Tuesday, August 9, 2016

elastic heart

It's been a road since this post. She sits and she sits. I actually don't think I've written anything about Mormonism since, except small blips on the 'ol instagram. I still like that post, and feel what I wrote. But as constant as time changes, I've also changed. Or, I'm changing, rather. Present tense.

And another one bites the dust
Oh why can I not conquer love?

In terms of a simple update, I'm still sitting. I may move positions and stand up and stretch from time to time, but still I sit. And I reserve the right to change my mind any time because it's mine. I feel peace knowing that. I've also had some experiences that I want to share, and I might have found the space to write after wrestling it out for a while. And also because of Sia's song Elastic Heart, which helped push me over the feeling ledge the other night and into a writing one (and you'll see some of the lyrics littered through this post.)

And I might have thought that we were one
Wanted to fight this war without weapons

How do you feel about a mother holding her baby during a baby blessing? I want you to think about that for a minute without being colored by stories or handbooks or experiences (which will follow with my own.)

The mother and her baby stand and walk to the front where they are encircled by brethren who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and who have been asked to stand in the circle because they too are lovingly invested in the child. The father of the baby (or whoever has been asked) administers the blessing by the power of the Melchizedeck Priesthood while cradling the child along with his/her mother. When I envision this scene, it feels natural. The first time (nearly 3 years ago) I heard about this idea, I immediately felt peace surrounding it. What a wonderful way to bring the importance of family into sacred parts of our routine practice. I fully felt the words from the pages of Neylan Mcbaine, that this was a wonderful way to include women into Priesthood Ordinances without the ordaining.

So I asked. Two years ago when Sullivan was born, Matt and I went to our Bishop and asked if I could hold him during the baby blessing. He had never been asked this before, and said probably not as the Handbook states "only worthy men who hold the M.Priesthood may participate in naming and blessing children." I understood what he was saying, but I'd like him to take it to the Stake President. He did, and then I received a call a few days later with a no. Once again, stating the handbook outlines it as such, and so no. He and the Stake Pres were gracious and loving and I have no ill will toward them, and I appreciated the time that was taken and the direct response to me personally.

And since there's no sense not writing the truth, I was crushed. Sad and angry, and mostly heartbroken. I felt personal loss of love from a Church in which I'm incredibly invested. It felt a small thing to hold my baby, and I felt dismissed by tradition. Brene Brown writes about heartbreak in her book Rising Strong, and one part says "Heartbreak is always connected to love and belonging, and broken hearted are brave because they dare to love. Heartbreak is loss (or perceived loss) of love. Much more than disappointment, because you've given your heart." To say that I've given my heart over the past 30 years as a member of the LDS church is accurate. I wonder if most members would agree because it's built to be our identity and our actions and our life. If you continue in Brown's book, "Heartbreak can cause grief. Grief is loss, longing, and feeling lost. Loss of what I thought I knew, longing for what used to be or something new to be solved, now feeling lost on how to recover." I definitely waded through heartbreak and grief, and also felt gratitude to be able to do so. I felt brave for asking and also thankful for a response, even if it wasn't what I had hoped. I felt the heartbreak and allowed myself not to hide from the pain, but leaned in and hoped it would help me become stronger. I also felt a little disbelief about something that seems so small in the spectrum to be denied because of rules or appearances or stats quo.

And I wanted it, I wanted it bad
But there were so many red flags

So Matt and I carried on. Sullivan had a wonderful blessing day surrounded by love and family, and no one but a close few knew what had taken place. I asked to be removed from any callings for some time (both to take a break with my new baby and also because I needed some separation from any callings), and started paying close attention to the WHY behind my behaviors. We've still been sitting on the pew because I love it and also because it feels comfortable, but I was trying to make active choices and no more going through motions. My love for Heavenly Parents and a Savior has stayed mostly in tact, while my relationship between "The Church" has ebbed and flowed. Which brings us to earlier this year when we were lucky enough to welcome Moses into our family. Another baby which meant preparing for another blessing day.

You did not break me
I'm still fighting for peace

As the time was getting closer to a usual blessing day schedule, we once again approached our Bishop (a new one had been called) and also the Stake President (the same one from 2 years prior.) I like to follow the counsel to "go up the chains" because that's what we're told to do if we have questions. And so we put it into action. I do have to qualify (which I dislike doing, but I know it's necessary on occasion) that we love and respect both of these men, and they both have had enough experiences with myself and our family that I would consider us familiar. I've also given books to my Stake Pres and have openly expressed myself on many issues which could be considered uncomfortable (and he has known me for the majority of my life even, since I was a youth in his ward.)

So, we expressed our desire for me to hold Moses while Matt administered the blessing the next month in a Sacrament Meeting. We did approach with a few reasons: It is not a saving ordinance, it would offer a wonderful experience for us to participate in a Priesthood ordinance together as husband, wife and child, and also because I'd heard stories of this happening in other wards and wondered if this were something that could be adapted for more mothers. The Bishop was thoughtful and hopeful with his response, but once again asked to speak to the Stake President before giving an answer. I did joke with him that I could just do it without asking, because if I walked up to the stand with Matt and just held tightly to Mo, I bet no one would stop me because we're super polite and also usually bad at handling awkward situations. Turns out we still had a sense of humor about Mormon stuff ;)

Well the Bishop got back to me after talking to SP and the answer was no. The handbook outline was still in play, but they did give me the option that I could hold Moses if we blessed him at our home. So no at the church, but yes at our house. I was taken aback by this reasoning, but once again Matt and I were thankful for a response and we said we'd think about what we wanted and then set it up. I was not heartbroken this time, whether it was because I was myself stronger or had lower expectations or a combination of both. After a week or so of discussing, we decided we'd do it at home two weeks later.

