I went to the Ordain Women event on Saturday, which was a surprising decision, especially if you read my previous post in which I compare the church to an ex-boyfriend. I'm still working out my very complex feelings regarding my motivations for going. A few of them, in no order of importance:
1. A genuine desire to support an idea I believe in: I do believe in equality, everywhere.
2. A genuine desire to mourn with the women who are currently mourning their place in the church. As I watched countless men walk past us into priesthood, none of them making eye-contact with the women standing a few feet away, I was proud to be standing where I was standing. My believing feminist sisters are the robbed and beaten neighbors of my world, their birth-right stolen, and desperately hurting. Sometimes they are different from me, but I cannot by the Levite or the Priest in this story, I must be the Samaritan. I was proud to stand with them, and I was proud to ask to be admitted to the Priesthood session.
3. I don't want to be a quitter. Last year I asked Mormon Women to do something, so when they answered my call, and supported me in wearing pants to church, I didn't want to give up on them when they wanted me to stand in line for Priesthood. I don't want to be a quitter.
So I went, and it was one of the most powerfully painful experiences of my life. Surprisingly painful. It hurt to be physically separated from fellow church members, it hurt to be rejected for what should be a reasonable desire. It hurt to realize that to the institution of the LDS church, I am not worth a whole lot of consideration. Lovely words by Elder Uchtdorf aside, the tangible image of approximately 150 women shivering in line as twelve year old teens walked into the tabernacle reaffirmed a sneaking suspicion that us feminist women don't matter too much.
Especially when church spokesperson Ruth Todd kept reminding people that the women standing in line do not "represent the majority of women" in the church, and called our quiet and peaceful actions "divisive."
In the same breath that church leaders remind us that the church is not a democracy, I'm told that there aren't enough people like me to merit consideration. The church is not a democracy, but apparently you need to have the majority opinion to matter, to be validated, to be welcomed as fellow saints.
As it turns out, the church is not the good Shepard who pursues the one lost sheep.
Then there's this picture. I'm embarrassed by it. I'm embarrassed that I let my vulnerability show to people who don't understand. I'm embarrassed when it is passed around as an example of bravery or courage because mostly I feel like an imposter. I'm a person who has lost a lot in the last ten months, who has given up orthodoxy and belief but is afraid of being a quitter. I don't want to be a quitter. I don't want to feel like this pain is worthless. I don't want to abandon this faith wondering if there was anything I could have done differently or better. I want to do the right thing, even when it is hard and confusing and complicated.
But I also know that I am reaching my own critical mass for pain. My sister posted something I found really hurtful on Facebook page last night, and I lost it. I don't think I can physically handle another person questioning my motives and my heart. I can't. Not after the comments from strangers about pants, not after the messages from old YW leaders, after friends and now family how doubted why I keep going up to the door and fighting for my faith.
I was explaining how I felt very much alone sometimes to a friend, who reminded me that pain and loneliness is sacred. You can't hide from it, and most of the time you experience it alone, in the Gethsemane of your mind. But instead of viewing my pain as something I needed to escape, she taught me that pain is a Christ-like attribute. It allows us to empathize with others walking their own quiet and lonely paths, it allows us to sanctify our minds and our spirits. Pain can be holy, and regardless of the orthodoxy of my belief system, I'm learning to believe in the sacredness of pain.
However, I also believe that pain is an active feeling. It moves and evolves and changes with growth. Pain is sacred and holy so long as we allow it to progress naturally. The moment we let us consume us, it isn't useful anymore. I hit that point last night, where I realized my pain was no longer changing, but static. I can't keep experiencing it the same way as before, it isn't allowing me to grow anymore.
On the way home last night, alone in my car, I pulled up to the driveway just as Rascal Flatt's "Moving On" came on the radio. (Yes, I'm embarrassed about that too.) But suddenly these words meant something to me. Because I realized that it is time for me to move on. It isn't quitting, it isn't wrong, it's just time. It is noble to want to be a Good Samaritan, but until mine comes along, I'm going to have to save myself. I do that by moving on. The pain might not go away, but it will change, and grow, and I'll keep growing too. I've loved like I should but I've lived like I shouldn't/I had to lose everything to find out/Maybe forgivenes will find me somewhere down this road/I'm movin' on.
I don't know what this means for this space, this weird little blog that's seen so much. I just want to write about TV again, honestly. But it feels odd writing with the ghost of my old self in the title. I don't know what I'll do, but I think at least for a while it is time to give this space a break. Thank you to everyone who has followed me here. Thank you for your nice emails and comments, and even the mean ones that made me a better writer. May any God (except Xenu, he gives me the creeps,) be with you 'til we meet again.
Also, here are the lyrics to "Movin' On" in case country music is your thing.