To All The "Bad" People: A Few Thoughts To Consider

There has been a million posts. A thousand emotions. A hundred thoughts. And consequences that will reverberate for years to come.

I don't think I've ever done two posts so close together on the same topic. I occasionally beat a dead horse but usually dislike it immensely so I try hard to avoid it. But I still had some things to say. Some thoughts I hope others will consider.

There's been a lot of "bad peopling" going on since the LDS Church's announcement on the policy change for same gender marriages, partnerships and their children.

If you are FOR the policy change - you are a bad person. You are a hater. Homophobic. An ostrich with your head stuck in the sand. Unkind. Unloving. Non-empathetic.

If you are AGAINST the policy change - you are a bad person. You don't live the gospel. Follow the prophets. Have a testimony. Commandment breaker.

Good heavens. We are all alot of bad people!!

But not really. We are just people being people. Can we treat each other as such? Each at our own place in this world - trying to understand, trying to live, trying to love the best we know how. Here are some thoughts no matter where you fall in the spectrum of thought in regards to the policy change.

Agreement with the policy change does not mean you don't see the people it affects. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt your heart and you don't ache for those affected by it. It doesn't mean you hate others. It doesn't mean you don't want to know and understand how to reach out to anyone effected by the change (which let's be honest - we ALL are in some way). It doesn't mean you don't see the struggle others have and hate to see someone struggling so deeply.

Disagreement with the policy change doesn't mean you don't have a testimony of the gospel. It doesn't mean you don't have faith. It doesn't mean you don't want to understand and be understood.

No matter where you stand on the spectrum of feeling toward the policy change, you aren't a bad person. So can we please stop the finger pointing. The "you just don't understand because you _______" Claiming one side or the other loves people more or less.

We ALL want to be  understood. So wherever you fall on the spectrum - can you be open to reaching out? Can you listen to someone's feelings on the matter with genuine empathy and compassion knowing they are doing the best they can and living by what they know? And that it is a struggle for almost everyone for different reasons no matter what they think about the policy? And then be willing to share in return and ask for the same empathy and compassion?

Listen even when it is hard. Listen even when you disagree. And listening doesn't mean waiting to jump in to share YOUR thoughts as soon as the other person finishes speaking. Really listening means being willing to sit with someone no matter where they are at. Even if you disagree.

Imagine the difference in all our lives if we strive to do this? We want to help others during this time of confusion, anger, disappointment, fear?

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Yes This Effects Real People

So much uproar





I'm sure your news feed has been as full as mine the last few days with posts about the new policy change the LDS Church announced last week. The reactions have been across the spectrum - there have been posts supporting the policy, posts explaining why the policy is difficult for people they know or for themselves, and posts criticizing the church. There has been finger pointing on all sides and a general feeling of division and anger. It doesn't have to and shouldn't be this way. If we strive to love others, even if we disagree, things can be different.

My initial response after reading the policy and then seeing post after post on Friday was to respond with my own post supporting the Church and the policy. Later in the morning I saw a post where a professor from BYU-I had said something along the lines of

This Effects Real People

She is right. It does. That gave me alot to think about and I wanted to share some thoughts that I haven't heard said anywhere yet. I hope those on both sides and anywhere in the spectrum can be open to reading and striving for understanding (even if you disagree) with the thoughts I will share. The one thing we don't need more of is unkindness.

I have read numerous posts by gay couples about the difficulty they will now face as they've worked to stay involved and an active part of the LDS community with their children. I've read numerous posts by friends of those in same gender relationships or marriages and how their hearts hurt for the difficulty they will face or are directly facing RIGHT NOW because of the policy. My heart hurts for these individuals as well. It is a very difficult position they are in. There is no easy path. And while all of these posts expressed the sadness at how the children in these relationships would be effected - I haven't read one where they actually talked about the children. Ultimately the focus of the post was on the adults and their desire and efforts to stay active in the community and faith and to have their children be a part of it as well.

