12/29/14

the sometimes people.




Here are some things I've been thinking about:


Since ____________ (departing, going inactive, moving on?) from Mormonism, it's been very hard  to accept that there will always be people in my life who think I made a mistake. In the past few years, loved ones have taken time to let me know how much their relationship with the church means to them, and how desperately they need me to know it is "True" in the same way they believe the church is true. They know, without any doubts or reservations that they are living their lives in the correct way, and they know I ought to be doing the same thing.

Sometimes I think their motives are less than pure. It can be very threatening when someone rejects previously shared values. Sometimes friends tell me we can't be friends anymore because I cause them to question what they believe, and they don't like it.

Sometimes their motives are very pure, and I remember the zeal and confidence that comes from knowing something. It makes it so easy to assume that if someone just prayed harder, or exercised more faith, or somehow became more like you, they would change their hearts and come back to the fold. If it worked for you, it should work for anyone, since that is how Truth works in Mormonism.

Sometimes people need to know something because they based every decision in their life, from who they married, to their careers, to how they raise their children, on their notion of truth being True. To question that, or allow someone else to, would cause them to not only question their faith, but their entire sense of being. I don't expect anyone to do that for me.


So it really isn't the knowing friends that bother me, at least not anymore. I know I can't ever change their mind, and trying would only cause significant conflict, and I'm not in the business of hurting people just to prove a point.

Instead, it's the friends that see just enough nuance in my situation to come very close to accepting me for who I am, only to fall back on their belief in universal Truth to avoid the abyss of pluralism and dichotomy and gray.

Sometimes they agree that maybe the church isn't the best place for me right now, they agree that God might tell someone it was okay to leave, as a trial and test of faith. Strong people like me who leave the faith are just "a sign of the times" a sign that even though Satan might get a few "good ones," it just means Jesus is coming soon, so everything will work out. Whatever the reason, I am a problem that eventually will be solved. This is the charitable view, the Christ-like view, the one people like me are expected to respond to with gratitude.

Sometimes, people try and be empathetic by telling me how sad my situation is. In many ways, loss of  faith is sad, but their misplaced empathy  creates a "deficit" view of my life: my life is "sad" because it isn't the same as their life, not because faith transitions are frequently painful and challenging.

 Overcoming this internalized deficit thinking is very difficult for me, mostly because I didn't realize how much I let this type of thinking influence my perception of self.  Learning how abandon the  deficit mentality model: the idea that because I'm no longer a believing Mormon, my life is somehow less happy, less good, less honorable, less everything, will probably take me a very long time. That's okay.

Part of overcoming deficit thinking is accepting that some people will always believe I've made a mistake. If I can accept their Truth as right for them, (I believe Mormonism is true for people who need it to be true, because their reality belongs to them,) I need to actively believe my Truth is true for me, even if no one else agrees with me.

That  seems obvious, but I was raised in an environment that praises conformity with ritual and ceremony. When I was baptized, friends and family celebrated with me. People traveled long distances to honor my temple wedding. Every week, people praised and supported me and my fellow Mormons for our lessons, our talks, our tangible manifestations of faith. People frequently told me how proud they were of me, how happy the felt when I made the same choices they did, the choices deemed acceptable by a God who grew increasingly unfamiliar in the months leading up to my initial crisis of faith.

When I left, no one was proud. There was no ceremony celebrating my decision, a decision I believe represents my integrity and honesty. There are no medallions for young women who leave.

Unless we make them ourselves.

I'm learning to view my life outside a deficit model. To stop seeing my new faith as a lesser equivalent to Mormonism, as a sad and deficient outcome of spiritual failure.

My life is no less honorable or holy because I left the church. When I think of all the opportunities my choice grants me, I am filled with joy. I am filled with joy every time I recognize myself in my thoughts and my actions, a self I abandoned for years as I tried to fit a mold that did not accommodate a very big soul. I am happy when I realize that my relationship with divinity and spirituality is mine alone, and my many mistakes are not sins, but chances to grow and thrive. There are no limits to my potential.

The most transcendent and spiritual experience of my life occurred the moment I realized my past life was over without feeling sad. When I let go of my grief, and my anger, and my sadness, I saw my world explode with possibility and wonder. The air filled with light, and I physically felt my soul re-enter my body, and felt the world turn technicolor after months of black and white.

So where is my deficit? The negative space supposedly left in my heart when I abandoned someone else's notion of Truth?


When I stop letting the Sometimes people dictate my worth, I move one step further away from the deficit model of spirituality, and one step closer to the world I created when I let my soul crash back into my body. That's where I am now, and where I want to stay.


That's what I've been thinking about lately.

11/20/14

Some ramblings on some letters to the editor....


Over the years I've developed a relatively thick-skin regarding reader responses to my writing. But any advances I've made in overcoming my natural over- sensitivity are the result of hard cognitive training and time- certainly not by way of natural ability. I work hard to recognize that negative reader responses are a natural result of public writing, while simultaneously acknowledging that many times the things written about me aren't automatically true simply because someone else believes it. (That's true of what I write about things too, I guess.) 

I also work hard to see constructive critics as editors I don't have to pay for: they help me develop more nuanced and complex thoughts in order to defend my opinion, and that's very valuable, even when the criticism stings. 


There is, however, a hierarchy to the type of comments I receive, and I tend to react differently based on where I perceive the comment to fall. For instance, attacks regarding my religious and spiritual beliefs rarely bother me anymore. I get it. You think I'm a stupid feminist who has penis envy, and therefore wants the Priesthood to compensate for my anatomical deficiencies. That's fine. Carry on. I don't bother thinking about these criticisms because there is nothing I can do to change their mind. No matter how deeply or carefully I express my spiritual convictions, until I agree with Mr. Penis Envy, he (or she) isn't going to change their opinion of me, or even engage in any type of meaningful dialogue. Same goes for people who disagree with my political views, or my liberal tendencies.

While I usually don't spend too much energy on truly ridiculous feedback, if the argument or claims are insane enough, I tend to find them hysterically funny, and therefore worthy of incorporation, at random, into conversations. My current favorite phrase: IT'S THE LIBERTY BELL, NOT THE EQUALITY BELL, a reader response to a column I wrote about female ordination. I use it kind of like a swear, which is handy when you have a two year old who repeats everything you say and traditional swears become tricky. 

