Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trust in the Lord

After missing three weeks of church for illness, appendectomy, and Pride of course, the kids and I finally all made it to church this past week for the entire block.

I gave it my best effort, attending half of Sunday School (more on that later) and all of Relief Society (in addition to Sacrament meeting, of course).

Scott prepared me for church that morning by saying, "Haven't you had that baby yet?" and "Wow, you look like you are ready to pop!" (Comments like I have heard at church toward the end of past pregnancies that have driven me crazy.  Some of the worst include "When are you going to squirt that baby out?" and "When are you due? (me: in like 2-3 months.) Oh, you look like you are due any minute!" (I chewed the lady out for that one. I was the choir director at the time, and she and her husband stopped coming to choir. Oh well.) In reality, though, everyone was really nice to me, sympathetic and encouraging that I could endure another three weeks.  It helped a lot that I felt good and was in a relatively good mood as well.

Sacrament meeting was presented by the missionaries serving in our Stake, and the topic was "Honor thy Father and thy Mother." I thought they did a pretty good job. They mentioned how parents should set a good example for their children in living the gospel and keeping the commandments. But what I really liked was when they emphasized that even if we have parents that are doing things we think are wrong, we can still honor them. They are our parents and it is a commandment to honor them regardless of how they act. I know Scott is confusing and concerning the children a bit, but this was a nice reminder for me (and maybe for the kids, if they were listening) that we can all still love and honor him for the wonderful man and father that he is.

The talks were short, so a member of the bishopric filled in a bit at the end, reminding us that at a recent Stake Conference (which means I was probably not there, since I have missed that last two) that the main topic and warning was that Satan is doing all he can to destroy the family. Then he rambled a bit about how that applies to honoring our parents, etc.

But my brain went a different direction. With the documentary coming out in theaters this week, and also closing arguments for the Proposition 8 trial in CA, it occurred to me that Satan is working SO hard to destroy the family that he is doing it from within the church, deceiving even the very elect. I wonder if the church leaders are yet understanding just how their efforts with the prop 8 campaign are destroying the family, or if they still have blinders on, thinking that all they have done has been to help and support the family. The church has had a major influence in trying to destroy my own family, and even Scott and my extended families.  And I know stories from some of our gay friends that show how the destruction in their families is even worse than it is in ours. Why can't they see how they are offending and driving people who are parts of families away from the church instead of just loving and accepting them? It has pinned fathers and mothers against gay children, brothers and sisters against gay siblings, and of course, don't forget the straight spouses and children that are based on a family structure that most of the time just does not work. HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY BE ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE WORK OF SATAN? And why can't they see it? Why? Look at the contention it has caused, and contention is definitely of the devil.

Moving on...

Sunday School was about King Saul, and how he started out as a good king, but then little by little made small choices to disobey, rationalizing his choices, and trusting in himself more than in the Lord. Scott denies that he is doing this, but I really do wonder and worry about him. I read through his patriarchal blessing a couple of weeks ago, and was concerned about the warning in his blessing, mentioned more than once, not to get caught up in following the ways of the world. I thought of it again as I read this scripture during the lesson:

Proverbs 3: 5-8

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

I found it interesting that a line from the Word of Wisdom is in this passage. In a recent blog post, Scott mentioned feeling that the Word of Wisdom was meant as a suggestion, which it was, I guess. But doesn't it all have to do with how it fits in this scripture?  God gives us commandments and suggestions, and I believe that each of us has our own path to follow, but if we make sure that God is directing that path (through personal revelation or scriptures or leaders or whatever touches our hearts as being for each of us from God), then we will more likely find happiness on that path. Scott says he feels like he is following the spirit in his decisions, and I hope he really is, that it is not just his own wisdom and understanding leading him along.

Then there is this scripture:

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
I think this scripture can go two ways. As I read it in context, the Lord was telling Samuel that even though someone seemed to be a good man, that the Lord could see his heart and knew otherwise. But I think in general that we can interpret this scripture to mean that it is for the Lord to judge, and not for us to make assumptions about anyone based on appearances. Scott is a good man with a good heart, but many church leaders, family, friends and blog readers, and even I have sometimes judged him too harshly, at least in my opinion.

Do I sound like I am confused about whether Scott is doing the right things or not? Definitely yes. In a nutshell, I am concerned, and I guess I long for the temple marriage and the perfect little church attending family that I once had to still be the same. But do I also know that Scott is a good man? Yes. And can I blame him for being so withdrawn from the church now after all we have been through with Prop 8 and local church leaders over the last 2 years? Definitely not. My concern is how his withdrawal from the church has pushed him more and more toward things of the world that he no longer has any problem with, but I do, and I worry about how our children might be influenced by that. Maybe it is good for them to see and then make their own choices.