But lets stop for a moment and really talk about the children - I think it is so commendable those parents and partners that strive to continue to be involved in the Church and to have their children involved as well. I hope all of us can avoid saying - "Well if you don't like it, then leave." It shouldn't matter that we disagree on things, that is something that should never be said to anyone. But despite a parent's or partners' best efforts to have their children actively involved in the Church, there will be conflict the child will face. Even if there is no disparagement of the Church the child will be faced with conflict. They will be taught repeatedly that marriage is to be between a man and a woman.

Then they will go home

It won't matter who you are, how positively you talk about the Church and all the other teachings. They will be faced with a huge conflict and dilemma that I'm sure will be extremely confusing to children. So yes the policy effects real people, especially the children. But as the Church has stated the policy is FOR the children. And this is why.

A solution that is suggested and often demanded then is that the Church accept gay marriage and stop being hateful, homophobic, bigoted, etc. But there is a reason the Church has stood firm in stating that marriage is between a man and a woman. It is part of the doctrine. Here are my thoughts on that if you want more clarity. I know we live in a society where it is popular to say there is no law. No right or wrong. If you feel it - do it. If you want it - you should have it. But to say something is not right is NOT hateful.

I strive to love everyone - do I have room for improvement? You better believe it. And I know it. And while I support the policy change - my heart does hurt by those it will effect. Don't think I say this from this a removed place having never faced have to make a choice between something I felt and wanted that went against what the Church taught. We all face that dilemma in one way or another. It isn't easy for anyone. I've raged at Heavenly Father and myself trying to understand why I had to face the difficulty. We all face things that wrench our very heartstrings.

And we will be asked to make choices. I believe no matter what you feel or want you always have a
choice. There are laws - eternal laws set by our Heavenly Father. While I can't always understand then why we would feel things that are in such opposition to His laws I know part of it is to see if we will choose God above all else - even the very things we yearn for. I know God gives us laws for a reason - and through my own personal experiences I've gained a knowledge that ultimately I will be the happiest when I follow God's laws. That He gives us laws because He loves us. Even if it means I choose to not pursue something I feel and really want.

Now you may disagree with my personal testimony and views of God, His laws and having to make choices that go against our feelings and desires. I respect that you may disagree. But I hope all of those who disagree with the Church and/or this policy can also stop for a moment and that we can all strive for respect. I will strive to treat you kindly no matter your choices. I ask the same in return. As I've said before - we need more love and compassion between all of us. Yes I know this policy effects you - it effects all of us in some way or another.

And that yes - we can all stop for a moment and really think about the children.
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There's Always A Life Vest

If you are in a bright room, whether bright by sunlight or a light bulb, if you turn on another light it isn't that noticeable.
But if you are in a darkness and light is introduced - it's REALLY noticeable. Today I was thinking alot about how when I'm struggling - when trials seem to come from every direction and they feel very heavy, that is when I see the most tender mercies in my life.The light is really bright in the darkness! I am constantly amazed by the Lord's timing (except in regards to marriage - that's still a tough one for me :P) and how some how, some way, the things you need in your life and the people you need, happen to be there when you need them. Things somehow come together to give you the support that you need if you look for it. It doesn't lessen the difficulty of the trials or take away the often painful emotions but it helps especially when I make a point to notice them, be grateful for them and acknowledge the help and strength they give me.

At some points in my life, I felt like Heavenly Father tossed me out into the middle of a very turbulent ocean. And I didn't want to be in the ocean, especially a turbulent one. And there would always be a life vest available or one of those floaty doughnut things but because I was angry I was even IN the ocean, I would scowl, cross my arms and refuse to grab hold of the life preserver.

Other times I would splash frantically and try and figure out how all by myself I was going to get out of this ocean because I didn't want to be there and if I was there I must need to figure a way out myself. And I would get nowhere trying to swim in choppy water, not even noticing there were life preservers floating nearby to help me.

But life - especially trials - have a way of teaching you, if you will let them. I've recently been reading in Ether in the Book of Mormon. So I've been reading about the Jaredites as they prepared ships to cross the ocean. The Lord let the Brother of Jared know that as they crossed they were going to buried in the water. This was because the Lord was causing the wind to blow towards the promised land. This would result in there being storms, waves, etc. But the wind was necessary - even if it caused the things that would make the crossing more difficult, without they wind they would never make it to the promised land. So the Lord gave them things to help them make it through the rough times.
Ship designs that wouldn't leak. A hole on the top and bottom of the ship so they could have air. And light - He touched the stones the Brother of Jared brought so they could have light during the passage ESPECIALLY when they were buried in the water.

