My State Of The Union
(original post May 14th, 2017)
Today… for the first time since moving into our home (which will be 2 years in July) missionaries came to our home. We joked and asked who sicked them on us and blamed our friend who also happens to be our bishop. We went to church Easter Sunday, also the first time in almost 2 years for me and they saw us there. I guess they asked around and figured out who we were. Now for those that know me… I am pretty up front with my feelings and if you ask a straightforward question I am likely to divulge almost too much information…almost but not quite. The question came about of why we haven’t been to church in so long, as I expected it to. I chuckled and said “That is a loaded question Elder…. not sure you know exactly what you are asking.” I realize that is probably a question for some in my world; one that has gone unspoken or answered for a long time. Please understand, I am speaking for myself only. I know many who might come across this blog will feel wholly different and feel that I have simply lost my testimony. I share this because I feel that it is time to do so and because it is my own truth.
I was born into the church. My parents fluctuated in and out of inactivity but my older sister is the steadfast one. The one who had a big hand in raising me and took me to church with her every Sunday. So when I turned 8, my mother had missionaries come to give me the discussions. She will tell you today as she told me then, if I am going to decide on baptism I had to learn the facts on my own and then choose. Little did I know I would meet my future brother-in-law and personal Spiritual Giant, but that is a story for another time. Through those discussions the Power of the Spirit testifying the truth in what I was taught was undeniable. I still did as the missionaries asked, I sought the confirmation or denial from my Father and Elder Brother before entering into the covenant of Baptism. I won’t ever forget the joy in my heart as I knelt in prayer, in my bright yellow bedroom with flowered wallpaper and for the first time ever I truly asked God for His answer in my life. I willingly and with a joyful heart stepped into that water and gave myself over to the Lord at the tender age of 8. I wonder what most kids remember of their baptism… food, running around after playing with friends, how warm the water was even though they said it was freezing. For me, I will never forget getting dunked twice but more so I will never forget my confirmation. Given by a man my heart sorely misses, the adoptive father of a good friend Fatu… Brother Nichols. An average height man with shock white hair, he wore glasses and had big gnarled hands. He had a soft voice and a gentle laugh. He was always willing to return my many hugs and love emanated from him always.
My mom had forgotten to bring a towel and I forgot extra undies. I was so anxious to get back out there I didn’t care that I had a wet bum and wet hair. I had to get back out there! My heart screamed for me to hurry. After being put back together by a crew of seriously skilled moms, I rushed out to sit front row. I folded my feet under the chair and I remember the calm that came about me like a blanket. I didn’t hear the ambient room noise any longer. I heard what sounded like wind or white noise as a gentle hum; A sound I now know as the opening of Heaven. I remember Brother Nichols calling me forward to sit in a typical LDS metal chair that we have all sat in. He called the circle of men around me, placed his hands upon my crown, called my name and I was overtaken by my Baptism of Fire. My tears flowed powerfully as I held tight to my chair. The soft wind now a roar as the air about me became still. I can not tell you what words were spoken over me that day but the reclaiming of my divine soul by Heaven forever altered me. The key had been turned and my gifts became known. The power and energy of the Spirit truly purified me and made space for all that my Father promised me. All of these things, these gifts were now mine to use as I chose. It was astounding and as I recall it, utterly humbling. I continued in that way for almost another 2 years. When I was 10, my sister married and moved to the home of my heart, Canada. I continued to go to church for a few years but it slowly became less and less as the adults in my world became less active and puberty hit. Let’s be honest… at 13 you aren’t really thinking about church stuff, am I right? I was then inactive for nearly 13 years. Again these stories are for another post but they are experiences that I am that I am thankful for. They hurt like hell and I found myself in situations that make me shake my head now but I always knew my Father loved me and watched me. No matter the bar I was in or the crew I ran with could have ever taken that truth and knowledge away from me. In fact there was a time or two that you would have found me in a corner on the patio of my favorite bar discussing the various aspects of the Gospel with people. My subsequent return to the fold was very much like coming home. A place I felt that all of me was accepted. It didn’t matter that I came to church hungover and possibly smelling like alcohol regardless of the shower I took. It didn’t matter than I basically wore the same thing every time I came because it was the only modest church outfit I owned. I was taken in and loved for who I was. I was given a soft place to land where I could be vulnerable and open to the Spirit. Since then I have, as life and choices play out, been active and inactive. The ebb and flow has been very real in my life. Always brought about because of my choice to slip away. Allowing some excuse or circumstances to help me feel right in my decision to not go to church and never during that time did I ever feel that the Church was untrue and nobody could tell me otherwise; bringing us to now.
