Feeling the need to republish this “classic” piece due to recent happenings. Perhaps my true sadness is that this church continues to provoke such strong feelings of frustration and disappointment, just when I think I’ve made “peace” with it. I want to say some more and to really vent, but I’ll hold off. It’s just not even worth wasting my time on, methinks.
The acknowledgment of our weakness
is the first step in repairing our loss.
While I was at the Sunstone Symposium in August, sitting in a session about women and the Mormon church, I had to fight the urge to flee the room.
In sitting there I realized that the rationales, the angst, and the pain of gender inequity–those were the things that I’d been so relieved to leave behind when I stopped attending LDS church. Being confronted with them again was repulsive and pulled me back to that dark place where I’d been a few years ago: a sort of dark cave where I felt stranded. Where I couldn’t see how god could bless an institution that was so biased, so short-sighted. And at the same time afraid of the pain that would come to me and to my extended family should I choose to walk away.
As these thoughts ran through my mind I felt a pendulum of emotion shifting to and fro inside of me and I was on the verge of tears. And then I realized something about myself…I’m just not one of the “strong ones” who can continue on in the LDS church while being fully aware all of its flaws. My soul and my spirit just aren’t up for the task. I am too weak. Too fragile. I need a spiritual home where I am buoyed and supported and affirmed. The dissonance of being Mormon was literally ripping my spirit into pieces. I felt no hope there.
For me, the move to practicing as a Quaker is not just transferring my allegiance to a new religious institution. It’s about adopting a spiritual practice and community based on the yearnings of my heart and not based on my pedigree and my upbringing. It’s a choice for comfort and peace. It’s laying down the struggle of trying to fit into the LDS mold–the continued abrasiveness of being a square peg that can’t adapt to the expectations and orthodoxies of Mormonism. It’s about recognizing my own weakness and accepting it.
The Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, compared his spiritual journey to that of a rough stone rolling down a mountain. He saw each of his experiences as chipping away at himself, smoothing away his raw edges. Me, I’m not up for a similar trajectory, or perhaps my body has just had enough trauma. I’m seeking an angle of repose.
Let me quote from a favorite author who has walked a similar path:
Spirituality is solitary…At times, it is lonely, often informed by pain. On other occasions, it is the body submerged in a phosphorescent tide, every movement sparking a trail of illumination. Afterwards, we sit on the shore in moonlight. No candles are necessary. Spirituality exists when we are present, buoyed up by the waters of attention. We learn the courage of faith. It is peace that is earned. We can take solace in the heat of doubt knowing this is the pulse of poetry.
~Terry Tempest Williams, Leap (2000)