So that's where it could have ended. We blessed Moses at home like so many other people have done, I held him, and that was our experience.  Buuuuut it gets a bit more storied from here. Matt was casually talking to his Dad about events surrounding the blessing (as a son does with his dad) and David decided to write an email (since he has a personal email of one of the Apostles because they've known each other a long time.) He wrote a very sweet email about how Matt and I have always supported each other in love and in the gospel, and then ended the letter with this, "...they decided that if they wanted to bless their baby in their home it would be OK , but not in Church. Your counsel is always given in love and I would love to hear what you may have to say on this."

A loving Dad/grandpa writing to someone he knows about an opinion (who also happens to be called as an apostle) and ends with a pretty open-ended "what do you think?" question. He forwarded it to us and Matt and I were surprised, but also figured we'd hear about it if/when David got an answer. I had already done the direct questioning in the proper Church channels, and we were moving forward with an agreed to plan.

Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade --it might be too sharp 

Within 48 hours of that email being sent, a person from the "office of the twelve" contacted my Stake President, who then called my Bishop, who then called Matt and then me (all during a work day for all of us) to inform us that it was not acceptable for me to hold my baby at church or at home during the baby blessing. The Bishop was nice and felt like a messenger (who probably didn't want to be shot) and also asked if he and the SP could come over and visit with us, if that would even be helpful. We declined because we needed to process, decide what we'd do, and frankly because we felt flabbergasted. We also wanted to contact David and see if he'd received a response, and inform him what had taken place since sending that email (ha... what a whirlwind when I write it all out.)

David never received a direct response (still hasn't), which means that email was received (by who? I wonder) and our personal information then had to be looked up in order to find our stake information and know who to call, and all so a message could be relayed down the chain that I couldn't hold my baby (which if I'm being snarky, is like asking to be a chair. A female chair who is holding a baby inside a circle.)

Then another one bites the dust
It's hard to lose a chosen one

So we took some time to digest this turn of events, decided that we'd have the blessing in Sacrament meeting at our church building with friends and family. Matt and I sat down together to pray for our son and write down our feelings on what we hope for his life, and he delivered the blessing beautifully with the help of the spirit. It turned out to be a wonderful day where we focused on our sweet new baby boy, found specialness in the ritual, and shared tenderness within our marriage. And once again felt thankful for responses to questions, even if we didn't agree. And still don't agree.

The initial shock has gone away, and we've studied the feelings surrounding what happened. I could look at it like a blessing, to have received an answer straight from the top (I don't see it this way.) I could also look at it like a witch hunt, void of love from high up authorities trying to shut down "appearances of evil" (this rings truer for how I feel.) I feel linked to a tiny part in a movement full of women trying to have a voice, and also completely helpless to the system of patriarchy. I feel love from heaven as we parent these miraculous babies, and angry at the broken human world in which we reside. I feel like another straw has been added to my human experience, and sometimes I want it to break me and sometimes I feel my back getting stronger. Matt has had his own emotional journey through this too, and it's hit him harder this time than with Sullivan's blessing.

You did no break me
(You did not break me)
I'm still fighting for peace

Like I wrote at the beginning of this post, I'm still sitting. No one gets to remove my Mormonness from me, but I cannot deny that I haven't been shuffled around. I personally have asked to hold my babies twice, and have personally been told that was not acceptable by my church leaders (all who are male) both times. I wasn't asking for the Priesthood. I wasn't asking to be a witness in a saving ordinance such as baptism (which I also have feelings on, in case you're wondering), and I wasn't trying to cause a scene in the middle of a sacred meeting. I once believed it should be insignificant who holds a baby during a blessing, as I feel heaven's involvement with the sacredness of the ritual and the power of Christ through the Priesthood for the baby either way, but I feel it has to be significant now. Men who are no longer participants in the Priesthood or even removed from any type of Church activity level are frequently asked to participate in an effort of inclusion with the hope they might feel the spirit and return. But a 30 year faithful woman who is trying her best to feel the spirit and stay actively involved was denied. Are we worried about appearances? Is the gender in a circle ultimately most important? Was it simply because I outright asked for it? Heaven forbid a policy comes out agains this (as I've heard it's happening in various wards.)