Openly violent,  sexually graphic, or hostile comments still bother me a lot. Logically, I know to ignore these comments completely, but I admit that they sometimes make me scared. I don't believe anyone is going to hurt me (I hope I'm right,) but it makes me nervous that there are people in the world who react so strongly to differences of opinion, thereby justifying a threat of physical violence. I'm mostly scared because I don't understand the rationale, and therefore cannot predict the end result. Is the threat enough? Someone once looked up my home address and sent me really long screedy letter on how stupid and awful I was. It wasn't threatening, but obviously someone felt strongly enough to hunt down my address. What if that isn't enough for the next weirdo? I don't know. 

I get stupidly annoyed by letters to the editor or comments that don't actually reflect anything I wrote. For instance, a few weeks ago I wrote about the new AP U.S. History curriculum, and the backlash in conservative circles to what they perceived as a "hostile liberal take-over" of the curriculum. 

If you want, you can read the column in City Weekly HERE. 

In response, someone wrote in this letter to the editor:

Who the What?
In what alternate reality would Anita Sarkeesian be worthy of a mention in an AP U.S. History class [“Teach Me Liberty,” Oct. 23, City Weekly]?
A blogger? Are you kidding me? Did she bump Al Sharpton from the syllabus? Hopefully, teaching them to think critically includes the ability to recognize leftist claptrap when they see it.
I challenge Ms. Lauritzen to ask her enlightened students which party fought for the Civil Rights Act and which party filibustered it. What was the party affiliation of the governor who fought school integration?
Remember: Don’t fear teaching them the truth—and the means to explain why—to avoid being a failure.
Dave Cloes
Herriman
Since this is my blog, where I can do whatever I want, I'm going to take a minute to explain why this bothers me. Would it be reasonable, or even possible, to do this with every letter? Of course not. But it's a good example of the often dysfunctional relationship between the producer and the consumer of opinion media. And like I said, I'm irked.
First, in my column I mentioned rising suicide rates among LGBT teens, and the death threats against Anita Sarkeesian, to make a point: minority groups are often excluded from the traditional history curriculum, perhaps explaining why their voices and experiences are silenced in contemporary culture. I never said I intended to teach a lesson on, or even mention, Anita Sarkeesian* in class. I did say that I disagreed with conservatives who believe this statement from the APUSH curriculum, "Activists began to question society's assumption about gender and to call for social and economic equality for women and gays and lesbians" represents some liberal revisionist conspiracy. Rather, I believe it's historically relevant to discuss the activism for gender equality, especially since the fight isn't over yet, as evidenced by the recent media focus on LGBT suicide rates, and the backlash to Sarkeesian's statements on gender and media. In class, I'd most likely mention Harvey Milk and Gloria Steinem, as well as their early activist grandparents, i.e. Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. (Though I suspect Mr. Cloes wouldn't like Milk or Steinem much either. Fortunately, he doesn't write the AP Curriculum.) 
Secondly, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I hate, hate, hate, the smug "gotcha" type comments trolls make, especially when they aren't based on anything I said. Here, Dave (can I call you Dave?) assumes that because I'm a Democrat, and because I disagree with some Republicans on how to teach history, I must be too cowardly to teach about good things Republican presidents or politicians contribute to our country. "I challenge Ms. Lauritzen to ask her enlightened students which party fought for the Civil Rights Act!" Hahahahaa GOTCHA MS. LAURITZEN! HUH? HUH? WHATCHA GONNA DO NOW."

This particular GOTCHA comment is especially stupid since I never claimed, or even implied, that I disagreed with the conservative attacks against the AP curriculum because the Republican party is inherently evil and therefore all mention of them must be scrubbed from the curriculum. I disagree with the attacks by (some) conservative Republicans because I don't believe exclusively teaching American exceptionalism is appropriate, nor do I think examining the negative aspects of American history renders one "anti-American."
In fact, I recognized that the new curriculum is sometimes biased in favor of liberal perspectives, and that the solution to education bias is to provide a variety of "balanced and robust" materials to the curriculum, meaning perspectives from both sides of the party line, as well as perspectives from multiple historical disciplines. When I say I intend to teach American history, even the dark parts, I have zero qualms including members of the Democratic party in that process. I challenge enlightened readers to reread my article before accusing me of promoting "leftist claptrap."

In the end though, and this is what drives angry readers to hunt down my address, or try and catch me in some "GOTCHA" mind-trap, it comforts me to realize that people who attack my character, or my beliefs, or threaten my physical safety, do so in an act of desperation. It's a futile attempt to stop me from doing something they don't like: wanting female ordination, teaching about LGBT rights and feminism, or even simply existing on the same planet.  


But they know they can't succeed, hence the turn to their keyboards. Even if I was a crazed penis-envying messenger of Satan refusing to recognize the failures of any registered Democrat, there's nothing anyone else can do about it. Just like some of my angry readers, I get to say what I want. **


And that makes me really proud to be an American. It really, truly, does. 




















*Except for, after the AP test is over, how interesting would it be to create a mini-unit on outraged responses to female activists throughout U.S. history. We could start with the Grimk√© sisters, or maybe Sojourner Truth, and work our way through Alice Paul to the Riot Grrl Manifesto, and culminate in a glorious day of Sarkeesian idol worship. Anyone who objects fails fourth quarter! That would actually be a really fascinating series of lesson plans. 

 (I need to be very clear that I'm kidding about the failing part, and the idol worship part, because sometimes people are very literal.)

** With obvious exceptions regarding hate speech, or any other violation of someone else's rights

I also recognize that while I can hypothetically say whatever I want, I can't always control the consequences. If I truly intended to refuse discussing anything negative regarding the Democratic Party in AP US History, while forcing students to tear out any textbook pages referencing Ronald Reagan as they quietly prayed by whispering excerpts from President Obama's Inaugural Address, I probably would get fired. Good thing I don't actually do that. #leftistclaptrap





11/12/14

before they died, a lot of people told me I was a really good listener....


Sometimes you find a piece of literature so profoundly life-changing it almost makes you believe (or reaffirms your belief) in a divine presence guiding the universe. How else can you explain that one book or poem that so completely describes your person?

For me, those books are The Poisonwood Bible and My Name is Asher Lev. And...

THIS article. The title alone should merit a click-over: Sorry I Murdered Everyone, But I'm an Introvert.

Some noteworthy excerpts:

Sorry that everyone is dead. They weren’t respecting my quiet power and inner strength. It’s a common misconception that introverts can’t lead; we’re just not always the first to speak up.

Some famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, and all of your friends are dead.


I’m so sorry I killed your friends. Making small talk is just really hard for me. It’s so stressful.



Spouseman can testify that when my introvert need for space and time to recharge isn't met, I'm absolutely misanthropic, if not actually murderous. A story: once, some old neighbors came to visit us unexpectedly. I walked in the door from work, and there they were! Sitting on our couch, casually chatting with Spouseman.

