Tuesday, September 30, 2014

she sits and she sits

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.

6 comments:

  1. Hey you, thanks for this. I needed it, especially going into conference. Also, I'll be checking out that book.

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  2. Oh, Carla! I think I have found a kindred spirit in you!

    Thank you so much for this post. You helped me feel not so alone. I have struggled a lot with several of these issues in the past few years. I have felt torn between what seems like unconditional love and standing up for the doctrine of my faith. And to be honest, I have felt so weak in the struggle, so small and so faithless. But I am not faithless. I have shown up every day of my life for the past 36 years!! Mormon girl!! But the struggle made me feel faithless. Which only breeds despair. My anchor was that I did not want to give up my greatest hope--peace and rest and eternity with those I love most. And I will say, I have found respite from from my struggles as I have continued to show up and do my part. So I keep showing up and doing my part. :) I suppose that is what is meant by enduring to the end. And I intend to do it!

    I read "The God Who Weeps" and found enormous insight and comfort there. I love that book--the most insightful thing I've ever read outside of the scriptures. Also, may I recommend this blog post?

    http://amomentaglow.com/?p=310

    She talks about Heavenly Mother and shares two different articles that talk about what we know about Her. WOW. Why do not talk about her??? We know more than I ever realized. I bawled and bawled as I read things about my spirit mother--so many things that made me think: I am like Her! I AM LIKE HER!!! Reading these articles pricked something in my soul, like water on parched ground. I wanted to run around and shove that information into every woman's heart that I knew!!! If you have the time, check it out. It is beautiful.

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  3. Great post, Carla! I loved the "name-dropping" from President Uchtdorf in Women's Conference too. :) It seems like there are probably a couple hundred thousand of us who yearn for more insight and knowledge, especially about a Heavenly Mother (Most of us being "lifetime" Mormons raised in the United States where inquisitiveness and feminine value are recognized and encouraged.).
    I'd say there are probably also at least a couple million good men and women outside the U.S. who have recognized the light of Christ and joined the Church, but were raised in homes, communities, and countries where hierarchy is supreme and women are despised, abused, and viewed as second class citizens. I've often made the mistake of seeing the Apostles as cute little old men who are doing their darnedest to catch up with the rest of the world in technology and sophistication. They're not. They are men who are called and set apart, entrusted to an area of the world, regularly visiting countries I've never even heard of, and catching the rest of the world up in awareness and human kindness. They know much more about the world and it's needs than I probably ever will.
    So, when I heard "Heavenly Parents" four times in the worldwide women's meeting, it surely provided a little balm for any ruffled feathers I might have with the promise of "something more," but I'm positive it was the very first time thousands of women even considered that they have a Heavenly Mother, an idea which would seem preposterous, impossible, and even offensive in the cultures and countries they have been a part of their whole lives. To me, it was perfect. Perfect timing, perfect source, and a perfect amount of light and knowledge for everyone.

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  4. Stumbled upon this. Thank you. I'm feeling some similar things, and being open about those feelings helps others not feel so alone. I love the feeling of hope in your message.

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  5. Absolutely love this, & I love reading about people who feel the same as I do.

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