(FYI, I get way spiritually personal in this blog post. At least I think I do, haha.)
I’ve been so sad about women in the church lately. My heart just hurts. I think many people can admit there are things that need to be fixed in the church for the well-being of the relief society and still control their emotions. But I can’t. It feels so personal. Why does it feel so personal?
And when it’s so personal, I don’t feel like talking about it with anyone for fear that someone will be offended and say something like “Well you just need to pray more.” I am terrified that someone will tell me that it’s my problem. And that’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re in so much pain.
Ordain Women came around on a Facebook page and then the Mormon Women Stand and it’s like we’re dividing ourselves. We are told to be one and if we are not one, we are not of God (D&C 38:27). We are dividing ourselves with one side as the “righteous” and the other as the “unrighteous” and that hurts so much. I learned last week that the relief society was founded to be a relief from many things including apathy. How often do we just want to scream out our own opinions and perspectives and then plug our ears and sing ABCs when others are talking? Maybe we’re so scared of being apostate. Maybe we fear anything that could lead us even a step down the wrong path.
But we are a church that believes in Jesus, our brother who spent his whole life with the suffering and with those who doubt and struggle. We are a church that believes in wearing white to the temple, because we are one and are equally loved by God.
So when I read the article last week about my general relief society presidency meeting with the Mormon Women Stand, I was just in a funk all week. And then it helped when my mom posted on Facebook the same thing–she was also in a funk. And it all led to just this weird funk and unhappiness. So yeah, it hit about 10am yesterday for me. Just sobbing.
I emailed the Mormon Women Stand, just asking for understanding of the phrase “without hesitation” and why that was needed and said that many people are really sad about just that small phrase. I found the address of the General Relief Society Presidency and started writing a letter of how upset I am and how many others are around me.
And then I prayed real hard and said, Why is this okay? Why does this feel so wrong? I know not everyone has my back, but I thought at least the highest women leaders would. Do they also support the statement of the Mormon Women Stand, that the church is only for women “without hesitation?” Where do I fit in with all of this, Father? Why do I believe in all of this? What is the point of trying so hard to make a difference if it’s not even wanted? I feel worthless, Father. I feel like I can’t bring anything to this church because my perspective is worthless and unwanted.
After I prayed, though, I felt this overwhelming comfort and peace in my heart, like someone was holding me really close. And I just started crying more (I’m already sobbing again as i write this, haha) I felt like someone was just listening to me with all ears. My sadness didn’t go away. But I felt peace. And you know when you get answers to prayers sometimes you just feel words coming to you? Or you see images or somehow your mind opens up and your thoughts completely change? Well however you describe it, this is what I felt:
I am so sorry, Anne. I am so, so sorry.
You are not alone. I’m here. And I love you.
And then my calling as sunday school teacher came up in my head. And then my patriarchal blessing. And then my baby blessing that says I have a long line of strong women in my family.
It was an answer of complete understanding. It wasn’t an answer asking me to pray more, to read my scriptures, and see the good in all of this. It was just an answer that said, I am with you, I understand you, and I am sorry. And that was perfect.
So there. I didn’t realize I was going to tell this whole story, but what is so hard sometimes is we look for people that have the same opinions online and sometimes those blog posts just make us angrier as people share their stories of feeling inadequate as a woman in the church. We need those posts to show awareness of what people are dealing with in their wards and stakes, but I feel like posting this because I don’t want any of my friends hiding behind corners in pure sadness or anger. I’m here if you need me. You’re not alone. I know that God is with me and loves me for who I am. I’ve always been a questioner and don’t believe things just because they’re said at the pulpit. I know God loves that about me because it says it in my patriarchal blessing and I feel it now.
One more thing about my answer to my prayer. I felt so needed. I know that it’s easy to walk away from the church when you feel like everyone is judgmental and imperfect and not christ-like–how could this church be the true one when there are so many problems? How can I try to fit in with all of this? But we need to hold together. We are asked to hold together even with our imperfections and our differences in opinion. If all of the women who feel discriminated at church leave, nothing is going to change.
I love you, women. Thank you for being here for me. I’m so grateful for my mom and my aunts and my grandmas and my friends who I can look up to. Thank you for listening and understanding and trying to understand. We need each other.