Usually after work I immediately retreat into my bedroom cave to recharge for a while (sometimes a long while) until emerging to actually participate as a member of a family unit. It isn't my favorite thing about myself, but possibly going to prison because I killed Dan for asking about my day is also not my favorite thing, so I take what I can get.

That day, I got friends. Friends I really enjoy! Friends I didn't see very much, and might not see again for a few more years, since they announced plans to move.  Friends who, had I known they were coming, would make me feel excited and happy about their impending arrival.

But I really, really needed to go sit in my bedroom quietly for a little while. Without these friends sitting on my couch outside my door TALKING and INTERACTING. (The nerve!)

After a quick trip to the bathroom for a mini-freak out, I joined the happy group in the living room. An hour turned into two, and then three, and then Dan invited them to stay for dinner. Dinner, and then, oh hey, who wants brownies? That take an hour to cook! Brownies. More talking. More interacting. By the time they left, it was late, and I as soon as the door shut, I burst into tears. After a few minutes, my tears turned to straight-up frustration. Why hadn't they called beforehand to tell us they wanted to stop by? Who stays at someone's house for that long? DAN. WHY DID YOU INVITE THEM TO DINNER, YOU MONSTER???????????  Sorry I butchered all of your friends in front of you. It’s just that I’d rather curl up at home with a good book than go to a party.

Spouseman was naturally very confused. For him, the evening was fun and invigorating. In all honesty, we'd both had a good time. (Especially when I realized I could take mini-breaks by excusing myself to check on dinner, or change the wash, or check on the cats, etc.) We had just spent the evening with people we loved, and everyone was funny and smart and engaging, so why was I crying?

I explained that I'd been at work since 7:00 a.m., and it was now almost 9:00 pm. That's 14 hours of unadulterated social interaction. I spend my days teaching reluctant teenagers, and repeating the same instructions over and over, (MAKE SURE TO WRITE YOUR NAME ON YOUR PAPER, GUYS! No, you cannot use the hall pass. Can you elaborate on what you mean? Give me an example from the text!) sitting in meetings with agendas I'm convinced could be accomplished more effectively with an email, and trying to talk anxious parents off the ledge via phone when they call the school insisting I explain why their child received a B

By the time I make it home, I need to sit quietly and not talk. Not because I dislike my job, I actually really enjoy teaching most of the time. I need to sit quietly and not talk because my job uses up my mental and emotional resources faster than I can replenish them. It doesn't matter how much I like someone, or how much I want to enjoy spending five hours talking with them, after a long day of work, I need a break.  It’s simply an issue of supply and demand.

I always feel bad when I identify as an introvert who needs lots of alone time. I worry that my friends think I am telling them I don’t want to hang out with them, or that I’m secretly miserable the whole time we are together. It’s not true! At worst, I’m just planning on maiming you. (I’m kidding, I promise.)

 I love spending time with friends, and I get lonely when I go too long without seeing or talking to people I care about.  But I want to give my friends my best self, and not the self secretly planning their imminent demise because they ambushed me after work.

Today I noticed that I unintentionally plan lessons with lots of student group or partner assignments on days I have plans after work. Subconsciously, I’m trying to preserve my social interaction resources during the day so I can socialize later. I probably won’t lecture much on days I want to meet friends at the park, and I probably won’t make playdates on days with lots of work meetings or class discussion.  Just like a novice runner shouldn't try to run a marathon without training, I know 14 hours of social interaction will end in nothing but tears and premeditation.

I’m getting better at identifying my needs as an introvert with a very extroverted job. I haven’t cried after seeing a friend in years, so that’s progress.

But I won’t lie, sometimes I can’t help thinking that if you were all dead, you wouldn't keep trying to talk to me. And solitary confinement sounds awfully peaceful.






11/1/14

Halloween is the only pure holiday

(If you are the introverted, overly-sensitive, vaguely misanthropic type.)


Halloween is my favorite holiday. Here's why:


 No mandatory emotions. As someone who frequently exclaims "ughhhh feelings" whenever a Hallmark commercial interrupts my Hulu, I don't like feeling forced to feel something just because it the calendar tells me I should. I start to get really stressed out around mid-November when it becomes apparent that I am the only human on earth not participating in some daily gratitude challenge.

Am I grateful for things? Absolutely. Is it nice and emotionally healthy to set aside some specific time to deliberately consider your blessings and privilege? Of course! I just don't like feeling obligated to do so on a timetable.

Let's not even talk about Christmas, a time you are expected to be most grateful for your family,  during the very season they are most likely driving you nuts.Oh, you and your family spend the holidays sitting around a fire singing carols and rescuing homeless match-stick orphan children? That's adorable. Are you Whos? Down in Whoville? Members of my family have been known to engage in hours-long screaming matches on Why It Is Important to Be Christ-like During the Holidays followed by a  very terse unwrapping of presents and a fun blame-game of Who Ruined Christmas the Most This Year. Oh family, I love you so much. But sometimes Holidays bring out the worst in us, and I blame Mandatory Emotions.

And then there's Jesus. Evidence that long before Pinterest, baby's birthday parties were over-the- top and anxiety inducing. (Side-note: Can you imagine the gifts the Christ-child would receive if folks had  access to Pinterest? Burlap bunting to decorate the mange! Chalkboard paint wrapping paper! GLITTER. Instead of a star announcing the birth of the Savior, a heavily filtered Instagram photo, #hark#benotafraid#goodtidingsofgreatjoy)

If you are a Christian, there's a lot of Mandatory Emotions about Jesus at Christmastime. Are you putting the Christ back in Christmas? How's your excitement-about-presents-versus-excitement- about-eternal-salvation ratio looking? Basically the only feeling I'm capable of producing on command is anxiety, and I've spent many a Holiday Season worried that I wasn't celebrating the right way. I don't have any Christmas Miracle Epiphany stories or anything that would translate well into an LDS testimony meeting.

I also hate crowds at Temple Square, ugly sweater parties, and Elf on the &*%$damn shelf, so clearly I'm going to hell. But it will be warm there, and if that whole Jesus thing works out, less crowded.So I'm feeling surprisingly unanxious about that right now.

Valentines Day, Easter, (the Candy vs. Eternal Salvation  excitement ratio is equally brutal,) Fourth of July, (FEEL PATRIOTIC RIGHT NOW, OKAY. WE ARE GOING TO LIGHT EXPLOSIVES TO HELP YOU FEEL PATRIOTIC. GOD BLESS AMERICA.) all of these Holidays encourage Mandatory Emotions and I'm too much of a broken robot to handle it.

