Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rainbows and Dads

Our 8 year old son had an assignment to give a talk in primary today. The topic was something about being born into a family. He and I looked through The Friend last night, but then I didn't know if he wanted to use it or not, so on my way out the door this morning I grabbed some little books we have inherited (or borrowed indefinitely) from Scott's parents that are full of short talks and poems for LDS children to use as talks.

This son and I went to the church early (I had a short choir practice because we were singing today), and while we were sitting and waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, I perused the "family" section of each of the books I brought to find an appropriate talk. We found one in Talks for Tots, Volume 2 that he approved of, but I kept looking to see if I could find something better. In 101 Talks for Children (Copyright 1985 by Bookcraft, Inc. Author Marianne J. Shampton) a title caught my eye and I stopped to read it. Although is was not what he needed for today's talk, I hope one of the kids gets assigned a talk for Father's Day and can use it. I couldn't wait until Scott and the other children arrived so that I could show it to Scott. It had us giggling inappropriately through the sacrament. The title of the talk is also the title of this post, no lie! Here goes...

Rainbows and Dads

When I see a rainbow it reminds me that Heavenly Father loves me and is watching over me. Our fathers also love us and watch over us. They help us here on earth and remind us of our Heavenly Father's love.

Even the colors in the rainbow remind me of my dad:

Purple is for Royalty. My dad is a son of God.
Blue is for purity in both thought and deed.
Green is for life. We should try to live so we can be a family forever.
Red is for courage. My dad always does what is right.
Orange reminds me of a warm fire. My dad's smile makes me feel warm inside.
Yellow is like the sunshine. My dad brightens my day and makes me happy.

Somtimes when things go wrong it is like a rainy, stormy day, but my dad can change things so I feel happy and everything is better. He really brightens up my life.

I am thankful that God made rainbows and dads.

LOL. Isn't it sweet? If only the author knew what we were thinking about this talk. Probably best that she not know, honestly. :)

I think most of it fits Scott pretty well. Son of God? check. Pure in thought and deed? Um, mostly I think. :) Living to be a family forever? I think we are on the right path, following the spirit and our hearts. Courage? definitely! Always does what's right? any of us ALWAYS do what is right? I think he tries! Brightens my day and makes me happy? Absolutely for me, but I can't speak for the kids, although he generally tries to turn their frustrations into a joke of some sort, and usually gets a smile out of them.

Anyway, what made us laugh even harder is that we were both thinking the same thing: a blog post was essential for this one. Scott conceded to let me post it. Thanks, honey!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brigham Young: Prophet & Man

I am so intrigued by a post I read yesterday about Brigham Young that I have decided to re-post the quote here. I hope Daniel doesn't mind. :) He adds some extra comments about why he posted the quote that are worth reading, so I would recommend just going there to read it, but here is the quote itself if you'd rather stay here.

Before you read this, I want you to know that it does not give me a lower opinion of Brigham Young. I firmly believe he was a Prophet of God and did many great things leading the church in his day. What this does do for me is that it confirms to my heart that even prophets are men, and their words are influenced by their own opinions and the attitudes of the times in which they live. If I previously had any question regarding whether or not Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's Prophet, this helps me to believe more firmly that he is, even though I don't agree with absolutely everything he (and those under his jurisdiction) do and say regarding homosexuality and gay marriage.

The following is from a speech by Governor Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, Feb. 5th 1852. (I changed a few spelling mistakes because they were driving me crazy. I assume they just came from the original text.)

"Again to the subject before us; as to The men bearing rule; not one of the children of old Cain, have one particle of right to bear Rule in Government affairs from first to last, they have no business there. this privilege was taken from them by there own transgressions, and I cannot help it; and should you or I bear rule we ought to do it with dignity and honor before God. . .

. . . Therefore I will not consent for one moment to have an African dictate me or any Bren. with regard to Church or State Government. I may vary in my views from others, and they may think I am foolish in the things I have spoken, and think that they know more than I do, but I know I know more than they do. If the Africans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what business have they to bear rule in the State and Government affairs of this Territory or any others? . . .

