2010/01/24

2010 Poetry Corner #1 - "Above All... Try"


I believe in God…so why do I fear?
I believe in love… so why do I hate?
I believe in facing problems… yet I run
Do I really believe?
Do I really feel…?

Or am I running because I do not want to see

My lack of faith.
My lack of endurance.
My lack of empathy.

Please Heavenly Father
When you look down on me
Remember above all
That I do love you
And I do try!

2010/01/20

To Intervene or Not...


I cannot pretend to know the mind of our Heavenly Father in almost all things. But I felt impressed to sit down and write some of my thoughts and opinions on physical/spiritual intervention by Heavenly Father after a comment from a friend in a recent conversation.

My childhood was not a positive one. When I was eighteen and I was able to legally leave and walk away, I was gone as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, leaving the family home didn't mean that my mother could give up her obsession of punishing me. And I also found myself very torn as I understood that I could not be a good faithful member and not speak with or spend time with my family. This was a conflicting problem for me for several years.

One Sunday in a ward that I was visiting changed everything for me. I was sitting in the foyer listening to Sacrament meeting in a small ward in Utah and ended up starting a conversation with a couple sitting in the foyer along with their children. The husband of the couple mentioned I looked exactly like my grandfather and we started talking about my family. Within two minutes, I became very uncomfortable... I realized that this family knew my whole family. As I became quiet, his wife leaned over and looking me in the eye, she said “It is OK to not speak to your mother anymore. You are an adult and so you are free.” Startled, I continued the conversation with them, sacrament meeting forgotten. When sacrament meeting was over, their children were sent to Primary and we continued talking until church was over. A few points have stuck with me and have come to my mind several times over the years.

1. Heavenly Father cannot intervene in everything. Otherwise.. well, we would have Lucifer's plan. We would all do the right things and return to our Heavenly Father. The plan of salvation allows us to make our own decisions and if he intervened to protect us in all things and in all times, pain would not exist and neither would sin. In almost all cases he cannot intervene. And that is why bad things happen and why people are allowed to do bad things. We can argue and rail against the plan of salvation, but we all agreed to it to come to this earth. Some doctrine even suggests that we knew some of the hardships that we would face in this life. Whether that is true, I do not know. But I do believe that all of us knew that there were really risks in coming to this world. That knowledge doesn't change pain or suffering, but it can help us to understand WHY we have some of the trials that we have. Heavenly Father will help us with many things both big and small, but he cannot force people to do the right things.

kn2. D&C 98:39-44. Joseph Smith received a revelation that helps to understand and gives a little more clarity on repentance and forgiveness. While Jesus asked us in the New Testament to 'turn the other cheek', this revelation clarifies how often and how long we needs to do that to follow the Lord's commandments. When we are wronged, we are required to forgive as the individuals repents. We are required to forgive a wrong three times. If the individual continues to sin toward us after three times, we are required to not 'forgive' and to bring the problem to the Lord. The couple I spoke with stated that it is their belief that then we are to take steps to protect ourselves from the individual. As with abuse, you do not continue to take it.... you protect yourself and loved ones from the abuser. It was after reading these scriptures and praying for several days that I stopped talking with my parents.

3. Carlfred Broderick was a wonderful writer. In his book “My Parents Married on a Dare”, he wrote an essay on abuse. He discussed his confusion and sorrow that abuse happened and the general lack of understanding as to WHY it does or is allowed to be. But then, he wrote about a transitional character - “A transitional character is one who, in a single generation, changes the entire course of a lineage. The changes might be for good or ill, but the most noteworthy examples are those individuals who grow up in an abusive, emotionally destructive environment and who somehow find a way to metabolize the poison and refuse to pass it on to their children. They break the mold. They refute the observation that abused children become abusive...Their contribution to humanity is to filter the destructiveness out of their own lineage so that the generations downstream will have a supportive foundation upon which to build productive lives.” This is not a comfortable thought and is not a happy thought. (If we were Sirius Black, the dementors couldn't take this thought from us.) But it is a goal and a starting point for dealing with the pain.

Sometimes, I do wallow in the pain and let it wash over my head like a thick blanket. I will cry and bite my hands to keep the moans and screams in so I can hide my feelings from my family. But more often, I pray and read and try to fight the feelings. I fight the feelings and struggle to do the little things that make me feel better (or at least give me the strength to keep going while I work on my brain. 'Fake it until you make it' is my motto on many days. It is also definitely helpful to have as little contact with my parents. It is really hard to learn other thinking processes and behavior if your spirit and physical body are being shunted back and forth between defense mechanisms/ingrained behavior you have around the abuser and the behavior/ thought organization that you use in the rest of your life. It gets easier with time... well, most of the time. Something else that helps is to find a 'buddy' in suffering to talk to and try to laugh about it. After awhile, I promise that many things that were not laughable at the time can be quite funny later (or at least pieces). One of my buddies is my sister and sometimes a good laugh and “Do you remember when...hee hee hee”.

There are many other people out there who have these same problems. What have you done to make it easier to deal with in your life? What advice do you have for others who struggle? How have you kept your faith during the abuse and/or your recovery?

Suggested reading

1. Confronting Abuse – Anne L. Horton (LDS author)
2. My Parents Married on a Dare – Carlfred Broderick (LDS author)
3. There's Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self Hate – Cheri Huber
4. Help Yourself – Dave Pelzer

2010/01/16

Is Questioning Bad?

Why do people tend to believe that if you question something, you are inherently bad? Why is questioning bad? Why do we as human being fear curiosity? Is it questioning itself or do people get upset depending on other factors- such as who is doing the questions, what is questions, how it is asked, etc...

When I was growing up, questioning someone was not a learning experience- it was rebellion, pure and simple. In college I was taught that questioning is the source of growth and learning. But every time I question some policy or cultural expectation of the LDS church (notice my word choice – I am not questioning doctrine), I am branded by almost everyone as a foolish befuddled person who has fallen prey to anti-Mormon ideas, apostate visions or just simply too confused to truly understand the church. My testimony and faith are questioned and found lacking with no evidence besides the word “Why”.

To me, the idea of dissent and questioning of faith are inherent to my faith and stem back to the very earliest Mormon faith. If truth be told, would Mormonism exist without the faith and questions of our first latter day prophet Joseph Smith? Almost every revelation he received was based upon asking the Lord for confirmation and answers to questions. In the church today, we are encouraged to ask Heavenly Father for anything understanding that he is never to busy for us and he will answer our prayers. We can receive revelation to help us with specific needs, responsibilities, and questions and to help us strengthen our testimony. D&C 76:5-10 states:

5 For thus saith the Lord— I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

7 And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

8 Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

9 And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven; and before them the wisdom of the wise shall perish, and the understanding of the prudent shall come to naught.

10 For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.


So, if revelation is so important and questioning is a basic part of our religious structure so that we can receive revelation, why do we pounce like feral dogs onto our fellow saints who question? Why do we immediately assume that their questions are meant to cause harm to the church? Why do we fear them? And why are we not more like them? Because to question helps us to learn more about God and life itself....

The Collision Between Disability, Mormonism, Simple Living and Feminism


For awhile many people have told me that I should start a blog. Today I had an experience that convinced me that I should. I have always felt that I do not have a lot to talk about that is different from anyone else. But today, I learned that being able to see the world in shades of gray and not the harsh branding of black/ white is a gift that I do have that I can share with others. I learned that maybe my experiences might genuinely benefit others and in the end... truly benefit myself. So, my goal for this blog over time is to explore the collision between disability, Mormonism, simple living, and feminism. I would also like to discuss the concerns of my heart and the questions that crop up in my life.