conducted a training study in which I volunteered to take part. I wanted to gain some tools to teach my daughters to love their bodies for what they can do, not for what they look like. And I wasn't sure how. The principles of BR are values that I have gravitated towards over the years. I didn't think it would change how I feel about the objectification problem, or that participating in the study would impact me as much as it has.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Expect Better from a Disciple of Christ

The fine line between calling out bad behavior in others and ridiculing them illuminates the key to Christian unity.

I recently read a very good article which brought to light some hidden agendas and techniques used by a particular group of people to inappropriately politically manipulate an institution to which they theoretically belong. I enjoyed the article, but as seems to happen so often, I became very concerned with some of the comments.

They mocked and ridiculed, rather than expressing charity and concern. And for some reason, I have a harder time with that than I do with people who disagree with me using poor tactics. In fact, just these kinds of concerns have distanced me from groups on BOTH sides of ideological divides who might otherwise be my allies.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Mirror of Imperfection

An hour and a half past bedtime, I rocked my weeping 6-year-old daughter. She was really too big to fit into my lap, but I cradled her, folding her in half so I could hold her without my arms giving out. The litany of "everybody hates me" and "Cami/Alexa/Ana/Mia were mean to me" and "I accidently touched someone when I was putting my coat on, so I had to sit in the office for recess" and "I laughed with my friends and my teacher punished me" garbled and mumbled through wild tears had been going on for a little over an hour.

At one point, I wept with her in the dark, silent tears running down my cheeks as I tried to sniff quietly enough she wouldn't notice. It only makes it worse for her when she senses I'm crying too. But by now, I was numb, whispering "there-there's" and "shhh, it'll get better" as if they were magic spells to ward off the pain she was feeling.

I was helpless. Her fears and anxieties were all too familiar.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Wounded Heart

There was a time when I loved discussion. There was nothing I liked better than mulling over an idea in an environment of healthy opposition. But something has happened to me over the last year. My care is broken, and I'm not sure why.

Perhaps it is because people seem so bent on proving other people wrong. It's not about exchanging ideas or sharing a different perspective. It's about passion. Whoever yells the loudest and can get the most friends rallied to their cause wins.

I thought it was stupid in grade school when mutual nemeses started lunchtime fights, and it hasn't gotten any more attractive in full grown adults. I think that's a big part of why I haven't been participating in blogging much any more. I don't comment nearly as much, I don't even write that much. I'm just over it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pro-Choice to Pro-Life

What this author describes is similar in nature to my own conversion, though I wasn't as shocked by certain things. It is my education in fetal development that has landed me squarely pro-life in values.

I think the best way to describe my stance is pro-education. I don't think you can wisely use law to prevent abortions. Such use of force only increases the danger. But I favor the use of law to require education before abortion. Let them watch an abortion via endoscope. Let them see and hear the reality of their fetus before they make that decision. No need to use scare tactics, just calmly and informatively educate them and let them make their own decision.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Prayer as the Answer

This post over at Real Intent does a much better and kinder job of explaining some things I have been trying to say.

I have found this principle to be true, especially when combined with earnest entreaty.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Who Will I Be?

I don't think many people in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think much about the fact that we, as women, have very VERY little doctrinal view of our place in God's plan. With a triad of male Deity, and only a hushed whisper of female relevance, with the clear inference that we are appendages to our husbands on one hand, but firm assurances that we are more than that on the other, we have very little substance to go on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Praying for Charity

I remember how it felt one night several years ago when I pled with God to grant me charity. I was naturally a very selfish, self-centered teenager. But when I read Moroni's words it struck me what my next step of discipleship should be. Gradually, over many days and months of pondering the concept of charity, the urgent desire to carry this "pure love of Christ" grew stronger and stronger.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Dark Dance of Dating

I have called off "dating." This doesn't mean that I don't go out on dates any more (though it might, since I'm no longer going to as many singles events,) but that I'm rejecting the entire Dating Game. You all know what I'm talking about. If you don't, go watch reruns of Bachelor/ette and walk away sadder, wiser, and disgusted.

I'm not blaming anyone for creating the morass that dating, especially LDS-Singles-of-a-Certain-Age dating, has become. I think it is a byproduct of overachievement, advertising, and the detachment of social skills. But that's a whole 'nother diatribe.

Let me outline the problem, and see if I can't offer an unrealistic solution. (Why else blog about it, after all?)

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