. . . The Africans are Citizens, . . . It is our duty to take care of them, and administer to them in all the acts of humanity, and kindness, they shall have the right of Citizenship, but shall not have the right to dictate in Church and State matters. The abolitionists of the east, have cirest them them, and. their whole argument are calculated to darken Counsel, as it was here yesterday. As for our bills passing here, we may lay the foundation for what? for men to come here from Africa or else where; by hundreds of thousands. When these men come here from the Islands, are they going to hold offices in Government No. It is for men who understand the knowledge of Government affairs to hold such offices, and on the other make provisions for them to plow, and to reap, and enjoy all that human beings can enjoy, and we protect them in it. Do we know how to amilerate the condition of these people? we do. Suppose that five thousands of them come from the pacific Islands, and ten or fifteen thousands from Japan, or from China, not one soul of them would know how to vote for a Government officer, they therefore ought not in the first thing have anything to do in Government affairs.

What the Gentiles are doing we are consenting to do. What we are trying to do to day is to make the Negro equal with us in all our privilege. My voice shall be against all the day long. I shall not consent for one moment I will will call them a counsel. I say I will not consent for one moment for you to lay a plan to bring a curse upon this people. I shall not be while I am here."

(Brigham Young Addresses, Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated Feb. 5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah. )

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love is Spoken Here

My sister invited me to her Stake Relief Society Enrichment Night tonight. I wasn't sure I wanted to go. After a hard week with politics, heartaches, and midterm grades, I felt I needed to use my time grading papers and actually being a mom to my children for once, but how could I even consider missing this chance to hear Janice Kapp Perry speak and sing? Soon it was all arranged: Scott picked up my mom on the way home from work and she joined us for dinner; my brother's wife came and picked us up at my house, and off we went to meet my sister. It was actually just what I needed. One evening of spiritual peace, of singing my guts out, of laughing so hard I was crying, of good food and fun times with the women in my family.

Toward the beginning, after saying a few things, Sister Perry had us join her in singing a medley of some of the primary songs she has written. They all had such meaning to me, and I smiled as I sang with my voice and my heart, memories flooding back to me with each song. It started with "A Child's Prayer" and ended with "Love is Spoken Here", and I thought of our courtship and times singing these duets with Scott at his parents' piano, or as we hiked down the Lake Desolation trail together. "Army of Helaman" reminded me of Scott's missionary farewell, when he and several other of our male choir friends from high school sang it, many of them already with their mission calls, others working on putting their papers in to serve missions. "I love to See the Temple" reminded me of my own days as a child in primary, when the Jordan River temple was being built. "I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ" brought back fond memories of our 3-4 year old "sunbeam" son (who is now 11) singing every word with precision and enthusiasm. (I wish I had that on video.) And "I'm trying to be like Jesus" reminded me that I need to try harder to be like Him in all that I do and say. I'm afraid that my attitude has not been very Christlike this week, and I can definitely do better.

There was humorous interaction between Brother and Sister Perry, as he joined her with a few words in their own family song, and then planted a passionate kiss on her. She got him back after waiting for him to switch the audio back on at the podium and by saying something to the effect of "He still has the power to turn me on." They were adorable, just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. I needed a good laugh and I got it.

At the end she shared an amazing story with us. She learned about a poem President Hinckley had written through a niece of hers that was sick with cancer. The niece suggested that she ask him if she could set it to music. She timidly wrote him a letter, he responded that it would be great, but to make sure it got his approval before publishing it in a book of new hymns.

The hymn was written, and she sent it off to the Prophet for approval. Meanwhile, her niece passed away and the song was printed and sung at the funeral. Two weeks later, President Hinckley passed away. Janice was sad that she had never received his approval for publication of the hymn. The next day, she received a letter in the mail from President Hinckley giving her the approval. Apparently one of the last things he did before leaving his office on Friday was to write this letter. His secretary mailed it on Saturday, he passed away on Sunday, and Monday she received it in the mail. Less than a week later, the Tabernacle Choir sang it at his funeral. The story gave me chills. The hymn is "What is This Thing That Men Call Death"

What is this thing that men call death,
This quiet passing in the night?
'Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.

O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.

There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict'ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.

I have to thank my Heavenly Father tonight for giving me this experience: to sing, to laugh, to feel the spirit and peace in my heart, knowing that the gospel is true, and no matter what has transpired in the Utah legislature this past week, God is mindful of all of his children. He has a plan for each of us, and we need to have faith in Him, let Him calm our fears, give us strength and peace beyond our tears and anger. We may not understand why this is happening or how it will turn out in the years and eternities to come, but somehow everything will work out the way it is supposed to.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine Highlight

Once in a while, Scott has a "down" day. I've started to recognize that it has to do with longing and wondering what it would be like to have a boyfriend. One of these times happened last weekend, so it was on my mind a bit during the week, although not consuming me, just there nagging me a bit.

