When was the last time you read Horton Hatches the Egg? Although it's a Dr. Seuss classic, I don't think I'd read it for 15+ years until my dear friend gave it to me a few weeks before Sullivan's birth (thanks Aubry! Sorry I never sent a thank you card!) So for the past 8 or 9 months I've read this book to my children and it's often given me pause as to how I feel about Mormonism (or rather, being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints if I'm being formal.)
Horton was minding his own business probably having a really great elephant life in the jungle when a bird asks him to sit on her egg. He does not take this responsibility lightly, and the theme repeats frequently as he reminds everyone "I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent." This elephant willfully chooses to sit on this egg even when it's rough (storms! hunters! loss of opportunities! being sold to a circus!) and isn't exempt from the occasional complaint, but without placing any conditions on the outcome (or may I say, unconditionally) he sits and protects that egg simply because he said he would.
Now the story could end here and I think a really good message of loyalty and keeping your word would suffice for an excellent morale of the story, but what I can't stop thinking about is the end. He sat and he sat and he sat and he sat and then finally, just as the bird is trying to claim the egg as her own again (keen timing of course), the egg hatches and because I will forever and always love a good poem, I'll just write out the rest of the story verbatim with the lyrical rhythm only a true wizard like Seuss can do justice.
"And out of the pieces of red and white shell,
From the egg that he'd sat on so long and so well,
Horton the Elephant saw something whizz!
IT HAD EARS AND A TAIL AND A TRUNK JUST LIKE HIS!
And the people came shouting, "What's all this about...?"
They looked! And they stared with their eyes popping out!
Then they cheered and they cheered and they CHEERED more and more.
They'd never seen anything like it before!
"My goodness! My gracious!" they shouted. "MY WORD!"
It's something brand new!
IT'S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!!"
And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that!
Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat!
He meant what he said
And he said what he meant...
And they sent him home Happy,
One hundred per cent!"
I've been clinging to this story as of late since I've been tossing on the sea of contention and confusion while trying diligently to find a footing in the current culture of Mormonism (and the variety of issues that are circling my brain and the internet.)
I am a Mormon by birth and also by choice. It is my heritage, my community, and my religion. I claim the gospel as my family, and therefore claim the church as my own too. I can never deny the peace that has been given me and the love which I've felt from Heaven on many occasions in my life. I have unceasing faith in Jesus Christ and pure hope in his grace and mercy. I cling to his Atonement for my life, and hope for nothing more than to be reunited with Him (and my family) when this mortal life is over. This is the egg I've been asked to sit on and I will sit on it and keep on sitting and sitting and sitting. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, I will try to be faithful one-hundred percent.
But that doesn't mean I'm not going to complain or get hurt on the way. Because I am. And have been. And probably will again before it's all through. Women's issues and the fights around feminism has me tired. The issues surrounding the excommunication of Kate Kelly (and the talk of excommunication of John Dehlin) has me hurting. The black and white stance on the LGBT/SSA issues has me confused and feeling gray. The lack of information surrounding our Heavenly Mother has me yearning. The empty spots on the pews as my friends leave has me sad. Sometimes the lack of response from leaders has me confused (and hurt and angry.) SO MANY FEELINGS.
But just when I'm about to get up and walk away from the egg (for a minute... a day... an undetermined amount of time) I am reminded that I have to keep showing up. I have to care about my family more than I care about the issues we will face. I have to remind myself that Christ can (and will!) help us, even if I can't possibly figure out how. I have to find love, or create love if I can't find any.
I just have to keep sitting.
Because you know what? I want the elephant-bird! I will do my best to unconditionally stay loyal to the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because I desire that something-brand-new that we haven't even thought of yet because God is bigger than I am and has bigger ideas than I can imagine. I will cling to the current revelation and doctrine we have, but I will hold out for the MORE we've been promised. So women don't need the priesthood. Ok. Got it! I am going to sit here until we receive more revelation on our something-brand-new-elephant-bird as to how we're going to incorporate more equality between the sexes. So I have zero information on Heavenly Mother besides the mention of "heavenly parents." That's ok! Because I can personally study wonderful texts and imagine her and think of her fondly as I study as to what she might be like and wait for my something-brand-new-elephant-bird information! So I feel confused about how to be an ally of the LGBT community and also a member of the church... That's ok! I don't have to know how Christ will figure it out, He's better at the elephant-bird creation than I am, so I'll just focus on my own personal revelation for how I'll conduct myself.
After attending church last week, Matt said we should read 2 Nephi 31:20. It reads, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
Good thing there is a plethora to study while I'm sitting. So much feasting to do! I aim to have hope above all else, love as fiercely as I am capable (and draw upon the heavens when I need more), and stay loyal to my people. Forever and ever, loyal to my people (meaning you. and you. and you!)
And while some of you are trying to do the same, may I suggest some reading material? Please read the book Women at Church. Go buy it at Deseret Book right now! And then pass it along to someone else. And encourage them to pass it along. I've already given out 5 copies! It's practical and informative and healing. Chapter 10 is my favorite because we need MORE voices speaking up, and they need to be from women. This interview with Bianca Morrison Dillard is wonderful, especially the quote, "I think most of us feel like we have to take a stand on moral issues; that we have to know all of the answers and we have to put a flagpole in our lawns that says, “This is what we stand for!” In reality, I don’t know that life is black and white." I can't wait to see her work in Far Between. Nathaniel Givens writes an article about how We are Made to Suffer and how maybe it's because of the pain, not in-spite of it that we can have a happy ending (and I'd argue, a happy present.) Why the news that leaders at General Conference this weekend might speak in their native tongue should be important to all of us as we gear up for this weekend's televised event. And let's start talking about anything regarding Heavenly Mother! I had a friend tell me she listened to someone talk about Heavenly Mother and said it's a blessing that we don't have revelation about her, because that gives us the freedom to explore all sorts of information and form our own idea of her. And until we receive doctrinal revelation, I say let's study! Let's talk! Let's imagine! Let's get to know her! President Uchtdorf mentioned "Heavenly Parents" THREE times in his Women's Conference talk last weekend... it's like he's begging us to ask about her! I swear he wanted to talk about her himself.
Other posts from me regarding stuff like this: find here and here.
"My goodness! My Gracious!" they shouted. "MY WORD!"
It's something brand new!
IT'S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!
And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that!
Because Carla was faithful, she sat and she sat.
She meant what she said
And she said what she meant...
she'll keep moving forward,
one-hundred per cent.
And I'll end this with a recent selfie because I always love a selfie, forever and ever, amen.