Monday, November 14, 2011

on fence-sitting

It's hard to be a Mormon fence-sitter. You're either in our you're out, and there seems to be little room for the inbetweeners. Part of the reason is that we have set up a fantastic system for checking up on people through the home and visiting teaching programs. We are assigned to look out for one another, and a monthly quota of home visits must be met. It's funny how isolated some of us still feel. It's also funny how defensive I get with my home and visiting teachers. When someone I knew from my ward, someone I thought I was becoming friends with, told me that he was my hometeacher I felt like something had been lost. Now he is obligated to me. I don't think we're friends anymore. I certainly can't tell him about my struggles. I must make up excuses for why I haven't been going to church and tell him all is well. I'm happy. Smiles. No there isn't anything you can do for me right now, maybe take out the trash? Yes, I'll let you know if I need anything. See you next month.

That doesn't seem right, but I'm used to doing it that way. I'd like to stop but I really don't want anyone in the ward, and certainly no one who has "stewardship" over me, to think I am "going apostate" by giving myself time to think about some things. It's scary to admit that you're not the perfect Mormon you've been making yourself out to be. I only got good at it a few years ago. As I've mentioned before, I was always a fence-sitter growing up and it wasn't until I was living in Provo, in a very dense Mormon community, that I finally learned what it meant to be really faithful, to never miss a meeting, and to be your cutest every Sunday.

I don't mean to disparage my experiences at BYU because they were some of the happiest and strongest times in my life. And I was lucky to be surrounded by likeminded Mormons, those who moved against the grain. I'm just going through a new stage of my spiritual life and it's a scary time. I want to relearn things. I want to study the scriptures because I am searching for an answer and not because it's a habit. I want to change my heart, not appropriate a style of dress and speaking and voting that does not represent my life and experiences. I want to know Christ, not take part in practices that exclude my brothers and sisters from knowing Christ. I want to participate in organizations that promote justice and equality and that are filled with righteous anger at those who harm and oppress, not take part in that oppression.  And I want to do those things within the church that I love, surrounded by people who love God and not money, who give everything they can to ease the suffering of others, who serve out of love and not obligation, and who do not feel entitled to eternal exaltation because they have some babies.

I'm feeling a lot like I did as a child. I love Jesus but I'm just unsure of my place in the Church. So, I think I'm going to chill out on this fence for a little while, and I feel good about that.

1 comment:

  1. I've been going through perhaps a similar experience recently. Where people's behaviors and various situations annoy me greatly where they hadn't before. Where I was less motivated to do some spiritual-type things and more motivated to do others.

    And it really confused and bothered me for awhile. But eventually I think I came to roughly the same conclusion as you that I'm in a transition state and its natural for our thoughts/feelings to be more uncertain and confused.

    Another thing I've learned that has helped is that we measure performance quality differently as our skill levels increase (see for more).

    In other words, we judge a 3rd grader who writes a coherent sentence a good writer while a PhD student is measured quite differently.

    I think what has been most disorienting for me is that in the past year or so, how I measure what it means to be "good" has been completely upended. For the better I hope. But it's taken quite awhile for me to get used to my new perspective on my behavior and other's and to get firm bearings on how I should act in different situations.