Two days before Halloween I took Clara to a tiny pumpkin patch with some of our friends. We were the only group there, and the nice owner took us on a hay-ride to choose a toddler-sized pumpkin to take back home. We climbed on our  hay-bale seats and waited for the tractor to start up and pull us through the field. When it did, Clara clapped and giggled with excitement. The wind blew our hair, and later we held hands as she ran through the kiddie corn maze.

On Halloween, Clara dressed up as "a pink butterfly dress with a crown" and she skipped up each street waving her "royal wand" and whispering "trick or treat" over and over.

 At each house, I'd ring the doorbell, and Clara would turn to me, using her most serious voice, to reassure me about the expected outcome of my door-ringing: "I'm sure they're home, Mom. I'm sure." She'd wait with her hands folded in front of her, her eyes expectant and laser-focused on the door. She charmed every neighbor, and I about died with pride for my sweet little pink butterfly with a crown.

We were happy. The real kind of happiness that doesn't feel forced or mandatory, or followed by a chaser of guilt for not feeling the right kind of happy or grateful or patriotic or twitterpated.

 Halloween is the only pure holiday.

There's a lesson in this story, somewhere. But...... ugh, feelings. Instead, I leave you with this.




10/26/14

Work that is Real


             First, thank you to everyone who found my blog via Tapestry on CBC. I've received several emails from program listeners, and it's a pleasure to get to know each of you. For those of you unaware, I did an interview with Tapestry last year. They re-aired the interview today, and you can listen to it by clicking HERE.

             Blatant self-promotion aside, I've been thinking about this space again, and in honor of my Tapestry interview, I thought I'd bring back an old MCB tradition: explaining how I feel with a poem. (I mention a poem by Nikki Giovanni in my interview, and because CBC is awesome, host Mary Hynes contacted Giovanni and interviewed her as well. You should listen to that part of the interview. It's amazing.)

            Anyway, behold: a poem.

To be of useby Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.


I shared this poem with my friend Gurr last year. Gurr is probably the most non "parlor general" person I know. But it is a personal mantra for me too: I want to do the work that is real.

My job as a teacher is not glamorous. Every day I strain in the mud and the muck, and do what has to be done, again and again. The only thing getting me through the long days and the frustration is the hope that I am making something with a "shape that satisfies, clean, and evident." I am grateful for work that listens to my soul's cry for water to carry. At the end of hard days I picture the black heads of seals, and keep swimming.

Spiritually, it's been a long time since I shared anything particularly personal on my blog. My last "real" post on faith  hid a lot behind words of other people. I realized I was scared of saying anything real, of showing any part of my soul to a world that might respond unkindly. I've become more private, but less vulnerable, in the last few months.

I've  also felt ashamed of myself, somehow. Ashamed that things hurt me, ashamed of being weak in public spaces, and determined not to let anyone see the process of turning clay into vases and pitchers, pretending that I'm content to live as a relic in a  museum. Work is hard and messy, and it's easier to hide until the work is done, and you're dead, and no one can criticize you.

Reading this poem reminded me that I shouldn't be ashamed of my work, or my life. I listened to the Tapestry interview again today, and I realized that even during the saddest most difficult parts, I sound strong. I sound like myself. I sound like I harnessed myself to a heavy cart, and pulled through. I'm proud of myself.

The work of my life will continue to remain unglamorous, and most likely, I'll swim and pull and create relatively privately. But I'll do this without being ashamed of the work I've created, of the harvest I've sown,or of the mud I've shaped. My work-both in my classroom and in my soul- is real, and made to be used.

As always, thanks for following along.









10/13/14

Help provide clean water in Africa: WHOlives.org


As expressed in my previous post, I’m not much of a blogger these days. However, I am always happy to use my and social media outlets to support causes I think are important. Today’s cause is WHOlives.org, a nonprofit committed to creating clean and affordable water in South Africa. Caitlin Schille  is a Wholives representative and author of today’s guest post. Look for additional information on WHOlives and donation opportunities at the bottom of this post.

WHOlives.org: Water, Health, Opporunity


Burka Village Drill Team




WHOlives is a nonprofit based in South Jordan, Utah. With innovative technology and effective systems, we are working hard to bring clean water to Africa.

WHOlives differs from other nonprofits in the cost. Approximately $4 can provide a child with clean water for ten years. Ten years! For the cost of your morning coffee, or a couple of diet cokes, you can truly change someone’s life.

The W.H.O. stands for water, health, and opportunity, as we believe these things are interconnected.  Providing clean water lowers the risk of many diseases, improving health.

In addition to vastly improved health, these wells provide other benefits as well. Girls are primarily responsible for gathering water, and they typically walk several miles each way to a water source every day. When a well is installed, this frees up an enormous amount of time for the girls, enabling them to attend school. We have found that in each village where a well is drilled, school attendance greatly increases, especially attendance among girls.

The wells also improve the economic health of the village. Several people will be employed to power the drill every day, providing jobs. The drill is also sustainable- villagers pay a small and manageable fee of approximately five to ten cents to use the well, ensuring that there is money to repair the drill or purchase new parts as well as pay the drill workers.

To deliver clean water, we use the Village Drill, a Brigham Young University engineering capstone project. The drill is used to create wells, and it is much more cost-effective to use the Village Drill than traditional well drills. Each well provides clean water to thousands of people.

If you’d like to donate to WHOlives, please see the link below. Remember, the donation does not need to be large to make a difference. Even a one-time of donation of $4 will change a life.






Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated by WHOlives.org in promoting their non-profit organization. Please use individual discretion when donating to nonprofits. 

10/8/14

If I ever write a memoir, all my major life events will be described in relation to which season of Gilmore Girls was playing in the background at the time they occurred.



I don't really blog anymore. I recognize this. Honestly, I don't even know HOW to blog anymore. The rules have totally changed since I left the game. Everyone is a lifestyle blog now. But I have a sinus infection and some really, really, important thoughts about Gilmore Girls- a show for middle-class white girls that ended back in 2007- and I feel they need to be recorded.





Gilmore Girls is on Netflix now, but I didn't think I would watch,given that it is now officially fall and that means all my real-life shows are back. Plus, I tried watching one of my Girls DVDs a few weeks ago, (not that Girls show, dummy. Remember, we are back in 2007, when blogs could be ugly and text-heavy and Lorelei's slip-dresses and sparkly cardigans were considered high fashion. Gosh, I loved 2007.) and I couldn't finish an episode.

