Sunday, January 6, 2013

becoming

I've had a draft of this type of post for... maybe 4 months? At least 3. It's hard because I'm waiting for some sort of "finish line" or maybe a "moment" where I feel like I'm wise/brilliant/knowledgeable/better/fearless/ready etc. so I can really lay fingers to keys and write something amazing. Because it is amazing and I fear that I won't do it justice. So I'm just using the beginning of a new year as a moment to at least try.

Sorry, that was a confusing way to start. Just another reason why I've put off writing because I'm in it and not sure I'm coherent enough to make sense. But it's about God and the universe and heaven and how I just might play a small part in all of it. And it's long, so get comfortable.

Overall 2012 was a pretty good year.  Our marriage did just fine, EZ was amazing and smart and cute all the time, Matt's personal year wasn't great until around November (too much time in funk city for him), and financially it was a freakin' game of chutes and ladders (and dammit if chutes didn't win this time.) A good dose of highs and lows across the board. But for me personally, it was pretty incredible. Physically I set goals and achieved them which in turn made my mental game step up. And equally important, I made a valiant effort with my spiritual soul and came out enlightened. At least my own version of enlightened.  I have passion and understanding and humility like I've never experienced before, and I'd love to write down a little bit of the road I've been traveling.

In the Fall of 2011 my soul was hard. I don't think I knew it at the time, but hindsight makes it very clear. I went to the General Relief Society meeting and came home so frustrated.  I felt as if we (as a church, a family, among friends, and occasionally with Matt) weren't discussing real issues and were lacking depth. Of course I didn't blame it on my lack of depth... because that would have required work that I wasn't ready to give. Besides a handful of deeply spiritual experiences over the last few years (and not all of them welcomed, more like brought on by circumstances,) I wasn't really invested in doing any in-depth study of the gospel that I believed in or the church that I was participating in on a daily basis. And although I gave some time, I sure wasn't giving any extra time to God.

Questions had been pouring in my mind. Why was there so much evil on the earth? How can I teach the youth real things that are relevant to their lives? Am I herding sheep without individuality? How do other's opinions affect mine? Do I feel conflicted between church and political stuff? How do I feel about people with same sex attraction apart from my church and my country? What is my purpose as a woman? Why do I have conflicting feelings about how to balance being a wife and mother with also being a strong, individual? Why don't we talk about the black marks in our history, both as a church and as individuals? How come I feel so awkward and fearful to talk about sexuality? To openly talk about sex? Why do we feel so judged by our peers? Why is it that I'm so quick to judge? Do I really understand the Book of Mormon? How can I say I believe in Joseph Smith when I don't really know him? How am I going to teach my children? Could I defend my religion? My beliefs? Do I even know?

And then like a pie to the face, the answer came. ASK. ASK, YOU IDIOT. And then STUDY. And then ASK AGAIN. AND NEVER STOP ASKING. (The idiot part may have come from within... not divine intervention. Then again... God does have a sense of humor?)

Since my days in primary I've been taught to ask, and yet it's never something I've been good at. I've never not wanted to be a Mormon, but I can't say I've ever been a stand-up-and-put-me-to-work-because-I'm-just-so-darn-excited Mormon.  And hello, Joseph Smith asked a question and look at what he got, a whole flippin church! So a few questions wouldn't be that big of a deal for a loving Father in heaven to answer for one of his daughters.

And (of course) He answered and continues to answer and will never be done answering because I'm not sure I'll ever be done asking.

I opened my eyes and found myself surrounded by incredible women. So many good relationships formed and lots of real discussions with dear friends.  I read Joanna Brooks' blog Ask Mormon Girl and then picked up a copy of her book, The Book of Mormon Girl, when it came out in August.

One of my favorite bloggers, C. Jane Kendrick, tweeted a link to an article that basically changed my life. To Do the Business of the Church is the title, and it's a talk that was presented at the August 2012 FAIR LDS Conference by Neylan McBaine. (There are a lot of other excellent talks from that conference as well.)  I later met Neylan McBaine (creator/editor of The Mormon Women Project) at a mormon women project meeting at C. Jane's house and it was surreal (and very emotional.) It was a panel discussion about Women in the Scriptures and was excellent. Intelligent women discussing doctrine with the purpose of edification, growth, and evolution... I felt privileged (and guided) to be there.

I started listening to Podcasts like it was my job on all sorts of subjects. I read (and am still reading) books and articles like a maniac. I was led to learn more about the history of my church so I began reading Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling to get to know the man that was called to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ as a Prophet of God.  I just picked up Women of Covenant to learn more about my sisters in the gospel. I've been reading beautiful words on Segullah about a huge array of gospel related topics. This week I found the article The Battle in our Brains and it's basically altered my perception on life and behavior. (Synapses!)