Later in the week, Scott was helping a couple of our friends understand their own relationship and used examples from his and my relationship to get his points across. He cc'd me into the emails, and they were an incredible comfort to me. His words alone would have been enough for a great Valentine's Day. I know there are those of you out there that worry about me, and I want to assure you that I am fine, we are fine, and life is good for our immediate family. Here are some excerpts from his emails:

Our Relationship
The relationship that Sarah and I have...

I'm pretty sure that she has thought: "I love him from the most inner part of my soul and yet, I don't think he feels that for me."

The thing about thoughts like these is that there's just enough truth in them to make them feel real, but they're really lies.

I do love Sarah "from the most inner part of [my] soul". It's true that the love that I feel for her probably differs from what she feels for me, and by some measures it may be "less", but that doesn't make it any less valid or real. Even if she does love me "more" than I love her, I still love her. This isn't a contest to see who can love each other more, and the love doesn't need to be exactly evenly balanced in every aspect for a relationship to work. Two people can be very happy together even if one loves "more" than the other. The trick is for both to love as much as they can (and for the one who is loved "less" not to feel slighted or cheated, but to be grateful for what he or she has).

Happiness and Commitment
Next thought...

Is Sarah keeping me from happiness? I can't deny that I've wondered what it might be like to be in a relationship with a man. I see you and him together and I wish I could be as close (physically and emotionally) to a man as the two of you are.

But would I be happier? If Sarah came to me today and said "I'm letting you go--go find the man of your dreams" I would be lost. I need her. I don't think I could be happy without her. The only way I could possibly be happy in a relationship with a guy is if she was involved too. If I have to choose between her and any man I'll choose her, hands down. I'd rather be with her and deal with the longing for something more than actually have that something more and lose her.

When Sarah and I were married we promised each other that divorce would never be an option. We told each other that no matter what problems arose we would find a way to work through them and we would stay together. Neither of us forsaw the doozy of an problem that a mixed-orientation marriage can present.

We're a bit more realistic in our view now, I think. I'm pretty sure that both of us realize that divorce is sometimes necessary and that it's sometimes the best choice. We still don't feel like it's the best choice for us, right now, but we recognize that for some people it might be.

But here's how I see our relationship... When we got married we made a covenant, not only with each other, but also with God. We're in a three-way contract, and the only way out of that contract is by the consent of all three parties. If there ever comes a time that we divorce, it will be because both Sarah and I feel like it is the right thing to do, and because we feel like God thinks it's the right thing for us to do.

You go into a relationship with that mindset and you maintain that mindset, and commitment won't be an issue. It's like they always told us when we were kids in elementary school: decide right now that you're not going to do drugs, so that when you're actually in a situation where someone is asking you to do drugs you won't have to make the decision on the spot, because you'll have already made it. Same concept. You decide before you commit to someone that that commitment means something, and that you'll never break it, and then the decision has been made and you never have to decide again.

I know it's tough. And like I said, I've lived with Sarah long enough to know that there's no switch that you can flip from "pessimism" to "optimism". It's going to take some conscious effort and it's not going to happen overnight. But you can change. Sarah isn't as negative as she used to be. She's gotten better, and she's getting better, and you can too.

A relationship works best when there's open communication between both parties. I firmly believe this. You don't have to share every single iota of every aspect of your days or your feelings. But when something matters to one person the other person should know about it.

Communication is a two-way road, though, and this is the part I haven't talked to you about, and the part that you probably both need to hear. It's just as important to know how to listen as it is to know how to speak.

Example: Not too long ago, it was not at all unusual for a conversation between Sarah and I to go terribly wrong. It would start out okay... One of us would sense that the other had an issue or a problem (for the sake of this example I'm going to say that Sarah's the one with the problem), and so I would ask what was wrong. Sarah would explain what was bothering her, and I would immediately get either (1) defensive or (2) distraught. The defensive reaction was when I felt like she was accusing me of something unjustly. The distraught reaction was when I felt like she was accusing me of something with justification.

