Spirit

For having a husband that wants to cuddle with me in the mornings.

For friends that call me.

For loving parents.

For the power of scriptures and general conference talks that gave me confidence in a meeting this week.

For my husband holding my face and kissing my forehead.

For the German leader who called me this week and was so happy we could fix a computer error he said, “I’m going to mail you an ice cream cone right now! What flavor would you like?”

For receiving the full-time position as the Customer Satisfaction Subject Matter Expert at work.

For benefits.

For my husband’s patience.

For my husband’s testimony of God’s glorious, eternal plan for us.

For twinkle lights.

For donuts.

For the strength that comes after pain and sadness.

For Megan calling me this week, confirming that we are soul sisters.

For God helping me notice what my spirit craves.

For heaters, fleece blankets, and pillows.

For good doctors.

For fuzzy socks.

For chapstick.

For the hour I get to spend each Friday speaking with 9-year-old Yongzhen on Skype.

For Jesus Christ’s mercy.

For the powerful women in my ward–Karina and Haley.

For gold leaves in the fall.

For Pinterest.

For my good bishop.

For my good boss.

For kind words.

For Spencer. Spencer. Spencer.

 

God is working

My 2015 new years resolution is about faith. I didn’t have a specific goal in mind when I started thinking about resolutions. I just wanted to understand what it means to have faith and make it tangible for me, whatever that meant.

Near the end of 2014, my mom told me how she has started to pray. Instead of saying, “Please help me, God, please help me,” she said things like, “I know You are aware of this problem. I know You care. I know You love me. I know You are helping me.”

She implemented faith straight into her sentences. I started to pray like this.

I thought of Grandma and Grandpa Plummer’s testimony of the scripture Mark 11:22-24. Jesus says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” They were blown away by the present tense of the verb “receive.” Believe that you are receiving the things you desire right now. And you shall have them. They would tape their dreams to their mirrors and write them in present tense, believing they receive them now.

Last December, I wrote one of Spencer and my dreams and pasted it on our refrigerator:

Faith

I thought of Grandma and Grandpa Lindsay and Great Grandma Allen. I thought of how often I have heard them testify of Jesus Christ. I’ve always known how much they love the gospel and their knowledge of God’s love for them. They show their faith by testifying to their children and grandchildren.

Starting at the beginning of this year, I started to verbalize my love for Heavenly Father more. This has been most difficult for me. My testimony is strong, but simple, and I feel uncomfortable sharing my personal testimony.

When Spencer worried about whether or not he would receive an internship before graduating, I stuttered through my words as I tried verbalizing faith, even though I wasn’t sure myself. “I know… I know God loves you, Spence… and I know He’s aware of your desires. I know He’s working on this.”

Every time we had leftover money in our bank account at the end of the month, I’d force out a, “We were so blessed this month. Look at how much fun we had together, and we still got through school and paid off all of our bills. We have been so blessed.”

Every morning from January until May, I got in my car and prayed out loud. I am most anxious when I wake up and before I go to sleep. I felt if I prayed out loud all the way to work, I wouldn’t worry about the German leaders I had to call with bad news, or worry if I would get an angry phone call.

I thought Spencer would receive an internship in March, when his classmates got theirs and when companies were hiring. He didn’t get an internship in March. I kept struggling in April and in May to say out loud, “Heavenly Father knows what we want and He knows what we need. This is going to happen.” My prayers turned less into “I know…” and more into “I need more faith, God. Please help me have faith.”

Two months later, the chair of the mining department walked up to Spencer and asked if he was looking for an internship. The chair told a mining company that Spencer was a great student and a hard worker. A week later, Spencer had an internship. He didn’t apply. It was handed to him.

I’m learning to have more faith. I’m learning that faith brings joy and not fear of the world. I’m learning over and over that God wants me to expect miracles.

I’ve been looking back at the two years Spencer and I have been married. This year especially has been a hard year for us–work, school, money, church. But we are still going strong. I’m amazed by how much we have learned about each other. It is a beautiful adventure. While I’ve been looking back, I’ve been thinking a lot about false perceptions on marriage and love in the world, and specifically with young people in my religion.

I think we all know before we get married that whoever we marry, it’s going to be hard and it won’t be perfect. But I don’t think we really know until it’s in the present and things really aren’t perfect and things really are hard.

As a teenager I always wrote down the perfect personality for my husband. And at my church we would talk about our husband as a prince and the temple as our castle (perks of living in a Mormon culture–Disney is legit!). And what I often heard was stories of profound spiritual experiences, of women receiving very straight-forward, spiritual answers from God that their husband was the one. I heard other stories or beliefs of women who felt that they “without a doubt” knew their spouse in the pre-mortal life. Destiny.

 Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE those stories. I goo goo and gah gah at those stories. But when marriage was on the table for Spencer and me, I wasn’t getting those revelations or those profound answers from God. I didn’t have a dream of a deep bellowing voice from the clouds saying, “You will marry Spencer of Bountiful! German speaker, Star Wars lover, and future mining engineer!”

When I was in Mexico with my two best friends in 2012, Spencer and I were really starting to think about marriage. After whimpers and anxiety and annoyance at God for not telling me what to do, I realized that choosing who I would marry was mine to choose. From my past prayers with God, I knew He was aware of my desires to choose things for myself. So why was I wanting that answer now? God wasn’t going to pick up Anne doll and Spencer doll and scoot us into the temple doll house. It was my life and my choice. That’s what God wanted from the beginning. For us to choose our lives and our joys.

Once I chose to marry Spencer, countless blessings came our way to make our wedding and our start as easy as possible. I know, though, that if I did not choose Spencer, God would have continued to bless me.

It is hard to get out of the perspective that there is one true love for all of us because we are raised to search for our prince and to search for that one. I didn’t choose my true love. I chose a kind and loving person who made me laugh and who I knew loved me, cared what I had to say, cared about my dreams, and would be an equal partner in our marriage and family. I loved him.

But we choose everyday to stick together. We choose to be honest with each other. We choose to say sorry. We choose to breathe deeply. We choose to serve each other even when we’re tired. We choose NOT to runaway at 3am to catch the 4am flight to Portland and stay there until we feel like apologizing.

My parents are my example of an amazing marriage. I always knew growing up that my parents loved each other deeply. Before I got married, my mom gave me powerful advice: “Love Spencer every day. And when it’s too hard to love him, get on your knees and pray that you will love him.”

I hope my grandchildren will look at Spencer and me and think, They have such a happy marriage. They really were meant for each other. But that is not going to happen for us until we keep choosing every day to keep loving the crap out of each other.

Thank you so much, friends, for liking my posts. It really makes a difference in my readership!

(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.