Matt asked me the other night how I think it should have been handled (because we were discussing how it wasn't handled well.) I paused at that question before answering, because it felt like leaning toward a solution instead of just complaining. The Church either lets the wards/stakes handle something themselves, or they don't and that removes power from the local leaders. My direct leaders who have served with me and know my situation personally had come to a decision that felt appropriate, and we were moving forward. There were no protests or angry words exchanged, just some members talking about a situation that concerned us directly. And then HQ got involved, and the care and love was stripped from the situation. Matt and I felt hunted down like we were doing something wrong. I had a few words with my Stake Pres last month and he even seemed a little flabbergasted himself and couldn't quite put words to the situation, but thanked me for trying to stay positive through it (since we happened to be at girl's camp and I was fulfilling a calling with a genuine smile on my face.) I wonder if the Stake Pres and Bishop felt reprimanded (which is usually the case when those higher in authorities change a decision you've made, not saying this is how they felt as I cannot speak for them), Matt and I definitely felt chased down, and a personal email was never responded to directly. So I take issues with what happened.

Well, I've got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade--it might be too sharp
I'm like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won't see me fall apart
'Cause I've got an elastic heart

I have not hidden that I'm trying to decide what kind of Mormon I can be in the current culture of the church and world. I'm trying to remain flexible and to not allow cynicism to take me over. I still happily serve in non-Sunday callings and care about the ward and the church. I'm nourishing my personal divine relationships and will walk out of classes in which I may not agree with the topic (I'm tired of being frustrated after attending church.) I speak up whenever I'm guided, I sincerely care about others, and I'm not afraid to discuss uncomfortable topics. I know we have women issues and gay issues and racist issues that need to be discussed, as well as a slew of other things, but don't often find places to do so within a local level. It's more or less business-as-usual in most of the meetings and classes, and I am craving more depth to everything we're saying and doing. Even if it means we don't agree! Because as I'm coming out of my baby blessing situations, I can see we have work to do and room to grow. Even if that growth never comes with practice or policy changes (but please bless it sometimes does), it can come within our relationship to each other and in the growth in conversations. We have not capped our potential with regards to communication, as it has no cap. What I learn from my experiences will be different from someone else, but I do believe learning needs to be taking place. Learning and growth go hand in hand, and maybe it could lead to more people standing hand in hand.

I have been hurt.  I understand we live in a world where people hurt each other. But like Sia, I have an elastic heart. Even after hurt I can believe in good. I want to believe that the Church entity is doing it's best, as well as the individual members. We're better people when we believe people are doing their best, but also acknowledge that we can always learn or improve. I've set better personal boundaries on my own relationship with the Church, because boundaries keep away resentment and I don't have time for resentment or anger to rule my life (I already have a knack for anger, so I am fighting to rid that emotion as my go-to anyway.) If people are incapable of being perfect on this earth, then so it goes with entities as well. More forgiveness and patience will be required, but also more hard conversations and people speaking. So here it is, I'm speaking my story and I'd love to hear yours. Do you have feelings or solutions surrounding what you've read here? Let's discuss openly with each other and see where it takes us. And don't you worry about me,

I've got an elastic heart.

EZ's Blessing Day// Sully's Blessing Day// Moses' Blessing Day

(Putting all three of those pictures next to each other makes time feel heavy. The heavy of a baby sleeping on your chest; so happy it's happening mingled with the sadness that it won't last.)
 
Listen to Elastic Heart here if you please.

87 comments:

  1. I couldn't hold on for a multitude of reasons. Some of them are the ones you are struggling with. All I know right now is that when I read your post I felt the Spirit again for the first time in a long time. Now what do I do with that.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Anna! I appreciate you taking the time, and wish you well. We're all just figuring it out as we go!

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  2. Hi! I am a long time reader of your blog, but probably a first time commenter. I have never had much of an issue with only Men holding the priesthood. I have typically been comfortable with my role as a mother and as my husband as a priesthood holder. Typically. I mean, I have never thought that I as a woman should hold the priesthood as well, but I sometimes haven't felt as valued in my role as far as the church goes. And I've never even thought about being able to hold my 3 babies during a blessing and I really can't see why its not allowed. Like you said, you weren't asking to give the blessing, but to hold your baby so you can be apart of it. I remember feeling hurt when I wasn't even acknowledged in sacrament meeting after the blessing, when they used to at least have the mom stand up. I also don't know why we can't or don't talk about our Heavenly Mother, because she has to be more involved in our lives then we realize, but that is an issue all on its own.

    To sum it up, I'm so sorry you went through this and got treated like a bad person for simply wanting to hold your sweet baby during what is supposed to be a special time for your family. I love the gospel, but sometimes the "rules" we have in the church don't seem fair. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like I could use someone like you to talk to about these things. (ps, I don't even know if i am making sense. I have never been great in writing and expressing my feelings.)

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    1. We can talk about Heavenly Mother and we should. It is helpful that the Church released the Mother in Heaven gospel topics essay because anything on lds.org is "approved" for use in classrooms, lessons and gospel discussions. I love the study by Paulson and Pulido that is cited in footnote 2 of the essay. It dumps the whole "too sacred to talk about" myth right out on its head! https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng

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    2. Have you read the Heavenly Mother essay? It's like 3 paragraphs long and vague at best. I didn't find it very helpful.

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    3. My sister sent a letter to Monson's office to ask for more information about Heavenly Mother and instead got a stake president's scolding out of it. The misogyny in the church is out of control, old-fashioned, and not inspired. It is "the traditions of their fathers", led by old men who are so out of touch with the real world that any hope for change will have to wait another 50 years until a new generation is in leadership and passes the changes off as inspiration like they did with ordaining blacks and allowing them to go to the temple.

