Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gay marriage in Utah?

'Twas the day after my gay friends began to legally marry.

In Utah!

At first I only saw the decision from the judge on Facebook. I didn't understand that there were actually people getting married, and more lining up to get married, in case it would all be shut down within hours or days.

As usual, it was a stressful day with the kids. In fact, it was the first day of the winter holiday break. So when I actually found out, I was in shock. And then I felt dread--dread for the topic coming up in church because it's all over the news. (I'm actually writing this months after the fact, because I found this unfinished draft in my list of blog posts.) Needless to say, I wasn't as happy about it as I always thought I would be. I wasn't sad about it, but just kind of in shock. My first reaction when I really found what was happening was to exclaim to the children, "Has hell frozen over? There is no way this is actually happening unless hell has frozen over." And maybe it had--the weather had been really cold.

But then the next morning, I woke up early to attend a stake choir practice for a Christmas program the following evening. Each ward was going to perform a song or two, but the concluding number, with a Stake choir and organ and piano accompaniment, was O Holy Night.

As I began to sing and paid attention to the beautiful, well-known words, I was overcome with emotion, I choked up on the words here and there, and I think some tears might have run down my cheeks...

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 
Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

It was a new and glorious morn. Couples rushed to the county offices to get marriage licenses, full of hope while their friends and family rejoiced! Many people showed love one to another, and oppression of a minority was, for a few days at least, ceasing.

Finally I was excited and emotional and everything I expected to be when same-sex marriage became legal in Utah. And there was no doubt in my mind that the hand of the Lord was in it, in everything falling into place for these wonderful people and families.

What a wonderful Christmas gift to so many this year. What a wonderful, beautiful gift.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wearing Pants

Today was the second annual "wear-pants-to-church day."

I was not brave enough last year. I figured I was enough of a spectacle even attending church at all, that I didn't want more attention. Also, with all of the media on the topic, I figured people would be curious as to whether I would participate, rebelling against the norm in yet another way.

But this year it felt right. I've been attending church regularly. Also, I participated in the "ordain women" movement, supporting my feminist friends by standing in line with my daughter and asking to get into the priesthood session of conference. I didn't expect to get in, but I was touched by those women to whom this means so much. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the session on the radio in my car on the way home, and then at home on my TV--the first time the session has been publicly broadcast for all to hear.

So wearing pants to church seemed like something I could do, and I was excited.

But I was amazed at how uncomfortable I felt. We arrived at church late, and though as I walked past one of my friends she pointed to my legs and gave me a thumbs up, and though no one else said anything, good or bad, I felt like I had a large scarlet S hanging around my neck.

It got worse in Relief Society when I was asked to say the closing prayer and then immediately asked to fill in for the chorister. I accepted, of course, but me--in pants--standing in front of everyone. I smiled and sang and gave it my all, the whole time thinking that everyone was starring at me and wondering what in the world I was wearing.

Toward the end of the lesson, I was on Facebook, reading things that my friends were posting about wearing pants to church. One particular article touched me--right before I was supposed get up for the closing music and prayer. 

It wasn't about making a statement. It wasn't about rebellion. It was about empathy, about understanding more fully how out-of-place some individuals feel at church and within our ward families. My heart was touched for those who suffer in silence, for those who feel like they stick out like a sore thumb for being different, even when they actually don't or when no one actually cares or actually judges them for how they are different. But somehow we've created a culture within Mormonism that makes many--if not all of us--feel that way in some way or another.

My heart was full as I lead the closing hymn and reverently spoke the closing prayer. I had walked in someone else's shoes, had felt how they might feel. 

What a great, uncomfortable experience.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Just another day...

I hope no one minds if I post about my evening, which to me seemed as it should be, while others would find it to be incredibly weird.

I had a medical procedure done this morning (ablation, to hopefully eliminate messy, painful periods) and the timing happened to fall on the date my 17 and 15 yo left for a youth conference. In other words, they weren't around to babysit me nor their younger brothers.