Anyway, I should stop with the rambling and go back to the lesson...

At one point the teacher presented the question "Is there ever a time that it is okay to not follow the prophet?" One lady raised her hand and said, "No, never." The teacher responded that he thought there could be exceptions on occasion, but that the person should make absolutely sure that the personal revelation to them is accurate. I was glad for his comment, but I tire of the attitude of so many others, that we should pray to know that what the prophet says is true, not whether or not it is true. Like Scott has said before, why bother praying or seeking personal revelation at all if following the prophet blindly is what we are to do? What about Nephi, who chose to follow personal revelation to obtain the brass plates, instead of strict obedience to "Thou shalt not kill, lie, and steal."?

I was in a good mood, so I decided at that point to leave Sunday School so that I would not become angry and bitter about being there.

On the way home from church, I asked my daughter about her new Mia Maid class. She told me the lesson was on missionary work, and how a couple of girls shared personal experiences to go with the lesson. One girl was concerned (and emotional) that a couple of her older siblings are not involved in church any more, and it made her sad to think that they may not be able to attend her temple wedding someday. My daughter didn't say anything about that same issue affecting her, wondering if her own parents would be able to attend her future marriage. She wasn't emotional at all when she told me about the other girl crying. I wondered if she had thought about it, but I didn't ask. All I said to her was that I hoped I could get my temple recommend back sometime, that I am not a bad person, and I don't understand it, but I've stopped caring and stressing about it and pursuing it any more. I'm not willing to close my blog, so I guess I will just wait until some church leader tells me I can have it back. And since it is not likely they will call me in and offer it to me, maybe I will never have one again. Oh well. Typing those words don't even really phase me. I am tired of the battle and I am not going to fight it. I know that I am worthy of my recommend, and I know that God knows it, and I guess that will have to be enough for now.

Last week I received an email from another supportive straight spouse (or x-spouse, I guess) that I can totally relate to. This person said: 

"Why do we Mormons choose to look truth in the face and refuse to acknowledge it? Why do we believe logic and faith are incompatible?  Why do we turn our reason over to others that clearly exercise none?  Why do we turn over our reason and our will over to others?  Why am I still frustrated that the people I love and have admired all my life act like sheep?  Why do I let it hurt me that they will not listen, consider, or dignify what I have to say with so much as a thoughtful response? Why do I feel betrayed by their inability to see me as anything but deceived by the devil?   Why do I let it hurt me when now they look to my family for confirmation that we are screwing up, and refuse to see the many positive evidence of goodness?  Why does any of this even matter to me?  Why can I not be at peace with the knowledge that I am doing the right thing?"
 I wasn't sure what to tell them, other than I had all the same questions. But then I typed this response:

"You are more than welcome to vent. I do understand. All the same things, all of your questions in the first paragraph. I have not been to church for about 3 weeks because of illness (me or the kids) but I have not missed it. I plan to go Sunday, but it is just so different than it used to be because I am so different. The church will never be the same to me as it once was, and it is sad, like I've lost something incredible.
I will pray for you. It seems like those of us that are going through this have so many other things piling on us as well, and sometimes my brain wonders if it could be a punishment for my beliefs. I don't think so, though.  We are being tested in a refiners fire. Yes, maybe Satan is working overtime on us because he knows we are special, he knows we can have a huge influence in this battle as allies for those we love."
Do you think that my response was inspired?  That maybe, just maybe we are not being punished for doing what is wrong, but being tested to see if we can still follow the Lord's personal direction to us, despite what everyone else seems to think?

And so it is that I continue to try my best to trust in the Lord, to find the path that He is leading me on and do what He would have me do--for Scott, for our kids, for the gay community, for the church and our extended family and friends, and of course for myself.  Attending church when I can and clinging to my core testimony of the gospel I believe are a part of that path, but not as big a part as they were in earlier years and phases of my life. There is so much else that is good and glorious that I cannot ignore, like rejoicing in the wedding today of two incredible friends, two young men that are going to be incredible spouses to each other and incredible fathers someday. I am so grateful that they are part of our lives, and I would not trade any hardships I have been through in the past couple of years for having them and many others as dear friends.


mandi said...