I've been destroyed by Netflix and instant streaming and the idea of committing to the four episodes on one disc was just too risky. What if three of the four episodes are annoying? I'll have to get up and pick a different disc. What if I've finally found the right laptop-screen-to-head-ratio in my bed and getting up ruins it? What disc has the episode where Lorelei compares dating Luke to being dragged behind a truck for miles and miles and just wanting Luke to open the door and let her ride in the truck next to him, just let me in, that's all I'm asking, because I CANNOT watch that episode. I cannot risk getting accidentally emotional during my binge-watching. I have shit to do.  I also need to be able to skip an episode the INSTANT I see show-ruin-er April. I hate April. I place full responsibility on April for the demise of Gilmore Girls and I will never, ever, forgive her.

Thus, I decided I would focus my TV efforts on keeping caught up on The Mindy Project and trying to find a way to watch The Bachelor: Canada without downloading a scary virus.

Lies.  I've Netflixed  my way into season two of Gilmore Girls in a matter of days. Who are we kidding? The minute Where you lead, I will follow you....played through my perfectly arranged laptop speakers I resolved to neglect my family and re-establish my priorities. Maybe I'll even make it through an April episode this weekend when I've inevitably binge-watched my way into season seven. Anything is possible.

I started with season one and nearly died from a nostalgia aneurysm. OH MY GOSH 2000. I loved that year too! The fashion is incredible. Time erased my memories of all the weird things  the year 2000 did to a woman's body. Everything is either shrunken or oversize and I keep wanting to pull everyone's pants up. So many contradictions. Why are people wearing chunky sleeveless turtleneck sweaters? If it is cold enough to want a chunky turtleneck, why are you exposing your arms? Why are flare leg pants cut just above the ankle? Everything Rory wears looks like it spent too much time in a hot dryer, yet I distinctly remembering watching the episodes as a high school sophomore and coveting her jeans. And her boxy sweaters. Lorelei wears a lot of tie-dye shirts with odd Asian symbols on them, and everyone needs bangs. Also,  IRONIC GRAPHIC TEES. MAX MEDINA. 1,000 YELLOW DASIES.

Beyond acting as a sartorial time-capsule, watching Gilmore Girls takes me back to every phase in life when I relied on Lorelei and Rory to get me through hard times. I watched Gilmore Girls after break-ups. I watched Gilmore Girls every day after class my freshman year of college, and it was probably the only consistently positive thing that happened the entire year. Spouseman and  I watched Gilmore Girls the weekend after I finished grad school but didn't get a job offer. The opening title sequence sends Spouseman into a post-traumatic fury because I frequently left the TV on the menu screen with the same thirty minute music track playing on endless repeat. (I didn't notice, since my ADD allows me to block out things I don't actively want to see or hear.)

I've never watched the final episode because 7 years later I'm still in denial about the show's last-minute cancellation. How was this show not picked up for an 8th season? Where is the rumored movie? Rory goes off to work for the Obama campaign, and how will I know who wins the election without neurotic-Rory reading her articles over the phone to Lorelei in her high-pitched baby voice? Oh, wait. It isn't 2007, it's 2014.

Anyway, welcome to Netflix Gilmore Girls, you were my first TV love, and having you in the same place as The West Wing means I will probably never do anything meaningful with my life. Turns out, Girls, where you lead? I will follow you. Because I love you, you idiot.







I still hate April.





8/18/14

What I Saw (Guest Submission)

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the silencing of Mormon Feminist voices within the LDS Church.

(Editor's note: People are often quick to dismiss the concerns of Mormon feminists as a byproduct of "one bad experience" with a male authority figure. Like the "not all men" phenomenon in mainstream feminism, the "not all Mormon Men" response is equally damaging. While there are a great many wonderful Mormon men in the world, supporting a patriarchal institution in which women are denied significant leadership opportunities indirectly supports abuse like the circumstances described below.)

What I Saw

I watched my dad belittle, embarrass, and abuse my mother until the day they divorced almost forty years after they married. I watched my dad be an upstanding church member my whole life. Giving excellent talks, teaching on Sunday, teaching seminary during the week, talking of his mission with fondness. 

I watched my dad pit his children against their mother. I watched my dad zealously love his daughters (until they decided to leave the church and then he called them sluts and whores), while paying next to no attention to his son no matter what he did. I watched my dad gaslight my mother until it drove her this close to crazy. I watched a lot of things I wish I could forget.

In my memory I watch my BYU Sophomore self calling my dad's Stake President and telling him how terrible things were. My mother watched him have a 2 hour interview with the Stake President and nothing more. 

I watched my mother going in and out of the Branch Presidents office trying to get help and I watched nothing happen. I watched my mom give up as my dad would go in and tell a different story that was always taken as truth. 

I watched my dad in his passive aggressive abusive way marry my mothers best friend 2 weeks after their divorce was final. I watched my dad screw my mom over in the divorce. I watched my dad take his new wife to Europe, to Vegas, to shows, horseback riding, to operas, on cross country trips as my mother works 8 hour days at minimum wage to make ends meet. 

I watch my family fall apart, I watch our relationships suffer as my dad sits on the front pew at church telling himself that he was always right, never wrong or whatever self believe thing he does to keep him going day to day. He probably doesn't have to tell himself anything though. He was brought up being told he was always right, that he was always in charge, that he would never be challenged. I watch as he has never uttered an apology, not even a simple "I'm sorry". 

I watch my dad go to the Temple. 

I can't watch anymore. I want my wounds to heal. I wish this experience on no one. I wish for women to be ordained so shit like this will never happen again. 

7/10/14

An Open Letter to my Orthodox Mormon Friends, Family, and Loved Ones (Guest Submission)

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several other members of the LDS Church, including John Dehlin

Kelli Anderson is a return missionary who blogs about her life and faith journey at Chronicles of She


An Open Letter To My Orthodox Mormon Friends, Family, and Loved Ones:

There is too much shame and guilt in our relationship and just not enough trust. I know how much activity in the church means to you. I know that you really want me to be an active, believing Mormon. I know the idea of me stepping back from the church is scary to you, and I know that's only because you love me.

I just want to let you know that I have deliberately kept you in the loop during this transition of my faith because I appreciate your input and because I respect your opinion and I just plain think you have contributed enough to my faith in God to have earned a bit of openness from me, even though it has been terrifying to open up.

I am inviting you to trust my totally fallible but also divine ability to know what's right for me more than you trust the dogma that says if I'm not an active Mormon I am obviously living my life incorrectly. I am inviting you trust my judgment to know what lifestyle works best for me. I want you to know that I afford you the same trust of which I am asking because I do believe there is divinity in the human intellect--and that includes yours, even if your reasoning and conclusions are far different from mine.

