When my heart is heavy

I've spent the last two days with a heavy heart. A very heavy heart. After hearing the news that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin were facing disciplinary councils and possible excommunication, a part of me has gone numb. A coping mechanism. A survival tactic. An attempt at keeping my head above water just enough to plea for God's love and grace to pull me out of the deep end. I've been having difficulty putting all of the thoughts that are swirling around my brain into words.

How much is too much for me to bear in my struggle with my faith community? Is there a final straw? How much of myself do I keep giving to an institution that sometimes feels painful to belong to? [Painful at times, and the place I want to be planted at others.]

I've spent the last few years thinking progress is being made - that our circle is widening. I've worked hard at focusing on the good. And there is good. So much of it. But with all of the good that happens every day, in the lives of Mormons near me, in every meal that is made to share with another, every hour volunteered, every testimony borne that rings of truth and speaks to my soul, there is this painful pattern of regression.

I wish the history of regression wasn't enough to overshadow the love and kindness and generosity I see in my church. But part of what has been increasingly weighing on me is the fact that I see so much good outside of my church. Without the baggage that is so devastating to me. I'm saying this knowing that no church is perfect. Not a single one. All of them have baggage. All of them have the pain that comes from human error. But so many are much more willing to accept their imperfections (not try to justify them over the course of decades), openly repent of wrongdoings, and move forward. I feel like we are stunted.

My friend, Paul, wrote, "For me it seems clear that culturally, Mormons aren't ready for women to actively participate in the Priesthood (even though many doctrinally already have the priesthood)."

I agree.

I don't think my question is "Why aren't we ready" as much as it's "Why are so many still so strongly opposed to the very idea of it?" Why are so many opposed to and afraid of asking difficult questions? My church is one body. And I'm trying to be patient with my left arm when it stays still after I beg it to move. Just as I suspect my left arm loses patience with me when I keep trying to press forward without it.

In the midst of this sadness, I am praying for peace and love. For all who are struggling in the wake of this news. For Kate and John and their families. For the ones who will hold the disciplinary councils. For my church that, as Joanna Brooks said, "I really believe [...] is big and strong enough to absorb difference and honest questioning."

Reading Joanna Brooks's thoughts on what is going on helped lift some of the heaviness I was feeling tonight. Read it here: let it be different this time.

And lastly, in the comments section of "let it be different," someone posted a poem by Joanna Brooks. It was, perhaps, even more meaningful to me than her post. "God, make me brave enough to love my people. How wonderful it is to have a people to love."

by Joanna Brooks 
Father, Mother, help me piece together the
     contradictions of my life:
White cotton, red satin, brown polka dot; torn Sunday
     dress, Navajo rug, frayed baby blanket.
Make me insistent on every lonely shred,
     willing to sacrifice no one.
Where there is no pattern, God, give me courage to
     organize a fearsome beauty.
Where there is unraveling, let me draw broad blanket
     stitches of sturdy blue yarn.
Mother, Father, give me vision.
Give me strength to work hours past my
     daughters' bedtime.
Give me an incandescent all-night garage with a
     quorum of thimble-thumed grandmothers
     sitting on borrowed folding chairs.
We will gather all the lost scraps
     and stich them together:
A quilt big enough to warm all our generations: all the
     lost, found, rich, poor, good, bad, in, out, old, new,
     country, city, dusty, shiny ones;
A quilt big enough to cover all the alfalfa fields in the
     Great Basin.
Bigger. We are piecing together a quilt with no edges.
God, make me brave enough to love my people.
How wonderful it is to have a people to love.

1 comment:

  1. I can relate with your struggle and thoughts. I left the church because of the stance on women and the priesthood and for how much it feels like we are going back in time.
    Yes. The church can be a great community of friends and neighbors but as soon as you leave you are left with no one and nothing. I was in a dark place for years after leaving. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. My relationship with my in laws is still very strained. It's terrible.



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