So it is with us - the wind (trials) are a necessary part of us making it to the promised land. In fact, they are a key ingredient that we can't do without. Now, just like a ship, if we don't use the things correctly the wind could push us FURTHER from the promised land, when we follow the "user manual" and make sure to utilize things correctly, it will slowly, but surely move us closer and closer to the promised land.

Now, I still sometimes yell at being in the middle of a choppy ocean. And I still feel angry and frustrated that it is hard, and sometimes ask why it has to be that way. But I try really hard now to notice and use the life preservers that always seem to pop up when I most need them. The Lord doesn't drive us into the middle of the ocean, toss us overboard and speed away wishing us, "Good luck!" He knows when things are hard. He doesn't want to see us suffer needlessly, but He is an all knowing god that understands the role suffering and struggling plays in our personal growth. So He allows it to happen, giving us all the things we need to make it through our swim. So when you feel like you're in the middle of the ocean, struggling to stay afloat, perhaps feeling angry that you're there - take a minute to look around at the life preservers that I know will be floating nearby.

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A Call To LDS Women: Let's Stop Whining And Go To Work

Ladies this post is for you. Let's have a little bit of discussion. I'm going to ask some hard questions. I hope you will take some time to think about them and answer them for yourself. I think it is wonderful to be a woman. We have so much potential to do good and change the world. We can connect, uplift and support each other as well as those around us. But some times I think we get pulled away by things that keep us from accomplishing all that we truly can. I know life can be confusing and it can be confusing to be a woman - so many competing voices stating what it is to be a woman. We want to feel valued, heard and to know we are contributing. These things do matter as do each of you that read this. And I know you may be looking for answers.

So I'm going to be blunt.

Let's first talk equality - especially within The LDS Church. The word equality is very appealing. In some ways it is the catch-word of our society right now. It gets thrown around alot.  But too often the word equality becomes a distraction - we get caught up in saying equality that we don't stop to think about what it really means and what we want it to mean.

"Equality" can be very alluring. So what does it even mean? Too often when the term "equality" is used, especially within The Church it means that women should be able to do and be everything a man is. Can we not see the fallacy in this? We stomp our feet and rage at the patriarchal hierarchy but then demand to become part of that hierarchy? Equality is not and cannot be sameness. That isn't true equality. But that is what we too often are arguing for. That to be equal we must be and do as a man is and does.

But we are not men. We are women. We are unique. We are different from men. Not better or worse, just different. Let us celebrate the differences, embrace them and not consider them as making us less. We can accomplish so much as women with the strengths and characteristics that make us women. Those aren't exactly the same for any of us, but the roles we have within The Church do not stop us from making a difference.

We all want to feel valued, wanted and that we contribute. I know that feeling. I have that feeling regularly. So lets talk about what that can mean within The Church.

Women and the priesthood. This has become quite a point of difficulty and even contention for many women (I'm not saying it isn't for men as well, but I'm focusing on talking to women in this post :). It can be hard to understand why women aren't given the priesthood as men are. But a question to ask yourself - why do you want to hold the priesthood? I don't know your answer but I want to share some thoughts on possible responses I see.

"I want to have the priesthood because men have the priesthood."
What good does wanting something just for the sake of having it really do for us? Often when we want something just for the sake of having it, without thought for why we want it and/or what we will do with it, then there is always something to want. It is difficult to ever be satisfied.

"I want to have the priesthood because I feel lesser without it."
We might be a little amused if someone said to us, "God doesn't love me as much because He gave so and so this talent or blessing, or ability but I don't have it." We don't expect to have exactly the same make up as someone else because we are different people. And that is alright. Neither of us is better than another because of those differences. It simply is a part of life and this growing experience to have differences. Having the priesthood wouldn't suddenly change how we felt about ourselves, our roles or our responsibilities. When we feel that we are lesser or lacking because we don't have something someone else has, there is always something someone else has that we don't so typically, the feelings don't go away, they shift to something else.

