I need to apologize. I wasn't trying to be cryptic in my last post about faith and belief. For years now I have had the desire to write about what is going on with my spiritual quest. It's been about three years that I have watched my belief system shift and change. I have held on to a lot of shame about it. We have a tendency to attribute sin to people who experience faith transitions in our culture--and I couldn't stand the thought of being open about these things when I didn't feel safe.
I have tried to trace this transition back to one event. My hope was that I could work on whatever caused these feelings and heal my entire spiritual self. I have found that everything in my life has lead me to this place. I can't separate it all out. I just feel like I was directed to be here, like I was directed to marry Christopher. It's just as natural as anything else I feel passionate about in my life.
But so much of it was exacerbated by having children. Especially having daughters. I am especially concerned for their aptitude and opportunities. I am concerned about what they are taught about being female. I am concerned about what they will observe in our church. Gender, gender roles, sexuality, science, self-acceptance, female divinity--these are all subjects that have been on my work table for years now.
Another factor that has weighed heavily on my mind is my interactions with women of my faith as a writer and blogger. So much of it has been supportive and uplifting. I can't declare that enough. But I have been wounded by women of my faith almost every time I have tried to write something that doesn't fit nicely into our cultural box. Some of the emails or comments I have received absolutely chill me. They've hurt. They've hurt almost more than I want to admit. Not because of the subject matter so much--I can handle people disagreeing with me--but the threats and the judgements and the painful interactions. And I see it happen to others (Lindsay Sterling most recently) and it's toxic and I don't want anything to do with it. My natural reaction is to separate myself.
I realize what I am talking about here is not unique to Mormonism, but it's the lens I am looking through and it still hurts. I take responsibility for putting myself out there as well, in ten years of blogging I can let most things bounce of of me (when it needs to happen) but I would be dishonest if I didn't tell you that I feel pretty crippled. I am not offended, I am wounded. And I will go to my grave declaring the difference.
Am I leaving the church? No. I am hopeful the church can hold people like me who are hurt and confused and have retreated to the fringe for awhile. Maybe forever. I don't think I can leave Mormonism really, it's my heritage. It's my history. It's me. But I don't feel like I am going to feel whole or healed until I meet my religion on my own terms. I don't want to be hurt the rest of my life. And when I say I am waking up, I mean, I am taking the reigns of this experience and I am going to own it. I own my spirituality, my life, and that is what feels so alive.
Yesterday I was given the opportunity to speak in church and it was totally cathartic for me. I was asked to speak about earth stewardship. (You can read it here.) I was able to sort out things as I wrote and I am grateful for that. I am not giving up, but for the sake of my ability to write, I also need to present myself as I am in my heart.
I hope you understand.