I hope you can trust me because you know I am a smart person. Not a day or hour goes by that I don't ponder church teachings. I am thoughtful and intentional about what I believe and how I live. I hope you can trust me because you know I am a strong person. I am not giving in to temptation or betraying my convictions. I hope you can feel positive about whatever I believe or however I live simply because you trust ME and respect ME and my ability to decide for myself how to live and what works for me.

I am happy where I am. I trust God and I trust the relationship I have with heaven. I trust my idea of right and wrong and how to live my life. It's working okay for me. I am honestly happier now than I've been in my life. I don't think I am lost, but if I am, I trust God to steer me in the right direction.

And maybe, you're right. Maybe I am on the wrong path and I am making a bunch of huge mistakes, but do you know what? It's my path. It's my mistakes to make--or not make.

Sometimes going to church is about faith and sometimes it is about fear. Honestly, if I were going to church right now, I think it would be more about fear than faith. I have faith in God and I trust God. I don't for a second expect you to fully understand my choices or thoughts and feelings, but I do hope you can trust me. I hope you grasp the trust that I have in myself and in God and that you believe me when I say I trust your decisions for your life, too.

I have no plans to turn you away or shut you out any time soon. I really love you. I can't express how much your unwavering faith in God has blessed every part of my life and will continue to. I can't imagine not having you in my life. I hope our relationship can evolve to be less about matching beliefs and more about friendship and trust. I love you.

All my best,

Kelli

7/7/14

"I'm in Here" (Guest Submission)

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several members of the LDS church. 

"I'm in Here"

I cannot remember the last time I have felt such crushing sadness at all times of the day. I guess this is what depression feels like? I've offered some pretty angry prayers at different times of my life--screaming at God in my head--and many lately. I have little to offer by way of eloquence, but as I was listening to music the other day, this one by Sia began playing. It's called "I'm in Here", and it neatly summarizes where I am right now.



I'm in here, can anybody see me?
Can anybody help?
I'm in here, a prisoner of history
Can anybody help?
Can't you hear my call?
Are you coming to get me now?
I've been waiting for you to come rescue me
I need you to hold
All of the sadness I cannot live with inside of me
I'm in here, I'm trying to tell you something
Can anybody help?
I'm in here, I'm calling out but you can't hear
Can anybody help?
Can't you hear my call?
Are you coming to get me now?
I've been waiting for you to come rescue me
I need you to hold
All of the sadness I cannot, living inside of me
I'm crying out, I'm breaking down
I am fearing it all, stuck inside these walls
Tell me there is hope for me
Is anybody out there listening?
Can't you hear my call?
Are you coming to get me now?
I've been waiting for you to come rescue me
I need you to hold
All of the sadness I cannot, living inside of me
Can't you hear my call?
Are you coming to get me now?
I've been waiting for you to come rescue me
I need you to hold
All of the sadness I cannot, living inside of me
I'm in here, can anybody see me?
Can anybody help?

7/2/14

Worthy (Guest Submission)

            This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and possible excommunication of several LDS church members.  

Worthy   

by Kati Price


                “Your husband does not believe in the Gospel. He had no business taking you to the temple in the first place”…The bishop spoke just inches from my face and placed his hands on my shoulders while shaking me like a young child being scorned, trying to get me to see something I wasn’t ready to face. I was two weeks postpartum with our last child and the bishop had decided my husband was not worthy to bless his only baby girl. He was essentially correct about my husband not fully believing, although his actions were completely wrong. No man should ever speak or touch a woman like that. My husband had always struggled with his own belief, but tried hard to make it work for him. I fought like Hell to continue to belong to my religion. I fought like Hell, pleading with my father in heaven to fix our family. Please, make us worthy. I needed a priesthood leader to be worthy. By association, I was unworthy. We were now labeled “part member family”. My husband was no longer worthy to hold callings. No longer worthy to be a part of the ward member club. This all came about because he expressed doubt in Joseph Smith as a prophet. But no one would listen to his questions. He was only punished for asking.  He did everything he was supposed to do. He just had questions. Questions no one could answer for him without ending in “have faith”.

                I spent the next 5 years in denial. I silenced my husband and forbid him from telling our children he didn’t believe in our religion. I begged him to lie so he could perform ordinations on our children and just try harder. Pray harder. Read more and plead with the Lord to give him a testimony. I was ready to leave my marriage. I was encouraged to leave. I was depressed. I was broken. With other family problems going on at this same time, I lost my own family and felt like my life was in a spiral downward. This was only the beginning of our problems.

                I began to realize I also had a son that was struggling with his own belief. Not because he wanted to be like his dad. He had no clue his dad was also struggling. They were his issues, he was discovering on his own. As a new 4 year old sunbeam, he proudly expressed his disdain for the missionary program in primary one Sunday. “That sounds stupid, why would I go 2 years without talking to my mom?” Everyone laughed. I cried. I knew he meant it. I knew he would never go. I knew I would be disappointed in him when he turned 19 and didn’t go like all of his friends. He wouldn’t be fulfilling the list that was required for him to be worthy. When he turned 8, he begged me to give him the option of not getting baptized. I ignored his pleas. I forced him to become a member of the LDS church. I told him he had no choice, even though we pride ourselves on free agency. I figured it would pass. It didn’t. With each new Sunday school teacher came the questions and comments from the teacher. “Your son asks a lot of questions.” “Your son doesn’t understand the Gospel”. “Your son doesn’t believe.” “You need to teach your son more at home about Gospel principles.” I was mortified. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I began to silence my son the same way I did my husband. I begged him to “keep his mouth shut” in class. “Do not ask questions. Just go and listen and you will believe!” 

                He was about two weeks from turning 12. The age a boy receives the priesthood. One late night he came into my room in tears. He expressed his desire to die rather than receive the priesthood. He could no longer be a part of this church. It was killing him and forcing him to believe in things he just couldn’t believe. He expressed his love of evolution and the big bang theory. He passionately expressed his love of science and how the science of the earth did not match up with the teachings of the church. He was studying a lot of Egyptian theology at the time so he told me about how the Book of Abraham had pictures of Egyptian hieroglyphics that were not correct and that bothered him. He used words that were so mature and so well thought out that there was no way I could ignore him this time. I was changing who my son was meant to be. I was forcing him to be something he could never authentically be and he wanted to die because of it. At 12 years old. My son wanted to die. At that very moment I saw my husband in his sweet eyes. I finally had empathy for my husband and his entire life of being forced to believe something he never could make any sense of.