"I want to be able to bless people's lives by having the priesthood."
There isn't anything magical that we could suddenly do by having the priesthood that we can't do now. We could give blessings by the laying on of hands, but we have just as much ability to call on the powers of heaven through faithful prayer, RIGHT NOW. We can minister to others, RIGHT NOW. We can serve in and magnify our callings, RIGHT NOW. Who in your neighborhood or ward could you reach out to, RIGHT NOW?

"I want the priesthood so I can serve in any capacity, i.e Bishop, Stake President, Prophet." I've heard many women say they want to be able to visit and confess to a women - that it would be easier and should be an option. I can understand that. Most of the time when talking about really personal things I prefer talking to other women. However, hard things aren't easy to talk about to anyone - male or female when we don't have a close relationship with them. And yes, there are Bishops and Stake Presidents who don't act as they should. But that wouldn't change if some of them were women. We are not perfect - neither are Bishops or Stake Presidents. Does it make our life harder and some times scar us and cause difficulties? Yes. But having a woman as a Bishop or Stake President wouldn't magically fix that. Women don't always listen. Women let their own issues and personal feelings influence their responses.

 The organization of The Church is as it is for a reason - we are all learning and growing together and some times someone else's poor choices or wrong choices effect us. Talk to the people from the city of Ammonihah in the Book of Mormon that were burned because they believed in the preaching of Alma and Amulek. Amulek wanted to stretch forth his hand and stop them because they didn't deserve it. But the Lord forbid it - agency allows that some times we are adversely effected by other's choices. So what we can do is focus on doing the best we can, repenting of our mistakes and yes striving to build a relationship with our Bishops and Stake Presidents.

And we can support each other now without being Bishops or Stake Presidents. We can listen, offer empathy and compassion, not judge each other, and seek for opportunities to serve. We can do all of this NOW.

The other thing I wanted to discuss is marriage and/or motherhood. There are those of use who are single who wish to be married and have families and we wonder why it isn't happening for us. There are those of us who are married but can't have children or don't have children yet and we wonder why. There are those of us married with children that wonder if this is all there is supposed to be to life - cleaning, laundry, cooking, running children around, etc.

So we all spend time and energy thinking about what we don't have or thinking that life would be more fulfilling "IF" only something else. So we don't enjoy the now. We don't look for the good, the opportunities for growth, those small moments of joy. We can all feel unfulfilled no matter our current situation in life. I talked to a friend recently and asked about her day. She jokingly said her days were made up of picking up the same books her daughter would pull onto the floor about 12 times a day. Definitely not very exciting or fulfilling. But I thought how right now in my situation I would love to have kids to need to do that. But as the saying goes, the grass is always greener elsewhere. I know I suffer from that syndrome at times and whine about why things aren't as I want them to be. But we can focus on what we don't have or focus on all the good I can do right now in my own circle of influence. And we all have circles of influence and yes our actions do matter therein.

Sisters, we have so many opportunities for good right now. Our energy can be put to such good use in learning, growing, serving and building the Lord's kingdom right now in our current roles and capacities. Let us put our energy and focus into how we can serve those in our neighborhoods and wards. How we can magnify our callings. How we can teach our children to respect and love others, to understand repentance and to love the Lord. Our roles as women, mothers, daughters, sisters, etc. do not make us less. Are they different than men? Yes but that is ok! Let us do all that lies in our power now to bless the lives of others and continue to learn and grow and we will be fulfilled and find joy!

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God's Love & Mercy

This quote from President Uchtdorf was the perfect quote to read this morning - "Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely. What this means is regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us."

I've been thinking alot lately about God's love and mercy. I think it is something that is hard for us to really comprehend or understand. Part of the reason I think we experience sin and trials is because they can be key parts in helping us gain a better understanding of God's love and mercy. 

