Out of Love: A Response to RMN’s BYU Devotional

PILAR: I now live in a very different space from the lonely corner I once occupied. My life isn’t perfect, but there are times when I wince looking back at the domestic abuse I suffered, the hell I went through in counseling with my ecclesiastical leaders, and the constant feeling that I was staggering, limping, or dragging myself to some imaginary finish line. I was determined to find a way to endure to the end because I’d been promised celestial glory for eternity, and I felt that somehow that would make it all worth it in the end.  I try not to dwell on this at all, and usually I don’t. But last week’s BYU devotional by President Russel M. Nelson, with its “five truths,” really struck a sour chord. His messages of worthlessness and shame covered in declarations of love and conditional acceptance were eerily reminiscent of the things I heard on a regular basis from my abuser many years ago. I tried to push it away, but the throbbing and familiar ache returned like trapped, frantic birds tapping against a window, longing to be gathered up and flung into freedom that awaits them in the open air. Continue reading “Out of Love: A Response to RMN’s BYU Devotional”

Reaching for You

When it comes to women’s issues in the culture surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, none is more heart-rending or important than the issue of suicide. This READER POST carries a needful CONTENT WARNING for SUICIDE. –SQ

Reaching for You

I would hold your hand,
brush the hair from your brow,
sing your lullaby while my tears fall on your head.
But you, enshrouded in hospital blue,
smile and say it’s fine.
You’re fine.
Just fine.
And not to worry,
that you should be out
soon.
Maybe tomorrow.
Maybe in a week.
Maybe when the scars have healed.
I reach for your hand
the hand I held when you were small,
before we knew
the demon in your mind would control those hands,
would hold the pills and
one two three four
seven
ten
swallow swallow swallow
when my hand, so far away, couldn’t stop yours in time.

Continue reading “Reaching for You”

The Mormon Marriage Script and My Wish for Choices

LAURA: Ten years. Almost one third of my life. I’m not old enough to have a marriage 10 years old. Except I guess I am.

We, or rather I, had grand plans for this 10th anniversary. However life got in the way, a fact that I find hilariously ironic considering that marriage got in the way of my life. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I only mean that I didn’t want to get married and have children, especially not right away. I had incredible, adventurous, and powerful life plans.

But… marriage and children was the story God wanted me to live.

Continue reading “The Mormon Marriage Script and My Wish for Choices”

A Trans Teen, a Church, and the Absence of Pastoral Care

DEBORAH: She’d invited me to meet her at a favorite restaurant, one of our usual dives, even though its undergoing renovation. Sometimes we talked about our kids and school, or our husbands and the quirks of marriage, and occasionally about our own ambitions. Always, somehow, our lives as Latter-day Saints colored our conversations. To be honest, being a Latter-day Saint has become increasingly challenging for us both, largely for the disharmony between what the Church offers straight and queer populations. Yet neither of us imagined we’d be having this conversation—the one in which she agonizes over the just-made revelation that her son is her daughter, that he says he always has been and that he’s so, so sorry, can she forgive him? Sometimes hearts break over queso. Continue reading “A Trans Teen, a Church, and the Absence of Pastoral Care”

Climbing Higher Mountains

READER POST: Mormons sometimes behave as if the only music God listens to is theirs. But those dirge-like hymns that say “reverence’” to some say “pack up the Cheerios and iPads because we’ve successfully survived one hour” to others. At times, some of us just don’t feel the Holy Spirit testifying. As a missionary, our area was chastised by a visiting general authority for marching while we sang “Called to Serve,” and you don’t even want to know what he said about the lyrical drum roll we added to the bridge. Bless Emma, but if she had to do it all over again, and if she had access to the array of spiritual music we have today, would she do it differently? I have a couple of suggestions, in case she’s listening.

Continue reading “Climbing Higher Mountains”

Generations Bound by Love and Sugar

READER POST: Across the grassy park, I see a cousin I haven’t seen for six years. I shout her name and run toward her. She looks up, shakes off a child who’s clinging to her hand, and we meet in a fierce embrace, laughing and crying. I feel safe–here–in the middle of my chaotic family reunion, where I am linked to everyone, including those I barely remember or have never met, linked just as surely as I hold onto this beloved cousin I’ve known since birth. Continue reading “Generations Bound by Love and Sugar”

Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal

LAURA: For three and a half years, queer Mormons in same-sex relationships have been classed as apostates “for purpose of church discipline” and their children excluded from full activity in the church. Yesterday, that policy was reversed during the General Conference Leadership Session.

As a queer woman, I’ve watched the reactions from across the spectrum of Mormondom and I’ve very slowly and carefully made space for my own feelings. What I’ve seen is that most straight Mormons, whether they’re more nuanced and on the fringes or they’re more traditionally believing, are happy. They are celebrating even. Meanwhile most queer Mormons are hesitant, hurting again, fearful of what comes next, and mourning the minimization of three and a half years of brutal pain. Continue reading “Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal”

On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son

DEBORAH: A few years back, one of my adult children had had enough of Mormonism. He’d always participated at church, attending with us each Sunday, going to Mutual and stake dances, attaining his Eagle award, even choosing to attend a church university. He’d not given us much grief in terms of rebellion, but inside—and without me realizing it—he was struggling because, try as he might, he couldn’t receive the testimony I’d promised him would come. After a great deal of angst and a fall into depression, he finally told me he would leave the church. He asked me how to go about it. Explaining the process was probably the most difficult thing I’ve been asked to do by a child. But, because I love him and because I could see his mental health was dwindling, I did. Continue reading “On Eternal Families, Sad Heaven, and My Beloved Son”

A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me

JUNE: “Bishop, I’m scared…in my own home.” He sat silently. “My kids shouldn’t hear me called a ‘F***ing bitch’ by their father. I am being…coerced sexually. He kicks me out of the car and leaves me on the side of the road if I upset him. I…I don’t understand what’s going on. We need help…please.”

My plea hung in the air while his eyes raked me over. In ironic foreshadowing, I found myself foolishly and hopelessly wishing my husband, my abuser, was there to protect me. He sat in the foyer. He’d had an hour-long chat with the bishop ahead of me. When he exited the office, I was invited in. I begged for help. Continue reading “A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me”