No matter what, though, I always reacted as though the reason she was sharing how she felt with me is that she felt like it was somehow my fault that she felt that way. This went both ways--when I shared a problem with her, she reacted in much the same way.

After I came out to her, we promised honesty and openness, and part of that included a promised effort to not take anything personally. We've actually done pretty well at that. I can listen to her explaining how she feels without feeling like I've done something to make her feel that way, and she can do the same for me.

That has made all the difference.

Before, communication was something we did as a last resort, because a problem had gotten so big and festered for so long that it had to be let out. Otherwise, we kept quiet about things that bothered us because we knew that the other person would react defensively or despairingly. We didn't like the reaction, so we didn't say anything.

Now we can talk about things before they get out of hand, and our conversations are easy and pleasant. There is no blame, no shame, and no guilt. We are closer now than we have ever been.

I should clarify something... In truth, it often is the case that one of us is the cause of the other's distress. So it's not that we've stopped falsely assigning blame. It's just that we've stopped assigning blame at all, choosing to focus on the solution instead of the problem.

Just wanted to share his insights. He is incredible, and I am so lucky to have him.

Can you even believe this?

Full page ad in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune. I am literally speechless. As you know, I have already emailed and called the Governor, emailed my state senator and representative. The best thing to do now is pray, I think.

God help us and our loved ones to make it through this dark time!

I received this email from my state representative a couple of days ago. I am going to pray for him, too, I think.

Thank you for your email. This is certainly a controversial issue and has stirred many emotional responses on both sides. I have gotten copies of the bills which I will study this weekend so that I understand better what the bill is proposing. I am fine with protecting the rights of all individuals. However I am concerned that some bills are more of a political statement than an effort to fix problems. After my review of the bills, I will listen carefully to the debate and get input from both sides so that I can vote in an informed manner.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"All Hail Plankton"

Yesterday I was so excited to read about Governor Huntsman's stance on the whole Common Grounds initiative. I honestly never voted for the guy because of his views on school vouchers and such, so this has completely changed my view of him. For all the courage people tell Scott and I that we have, it is nothing compared to our Governor taking a stance on this. Amazing!

Meanwhile, I get an email last night sent to a list I am on for Utah Republican Women, asking us to spread the word about a gathering at the capitol today to voice disapproval of Governor Huntsman's statement:

Family Coalition Sets News Conference
in Response to Governor's Support of Gay Unions

Salt Lake City, Utah, February 10, 2009. Members of the Utah Legislature and leaders of Utah’s Pro-Family groups have formed the "Utah Coalition for Traditional Families" have scheduled a news conference on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in the House Building located on the west side of the Utah State Capitol Plaza. This event is in response to Governor Huntsman’s remarks in support of the “Common Ground Initiative,” a group of bills that advocate for the homosexual lifestyle and undermine the legal status of Traditional Marriage in Utah.

Utah legislators, legal experts, and pro-family groups will respond to the announcement by Governor’s spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, that Governor Huntsman "supports civil unions” and that he “backs Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative . . ,” legislation that would provide special rights to those who identify themselves as homosexual.

The Coalition issued this collective statement: "We are disappointed that the Governor would join with Equality Utah and the majority of Democrats in the legislature in a position which is in opposition to the majority of Utahns, most of the Utah legislature, and his Republican Party."

The Coalition cites the Republican governor's opposition to his party's own platform which says 'We call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it.”

All citizens who wish to let Governor Huntsman know of their views on his position are urged to attend this news conference.

Oh, I was so ticked off! I wrote an email back to the sender in response and carbon copied it to my state senator and representative. This just goes to show that it is not a great idea for me to respond to things immediately when I am hot under the collar:

Dear "Utah Coalition for Traditional Families",

Please do some research before you advertise this hateful response to Governor Huntsman.

My husband is an active Mormon and also happens to be gay. The fact that he could be fired with no legal consequences of discrimination for his sexual orientation infuriates me.

I have been an active participant in the republican party for many years, held caucuses at my home, put up yard signs, etc. This kind of behavior from the republican party is childish and ridiculous, and I no longer wish to be associated with it.

Get to know just how this affects people, me an active LDS straight woman who has done nothing wrong, and my husband who has chosen to live a lifestyle that aligns with the teachings of the LDS church, and yet we both live in fear of job security and our church membership because we have chosen to take a stance on gay issues like this one.