Scott lives near the hospital, so I drove to his apartment this morning, he took me to the hospital, and then picked me up this afternoon, leaving the boys for few minutes each time to do so (ages 12, 8, and 3).

We originally planned that I would spend the day recovering  at his place and then take the boys and I back home, but when it became obvious that I was not going to be able to drive myself home yet (due to anesthesia, narcotics, etc.), we decided that we should stay overnight. 

But Scott already had a date planned; a second date with a guy he likes that seems to like him back for once. I want him to be happy, so I honestly felt no resentment in just planning for him to keep his date. I tried to find someone to come stay with us for a couple of hours, but no luck. So we would all be in the care of my flighty 12 yo.

The evening was uneventful, thank goodness, and now I am sleeping in Scott's bed while he probably will be up all night working (freelance graphic design) to support our two households before his client meeting in the morning.

Just a day in my life, LOL.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building Bridges

Wow. I know it has been forever. So, so busy with job and five kids. And I guess I kind of abandoned the blog after one of the comments called me whiny. And I now have other "secret" forums where I am more likely to vent the whiny stuff.

But I have to share a quick experience.

I've been attempting this month to go back to church on my terms. I've managed to make it at minimum to Relief Society and at most the entire three hours for the past four weeks. When there is a lesson I'm not really into, I distract myself with my phone, or grading papers, or last week, crocheting flowers. :) Or if the teacher is one that I know in particular is difficult for me to listen to, then I will just find someone in the hall or library to talk to and sluff that portion. I really think I am probably going back more for the community and the friends and less for the gospel messages, but I get a bit of spiritual nourishment in the process.

Over the last year to 18 months I have probably averaged attending at least one meeting or class at church about once a month. And the times that I have been most reluctant to go back have been when I've felt inclined to make a comment that lead to awkwardness and sometimes a feeling of conflict within the room. So over the past month, I have pretty much kept my mouth shut.

This past Sunday the lesson in Relief Society was from the 2012 October General Conference: "I know it. I live it. I love it," by Ann M. Dibb. The teacher was a substitute and a sister in the ward that I don't really know. She indicated that she liked her lessons to be more of a discussion, so she asked questions and expected participation. One of the main topics she threw out to us toward the beginning of the lesson was whether or not any of us had been in a circumstance where we had a difficult time admitting that we are Mormon. As I pondered the question I thought, well yeah, now I think I sometimes don't want to admit it. But it's not really admitting it as much as it is that I am in a different place with Mormonism--less active and not believing everything any more. So sometimes I will say that I am sort of Mormon, or I'm honest and say I am Mormon but that I don't go to church very often. I never would have hesitated admitting my religious affiliation at all before my crisis of faith.

Anyway, I was sorta thinking through all this when a thought went through my mind and I decided that maybe I should share it. I hesitated at first, but that was okay because there were lots of other ladies participating and sharing their stories. Finally I raised my hand bravely and shared something like this:

"Many of you know that I have gay friends that I would stand up for. I am the adviser of a gay-straight alliance at the high school where I teach. Inevitably the topic of Mormons comes up once in a while with these students, and the Mormon-bashing begins. When that happens, I stand up for Mormonism by telling them that I am a Mormon and that I don't judge them and they know that I love them."

For once I said something that did not seem to make everyone awkward. In fact, the teacher began sharing a story about a gay man at her work that was hesitant to get to know her at first, that he might have expected that based on her age and religion that she would be judgmental of him. But soon he learned that she wasn't at all what he expected and they became good friends.

Another lady (that I also didn't know) shared another story about a gay friend of hers. I was amazed! I had used the "g" word in the room, and it did not catch on fire. The spirit didn't leave, and no one appeared to get tense and uncomfortable. I've always felt like I wanted to get people in my ward talking about the gay issue. Not about what is right and what is wrong and what is sin and what is happening to the morals of this world we live in. But about people. About love. About acceptance. About children of God.

This positive experience makes me want to continue to go back and to watch for opportunities to build bridges.