For a while before my recent “inactivity” began, I saw and experienced the gross difference in what I know to be the Gospel and the administration of the church. Until then it had always been one in the same. I know the Gospel is perfect but the leaders are human and therefore not perfect… I get it. The scary part was the divergence from doctrine, the teaching of cultural norms that had become “doctrine” or just what was expected and the loss of fire within the walls of Sunday service. It was from many people that are within the “walls” of spiritual groups online and some immediate friends that I found charity, love, compassion and family. I found myself not only mourning the loss of all I knew the church to be but also the loss of 5 family members. My grief was bound up one in another and the bazillion stages of grief took it’s toll. I retreated from the world that I knew in almost every way. I spoke to a very small group of individuals and even after a time, they fell away too. I had to find my Father and Brother. I had to do so in a way that felt so genuine yet so different to all I knew and had been taught before, thus making me withdraw further. I have inherent gifts that have made me feel different my entire human life. Memories of infancy, laying in a crib watching a woman unknown to me watch me from above. I only learned recently that the woman had lived in my home before us and had passed on in my room. Yes… this is the moment you are all saying “She sees dead people” but it isn’t true. I see who we really are. I see spirits, the Souls that reside within our human bodies. It is a gift and I hope my sharing of this doesn’t offend you…it simply is who I am. It is what helps me in my career, helping babies live and thrive with balance in their world and helping their parents see and have a deeper understanding of their needs. It is what helps me touch the exact spot that hurts when you share that you aren’t feeling right. It is part of my whole and the facets I am learning daily are too numerous to count. In a culture of “It isn’t Secret, it is Sacred” I haven’t felt free to share that part of myself. I have spoken about it to some people and have watched them shy away from me because I am speaking of those sacred things. I have been counseled by those in authority by what the leadership manual stated instead of by the Spirit. I have felt thrown under the bus because I was doing something that others saw as immoral without having ever been asked why I chose what I did. The other side to the coin is that I did live with a man before I married him, while I was still married to my ex-husband and fighting for my right to divorce him. I did go to my then bishop to seek his counsel and was so wrapped in love and the Spirit that it took the words from me. I have studied the scriptures in regards to tithing, the word of wisdom and such. I have sat in interviews and gave honest answers knowing that they weren’t the normal ones. I have sat in discussion with my church leaders about those answers and felt the power of the Lord guiding both me and them.
I know we are all striving to do our best and live in a manner that will allow us to return to Him again. The question I ask myself is where and how do I fit? How do I put on the Armor of God and live mine and His truth? How do I receive the Second Comforter and once done… how do I correlate my connection to the world around me? How do I fully become the Daughter that my Father created and still live my life? At what point do I say it is time to take a step back so that I may clearly see what is in front of me. How many times do I hear the Spirit say ‘That is wrong’ during a gospel discussion before I can’t stand to keep silient any longer?
The answer for me is that I can’t do it anymore. I can’t continue to go to church and hear everyone say that the Church is true. I want to stand up and shout sometimes! The Gospel is True! The Church is the institution. You can have one without the other in my eyes. Seeking authority and divine power comes through humility, diligence and grace… His Grace. I feel like Adam and Eve did in the Garden. I am awaiting the Lords messengers to reveal further light and knowledge. Until that time comes, I will do what I know to be true. Search scripture, pray and meditate upon the Word, seek the face of my Savior and pray that I can meet him in this estate. I believe that the Gospel was restored to us because Joseph Smith Jr. earnestly sought our Fathers’ truth.
I am not saying that I am leaving the LDS faith because that isn’t what God has asked of me. It has brought me years of strength and knowledge that has gotten me to where I am today. I am not saying I won’t ever come back to church. What I am saying is that my soul yearns for knowledge, for deep doctrinal discussion and for a deeper, richer relationship with my Father and Elder Brother than I ever have had before. I don’t feel that I will find those things within the walls of the church and so for now… I am taking a break. Not that this is really news to some since I wear tank tops and have an MBD now and again with my scripture study. HEH The point of all this is to share where I am and maybe have a discussion. We don’t have to… No Pressure! The point is that I am finding my Father and Brother in the most amazing ways and places. I am finding new aspects of them which in turn are teaching me so much more about myself. I have found a wondrous tribe that surrounds me, feeds me and challenges me. I have found magic in my own joy of crystals and the power of them grounds and fills me.
So it is now 3:43am and as I proofread I realize it is time to stop. Maybe I will do this more often as I originally planned or maybe I will just make this a May thing. Who knows…. If you have come this far, I hope I have shared something that has made sense and or resonated within your own Spirit. I share this in love and a little bit of the desire to be seen for who I am today. I have fought hard to get here. The fight isn’t over but I am glad you came.