This bill in the legislature will NOT hurt the traditional family, will NOT lead to gay marriage in Utah. It is about basic civil rights for people who are born differently than you, that are some of the sweetest people I have ever met.

Get your head out of the sand and learn something. Walk in MY shoes for a while.

And praise Governor Huntsman for his willingness to take a stand in the midst of this ridiculous Utah/LDS culture of ours.

Just my 2 cents. I am SOOO done supporting the Republican party.

This morning when I woke up, I was still ticked off. I was trying to get it off my mind before leaving for work and was discussing it with Scott. For some reason the Spongebob Movie came to mind. Why does it feel like a lot of these church-going people are going around with buckets on their heads, bowing down and chanting "All Hail Plankton!" "Save traditional families." (Scott and I chuckled at that thought, and as you know, laughter is always the best medicine.)

The common grounds initiative has NOTHING to do with their precious marriage between a man and a woman. What about MY traditional marriage and family that are affected by the fact that my husband can be discriminated against when it comes to employment? Does that mean nothing?!

This thought kind of reminded me of Abelard's thoughtful post relating this whole thing to Hitler--an amazing and scary parallel that I had never thought of before.

As I was mulling it all over in my head on my way to school this morning, another movie quote entered my head, this time from my favorite movie Mary Poppins. It goes something like this: "Sometimes, by no fault of his own, your father cannot see past the end of his nose." By the end of the movie, the father comes around, and Mary Poppins has been oh-so patient with him. I want to be like Mary Poppins, patiently expressing my view and patiently waiting for the day that these people will also be able to see past the ends of their noses and realize what they have done. Will it actually happen? I hope so!

God bless me with patience, with a heart full of mercy and forgiveness during the time that it takes to get to that point!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Holding to Truth

Last Sunday I promised a followup today about the upcoming Relief Society Lesson, "Beware the bitter fruits of Apostasy". Just a review of that post, that my "favorite" teacher was not going to teach the lesson because it was ward conference and a member of the stake relief society presidency taught it instead. I was still a bit worried about the lesson because of its content, such as this quote:

Joseph Smith taught the importance of sustaining our Church leaders: "That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, ...that man is in the high road to apostasy."

Instead of just focusing on Relief Society, I want to go back to the previous meeting as well, Sunday School, in which we were studying lesson 6 on Revelation. The beginning of the lesson was wonderful, reminding me of scriptures like D&C 8:2-3, "Behold I will tell you in your mind and in your heart..." and D&C 6:22-23, "Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter?" and D&C 98:12, revelation comes a little at a time, "Line upon line, precept upon precept." I especially liked this quote from Elder Richard G. Scott:

"When we seek inspiration to help make decisions, the Lord gives gentle promptings. These require us to think, to exercise faith, to work, to struggle at times, and to act. Seldom does the whole answer to a decisively important matter or complex problem come all at once. More often, it comes a piece at a time, without the end in sight." (Oct. 1989 Conference)

Boy, does that not describe what I have gone through over the last few months, trying to reconcile things and understand God's message for me? I was feeling really good and uplifted, secure with the peace in my heart and mind, but of course the lesson had to end on a slippery slope:

"The First Presidency said: "When ... inspiration conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. ... Anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable." (James R. Clark)

In mathematics, statistics is an interesting course to study because you learn that you can literally make statistics say anything you want them to say. No matter what point of view you have on something, you can always find some statistics somewhere that will back your opinion. Why am I starting to feel that way about scriptures and quotes from church leaders?

I could spend a long time pondering that one, but onto Relief Society instead...

Scott wanted to stay and listen to the lesson, but decided to attend Priesthood like a good boy. His quorum has been a lesson behind us, and no doubt he thought our lesson would be more exciting. With a peck and a promise to pray for me, he was off. Little did we know that it was he who needed my prayers as he sat through the more uncomfortable of the two lessons (and the same lesson in the book), but I will let him tell that story if he chooses to.

It was almost as if the events in my Relief Society over the last few months paved the way for today to be a great lesson. The teacher did not deviate from the lesson, she did not ask for comments from class members; when she shared personal experiences, they were vague and spiritual. There was no chance for anyone to bring up Prop 8 even though I think many might have a view that it fits perfectly with the lesson.