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    4. Caitlin! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog in general, and to comment now. I believe it's always helpful to talk to others, and I'm sure we'd have plenty to discuss. In regards to Heavenly Mother, I have plenty to say on Her! I agree that what the Church released was helpful in ridding some of the outdated theory about her being "too sacred" to talk about, but it was a far cry from enough substance. Janell, we're on the same page about it - in that at least it exists!

      Anonymous 1 & 2 - I wish first off, you didn't feel like you have to comment anonymously. If I've learned anything from putting myself out there, it's that your comments never carry as much weight when left anonymously. Secondly, I agree with your points of it not being enough info on HM, and also with there being blatant misogyny within the Church. I have studied many wonderful theories surrounding a Heavenly Mother that I can get behind, and it's sort of freeing that we don't have any scriptural references for which to compare. I get to believe what is personally best for me, and although that's not helpful to the larger church audience, it's at least something. I don't have all the answers and am often left unsatisfied, but I'm always thankful when people show up to discuss.

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  3. I love your openness and honesty in sharing such personal things. You inspire me and I just love your elastic heart. Let's get together soon. I love a good conversation with you. 😘

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  4. This broke my heart all over again. I'd love to interview you for my podcast, would you be willing to contact me? Kristy.money@gmail.com. This happened to me too 3 years ago, I am so sorry

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  5. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting, it's so nice to hear from people on such personal topics.

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  6. My husband left after our 2nd child and son was born. My return missionary husband didn't want to be married anymore. I've been head of my household, protector, provider, single mother, nurturer, nurse and everything to and for my children for over 14 years. We don't attend church because they just don't know what to do with me. The Lord and I are good but the church just doesn't understand.

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    1. Celina!! I think that's the best description of women in the church - They often times don't know what to do with us. It sounds like you're crushing it within your roles, and I admire you and your story and what you're doing because I can imagine it has not been the easiest route or one that you would have chosen (but maybe looking back you would have? hindsight gives us all sorts of learning.) Thank you so much for commenting, it's nice to see other perspectives

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  7. An excellent example of "The Church" shooting itself in the foot (and for what?) This us the single issue that was the catalyst in a beautiful cousin of mine, "born with Mormon blood coursing through her heart and veins" having completely disassociated herself from the church between the births of her first and second children (Her two children are four years apart). It's the church's loss. She has blossomed in so many ways and seems to have never looked back. She still has a fantastic marriage (to a fantastic husband who places his marriage relationship ABOVE ALL). She is a fabulous mother. Every new acquaintance she makes seems to adore her. I could go on and on about her but that's enough to make my point that the church clearly shot itself in the foot in telling THIS mother she could not hold her baby while it was blessed. SO STUPID!

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    1. Good for your cousin! I hope she never looks back. Why should she when she has a good future to look forward to?

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    2. Not being permitted to hold your child during a baby blessing is an excellent reason to renege on baptismal covenants. I'm sure Christ will thoroughly vindicate that decision at the judgment bar.

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    3. Brigham, Do you even know what "catalyst" means?

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    4. I'm fairly certain that in this context, it's a thin euphemism for "excuse."

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    5. Robert, thanks for commenting and sharing your story about your cousin. I know this is not an isolated incident with my experience, and I am always thankful to hear about or know other families with similar stories. I love the part about their marriage relationship being most important, because that's what I hope for either in our out of the Church for any couple. I wish her (and you, and commenter Amanda) the best in all of the life decisions we get to make!

      Brother Brigham, I'm not sure the purpose of you coming here to write comments under a pseudo name and discuss what Christ will or will not do at the judgment bar, but please refrain from commenting more unless you have something more helpful or personal to say. I don't believe we learn much from blanket statements and anonymity, but would love to have you join with your personal experiences and your real name.

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    6. Brother Brigham, Christ will judge all of us perfectly, taking into account our hearts, actions, desires, flaws, etc. We see imperfectly and are therefor ineligible to judge others in matters of salvation. Who are you to postulate who Christ will reject and who Christ will accept? Do you know the mind of God? Do you know the intricacies, intimacies, hurts, and experiences of His children? Only He does. So please leave the judging to Him and focus on working out your own salvation and loving God's children with all the faith and charity you can muster. You may find that as you do so, your relationship with God will grow in depth and complexity.

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    7. Yes, I do postulate to know the mind of God inasmuch as it's been revealed via the Standard Works. Both Paul and Moroni taught, "Charity... rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth." Encouraging others in a walk away from Christ's Church is antithetical to charity.

      Next time, perhaps you'll read up on the scriptural definition of "love" before you presume to lecture about it.

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    8. I didn't expect it to hurt to say this, but it does.

      Tears are actually coursing down my face as I realise (perhaps with clarity, for the first time) that the patriarchal, small-minded, critical, judgemental, punitive and immovable attitudes of men like Brother Brigham - who obviously have much to learn about honouring the priesthood - and the wives who feel forced to live under that subjugation, have much to do with my leaving the church. These men have co-opted the power and authority of God for themselves and now believe they are the final arbiters of morality.

      So sad.

