I haven’t wanted to write much about what has been going on in my church. In part, I haven’t wanted to write much because I will admit, I am scared. I am scared that the things I feel and the things that I believe will be used against me by others, much in the way this article describes. I don’t feel like I am having a crisis of faith, I feel like I am having a crisis of church. I still feel the same way as I did yesterday about my relationship with Jesus Christ and with God. I still feel the same way that I did yesterday about the kind of person that I want to become and the recognition of all that I need to do and improve on to get there.
In the past few years, I have felt so much hurt and pain trying to figure out who I am supposed to be in the eyes of God when I have felt like the messages that I have heard at church about what my “role” is supposed to be seemed to not fit with who I was because of something like the legal doctrine of “impossibility”. It meant that I spent a lot of time prayerfully studying or otherwise trying to communicate with God on my knees about what he expected of me and who he hopes I will become. The personal confirmations that not only was God okay with me not fitting in to those “roles” but that he wanted me to be proud of who I was, the things that I have learned, and help others to realize that they are okay too. I felt really strongly that God was telling me that there was something more for me, that he wanted me to lead in other ways, and that I should be patient and it would all make sense one day, but in the meantime, don’t listen to other people at church who tell me there is something wrong with me or that I am not good enough.
Unfortunately, at the same time, David and I have been in a ward where we haven’t quite fit. That is actually okay with me. I don’t mind not being like everyone else, I never have been. I don’t expect to go to church with a room full of people exactly like me. We learn from other people through our differences and our different range of experiences. However, what made it harder though is that within that ward, we had a leader who lied to our faces in regard to a situation that caused a lot of pain to members of my family and close friends. It has been hard, because I felt like that leader did not treat me fairly because he took the side of the person causing the harm, because he was a “close friend” who happened to be male. Then that person in turn felt empowered used the language of the priesthood to abuse people that I love. That person moved away, that leader was released from his calling, and I thought things would get better. Then, that person moved back, lied about where he lived so that he could go to our ward all over again, and immediately I realized, it isn’t going to get better.
So David and I are now attending another ward. We did this honestly and openly, communicating with our bishop about our reasons. I am not a liar, and the last thing I will ever have anyone call me at church is a hypocrite. If anything, I am too honest to a fault. This brings me back to the top. I am scared, because I feel like this person is the exact kind of person that tries to hurt other people by getting them in trouble with church leaders. So by me being honest about my views that I think that we need greater equality for women in the church, that we need to treat other people nicer, or even that I believe that as a matter of civil equality all people should have the right to marry a spouse of their choosing, I realize that makes me a suspect person at church.
The past few years, in a way that I hadn’t even considered before have taught me we really have a long way to go before we can claim equality in our church. As a woman, there is a 0.0% of anything that you say or feel having to be taken seriously by anyone with any sort of ecclesiastical authority in the church. Sure, sometimes you have priesthood leaders that do care and listen to you, and that is great, but if you don’t, then there is no penalty for that priesthood holder in an earthly ecclesiastical sense, but there absolutely can be a penalty for you, the woman.
I don’t have it figured out, but every day I plead with God to help me know what I can do to make the church better in my limited capacity. I pray for church leaders that they might commune with God so that they can make it better too. In the meantime, I go to church, but right now I don’t feel like I am a part of anything. I am not really a member of a ward. I don’t have a calling. I just go and sit and hope that God still realizes that I am just trying to do the best I can with what I have, and that he won’t hold anyone else’s faults against me.