The teacher presented this statement that made a big impact on me:

"Do not let what you don't know and understand diminish what you do know."

She heard a church speaker, John Lund, share this in a special fireside she attended as part of a church history tour during the summer.

As I continued to listen to the lesson, which was non-condemning, but presented in a spirit of love and caution, I really mulled this last quote over in my head.

  • I know that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
  • I don't know if relationships between two people of the same gender might also be ordained of God, but that doesn't diminish what I know already.
  • I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that President Monson is now the Prophet and God's mouthpiece on the earth.
  • I don't know if every little thing that President Monson says is the word of God, for he is still a man and is not infallible, but that does not need to diminish my testimony of him as a prophet nor my ability to sustain him and my desire to pray for him.
  • I know what the spirit feels like and how to receive and recognize personal revelation.
  • I don't know how the revelation I have felt over the last few months fits with the quote at the end of the Sunday School lesson, but that does not diminish the fact that God has spoken peace to my mind and my heart, and I don't need to feel apostate about knowing that.
I could keep going...

Near the end of the lesson, the Stake Relief Society president shared a thought that as we raise our families, it is important that we are not critical of the leaders of the church. Right now I am actually grateful that I heard my mom be critical at times of leaders, but I also realized that my children have heard my criticism lately and that I need to be careful to point out times when I feel that the Prophet is truly inspired, or all they will ever remember is the negative. What a good but gentle reminder to me that as I teach my children to be open, loving and accepting of all of God's children, I still have a responsibility to teach them the gospel and what I know is true.

The lesson closed with remarks from the Stake president. He spoke of how Satan knows that the best way to influence the world is through the women. If he can pull the women down, then the men and the children and all of society will follow. Scott mentioned to me recently that if it weren't for me and the kids, he would probably not be active in the church any more. I felt the love and the spirit in the President's words, knowing that I need to be careful that there is balance in what I do and say because I can have an incredible influence for Good or BAD at home and at school.

The highlight of the day was when the stake president literally chased me across the relief society room to talk to me personally before I left. He clasped my hands in his and said with tender emotion, "I love you Sarah, and I hope that you believe that I truly do." I responded something about sorry we had never made an appointment to visit with him, that it has been an incredible journey for us but that we are doing well, and that I could feel of his sincere love for me. The look on his face showed genuine concern that he had possibly ever hurt or offended me, and then understanding that I truly did feel of his love and concern for me and Scott.

I left the room and tears misted up in my eyes, and I felt strengthened as I arrived at the car to find Scott upset about his lesson experience. It has been so great to be able to buoy each other up as needed. God gives us the experiences we need most of the time to help each other. When I am weak, he is strong. When he is weak, I am strong. When we are both weak, we lean on each other the best we can. And when we are both strong, miracles happen.

It has been a good day.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Interviews and Spiritual Ramblings

The interviews for the documentary that Reed Cowan is producing (with Carol Lynn Pearson and Emily Pearson as consultants) were incredible! I was so touched as I listened to the story of the parents from St. George who interviewed before us. I felt a kinship with them, and as the wife went off camera, I ran up to embrace her. With tears running down our faces, though we had never met before, a spirit of incredible love for our Heavenly Father and all of his children, along with the hardship of reconciling the church we love with our feelings, instantly bonded us together.

Bother! I was crying, and it was my turn. I quickly slipped in the restroom, checked my hair and makeup in the mirror, glanced at my red eyes, and then shrugged at my appearance and went on to face the task before me.

It is all a bit of a blur. Reed asked me why I was there, why I wasn't bitter about finding out that Scott is gay, what kind of impact I think the church has on encouraging young men to marry, even though it often affects a wife and children when they come to terms with their gay feelings and/or realize that they won't change. I DO remember the incredible feeling I had as I answered each question and shared my story, wondering how the words that were flowing from my lips came so easily, and with passionate feeling but no embarrassing tears. What an incredible blessing!

The entire room was touched beyond belief when our 12-year-old daughter chose to go on camera even after Reed Cowan strongly cautioned her of the possible consequences. Eyes were full of tears as she confidently expressed how much Heavenly Father loves all of His children, even if they are gay.

Only one thing bothered me. It seemed that most or all of those who were there at the time we were had chosen to leave the church because of their experiences with gay loved ones and proposition 8. I wondered if our family could possibly be in line to follow that path.

