What if it was Me? (Guest submission)

This is a guest submission in response to the possible excommunications of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin.

What If It Was Me?

by Carrie

I didn't grow up here, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m a convert. I've been a Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Methodist, an Episcopalian, a Non-Denominational Protestant Christian, and an Atheist. I even have cousins who are Catholics. I still have a bit of an outsider’s perspective, when I remember it. Sometimes it’s easy to get comfortable and forget. But every so often, something makes me stop and think, “What if it was me?”

I like questions. I always have. It’s one of the reasons that the other churches and I didn't get along. I like delving, questioning, listening to the opinions of others. I think the times when I’m growing the most in my relationship with Christ are when I’m asking questions. It took two years for me to be baptized because I questioned, tested, and pondered everything I learned. It’s how I developed my faith in my Savior. I love to learn good things everywhere I go, and I believe every person has something good to give.

It’s been nine years since my baptism and about eleven since I started coming to church, and the shiny new-ness of the Gospel is wearing off. Can you guess what I've finally started to notice now?

It’s the people.

They’re everywhere.

Sweet, snarky, kind, cunning, struggling, confident, loving, learning, gossipy, compassionate, talented, power-hungry, know-it-all, humble, generous, selfish, honest, lying, faithful, cheating, judgmental, questioning, imperfect people.

I hear cruel, hurtful comments. I hear gossip. I hear people give talks in Sacrament Meeting about the love of a “forever family” and then see them screaming at their children and throwing them around. Occasionally, I hear about Christ. The example He set, the life He lived of sacrifice, and service, and generous love to those who struggled. Christ said the two most important things we can do are to love God and to love our neighbors. Our neighbors are not just the people in playgroup, or the people on our Visiting Teaching list. They’re not just the people in Relief Society every week or even those who have “gone astray”. We are to love EVERYONE. The judgments hurt, even when they’re not directed at me. Because every time I hear it, I think,

“What if it was me?”

What if it was me, your friend, struggling with a question? What if it if was me, your sister, carrying the weight on my shoulders that influenced my decisions? What if it was me who dyed my hair blue, or wore my favorite dress pants, or wanted to know why the Sunday School Presidency doesn't include women?

Would you still judge me?

Would you look at me, like you look at pictures or an article about someone on the internet, and tell me that I’m ugly? That I’m “too feminist to procreate”? Would you tell me that I lack faith, or that I don’t understand the basics of the Gospel? Would you judge me, my life, my faith and my family on a 200-word blog post written by another? Or if you heard I was struggling, if you heard I had doubts, if you heard I was lonely or depressed, would you seek me out, because you love me?

Why are hurtful and cruel comments coming from us, who claim to follow the example of Christ? He, who would not condemn an adulterer, who spent His time with the people who were rejected by society, who showed kindness and compassion to all those in need? If it was me that had been dragged into the crowd and labeled an adulterer, would you have thrown the stone? If the face of someone with questions and doubts was suddenly very familiar, would you lash out at me with words of hate? Condemn me? Cast me off?

What if it was me?

Let’s stop this hate, this judgment, these horrible words of condemnation. When we look at others, let’s see them as a person of value with good to give. Let’s love them the way Christ loves them and support the heads that hang down, the feeble knees that tremble. Perhaps, every time you see a struggle, or hear a question, or see a need, you could stop before the judgments, look at your neighbor with love in your heart, and think, “What if it was me?”


Melody said...

Yes, they would.

I had a friend for over 5 years that would get soooo angry when I posted gay equality stuff on my facebook. Finally I asked her if in 5 years or so I came out of the closet and said I was a lesbian (I'm not, I'm straight, but what if??), would she quit being my friend. .... She said that yes, she would. Incredible.

So sorry! I hurts and it sucks and it's unnecessary, and wrong. But it exists. I feel it too.

Right now I'm focusing on the friend that, when I cried on her shoulder, commented to me "Thank you for being REAL with me." And all of the friends that love me for ME. Not what I can do for them, the positions I hold, who I'm married to, or any other irrelevant, superficial reason other than they love me.

{{hugs}} to all who feel this way too.

Regina said...

Lovely, appropriate, necessary, balanced, poignant... Thank you!

Natalie said...

Thanks! I know there are people who would no longer be my friend if they know how I really think. For reasons I have decided not to be public about all my thoughts and opinion.

TheJoyfulPalmers said...

A Stand on the Debate Regarding Kate Kelly and John Dehlin

(NOTE: The word "conscience" is used ad nausium in this post.)

I have a fundamental value of following conscience. Having conscience is uniquely human (maybe not, just say’n).

Exercising our conscience is a natural right, and a fundamental principle of liberty. God honors the following of our conscience as a governing principle of creation--enough to both lose a third of his children and a perfect Son over the issue.

WARNING & MYTH BUSTER: Following your conscience will always come with consequence. Following your conscience is not a promise that things will work out, that things won't get messy, that you won't loose your life (figuratively or litterally). What our conscience calls us to do will not always match up with what other people's consciences are calling them to do, even if both are right.

Conscience does not equal "do what feels good." Following one’s conscience does not fall in the same category as a la carte morals.

Conscience is a force that is separate and distinct from ourselves. And, more often than not, is accompanied by a type of discomfort that we typically wouldn't choose of our own accord.

The following of one's conscience is a sacred act. An act to be reverenced, honored and vigilantly protected even if another's pursuing of conscience goes against how our own conscience is guiding us.

The most sacred acts of history were a result of people following their conscience—the civil rights movement, women’s suffrage, and the atonement of Jesus Christ as three random examples.

Even when imperfect people do conscience imperfectly (we pretty much all fall in this category), following it tends to greatness in the end. I trust this.

The defense of the exercise of conscience is primary, and the proselytizing to conscience is secondary. Defending the exercise of conscience does not equal the defense of the content of ones conscience. Lets just stop being afraid of that.

I defend both Kate and John simply as individuals that are doing their best to follow their conscience. I recognize, honor and defend the sacredness of what they are doing despite the fact that my conscience is not resonating with theirs.

Whether they are right or wrong, the exercise of their conscience has God's seal of approval.

So, what to do when our consciences don't match up? How do we walk that difficult place together of defending while not agreeing?

How about we give this a try . . .

wendipooh13 said...

what a great post!! and can totally relate to the words that were said here. too many times I want to just answer questions at church truthfully how I really feel and can't. I don't want to become someones "compassionate service project" and not be accepted for me.

well said post.

Ruth said...

I really, honestly try not to judge. So if it were my friend who had an issue, I hope whatever it is, I would love them still. I am not perfect, I have my own issues and still I need to be loved and respected. How can I not share that same acceptance?

NaborMark said...

I LOVE this post!!!

I cannot agree more strongly that it is our responsibility and obligation to LOVE, and NOT to JUDGE.

Sometimes it's really tough to walk that line, but I believe that if we can't show love, we're better off to not show anything.