Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rising above intolerance

The name of the club I supervise is RAIN--rising against intolerance now.

So, I have a question...

How do we do that? The students in the club as well as any of us?

The question came up in my mind as I sat in Sunday School, sort of listening to the topic of Christ's miracles going on in the background.... catching up on Facebook. I found this on the wall of a gay friend. He was very angry. He quoted a comment to a Deseret News article about legislation going on at the state capital. It shows an ignorant attitude of intolerance, and is very disturbing.
"Whether by choice or biology, gays have opted out of the child-rearing game. Gay adoption makes no sense.

"True love is defined by God as heterosexuality. May his mercy and love shine like a rainbow on those struggling with sexual perversion (i.e. addiction). Homosexuality is defined by sex. Heterosexuality is defined by God."

Horrible misunderstanding. My friend has every right to be angry, but does it do any good? Does it do more harm than good to post about his anger on facebook?

Maybe rising against intolerance should change to rising above intolerance. Satan is laughing at this battle because both sides are so angry. The contention withdraws the spirit, forces precious souls to leave the church for the sake of their own sanity, affects families and parents and siblings and children. To me, rising above intolerance means that it has to start with each of us individually. We have to be tolerant of those who are not tolerant of us. We have to replace anger with compassion. The only way things are going to change and people will learn is if they see the LGBT population doing good, serving the community, making a good name for themselves instead of just reacting with anger. There are many that ARE doing that, but it is the angry and protesting ones that make the news.

What if instead of protests, service projects are organized, media called and encouraged to report on it.

What if instead of lashing out, we forgive them, pray for our enemies and help to educate them. Many do not mean to sound hateful, they are honestly speaking out of fear for what they do not understand. Let's seek opportunities to help them see and understand.

More easily said than done, I know.

Lately I have been trying more and more to stand up for Mormons. When I hear LGBT groups bashing Mormons, I have not hesitated to say "I am a Mormon, and yet I am on your side." Sometimes I tell them more. Like "my in-laws are very active Mormons and they allowed our gay friends to get 'married' in their beautiful back yard." I have been amazed at my Mormon sister, my Mormon co-workers, some of my Mormon friends in my ward that are willing to listen to me and my opinions. And even though on occasion they kindly remind me that they do not share my opinions on gay marriage, they are still willing to open their hearts and listen to me without judgment.

And yet I know too well how much the words of outspoken and ignorant and intolerant Mormons hurt, especially when they come from someone in a position of authority. These people need our prayers and forgiveness, even when we think they don't deserve it. They are also God's children, and our anger toward them hurts no one but ourselves as bitterness poisons our hearts.

Any thoughts on how everyone can try to peacefully make progress with the religious community, and rise above the intolerance that comes from such?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In God's Hands

Testimony meeting today focused on baptism and basic gospel principles, gratitude for the gospel and temple. We had a convert baptism yesterday, confirmation today. There was also a family in the ward that baptized a child yesterday.

I left the chapel right after the sacrament to go to the "mother's" room to feed the baby. It was the perfect seat for the meeting: a cushy rocker, Sebastian snuggled against me asleep, no other children to distract me, clear sound from the microphone piped into the room. The words of each testimony touched me and lifted me up.

My current bishop spoke of a time when he was not active, of leaders coming to his home and inviting him to church. He had attended as a child, but then he wanted nothing to do with it. A miracle occurred, and he suddenly saw the light that everyone was trying to tell him of, that he had never seen before. And somehow everything came together and made sense and had to be true. And now he rejoices in seeing others find that same light and truth.

The stake patriarch (our bishop when we first moved in this ward) spoke of spending the day in the temple yesterday, filling gaps in his and his wife's families (aka sealings) that should have been done long ago. He spoke of a temple worker that said Satan likes to see us worrying. We will do much better if we can stop worrying and put everything in God's hands and have faith that things will work out.

Many spoke of Gods love, how he loves each of us so much individually. He is aware of our struggles and everything going on in our lives. He loves us no matter what we've done or where we are in our journeys.

A child spoke of attending a friend's baptism yesterday. I thought about the child. He is usually happy and always helpful. My boys and nephew walk home from school with him. When I pick them up, while my boys are fighting over who gets to sit where, this child gives up his seat to make someone else happy. When my nephew was having a bad day and decided to walk, this neighbor child volunteered to walk with him to let him through the shortcut in his yard. He carried the nephew's science fair project home for him this past week. At age 9, he is an amazing example of kindness and service.

My heart is full of gratitude today for my neighbors and friends in our ward. Not all of them handled Scott's coming out very well. But they are inherently good people, and I think many of them have learned from the experience with Scott and are better because of it.

In Sunday school we talked about Christ's example and teachings about loving and serving others.

We discussed how God works with bad things in our lives to make us or our circumstances actually better in the long run, whether the bad things are results of our choices or just things that happen.

The bishop commented about how far ahead he thought he would be if he had come back to church sooner. But we discussed how having that experience made him the understanding man that he is, because he's been there.

My brother and his wife went through a tough time a few years back, and they are struggling with their children now, which I feel is at least somewhat a result of the other thing. But my sister-in-law says that she now has the husband she had always wanted as a result of their trial.

Days like today make me feel like there is hope that someday Scott will come back to  the church and/or me and our marriage. I've told him that, and he cannot see that ever happening. I mentioned it to one of our friends, and he also became concerned that I was putting hope in something that is very unlikely. But for some reason, the spirit keeps putting it in my head, whether for some sort of comfort that I need right now (and that my children need), or because God knows all things from beginning to end.

All I can do is remember that my life is in God's hands, and that He will help me make the best of what I've got.

I've been dreading the upcoming holiday, "single-awareness day," some call it. But I am trying to think of it as "children appreciation day," and I'm working on obtaining the perfect gift for each of them. I love to doorbell-ditch gifts for them on the porch, the same way my mother did for me. Maybe I will take them all to dinner, too. The spaghetti factory would be great. And since it's Monday, and Scott has not yet found his special someone with whom to share the day, maybe he will join us, and it will be perfect.

I made a wish list before Christmas, and one item was a "mother's ring" to replace my wedding ring. So that is what Scott gave me for my birthday last month. It required resizing, and I just got it back yesterday, so today is the first day I've been able to enjoy wearing it. I found myself staring at it at church, showing it to some of my friends (same way I did with my engagement ring almost 16 years ago), and while doing so feeling extremely grateful for my five precious children, and so many other incredible blessings in my life.