After we got home from the interviews, I attended the baptism of a child in our ward with my 8-year-old son. It was easy to put a smile on my face from the events that morning, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to be at church at that moment. It seemed weird to be at a baptism where someone was becoming a new member of the church while thinking about what actually leads to someone choosing to leave the church.

The opening song was "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus" and as I sang, the words confirmed to me that I am doing just that, trying to love as He did, trying to love my neighbor and learning to serve my friends.

I found myself analyzing the simple talks given by youth (siblings of the baptismal candidate). One closed her talk by saying, "Being in the church is the best thing you can do." Hmmm, is it really? Maybe for some people. Were the parents that I met that morning not doing the best thing that they personally could do, even though they had chosen to leave the church that meant the world to them, that had been in their family for generations? I felt the spirit and the love in their words, and I think that God knows they are doing the best they can with loving their two gay children and the new husband of their son. They have not forsaken God or the gospel of Jesus Christ, just the church itself that acts as a corporation instead of as a true representative of Christ. (I'm kind of quoting their words here about the church, not exactly my own personal feelings.)

The other speaker quoted a scripture that says "the spirit cannot dwell in unholy temples" and then followed up with the comment that in order to have the Holy Ghost to be with us, we have to keep the commandments. I get the impression that some people believe keeping the commandments also includes following every word that the Prophet speaks. If that is the case, then by not agreeing with Prop 8, am I not considered by some to be an "unholy temple" and thereby not worthy of the Holy Ghost? Then why do I think I have felt the Holy Ghost more strongly this week than ever? I felt the spirit at the interview yesterday, and also earlier in the week while helping some friends to understand their own personal revelation from God and their choices to love and date someone of the same gender. I refuse to believe that these wonderful and peaceful feelings could be from the adversary.

After the closing prayer, another young woman in this family began to play postlude on the piano. The song she chose? "I'll walk with you." My heart lifted from the pensive and confusing thoughts I have expressed above and I began to audibly sing the words as she played. Everyone was standing up, getting ready to leave, and they looked at me and smiled as I sang. I was again filled with the sweet peace of knowing that I am following God's plan for me at this time.

Today church was awesome. Before the sacrament song even started, my heart started pounding and I knew that I had to bear my testimony. I got up immediately after the sacrament. I was calm and composed, and not at all tearful, which is really weird for me. I shared about what was in my last post, only more vague, about how things in my patriarchal blessing are coming to pass, about how I am feeling God's direction in my life stronger than ever before, about how I am blessed as I serve others and bring them closer to their Savior, how I am so grateful to have Scott in my life, how I am blessed with such wonderful children, especially our daughter, who has already developed such a strong testimony and has amazing courage and understanding for someone of her age.

Then Sunday School was about personal revelation. The lesson was taught by my good friend that reads my blog and she always does a great job! I actually commented a few times, based on my recent experiences, and it felt really good. Relief Society was about individual worth, specifically our worth as women and daughters of God, and it was really uplifting as well. I felt an incredible spirit as we sang the closing hymn I chose, "I am a child of God." I was uplifted as I looked at the face of each woman in the room: some were smiling, others crying, but undeniably everyone seemed to be as touched as I was.

I am grateful to have had such a spiritual and uplifting weekend, especially after a hard evening Friday night openly discussing things with Scott's parents. The Moho party was wonderful, and I met a few kindred spirits face-to-face for the first time, knowing them already so well from their blogs. We had all gay-friendly groups represented: a straight heterosexual couple, a few mixed orientation marriage couples (one straight wife without her spouse), a married gay couple, boys that are dating boys, boys that are single and celibate and church-going, children galore! And I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all. Thank your for bringing your smiles and laughter and love (and even tears, sometimes) into our home. We are so grateful for all of our friends, and wish more of you could be with us in person, although you are all with us in spirit and we think of each of you often.

Oh, one last thing, good news! My "favorite" teacher is not teaching the lesson next week ("Beware the bitter fruits of apostacy") because it is ward conference and a member of the stake relief society presidency is going to teach, so maybe I will attend it after all, although I am still a bit worried about the lesson. I was scanning it today and read this quote:

Joseph Smith taught the importance of sustaining our Church leaders: "That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, ...that man is in the high road to apostasy."

Stay tuned next week for the results of that...