I have a testimony that this Gospel is true. Sometimes, though, I struggle with this church. I don’t know how I feel about saying this, but church left me feeling very empty today. I left church really wanting so much more and I was let down. Today is the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, and I went to church today wanting the opportunity to reflect on the past decade. Where are we as a church? A people? What does Heavenly Father want us to know? Where does He want us to be? What should we be doing? I wanted to hear something that would fill my soul.
Maybe that was my fault, actually. I think I put too high an expectation on being fulfilled and being told the answer than actually looking for it myself. So, instead of feeling my cup overflowing, I felt like my cup was tipped over. Today in Gospel Doctrine, the lesson, I think, was about the difference between the knowledge of man and the knowledge of God, that adhering to either has eternal consequences, but only in the knowledge of God will we find happiness and life eternal. Anyone else there have something more to add? At first, I was on board. I reflected a lot on my experiences relying more on my worldly intellect. I struggled with this for a long time. I thought I was too smart for God. The lesson helped me realize that sometimes when I try to find answers to spiritual questions, I will likely not find them in academic journals. I mean, I knew this already, but it was nice to have it affirmed.
And then somehow, the lesson turned to sexual sins and among other things, that homosexuality is a sin second only to murder. Puh-lease. I am so sick of hearing this. Sometimes it feels like it is discussed so often at church that there is absolutely nothing else to talk about except that gay people are cast from the presence of God. Wasn’t this the very thing I left the Catholic Church for in the first place? I looked around to find my friend. I couldn’t find her, but I wanted her to tell me with her eyes (you know how women can do that) that we were on the same page and that everything would be okay.
After that one time in Relief Society, I still haven’t found a way to comfort myself. I sat in a row of people who all know about my family. I knew they knew what I was thinking. In my experience, when the conversation goes there, it never comes back. I know I either have to leave the room or I’m in it for the long haul. It sucks. This time, I stayed. I decided that if I get up and leave every time someone talks about this, I would do a lot of leaving. I stayed, but I tuned out. Last time, in Relief Society, Sister S shared with me a scripture from John 14: 1-3. So I read it again over and over and over again until the lesson was over. A few people in our row asked if I was okay. I gave them a little bit more attitude than they deserved, but I told them I was fine.
I learned a while ago that when “I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen,” I am sealing the words I have just spoken with the stamp of approval of Jesus Christ. When I say Amen, I am consenting to the lesson or talk or prayer. This lesson, I could not say Amen. I did not want to give my public approval of those words. I just sat there, said I was fine, and checked out.
Now, I need to share this with you. I have received witness and confirmation and rock solid testimony that Heavenly Father loves my family. He loves my family and gave them to me and me to them for a very specific reason. Nothing anyone can say or do can convince me that God thinks my family is wrong. I have asked and He has answered. I know this is true.
So let’s stop discussing it in Sunday School, hokay?
This is where do I turn to you, dear readers. What do I do? In my silence during these discussions, am I consenting to the words? I decided a while ago that I would not discuss politics at church. I know that I struggle discussing politics dispassionately, but do I serve an injustice to my LGBT friends and family when I choose to sit silently? At what point do I stand up and say that the discussion is exactly opposite of Christ’s ministry?
And for my ward – should I be concerned that when the discussion goes there, people around me are cringing and wondering if I’m okay? Maybe this is a good thing. I don’t want people to feel like they have to dance around me to not hurt my feelings, but I’m okay if people become sensitive to those words. I want people to hear those words (homosexuality is bad bad bad bad bad) and to raise an eyebrow and think differently. I don’t know, I’m feeling weird.
I spoke to my friend after church. I knew I would find comfort if I could talk to her. And to squish on her baby. I asked her how to keep doing this. How do I stay in the church, knowing on one hand that the Gospel is true and what I need in my life, while on the other hand knowing that God made my father exactly as he intended. Re-reading that sentence, it makes me think that they are not opposing truths. Both of them are true and because of one, the other, yes.
This church teaches me that our families are preordained. We knew what we were getting into before we got here. My parents knew who they were; they knew they’d have me as a kid (what made you think that was a good idea, guys? Ha. Just kidding); that God made us and was pleased and we accepted His plan.
So why does this still hurt? What am I missing? What do I need to do to heal this wound?
Today, I read an excerpt from a sermon preached at Plymouth Congregational on September 9, 2001 – two days before the attacks:
“How does God shape us? God shapes us by promising to be our faithful and steadfast partner, whatever happens – gains, losses, good days, bad days, births, deaths and even destruction, God shapes us by being our faithful partner through them all.”
It’s funny. Now that I reflect on today’s lesson in Gospel Doctrine, these were the kinds of words I was looking for when I woke up this morning. I prayed for comforting words of hope and promise and … comfort. I wanted to find healing and response. Clearly, I needed to be comforted in other ways, but maybe I can use these words to comfort myself next time. Maybe, just maybe, I might even feel strong enough to stand up and say them.
I’d like to share my testimony: when I pray, when I to go my Heavenly Parents with questions, concerns, trials, pain, joy, anger, frustrations, happiness – anything, my prayers are answered. They are never answered how I’d like for them to be, but they have always been answered. Sometimes, it feels like my testimony needs to be shaken just so I know how strong it really is.
As I was leaving the church building today, I got a text from my dad. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”
So much love,