Monday, January 13, 2014

Rough Draft

You're reading a blog of an imperfect Mormon. I used to think I was pretty perfect, to be embarrassingly honest. I kept all my commandments without much effort. If you go back in my archives, you can read about that time in my life. I was also super skinny and that's because I thought it was unholy to eat certain foods, and really, if everyone was as holy as I was, they too wouldn't eat such satanic diets. That's what I really believed.

Now I think I was psychotic. But I was skinny! Oh boy. Modest and skinny. The winning combo!

Last year I realized that while I was keeping most of the day-to-day commandments, doing everything pretty well by a religious code, I was in fact, pretty selfish. In fact, writing my life story made me realize I've pretty much always been an angry person. I didn't like people. I didn't forgive them. I didn't give them the benefit of the doubt. And I sure didn't like people who thought or looked or acted differently from me.

So, I was keeping all the commandments, except, maybe the biggest one outside of loving God: loving others.

And I realized that maybe that anger fueled me into some success, but it was at the risk of relationships. And now I had children. I didn't want to be passive-aggressive angry mom. Oh gosh, I didn't.

So I started to pray for charity.

And I can't really describe what happened to me, except as I prayed for charity I realized I had to stop getting stuck on the other commandments. It was like I had to sacrifice my ego--my perfect commandment-keeping, shiny, Mormon ego--to really understand what love meant. I don't mean, I had to stop keeping commandments, I mean, stop keeping them only because it made me feel perfect.

And letting go of that ego was like a spiritual explosion. I crashed right into doubt. I met it head on. I looked it in the eyes and realized, I've been spiritually ignorant. I realized I was going to have to start using Christ to heal me. I was going to have to start learning what the gospel was about.

I'm learning the first rule of love is to mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice. In other words, empathy--the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I am almost devastating in this regard. I have carried on for almost four decades not really knowing how to feel outside myself. (So, three huge cheers for Chup who has suffered through eleven years of me!)

And so I guess this brings me to the questions people keeping leaving for me here on my blog, or on facebook or in emails: how can you be happy for your friend who got married to her same-sex partner when the church so explicitly condemns it?

Well, right now I'm allowing myself to try on empathy. I love my friend, when she was finally able to marry her partner of twelve years, having raised children and buried parents and worked through burdens together, I was happy with her. I couldn't help it, I felt what she was feeling.

And isn't that what I've been asking God to help me have for so long now? To put away my anger, my self-righteousness, my justifications and judgements for the opportunity to feel another person's heart?

So back to my point above: I'm working on the basics here. I got way ahead of myself in my late twenties/early thirties. I believed I had mastered such incredible commandment keeping skills I thought God was making up new ones for me so I didn't get bored.

I think I was in too many gifted-and-talented classes growing up...

Anyway, I'm grateful to Elder Uchtdorf whose beautiful talk last October assured me that there's room for me--for my thoughts, my beliefs, my strengths and my weaknesses--in this church. His outreach was perfectly timed, and gratefully accepted.