                I went in full mama bear mode. I requested the immediate termination of all church contact. No home teachers, no visiting teachers and I also requested to be released from my calling in the Young Women. A calling I truly loved. I kept everything private. No meetings. No explanation. I feared disciplinary actions. I fiercely needed to protect my son until he was ready to tell his own story. Until, he truly understood his own story. I no longer cared about our family being worthy. I no longer wanted to be a part of the club. The club was tearing apart my family. The desire for worthiness was forcing us to have disappointment and anger with each other. It was causing contention in our home and breaking us apart. I had to heal our family. I had to leave all expectations of who I wanted them to be and let them be who they were MEANT to be.

                3 years later we are still trying to make sense of all of our differing beliefs. We are a home with atheist views and agnostic views. Some of us are still very spiritual and cling to the belief of God. Some of us are still too young to know. But, we all respect and love each other. We allow each other to be who we know we were meant to be. No judgment, but most importantly no disappointment. None of us practice Mormonism in the organized sense. We spend our Sundays hiking or going to the movie. We use our extra time to be together as a family.  We still teach our children the same morals and guidelines we did when we were Mormon, but now we explain why instead of using the fear of sin or God to teach our children right from wrong. Worthiness is no longer based on a list of things you have to accomplish. Or a list of ordinations that have to be completed.

                Leaving was the only option for our family because as a “part member” family we were never completely accepted. There were always things wrong with our family unit. We were always missing a primary ingredient to make us worthy. I truly wish we could have stayed a part of the church I loved so much. To be able to be welcomed and loved as we were. For the people we were individually. For the people we were together. In our experience and our area, that just didn’t happen. Yes, there were those that loved us “anyway”.  But, I was tired of being loved “anyway”. I was tired of being pitied or talked about as “the part member family”. We are a whole family. A wonderful family with nothing wrong with us. We deserved to be seen that way.

                Living in Utah County is certainly not easy being the odd ones out. Especially still living in the ward we “left”. There have been rumors and awful things said. There are people who will not speak to us. There are people that wish we would leave for good. There have been ruined relationships with friends and family that don’t understand what we believe and the choices we have made. At the end of the day, our little family is all that matters. My children are thriving beyond all my expectations. I am so proud of my son that stood up for his own beliefs my heart could burst at any moment. He is about to enter high school and let me tell you, his future is bright. He is living life to the fullest and is happy and complete.  I love being a mother to children that are open and honest. They talk to me about everything. They are not afraid to believe what they choose and be who they want to be. It makes motherhood so glorious and rewarding. I know that when my son turns 18, I will be proud of him and not disappointed. My expectations are no longer tied to worthiness for him.


                When members say “They should just leave”…don’t worry. Eventually they will. You leave them no other choice. Just remember, we are real people. With real feelings and reasons for making the choices we make. It’s so easy to judge. Just remember one day it might be your child. Your own spouse, maybe even you might have doubts one day. When that happens, our family is here. With open arms and hearts. We know your pain. We’ve been through it and came out better for it. Truly love your neighbor. You never know the burdens they carry or the choices they are forced to make. Never force someone out. What a beautiful religion this could be if we were more welcoming to all. More accepting of those we don’t understand. Loved without the hope of one day changing them to believe the way you do. There only being ONE right way. That is a religion I could be a part of. I hope one day my religion and heritage will get there. I believe it can. When it does, I will embrace it fully. 

6/30/14

The Pulpit and the Purple (Guest Submission)

This is a guest submission in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly. 

The Pulpit and the Purple
By Anna Fisher
June 23, 2014

In a room filled with gold, and the seats velvet red
Stands a pulpit of black walnut wood
And the pipes burst behind as the music unwinds
And the crowd carries on as they should.
They all sing aloud, “The Spirit of God,”
Then they all fold their arms, shut their eyes,
And a man at the front, at the pulpit he stands,
And asks heaven to be by their sides.

Then he looks at the crowd, and says soft, but loud
If they doubt, they can knock at the door
Then he turns away quickly, hopes no one will speak,
But one woman in yellow implores
She raises her hand, then on her feet stands,
But the gentleman just walks away,
Then she turns to the crowd, finally asking out loud,
How many more feel the same way.

A cautious few join her, they make a small group
And the others like them shortly follow,
In purple they pray, and to leaders’ dismay
They don’t disappear on the ‘morrow.
Soon they’re waiting outside with their hearts full of hope
Asking men at the pulpit to meet,
But the men stay inside and together confide,
They will silence the group on their feet.

But the purple keeps walking, and standing, and waiting
And the woman in yellow speaks out,
She won’t disappear, to her heart she’ll adhere
Then the men in black ties kick her out.
And some people cheer, while the others shed tears
As thousands have scars on their hearts,
And the purple might bleed, while some will be freed
Even several who don’t want to part.

And the men at the pulpit will think they have won,
Many women will stand by their side,
The group wanting change has been called all the names
They’ve been told to be quiet and hide.
But the woman in yellow still holds up her head
Though the tears seem to rip her apart,
And those who don’t know her will cry on their own
This is all over gender instead of the heart.

In a room filled with gold, and the seats velvet red
Stands a pulpit of black walnut wood
And the pipes burst behind as the music unwinds
And the crowd carries on as they should.
They all sing aloud, “The Spirit of God,”
Then they all fold their arms, shut their eyes,
And a man at the front, at the pulpit he stands,
And asks heaven to be by their sides.

6/29/14

Who will we be without us? (Guest Submission)

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several other members of the LDS Church. 


Who will we be without us?

by Genavee

"We are so damn Mormon" I said to my husband today, as we bought a 50 lb bag of wheat and chatted about our fall canning plans. Which might seem a little off to some of you, what with the swearing and the shopping on Sunday, and the coffee I'm sipping while I type this. We haven't been to church in forever, and our beliefs are complicated. And yet, after 20+ years of living Mormon and generations of Mormon blood coursing through our genealogy charts, aren't we Mormon? 

That's part of the weird conundrum of modern Mormonism. On one hand, it very much is a religion, with a fascinating tension between a theology built as much on open and personal revelation as it is on firm standards and ecclesiastical authority. But it's also a culture, essentially an ethnic group. It's just as much the shared heritage of roadshows, girls camp, white shirts, pioneer stories and funeral potatoes as it is about what's in the correlated lesson manuals or said in general conference. The people, the culture, the doctrine, the structures - it's all Mormonism. 