When I think of mercy I think of the hymn, "I Stand All Amazed." "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me." I think of that hymn because as I've lately realized - we don't ever DESERVE mercy. We deserve justice - when we sin, we break law(s) and justice demands payment for that. But the Savior steps in for us if we repent - so though we don't deserve it, the Savior offers it. He will and has satisfied the demands of justice, so when we sin, if we turn to Him, He willingly offers us mercy. One of the main gifts of the Atonement is mercy. That is why mercy is amazing - we can receive it without ever really deserving it. And we will all need mercy at some time in our lives, if not multiple times. 

And mercy has the power to change us - not only to help us make the decision not to make the same mistakes but also to help us want to be more merciful to others. I look on others and their mistakes with compassion, knowing I've received such without deserving it. I understand what it is to struggle with something. To repeatedly approach the throne of mercy, asking again for forgiveness. Mercy makes me feel grateful and undeserving. Part of me knows when I make a mistake that it is mine. I should have to suffer the full and complete consequences for it. But the Lord does not condemn us for making mistakes - He knew we would and He knows our own personal struggles and difficulties that lead to those mistakes. He knows us perfectly and loves us perfectly. He cannot condone those mistakes but if we will repent, that is the one condition for mercy - to not have to suffer completely for our own mistakes. He offers us mercy and we only are condemned if we don't repent.  

And through that mercy we can better understand God's love for us. Often for us as humans, our love can be changed or is conditional on others' actions. We start and stop loving people as we go throughout or lives. Some times it is because of our actions, other times because of theirs. We often love based on conditions or needs. Pure love is DIFFICULT! 

But Heavenly Father and the Savior love us regardless of our actions and behaviors. They love us when we mess up. They love us when we mess up BADLY. They love us when we make choices that hurt others or hurt ourself or both. They love us when we don't love ourself or love others. They love us when we are happy. They love us when we are sad or in the depths of pain and discouragement. Their love does not change no matter what we do. 

That is pretty amazing.  

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Keep It To Yourself? Why What We Say Matters

Words have become even more powerful today simply because their ability to travel and span the continent is almost unimpeded. In the 19th Century there was much fear over the lower classes being literate in large part because the upper class feared the power of words. Many ideas over the centuries have begun their germination in reading some material or in listening to a powerful orator.

And now, what I say, or you say can travel the globe, reaching hundreds or thousands of people, whom we don't even know but who may hear our words.

I've been thinking a lot about this in light of the recent media uproar about John Dehlin's excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. Not only did Mr Dehlin increase the media coverage by making public his letter of excommunication, social media was covered with various thoughts, opinions and rantings on what had occurred. One thread I read, someone kept insisted over and over that The Church required all of its members to "color in the lines" or get out. There was also much disputing again over The Church "kicking people out for asking questions or stating what they think."

When Kate Kelly was excommunicated last year, I wrote a post about questioning that can be found here - Its Not About Questioning - The Excommunication Uproar. So I'm not going to re-address that issue. It is important to understand that what Kate Kelly and yes, John Dehlin were doing was not just questioning. And important part of our journey in life is to ask questions, and yes The Church encourages those questions and for us to learn for ourselves. But I don't want to rehash this whole issue again. There is another matter - the issue of why what we say matters.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a responsibility with our words and what we say and share. As Alma 31:5 states: "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened to them - therefore, Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God."

While in the previous chapter of Alma we read of Korihor, and verse 18 tells us: "And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness..."

What we say can affect others - especially the more persistent we are in what we say - for good or ill. As members of The Church the ultimate question we should ask ourselves is:

Does what I'm sharing, saying, stating encourage people to come unto Christ?

Now perhaps it would be argued that Kate Kelly or John Dehlin were not encouraging people away from Christ. We could probably debate that issue for some time. But I venture to say where we have to be careful and aware in what we are sharing is who is the spotlight on in what we are sharing or stating? Is it to direct others to the Savior or does it shine the spotlight on us.

If we set ourselves up as the light, we are not helping people come unto Christ who is The Light. If I begin to say I know what is right and wrong and how things are to be and then try and convince others of this, chances are my motives are not to help others come unto Christ.

There is much power in the words we share. So what are you you sharing and why?

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