It is so sad that "the church" and "the gospel" are so closely intertwined that we have extreme difficulty separating the two. So many who leave the church leave ALL truth behind because they can't see that they really are two separate entities. The Church is there to promote and support the Gospel- but the Gospel will still stand with or without the Church. The Church contains the ordinances necessary for exaltation, but one can still live a very Christ/Gospel-centered life even if they have become disaffected with the Church. Don't give up your testimony of the Gospel, or diminish its importance in your life because of what "the Church" has become to you.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the conversation with your daughter: My dad did not attend my temple wedding, and it hurt. A lot. I don't say this to make you more anxious or feel guilty, but just don't assume that because your daughter didn't say anything directly means she doesn't think it. Perhaps bringing up that conversation was her way of dropping a big hint. Obviously, I don't know your daughter or much about your situation other than what you share here. But, I would never dream of telling my dad directly how much he hurt my feelings by not making it a priority in his life to be in a position to come to the temple when I was married. Not as an adult and certainly not as a teenager. I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings. He's still my dad and I love him. I realize it's not fair of me to expect him to change big things in his life for me, especially when I really don't fully understand all of the reasons he does not have a recommend. (Though, from what I've gathered, it has to do with sustaining leadership as well.) But, still, as a daughter it made me feel like he didn't care about me. I know, it's self centered, but I just wanted to share my experience as the child. Take it for what's it's worth. Obviously, you know your children best.

Sarah said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your comment, and I was sort of indicating in my post that it is probably something my daughter thinks about, but she also understands that it is not my fault. I would still like to have a recommend, and if I were the bishop or stake president, I would sign it because I feel like there is NO REASON for me not to have it.

And at the time we tried to renew them last August, Scott was also worthy. He no longer is because he has been pushed away and stopped trying. At the time they said he was not worthy, when he and I both know that he was. But he could not handle the stress, so he let go of trying. Why bother trying if he can't have it anyway? Coffee has always smelled good to him, so why not, who cares. He likes being able to wear clothes without having an "eternal smile" or his garments showing above the neckline of his t-shirt. So why bother? He enjoys clubbing with his friends, and so why not take a sip or two of something to help him loosen up and enjoy himself. I cannot blame him for needing to let go of all of the bull shit we have gone through. And yes, it is not easy for any of us--him, me, or our daughter, who at age 14 might be anticipating and planning for a temple wedding. I am not going to discourage her if that is what she wants to do.

But it really might not matter as much to her as you and I think it does. She has a testimony, but I see it wavering with mine. She and I witnessed a beautiful wedding Saturday between two wonderful men that we adore as though they were our own family, both returned missionaries with incredible values. Watching and listening to them vow their love to each other somehow diminishes the value of a "temple wedding" and instead helps us realize what really is important in life. Somehow it is less and less important to me that Scott be able to attend the temple, because every day the church seems less and less important and more and more hypocritical and controlling.

I am so tired of reading things this week about the Proposition 8 documentary with quotes from the church or members of the church saying, "We haven't seen it, but we know it is full of lies." What a bunch of hypocrites, not even giving it a chance, where words in the documentary come from actual church documents and church leaders' mouths. They should shut up until they can give an actual opinion based on seeing the movie. But no, they can't go see it because it is rated "R" for two little F words, one of which comes from a "Christian" in CA protesting gay marriage.

Sorry, I don't feel good today, and I am not in a good mood, and I hate it when blog readers offer unsolicited advice and judgement on something they do not understand just how deeply we (all of us, including my children) have been hurt by the church, including a local (former) bishop and stake president.

And this comment is going to get me in trouble again and is why I can't have my recommend.

BUT I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ANY MORE. Let it be, let it be.

Sarah said...

...and if this heartburn and nausea doesn't go away soon, or if I get one more political phone call today, I fear I might just find someone or something to kill! Fear the pregnant woman today!

Gail said...

Bravo Sarah. It seems to me that the church could do a lot to solve the parents-not-at-the-wedding thing. The whole temple recommend exclude people from the temple did not come about till the late 1800’s, long after Brother Joseph. Secondly, if they wanted I see no reason that they could not let people have regular weddings in conjunction with the temple sealing. Besides in my mind it seems that the church works really hard to beat any meaning out of marriage at all, at least for me in my life. My children’s mother can not get married largely because of the efforts of the Church. The church serenely does not teach my children to honor their mother. I feel like the church has taken away an easy way to teach my children chastity. We still teach them chastity, but it is much more involved than wait until marriage, given the church is working so hard to take marriage as an option for many people.