Especially the people. It's a church where members do everything, rotating in and out of positions, so who is there on Sunday to teach and preach and just be, what they think and believe and focus on - that probably makes up Mormonism more than anything. It makes this a living church. What we say, what we do, what we preach, all of that can and does change as we change. It makes us. Except more and more there are less and less people, especially my age, especially people who's conscience or experiences don't line up with current orthodoxy. 

The June purge of some high and low profile Mormons, including my friend Kate Kelly, who is one of the most truly and best Mormon people I've ever known, is a pivotal moment in what this living church wants to be. The first time I met Kate was in our law school cafeteria. She was the only person who truly listened and comforted me, a stranger, while I dealt with my faith crisis. She understood, she told me it was ok, she told me that I was loved, that I was ok, but she also told me there was a place for me. She gave me hope that I could come back then, and later she gave that hope to thousands more, only to be told by the church that she might not be welcome for doing so. 

Maybe that's what some people want. Maybe it's necessary to demand purity of belief and action, maybe preserving the parts of the church they see as essential means telling the ones seen as different or dangerous to change, be quiet or get out. I can't entirely begrudge them that. After all, I want to shape and change my faith home too. I don't know how or if it's possible to make Mormonism a place for all who can lay a claim to it. But ultimately through our actions Mormons will choose what Mormonism is and what it isn't. Mormons like me can't change who we are (believe me, most of us have tried). We can choose to try and expand Mormonism to fit us, or we can choose to walk away. Other Mormons have to choose whether they are willing to let the church grow to fit us in, or shrink to kick us out.

It's not a choice for it to stay the same. Living things don't do that, they don't stand still. They especially can't stay the same after excising a limb. Our choices are always shaping what this church and this community are. And I have an inkling of what kind of church is being created. Already, even from the outside looking in, I've noticed a greater focus on those wedge issues. More time spent talking about women's roles, same-sex marriage and GLBT people, and the like than on what I grew up thinking of as the heart of the gospel. The more we choose to focus on protecting the boundaries, the less time we can choose to focus on charity, salvation, Christ. What is said and what is done is shrinking as the people shrink, and with it so is the church.

I'm fine. I know who I am. I'll be Mormon whether I'm wanted or not, in my own way. I will always say and do and be shaped by my heritage. I'll buy my bags of wheat, I'll wonder about eternity, find ways to serve and hum the occasional hymn. No one can take that from me. But the "good" Mormons can take themselves away from me. They can make it so they never have to listen to my voice, or hear my questions or ideas. They can hit unfriend. They can can tell us with a smile that doesn't meet their eyes that maybe we should go find some other place. They can say hurtful things about apostates in the hope that we'll notice we aren't wanted and leave quietly. And they can excommunicate us. They can choose to be the kind of people that make things pure. I just wonder if that kind of church, the one without all of us all together, so different from what it could be and sometimes has been, is what they really want.

6/25/14

How Can I Be Selfish? (Guest Submission)

 I went to church and asked God if he loved me. “Of course I do! I need you,” he said. And then he took my hand and led me to a house. “Here is a house where you will find out just how much I love you. No greater happiness can exist than in a home.” Thrilled and excited and dreamy, I get to work. I marry, organize, weed, plant, clean, harvest, laugh, play, learn, eat, love, cook, wonder, and dream again. 

This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several members of the LDS Church, including John Dehlin.

How Can I Be Selfish? 

What will I be when I’m done? An architect? A curator? A professor? I sit down to catch my breath and saw God again, “Don’t be idle. Look at these beautiful spirits. They need to come to earth.” I love babies. So I had 4. And my body loved carrying them and felt too heavy at the same time. And when I told God that a part of me became too open and vanished every time I pushed one out my body, he said, “Mortality is for testing. Children bring joy. Have faith. Don’t give up. They need you.”

 And the days went by and years came and went, me too busy to think straight, pushing out the scary thought that this isn’t making me happy like He promised. But his promises are sure so I must be wrong. And one day I looked in the mirror and couldn’t see me anymore. I don't know who was looking back. She was tired. And alone. And doubting. And too afraid to say anything. “If you’re unhappy, it’s because you’re not serving others. Get to work. You are so blessed. Look at all the people who have it worse than you.” Embarrassed, I went to work. I soothed children, kept them safe, cooked, cleaned, worked miracles with the budget, loved my husband, gave him my heart and my body, moved, laundered, drove, watched and taught. 

But the emptiness grew. And grew. And festered. And one day I broke. Finally not caring how it would look, I opened my mouth in agony, “I can’t do this anymore. I keep going and I keep going but I have nothing left in me. I gave it all away to everyone around me and they want more. And I’m so hungry but every time I eat someone is more hungry. And I have so much to say and every time I speak someone reminds me I’m not listening. And I wonder so much and when I ask I'm told to be more obedient. And I’m so tired but every time I lie down someone had a bad dream. I want to cry but my child is crying. I’m so angry but I don’t want to be unforgiving. I’m empty but don’t want to be ungrateful. I need answers but I’m told to have patience. If this is life, then I’m not sure I want it anymore. I’m confused. I’m hurting. Do you see me?” And I hear God say, “I need you. There are people to save and meals to cook and hearts that need mending. Selfishness destroys the world.” 

And I think, “How can I be selfish when I don’t even have a self?”

6/24/14

The Errand of Angels (Guest Submission)

                        
This is a guest post in response to the excommunication of Kate Kelly, and the possible excommunication of several other members of the LDS Church.


The Errand of Angels

by Gabriella Anne


                        You told me I was an angel
                        You said it was my gift
                        My role, assigned along with the
                        length of my hair and the
                        curve of my breast
                        To be gentle and loving
                        in every deed and word
                        and thought
                        It was an honor
                        (all mine)
                        with my full lips and long lashes
                        to fill the world with peace, love and kindness

                        You told me the errand of angels
                        was given to women
                       
                        But you were wrong

                        The errand of angels was given to people
                        Black women and Hispanic men and
                        The lesbian (human) being mocked at the mall
                       
                        The errand of angels was given to humanity
                        With acceptance and goodwill
                        With understanding and openness
                       
                       
                        “The errand of angels was given to women”
                        You lied
                        Or maybe you didn’t know
                        (Or maybe you just didn’t tell)


                        Either way, I am not an angel.
                        And if I were I’d be an angel made of fire
                        With teeth and talons like steel
                        Sharp and unyielding as truth
                        With wit and a brightness
                        That crumples mountains
                        And dries seas
                       
                        I would be an angel
                        seeking and finding the
                        purity of God and
                        breaking my way out of prejudice and hate
                        looking at hearts instead of faces
                       
                       
                       
                        If I were an angel
                        I’d smite those who would
                        bind me
                        with white wings
                        and a soft heart