Sunday, June 12, 2011

Troubled

My thoughts are jumbled, but there is a feeling of conflict and unrest within my heart.

I've been at peace with church attendance for about a year now.

(A little background info--I took a break for a few months early in 2010, and before that, attending church was a struggle, laced with fear and panic attacks since my year-long stint as primary president in 2006. I had intense traumatic experiences with the bishop and others in the ward even prior to Scott's coming out in 2008 and the subsequent additional trauma that ensued with our church leaders and others. Nevertheless, my testimony was strong, so I endured the discomfort and continued to attend and fulfill various callings until my "break".)

But today I really struggled with being at church. I tried to seek the spirit in prayer, specifically during the sacrament ordinance. But I felt nothing, and my mind wandered to the experience of our third pride celebration last Sunday as we walked in the parade with the Utah Gay Father's Association. The euphoria and chills I experienced as the crowds of people along the parade route cheered on the fathers (some with, some without their children) was much more powerful than the "nothing" I felt at church today, and I desperately wanted to feel something. Where is my testimony going?

The talks in Sacrament meeting were good. They were on missionary work, but focused on unconditional love and not judging others. The theme continued in Sunday School as we discussed some key parables in the new testament, and loving and serving others came up several times. I really allowed my mind to wander as the relief society lesson focused on obedience, and it seemed that not many others were really paying attention either, because there were very few comments and little discussion.

After church as I was conversing with Scott, he mentioned that there was an article in this month's Ensign magazine encouraging members to do all they can to promote family. I found the article and read it. Gay marriage was not specifically mentioned, but was strongly alluded to. I only read through the article once, and trying to put a positive spin on it, I allowed myself to think about the fact that I am all for strengthening and promoting family, and that I wanted to re-read the article and find the good in it.

Various friends on facebook, however, were discussing the flaws of the article, and I realized that they were probably right. That the article was written with the gay marriage battle in mind, and that my enjoyable participation in the pride festival last week places me as one who is calling evil good and good evil, one who is in the great and spacious building. (At least according to the article...)

Then mix with that with an article in the deseret news today about how gay-rights activists ask for tolerance, but are not tolerant of those on the other side of the issue. Then the tony awards tonight, (so many awesome moments with Neil Patrick Harris!) and the success of the "Book of Mormon" Musical. Then there are my feelings from reading part of "Goodbye, I love you" by Carol Lynn Pearson today, and my emotions and thoughts are just so jumbled and confused and troubled right now.

Where do I stand with the church? Where do I stand with gay rights? Where is my life heading with regards to these two things? Can they continue to co-exist without tearing me apart? And all of this with trying to support my family--my kids and my best friend (aka legal husband). We are doing our damn best to make family the center of our lives, in the middle of chaos called life, and then an article about family in the Ensign puts us on the "evil" side of the issue, when it is the church's teaching on family and its influence on Scott's youth that has us where we are in the first place!

If I despise gay rights, then I am not taking care of my family. Scott and I would not get along, and my children would not have the stable situation right now with both of their parents raising them together. If I despise gay rights, then I am denying what is in my heart.

But if I embrace gay rights, I am the evil one, the deceived and worldly spacious building-dweller. I am the enemy to family and society.

No wonder I feel nothing at church any more. The constant battle is taking its toll, and it has been just a bit too much for me to handle today.

I'm sure this troubled feeling is momentary. Maybe the coming week will bring moments of clarity for me, and all will again be well.

I hope.

12 comments:

Chedner said...

A few thoughts:

1) "... the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate ... " (2 Nephi 9:41)

2) No One Is Alone -- (the lyrics)

3) Your heart is in the right place, desiring to do what is right. I have complete faith that you will receive your due happiness, joy, peace, and rest. I pray that it will be felt now.

MoHoHawaii said...

You are by nature a loving person. It's one of your gifts. Don't let anyone convince you to close your heart to others.

I think reconciliation is possible. Carol Lynn Pearson has done it. She understands the issues, but she is capable of rolling with the punches.

I hope you'll be able to get what sustains you from the Church and still build a life full of joy and love for those who so rarely find welcome in Mormon circles today.

I just want you to know that I and many others hold you in high regard.

Much love and respect,
MHH

MoHoHawaii said...

P.S. Yeah, I'm disappointed with that Ensign article. I thought it was sugar-coated meanness, which to me is the worst kind. But so what? A few people at LDS Headquarters say unkind things. It doesn't mean much in the big picture. I hope my critique of that article didn't cause you distress.

darkdrearywilderness said...

Make sure you listen to the audio version of the Mormon Stories conference when it's released (on mormonstories.org). Carol Lynn Pearson and Joanna Brooks gave awesome talks, and one of the themes of the conference ended up being that it's possible to be both Mormon and progressive, no matter what the leaders say. Check out their facebook group too (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_177748555605512&ap=1). The MO 2.0 facebook group is good too (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_162246337141642&ap=1).

Scott N said...

I'm sorry you're struggling and conflicted. As others have mentioned, some (like CLP) have managed to find reconciliation--or to create it. It takes a strong individual to do that, but I think you're up to the task.

I wonder, though, if it's worth it? I'd like nothing more than for you to be happy and at peace. I worry about how difficult it is for someone with a "testimony" of gay rights to find peace in the church, and how fragile that peace is when they find it...

I've struggled, too, since leaving the church... My life would be measurably easier if you and the kids weren't still attending and believing, but I've tried to be careful never to appear to be pushing you in that direction--though it hasn't always been easy. I think that perhaps I've not been as successful the last week or two, and I'm sorry if I've contributed to your current state of unrest.

I'm here for you, as much as I (an apostate) am able to be.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the article yet. But I did have some thoughts. First, I always categorize my family as different than the regular cookie cutter type that fits into the regular or "traditional" mormon family. Statistically families like ours are in the minority in the big mormon family (I am assuming). So I usually refer to these articles as talking to the majority but maybe not to me specifically to my situation and my circumstance, because, my situation, my circumstance is so complicated and I am doing what works for me and for my family. And Dang, I sure care about my family and am trying to hold it all together.

Don't let this talk pull you apart. You have the bigger picture that others can't see. Like love, like acceptance, like still trying to keep a family together and still trying to do what is best for them. Isn't that what is important to love everyone no matter what...

Sarah said...

Chedner, thanks. That song was perfect!

Sarah said...

MoHoH: No worries--I was already having a weird day before I read your review. Thanks for your support!

Sarah said...

DDW--I actually wanted to go to that conference. Since Scott said he wasn't interested, and I had a ton of yardwork I wanted to get done, I shrugged it off. But I forgot that Scott of course wouldn't want to go because he is not at all Mormon any more. Maybe I was feeling weird on Sunday because I was supposed to be there at the conference. I'm glad it will be online. Thanks so much.

Sarah said...
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Sarah said...

Anonymous--Thank you. The talk was only one small piece of my being "troubled" on Sunday. I appreciate your thoughts.

darkdrearywilderness said...

Check out www.faceseast.org too.