REASONS

I've sat to write this post a few times. I've wanted to put into words what I'm feeling, but each time I start, it takes a turn toward angry and bitter, and so I stop.

I don't want to be angry.

I don't want to be bitter.

I'm in a place now that has taken years to get to- nearly a decade- and the reality is that anger has very much been a part of the process, especially the past few years, propelling me through alongside a myriad of other emotions.

But I've made it through.

I'm at the end of the tunnel. There's light now, and occasionally, yes, there's still anger.

There's still hurt.

There's still betrayal.

Those feelings aren't all encompassing anymore, but they haven't entirely disappeared. They surface every time a new public statement is given (or not given), every time the chance for a bold declaration of love and inclusiveness is passed up, and every time someone is cruel and condescending toward those seeking more and different.

It's important for me to acknowledge that- to honor the fact that, while I've made it to a good place, everything isn't tied up in a nice, neat package, with every loose end snipped and tucked away. There are threads that remain, likely to unravel, and lids that might not close tightly for some time, if ever.

I'm accepting that, just as I accept that the anger I feel that drives me to be my most critical and exacting toward church policy and practice, and that others might call bitterness, stems from a place of sadness. It comes from a place of deep heartbreak, frustration, and a loss of trust. It comes from a lack of answers as much as it comes from the lack of a place to ask questions.

Occasionally, I'll entertain the idea that my church cares whether I choose to stay or go. It's purely hypothetical, of course, as it's been made clear time and time again that, as an institution, The Church has little interest in the goings of its members (other than to needlessly diagram the potential reasons for their leaving).

I sometimes imagine conversations that will never take place and questions that will never be asked that would do well to get to the heart of what can be done to convince those leaving that their concerns are valid, and to assure them there is a willingness to evolve so that the church that bears the name of the savior of the world is as open and welcoming as he was.

I wonder, at this point, what would it take for me to want to stay? What could possibly be said or done that would cause me to believe my voice, and the voices of those around me, are heard and counted?

An outright disavowal of the alt-right movement within the LDS church that goes beyond quoting past talks and essays posted years ago? Excommunicating those who preach white supremacy as being consistent with Mormon doctrine?

A change in wording allowing women to answer to God in the same way men do? A change in policy enabling women to participate equally in ordinances and leadership positions? A change in mentality, no longer reducing a woman to her ability to give birth and keep house?

An end to the notion that same-sex attraction is "okay," but two adults in a loving, committed same-sex relationship is a sin so grievous that a child must denounce their homosexual parent before they're permitted to be baptized (and even then, waiting an additional ten years beyond the age children of heterosexual parents are permitted to become members)? Maybe just bringing this policy down from revelation status?

Full transparency? Complete, accurate history made available to all?

An actual willingness to sit down and hear even just a few of the concerns that plague me?

Would it be enough? Any of it? And, if I were given the slightest of assurances that things will change, is there enough trust left that I could believe it?

In my heart, I already have my answer.

Logic tells me to leave, but I haven't just yet. While I'm slowly abandoning hope of creating change from the inside, I'm still lingering, very much on the outside, but waiting; weighing the options over and over again, better gaining clarity as to what's best for me and my family, but wondering if there could ever be a different outcome.




Perhaps I'm waiting for an olive branch- a sliver of hope that change is possible, and the slightest hint that my lifetime of membership and dedication meant enough that I will, at the very least, be missed.

In true Mormon analogy fashion that, active member or not, can never be erased, it feels like I'm at a train station. I have my ticket in one hand, my luggage in the other, and I'm scanning the crowd, looking for someone who is supposed to say goodbye, but it's clear no one is going to show up.



The train is ready to leave, but I'm still at the platform. I know I need to board. I know no one is coming to tell me goodbye, or even ask me to stay, but I still hesitate for longer than I should.

I'm waiting for a send off, when the one I'm waiting for bought my ticket and packed my bags.

Still, the crowd is not void of familiar faces. A departure from the station takes me away from a crowd of friends and loved ones.

I know they're concerned. I know they worry. I know they care.

This is one of the more difficult aspects to navigate, but it doesn't need to be.

Abandoning once shared beliefs does not mean an abandonment of those I shared them with. A shift in faith doesn't mean a loss of faith. Taking issue with doctrine, culture, and leadership is in no way an attack on those I care about who hold dear the same things I call into question.

No matter what my relationship with my church looks like in a month, a year, or five years from now,  I am forever grateful for the relationships I've built within it.

To those who have told me in no uncertain terms to leave and to let it go-

To those who view myself and others like me as a threat to the church, listed on the board in lessons among Ordain Women, same-sex marriage, and those who doubt Joseph Smith-

To those who sit in church every Sunday and talk about all the ways they've shown Christlike service, but openly shun and demean those with differing opinions and circumstances-

I said I don't want to be bitter, and I'm not. Let me say this:

You won't be the reason I leave. You don't get to chalk me up as another one who left because they were offended by another member, lacked faith, and became inactive.

But.

Should you consider what it might be like to be born into a religion, to spend your life surrounded by a community so steeped in a common culture, dedicating and giving of yourself to the church you're taught will save you, only to realize that church has no place for you and stands to break your heart and shatter your spirit; should you even begin to desire to empathize with those you cannot understand, it would do you a world of good, and lend just the slightest bit of authenticity to your self-bestowed accolades received in the name of serving and caring about others.

Not to mention, it might offer some perspective as to why those who are hurt, those who question, and those who leave, can't just let it go. At least not right away. A lifetime in the service of those who reject and betray, by action or lack thereof, isn't easily let go. Don't take it personally. It has very little, if anything, to do with you.

That doesn't mean you can't try to understand. And it doesn't mean you can't extend love (at the very least, respect), when you lack understanding.

In my heart of hearts, I know where I'm headed.

It doesn't mean it's easy, and it doesn't mean every loose end I've pulled out the past several years is tied up.

And it certainly doesn't mean my heart isn't broken.

But I do have hope. And healing.

And, you know, Gaga singing my anthem. You can't go wrong there.





No comments:

Post a Comment