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6/20/14

A True Story about Birth, Football, and Mercy for Kate Kelly (Guest Submission)

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

A True Story about Birth, Football, and Mercy for Kate Kelly

It was my first baby.  At the end of a 12-hour labor, my feet were finally placed in the stirrups,the equipment arranged in the delivery room, and my body draped and prepped for that exhausting, arduous finale that is birth. My husband, a registered nurse with an advanced college degree, stood by my side while the male physician took his position. Mustering strength and resolve amid emotional weariness and profound physical fatigue, and being more than ready for nine months of gestational discomfort to end, I began to push.
That was the moment when my husband and my doctor struck up a casual conversation about football: players, teams, scores, championship games, and odds of winning and losing.
It would be accurate to say that even on my best dayseven when I am at the top of my game and in an extremely good mood, I care nothing for football. I don’t like it. I don’t watch it. I don’t talk about it. Ever.
Yet there we were, the three of us, working collaboratively to achieve the safe arrival of oneprecious 6-pound baby girl as stories of touchdowns and penalty kicks were tossed back and forth. My fury was contained only because I didn’t have enough energy to push a baby out of my body and verbally harangue them for what I perceived as blatant disregard for what should behappening. The passing of fourteen years since that night has proven to be a cooling off period for me, leaving me with a better understanding of the situation.
Notwithstanding their professional training, advanced medical degrees, and technical knowledge about the processes of birth, these two men were having a vastly different experience than I that night. Yes, we were in the same room. Yes, we were working toward the same cause. Yes, we were all educated on the nature of the event.
And yet 
And yet we were not experiencing things the same way.
And yet we were not interpreting things the same way.
And yet we were not suffering the same way.
And that is the place that I believe we are at with the issues that feminists have raised recently.As a religious community, we are in the middle of an intense, tiring labor in which we are all sincerely invested its precious outcome. Men and women.  Members and leaders.  Supporters and non-supporters of Ordain Women. Are we not all trying to work on big issues as best we know how, but we just don’t know how to negotiate all of it very well?
Admittedly, there have been mistakes. There has been fury.
Admittedly, I have made mistakes. I have been furious.
Maybcooling down period is necessary nowMaybe reflecting and perspective-taking could help all of us understand one another better. Maybe we ought to work toward repairing, repenting, and restarting.  Maybe we could take a lesson from children who allow each otherdo-overs when first attempts at game-playing don’t go well.
Are we not all trying to understand this somewhat messy and confusing conglomeration of culture, administrative policy, and priesthood doctrine so as to better delineate where one ends and another beings? Isn’t this an honest, meaningful quest worthy of attention, wrestle, and discourse? Isn’t it essential that we do it together peacefully as a religious community? Is this not a fitting moment to apply the atonement of Jesus Christ to our collective questions, struggles,yearnings, conversations, interactionsmistakes, and pain?
If ever my words reached the leaders who intend to hold a disciplinary council for Kate Kelly, I would plead mercy for Kate, our sister in the gospel.
Mercy for Kate means that we all have ownership of this struggle. One person didn’t cause it. One generation didn’t cause it. One can’t fix it. One shouldn’t be blamed for it.
Mercy for Kate acknowledges that this problem is a complicated, historical intertwining of culture, policy, and doctrine that a lot of people desire to untangle and understand better.
Mercy for Kate acknowledges that our religious community needs ministering and productiveconversations, not another purging. Not more fear.
Mercy for Kate acknowledges that men and women in the church may not be experiencing things the same way, interpreting things the same way, or suffering the same way; therefore, more understanding, not punishment, is needed.

Mercy for Kate signals that we are all willing to make real progress in not seeing each other as the enemy.
Mercy for Kate means that we can do harder things than suffering through another high profile disciplinary trial and its resulting fallout.
Mercy for Kate provides an opportunity to grow in our ability to understand and apply the atonement of Jesus Christ to problems that are deeply rooted, widely felt, and collectively experienced.
Mercy for Kate means we can model this process for the world.
Mercy for Kate provides a much-needed do-over.
May we all do our part to speak kindly, write softly, listen patiently, and consider deeply.

2 comments:

runningcaj said...

That was a fantastic analogy! May peace and mercy be granted to those who build our hearts.

Mrs. Clark said...

Yes. Thank you.