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  8. I had never thought about this but I will bring the topic up with my wife and see what she thinks about it for when we have our first child. This is a wonderful idea and I hope we see it become recognized as such.

    The church and the Gospel are very different things in my mind. I know the church will have issues problems, etc. because the church is led by fallible people. The Gospel is pure and perfect. I have high hopes that, slowly, the church will open up as younger leaders age into higher positions. I very much hope that the Church of 40 years from now is very different, in positive ways, from today.

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    1. Look at some gospel topics. Really study it. The church is not perfect. It is frighteningly imperfect which they go to great lengths to hide from you.

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    2. We're having a discussion about this post over on reddit. https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/4x3p8b/mormon_mom_asked_bishop_stake_president_and_an/

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    3. Ryan, thanks for taking the time to comment & I think it's very helpful to take the ideas into real relationships and discuss them together. I do understand that we separate "the gospel" from "the church" but we have to agree that it intersects far too often to not affect both on a regular basis. I believe in hope, so I appreciate you commenting!

      Lizzy, appreciate your comment. I agree that the church is not perfect (just as I believe people or businesses or basically any organization is not perfect.) I hate that we live in a world where people can hide things or keep secrets from each other, but we do. I am not blind to that, but also still want to have hope that if we share our experiences and work together, maybe we can make changes whether small or large.

      I also know that there are discussions on reddit and FB and other blogs, but I barely have time to comment back on my personal channels, so excuse me when I don't hop around discussing it everywhere.

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  9. I had never thought about this but I will bring the topic up with my wife and see what she thinks about it for when we have our first child. This is a wonderful idea and I hope we see it become recognized as such.

    The church and the Gospel are very different things in my mind. I know the church will have issues problems, etc. because the church is led by fallible people. The Gospel is pure and perfect. I have high hopes that, slowly, the church will open up as younger leaders age into higher positions. I very much hope that the Church of 40 years from now is very different, in positive ways, from today.

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    1. Yes, the church 40 years from now will still be 50 years behind the times socially. And the current generation will be dead or too old to care.

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  10. I'm very sorry for your ordeal and the pain that went with it. I hate to say this, but every time I read something like this, I feel so relieved and so at peace that I have taken my faith elsewhere. I was LDS for 14 years, through the births & blessings of my 3 children, and now I attend a Protestant denomination that celebrates women in a way that was completely unfamiliar to me. I wanted a place where my ability to connect with God, be involved, and be a leader depended not on my genitals but on the content of my soul and the faith in my heart. I'm really glad that I don't have to worry about things like this anymore.

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    1. Love hearing stories like this and love other denominations so much for their better inclusion of women (and others as well.) Wish it weren't under anonymous, but appreciate you taking the time!

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  11. Holding a child is not participating in the blessing. PERIOD. You aren't asking to stand in the circle. The chair that an 8 year old sits on doesn't have the Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood holder who holds the microphone while the Melchezidek priesthood holder blesses the child isn't qualified to participate eithereither by the Church's handbook rules.
    Man>boy>chair>woman. It seems that as soon as these policies are questioned, they fall apart under the weight of reality on the ground.

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    1. Wow. Man>boy>chair>woman. That paints the picture clearly, doesn't it?

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    2. At least they didn't ask me to hold the microphone to "be involved"? ;)

      Glad to see this discussion happening and for sharing the feeling that being a "chair" is wrong, as I agree with that.

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  12. Have you read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans? There is so much in this post that reminds me of the way her book made me feel. Elastic heart is the perfect way to describe it.

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    1. I haven't read that -but I'll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation and for commenting!

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  13. Perhaps the name of the church should be The Church of the Handbook of Instructions.

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  14. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to say something, as it can feel like an open void when putting something so personal out there.

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  15. You should read the lds Church essay (https://www.lds.org/topics/essays?lang=eng)
    I think you benefits from it
    Keep in touch (j1cordingley@gmail.com) I have another for you to read after those essays

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    1. I have been reading those essays and I'm so grateful that the Church is striving for more clarity around a variety of topics. Thanks for commenting

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  16. I'm sorry for the ordeal your family went through. Sadly, misogyny and patriarchy are part and parcel of the Abrahamic religions. There was a time when your ancestors honored, loved and revered the goddesses.

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  17. You story touched my heart and I love how you follow the spirit. It sounds like your heart is open and the spirit is speaking to you. But God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are no our thoughts. You are hearing his thoughts, but the church isn't.

    I did leave the church a year ago and I don't regret it. That said, I have not lost my testimony. It is stronger now that it has every been, including when I served a mission. We started having church at home and it is the most wonderful experience-and no we didn't get permission. I don't believe I need a man's permission to take the Lord's sacrament, which He would love for us to take on a daily basis if we would. I teach my children the gospel myself. I believe the church is in a state of apostasy. Pretty blunt, huh? But the Book of Mormon prophesies it will happen, so no one need be surprised. It has lost it's way and it is not a church Joseph Smith would even recognize anymore. Our family has gone through SO much heartache because of that stupid handbook, like you. No one follows the spirit. Only the handbook. I'm sure the people of my ward think we must be doing something wrong and that we've lost the spirit. Otherwise, why wouldn't we go to church? Or, maybe they think we're following an evil spirit. That makes me snicker. All I know is that we are doing what the Lord has asked us to do.

