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Out of the Blue

The phone rang the other day.  The area code was a bit curious and when he answered it, my husband had a puzzled look on his face.  We were in the car an hour from home.  He stopped, parked on the side of the road, and chatted with a young LDS missionary for several minutes.

I wondered a few times over the past four years if this was ever going to happen.  In the beginning of my journey out of the Church, I thought a lot about it.  What would I say if someone tried to reconvert me, or one of mine, to Mormonism?  In the beginning, I would have been snarky.  I would have been angry.  I had a list in my head of the things I would bring up, problems with the doctrine, historical issues, and challenges to the glistening white Seminary version of the history.

Since then my anger has been ruined, spoiled for lack of a better word.  All of the frustration toward a representative of the Church (anyone will do, even a starry-eyed kid from Provo) simply melted away like a chocolate ice cream cone in July.  Oh, curses! 

When my husband turned the phone over to me (he was actually working and required to get out of the car) nothing snarky found its way into my brain.  No harsh words for Joseph Smith and his practices in polyandry, nothing even from Brother Brigham and Mountain Meadows Massacre.

All I could think about was the young woman, sitting on the phone with her name tag glowing in the light of her enthusiasm.  I thought of the person who put our names in for the referral, and, as hard as I tried, I was not even able to conjure up harsh feelings toward him.

As I spoke with the young missionary, warm words came out of my mouth.  I recalled many of the good things that come with being a Mormon.  I thought about the sense of community, the service-ready hearts that come at the first word of a need or a tragedy.  I thought of the quiet stillness in the Celestial Room, and the hush that falls over the chapel during the passing of the Sacrament. 

I didn’t set an appointment to meet with the missionaries.  I’m not reconverting to the Church.  My worries and issues with history, homophobia, and misogyny didn’t disappear in a single phone call.

I thought back to the 2011 Mormon Stories Conference, to Joanna Brooks talk.  I am a former member of the Church.  I resigned my membership in 2008.  But still, parts of my Mormon upbringing and heritage go beyond a name on a database.  Like she said, you can’t wash that out.

Like Joanna, and John Dehlin, and Mitch Mayne, and people who continue to talk about bridge building, and finding a place for everyone have made their mark on my heart and mind.  Sitting in the car with the phone up to my ear, I heard the earnest sincerity in the young sister’s voice; her beautiful testimony passed through my ears and curled up in a warm place inside my heart.  

After the call ended, I looked up another number.  The missionary gave me the name of the person who had referred us to the missionaries.  As I dialed that number, I pictured heads bowed around a dinner table asking for the spirit to bless my family, to open our hearts to the truth once more.  I expected to feel irritation, insult, and annoyance.  But I came up with nothing.  Except that I was touched, greatly moved by the love that accompanied the thought.  I called the person, and I thanked him for his love and thoughtfulness, and I told him that I know where the desire had come from.

The interesting thing is that I would have traded anything for someone to have tried to reach out when as my testimony died a slow and painful death.  In those days I was met with disdain, misunderstanding, even bitterness from people who used to have me over for dinner.  It might sound counterintuitive, but I prefer this.  I prefer the olive branch.  Anger is overrated.

I am for peace.  I am for those in The Middle Way.


Angela Felsted said...

Ah, I feel so warm and peaceful reading this. It must be the spirit.

postmormon girl said...

A beautiful post - thanks so much for writing this and reminding me that we can all strive for the middle way.

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who we are

Welcome to The Peacewriter.

We all want to belong somewhere, to someone. It is a basic human need.

If you have ever experienced a period of doubt or questioned your beliefs in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know that this is not a minor thing. It is tantamount to a crisis, and one that can be life altering.

Lose your testimony, and you stand to lose everything that matters.

There are those who exist on the fringes of the Church, who feel disenfranchised, even unwanted. If you are single, gay or lesbian, feminist, atheist, or uncorrelated, it can be tough to feel like a part of the community. You may feel that you do not belong.

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If you have ever loved someone who endured a faith crisis, you know that there are a lot of gray areas. Uncertainty is the dominant force; black and white become moot points.

Those who have walked the same path share a common bond, understood by few who have not traveled the same road.

This is the place to share common experiences, to find a voice, to be heard. This is the place to seek after peace, and to find it in the common ties we share.

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