I attended the 2012 Relief Society General Conference back in October and was astounded at how alive the spirit was. I cried through most of the talks, felt so empowered and excited to be a Mormon, and was overcome with gratitude and unity with my sisters of faith. (What a difference a year and a softened heart makes.) Then came General Conference with the Missionary age change to 19 for women where I sobbed for 2 days straight. A new teaching curriculum called Come, Follow Me was released for the Youth of the church, a website offering more understanding and love regarding gay and same sex attraction for Mormons went viral, and a lot of deep discussions between myself and Matt regarding doctrine and culture and what it really means to be a disciple of Christ.

I read the Book of Mormon in one month and felt closer to heaven and my family than ever before. I'm now reading the Doctrine & Covenants and have 10+ other books on my reading list. My personal goal for 2013 is to learn to love Isaiah (along with a lot of other things.) Matt and I have had some really incredible missionary opportunities that have continued into the new year, and are really stoked about our current church callings.

YOU GUYS. It's been a huge year.

And then today I've had leaky eyes all ding-dong-day because I just can't stop feeling grateful and happy and overwhelmed. So much learnt! So much to learn! God is so good! And complex! And simple! Jesus Christ lives! And loves us! So many exclamation marks!

I'm really pumped to be a Mormon. And I'm really pumped to be me. I really like Carla when she's tight with God, so I think I'll try to keep her around. Thank you for anyone involved in this last year. I love you. Let's get together and talk God-topics soon and we won't apologize for being too passionate.

(me after the RS meeting, happily being embraced by C.Jane, mormon women panel)

27 comments:

  1. oh carlita, my heart was warm and beating fast and strong as I read this. hearing the testimony's and experiences of others strengthens mine. a lot of things are flying through my head. too many to say so i'll just thank you for this. i mean it.

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    1. i love you, breesah. you're doing good in this world.

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  2. So good. You are so so good. I'm getting there. I just finished Joanna's book and I am ready to face my questions. I just need to be. I've read so many good posts on this subject this year and I figure it's about my turn. This is so sweet. Thank you.

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    1. thank you! hope your mormonism answers come swooping in with the fire of moroni ;) or something like that.

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  3. C. Jane tweeted this and it was so beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing, it brought the Spirit to my day.

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    1. thank you for saying something! i really mean it.

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  4. give extra time to god. this post had so much goodness, but that one concept is the one for me. it was so good and so meant for me, that i put those very words on a post-it (your name is now in my room for all to see).

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    1. get out there hermana! i'm honored to be on your post-it and i hope it was pink.

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  5. oooh so good. love love love everything about it. yay for strong amazing mormon women!

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    1. thanks girl. united we stand, so let's make it happen in person soon.

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  6. You amaze and inspire me. I'm so glad we're friends. Can we talk more?

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  7. you are so inspiring and seriously just made me so excited to dive into the scriptures and strengthen my relationship with God. I really needed this. thank you.

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    1. lets get our babies together and talk god. i'm coming for ya!

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    1. thank you for saying something, it's very appreciated.

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  9. What a sweet post! Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you more this year in person. 2013 will be even better, can I get an amen?

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    1. amen! and yes, 2013 is going to be amazing and i'd like to get some topsy havoc action.

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  10. beautiful, inspiring post. thank you.

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    1. thanks robin. there is a lot of build up for a robin-hangout when you do finally make it to utah. and i say we do it at cjane's house and talk god and blogs all night. love you, girl.

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  11. You cute thing. Thanks Carla. I stand in need of a spiritual tune up as well. I loves you.

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  12. hopped over from CJane's blog and read this post. LOVED IT. Mirrors my own experience that i've been having. Seriously, I have wondered if I'm the only person who is literally drowning herself in books/podcasts/study/etc. I feel like I've received answers and more questions...but more importantly I really feel like someone is really up there listening and helping to guide me. Good luck on your faith journey and thanks for sharing!

    rae

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    1. thank you! i cannot take enough in and it's incredible how we're never completely satisfied (in a good way though.) good luck with yours!

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  13. I love this, and you! I think you're pretty fabulous. Do you know (of course you don't because I've never told you until now) that the reason I FINALLY sat down and read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover last month was because of you. I read that you and Matt were doing it, and it being something I've always wanted to do, but too lazy to actually do it, I decided it was now or never. So, now it was, and I loved it! Thanks for reminding me that sometimes we just need to ask. So simple, but sometimes I forget that a simple question can provide so much understanding.

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    1. hey! i'd never done the cover to cover in a short period of time either and i'm glad i helped someone else out. and i only did it because i saw someone else doing it, so aren't we all just here to help each other out? you're fabulous too, fat camp amy ;)

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  14. just stumbled onto this post and how did i not see it earlier? how fitting that i read this today, of all days that i could have found it? i sure love this, so very much. i love searching so dang much.

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  15. i have read this post so often since you posted it months ago and i'm shocked that i haven't commented on it? what was i thinking??

    your blog is one i go to when i can ONLY set aside an hour or more to read and re-read. it's just that good.

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