    I don't believe The church is led by the Lord anymore. I believe he uses it where he can, but those men at the top, in my opinion, are not prophets. When did they last prophesy? And I'm talking about real prophesies, not good advice or warm fuzzy talks. When did any of them last See, as seers? And when have they revealed new doctrine? They don't. Not for years. I have started studying the scriptures deeply, praying like my life depended on it and praying about the things I'm learning. I'm deeply heartbroken too about what I've learned about how the church is run. So many dishonest things happening, but it is a business, not really a church. Literally. Look it up. So sad.

    For us it started when my son went on a mission and couldn't do what his president demanded. It didn't sit well with his integrity. It was all about numbers and the handbook and my son finally decided to come home early. I also decided I couldn't pay tithing to a church that builds a mall across the street from the temple... with tithing funds. Yes. Look it up. It's the Great and Spacious Building in my opinion. I just couldn't do it anymore.

    I am waiting on the Lord and he is leading me and causing miracles to happen in my life on a daily basis. Is it hard? Absolutely. I have lost friends, my reputation on certain levels, and that support that we all feel as a part of the church. But sometimes, the Lord expects us to sacrifice ALL and follow him, and ONLY him.

    I wish you love and blessings on your journey, and may you always follow Him even if it takes you away from the church.

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    1. Be sure not to trip as you ascend that Rameumptom this week!

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    2. Brother Brigham...that's the best you got? One snarky remark. On the level of internet slaps. this ranks real low. Next time try harder.

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    3. Sorry, I have this terrible habit of likening scriptures unto contemporary situations I observe. In that respect, Nephi has been a terrible influence on me. As has Alma. Clearly, there's no self-righteous apostasy in the above comments in a vein analogous to the Zoramites.

      Next time, I'll keep shut when Hiram Page gets his stone out and starts revealing "true revelation."

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    4. Once again Brother Brigham... it's not helpful and I don't see how that's not clear. I get being snarky - I love being snarky! But not when it's unhelpful to human relationships.

      Anonymous, Thanks for sharing your story. I like seeing people taking reigns of their life, even if it differs from mine. I still see value from an organized religion, so that's where I stay for now. Wish you the best, and hope that one extreme doesn't lead you to another extreme as I know that is a possibility when change happens. I hope for moderation for myself and others.

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    5. Carla,

      If you don't find the scriptures helpful, maybe you'll find a dictionary of greater value. It's "reins," not "reigns."

      BY

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    6. @Brother Brigham, criticizing others' grammar or spelling is beneath you. Obviously you are fiercely loyal to the church and your interpretation of scriptures, however flawed both may be. Good for you for caring about important things. Your responses, however, reveal a lot of fear. Why are you so threatened by the differences between your beliefs and those of others? Do their words shed a some painful light on your own cognitive dissonance? I've found that those who are truly confident in their beliefs and standing before the Lord refrain from such flippant and disrespectful tactics. If you truly believe the scriptures and want to follow them, may I suggest the latter part of D&C 121 for your next study?

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    7. Kimber,

      Instead of addressing the substance of my argument-i.e., apostasy by any other name is still apostasy-you have opted for an ad hominem fallacy.

      Now, do you care to address my argument or do you want to double down on the psychobabble?

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    8. Brother Brigham,

      I'm happy to address an argument that isn't rooted in fear or derision. Remember that perfect love casteth out all fear.

      Kimber

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    9. Brother Brigham! Oh man, would you like to come over for dinner? email me carlathorup@gmail.com because I think it would do us both some good to be around each other. we're in the salt lake valley and I'm serious about that offer. Kimber can join us too if she wants!

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    10. Thanks for the dinner invite, Carla. I'd love to come over to your place, but I'm a bit stuck at 140 E. First Ave for the time being.

      BY

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  18. the last two paragraphs speak my heart exactly. i'm sorry for your struggles. may they be to your benefit in the end.

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    1. Thanks so much for writing, and sharing part of the story with me.

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  19. Dear friend, so so sorry to hear this story. It makes my heart ache for you too. I am incredibly impressed with your kindness and willingness to be positive and still honest about it all. I'll be in Utah some this fall, would love to see you and talk.

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    1. would LOVE to see you, and your big beautiful heart for this world. let's make it happen.

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  20. I know you and Matt. I love you and Matt. I think it may be time for you both to move on. The church isn't true, to be frank. I struggled with this for a long time, but it feels great to be outside. I don't want to use this as a forum to "break your shelf" but please take some time to read for yourself about the women in the history of the church. Joseph's wives, Brigham's wives, Martin Harris's wife, and many others will help you see the LDS church is a man-centered power organization.
    Bless you both.

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    1. I appreciate you commenting, but if you know us in person I don't understand the anonymous comment. I have made myself aware of many issues within church history, and would love to discuss if it's important to our relationship.

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    2. There would be negative family and job related repercussions if I were to post under my real name. In my heart I am no longer a Mormon, but in life I have to keep up the facade in order to maintain the status quo. Luckily my spouse is almost out as well, so maybe soon I'll come forward. I'd love to chat in person.

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  21. Discussion about this post on reddit:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/4x3p8b/mormon_mom_asked_bishop_stake_president_and_an/

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  22. I read this earlier today, and keep thinking about it. I left the church years ago, but I was raised Mormon, sixth generation, yet I an still bothered by this. Someone just dictated to you when you were allowed to hold your own child in your own home. You were denied permission to hold your child while you husband uttered a prayer. And your reaction was to feel disappointed and quote a pop song? Really?

    I understand. Mormonism dictates the smallest detail of your life, so you are accustomed to this. But I hope you will really think about this. Why would you give someone that kind of power over your family? Why, WHY, would you have to ask for PERMISSION to hold YOUR child in YOUR HOME!!!

    I sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to deeply consider things that you have taken for granted. This is really not okay.

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  23. Have we ever seen so much whining in our society?

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    1. said the anonymous drive by snarking. You should try harder.

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    2. Thanks gunner for sticking up for me with the anonymous comments!

      and anonymous - I do not think sharing my story was whining, and unless you can stand up with your own name to discuss this, you won't ever have more than a troll place on the internet.

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  24. This brings back memories of pain and joy, as our SP rejected our desire for my wife to hold our son for his blessing three years ago. We opted to forego the formal blessing and instead do a fathers blessing with her holding our boy, while being surrounded by family. As I was blessing him our then 2 year old daughter ran up and threw her arms around my leg. It was a beautiful experience that my SP would later try to tarnish through informal discipline.

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    1. Love hearing beautiful stories, thanks so much for sharing (even with the attempted tarnishing.) I was confused when they said yes at first to me holding at home but not at church, because that raises more annoyance with where women have "domain" etc etc. I hope as a faith community we can keep trying to align with personal desires bit by bit

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  25. Thank you for being brave enough to share this publicly. I'm sorry about what happened to you. it was wrong.

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  26. Hi My name is Mark, I am from England. You are really making something out of nothing here. The church has had a way of doing things in a specified order, and if you have been LDS you will surely have seen this ordinance many times over. Just now many younger people in the church are wanting things their way, even if this means altering the prescribed way of doing things laid down by Prophets and Apostles. Was it so difficult to stay with the prescribed way of doing things? So many people commenting here are either ex church members or in disagreement with what the church teaches. Seek not to council The Lord. You really coming accross as some one who is spitting their dummy out of the pram because they can't get their own way. If the Church is truly led by a living Prophet, what is your problem in accepting happily what is laid down by revelation? Or is your revelation above that of Prophets and Apostles? I am sure you have something far more important to worry over.

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    1. Mark, love, you're really coming across as a callous douchebag who lacks the capacity for empathy. You should work on that.

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    2. Man from the shed. This is not a major doctrinal issue, it is not Ninety-five Theses, it is a mother wanting to hold her child during a momentous moment in their life. It also is rather sad how quickly and early the slights against mothers start. I feel for her as I feel for my dear member wife as we never had children, but the many slights, while seemingly small, hurt her often. Your lack of empathy is bothersome, and at the same time clouded by the simple fact that you are a male, have the priesthood, and don't get subtle reminders of that following the book of instructions is more important than the spirit.

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    3. Mark, thanks for commenting- but I also think we're both saying similar things. I am not trying to make something out of nothing, as you can see I didn't think WHO holds the baby should be a big deal, as long as it's inclusive. It was made INTO a big deal because of the denial, when something as simple as who holds the child is bigger than a unifying spiritual experience. I did not make this into a protest or ask to be a part of the priesthood, it was a personal experience between a few individuals that became much larger when HQ stepped in to override what local level was handling. Sorry anonymous called you names, that was uncalled for and lame.

      Gunner, thanks for your words. The lack of empathy needed to be addressed, as well as the fact that a man was saying it without giving credit to my personal experience living as a woman. I feel for your wife too, and give her my best salute to carry on.

      Anonymous, it's rude & unhelpful to call names, especially under an anonymous title.

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    4. Thanks for the kind words your self. My wife says that RS is painful because the push for motherhood. She was openly taught that she could be a ministering angel in the next life. She doesn't go to RS anymore. We had no kids, but we try to be good uncles and aunts to the nieces and nephews. The worst was on mothers day years ago, she was sitting next to a relative, and as the young men were giving out flowers the relative spoke 'they're for mothers only'. She said she feels third class under men and under women with children. The push for the traditional nuclear family leaves us out in the old. No mother-daughter activities, no father-son trips, no baby blessings, no etc. It has pretty much made church a painful experience for her.

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  27. I'm sorry and for those that Know me I'm 100% women's advocate but lately so many women are complaining about everything possible. I don't care if you are active or inactive Chill out a little bit . I always thought and I still do that a baby's blessing it is the most wonderful day and special moment between Father and son/daughter or grandfather . We have the blessing to carry in our wombs for 9 months that bundle of joy, by the way I'm not a mother, but I received that blessing too even thou I choose not to be a mother. so We sleep, we feed them we are with them for 9 freaking months, we breastfeed them and we get all emotional and upset because for 5 or 10 min the men in our lives have that moment with their babies? really? are you kidding me?. I'm sorry we don't have to be everywhere and around everything. as I see we have the most sacred and wonderful blessing we bring into the world Presidents of all countries in the world, Genius, Pope, Presidents of the Church, and it is true men give the seed but we have the honor and Privilege of carrying them for 9 months in our bodies. They will never have that so chill out and please stop complaining about every little detail and finding excuses to complain and leave the church. I Don't wanna offend anyone but I leave in Salt Lake City, Utah and I'm a little tired of women lately complaining about every freaking thing since pants, prayers, blessings until Priesthood so as I see whether we choose to do or not we had the most amazing calling into this world no matter what our religion is we bring lives into this world and our heavenly father came into this world because one of us decided to accept this calling and She carry the savior in her womb for 9 months I don't know any honor and calling greater than that Do you?

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    1. And As I see the Church is perfect as Organization but leaders are humans and makes mistakes as we do.

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    2. Oh samantha! I love to disagree with people who say "I don't want to offend anyone" haha. Did you find my personal story one big complaint? Because as I see it, you just complained to me about complaining and so now you might consider us stuck in a cycle of complaints?

      I never once said in there that I didn't value my role as a mother or feel incredible blessed to carry my children & take care of them. That would have been an assumption on your part of taking my personal story and making it into "a thing" that is happening "all over" with "so many women." I do not claim to speak for many women, I only do so for myself. I also do not think that my voice should be silenced for the rest of my life when my child rearing days are over, and if I do happen to be raising the next Pope or President or Genius, then I only hope they will understand that voices matter, regardless of the gender or age. It is a privilege to mother children, and it is an equal privilege to father children as my husband would agree, but that does not mean we cannot do more while we are here. It is not about the 5 to 10 minutes during a blessing where a man gets to hold the baby, as I hope he takes hours, weeks, days and years holding that child, but it is about voices being heard individually and as a whole (and specifically, women's voices in this church.)

      I am happy to discuss further since it seems like we could very well be sitting next to each other on the pew, but please base them off of your own life experiences rather than women at large, because I have not seen much success in blanket discussions.

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  28. I'm impressed by this post (and the other you linked to), and your thoughtful responses to some heavy comments. I have gone through many of the same struggles regarding women in the church--and many other issues. After years of prayers, I was led to some painful, but ultimately amazing answers. Some can be found here (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6t-rQr3iLAsekRiMW05QUVvR1U/view) and here (https://www.amazon.com/Passing-Heavenly-Gift-Denver-Snuffer/dp/0615528961/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1470939636&sr=8-1&keywords=passing+the+heavenly+gift). The restoration was real and the Book of Mormon is true, but that doesn't mean current LDS leaders are led by Christ. Good luck on your journey!

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    1. Thank you for being thoughtful & also trying to engage in some of the comments. I'll check out those links & may we all carry on in our journey. Maybe we'll cross paths!

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  29. My wife held my son during his blessing at home. It was not decided ahead of time but it was a difficult circumstance as I am not a member of the Church, anymore and I chose to skip the blessing on account of a particularly bad sentiment toward the Church at that time which was hard on her. I think that these ceremonies really don't bring families together, at all.

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    1. I have seen this too many times - when our "goal" is to bring people together and our actions do the exact opposite. I'm glad she held him, and I also hope you guys are finding ways to peacefully move forward together. Thanks for commenting!

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  30. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It's nice to know there's others who feel similarly to what I feel.

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  31. Hi Carla, I've always admired you and your positiveness. Thanks for sharing your feelings with courage on a platform open for discussions. We can all learn a few things from each other. Keep asking those questions, because change happens. Having gone thru 2 temple marriages myself that ended in divorces I came to depend upon the Lord for answers to my questions. The baby blessing experiences I had were varied. Just know this Carla, a mother's prayers are holy. Don't think that for one minute Heavenly Father doesn't know your feelings because he does. I think you are courageous to talk about the uncomfortable topics of Mormonism. It doesn't mean you need to leave the church (not that you would) it just means you are shining a light on topics that we each need to understand. If we profess to be a disciple of Christ we should love one another even in a discussion of your feelings that have been hurt.

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  32. I didn't realize how much I cared about holding my son while he was being blessed until I was told I couldn't. I really admire (and I'll admit that I'm also envious of) your efforts and ability to stay positive and have a happy baby day despite all of that.

    What I struggle with most recently is that instead of feeling drawn closer to my family or God, a lot of the things about church are making me feel more distant. I'd been told my whole life that nothing I would ever do would ever matter as much as being a mother (which I agree with now that I've had my son, because he is everything) but I can't reconcile how strange it feels to be told he should be everything but then be completely removed from him with anything to do with church. No involvement in blessings, baptism, confirmation, ordination, endowment, wedding- nothing. If I wasn't there at all, nothing would need to change, so I don't really feel all that important in the eyes of the church as a mother. And that just plain hurts. (I know that I am important to my son and that I play a crucial role in his life- I just don't feel like the church actually believes this.)

    Couple that with some of the difficulties I have with the temple and feeling removed from God, and the straight up confusion and distance I always feel in regards to Heavenly Mother, and I find myself struggling to see how Mormonism is supposed to help me feel closer to God and family. And that hurts too.

    So I sit too- I sit and I sit. But now my back hurts and my legs are stiff and stretching doesn't seem to be helping. I feel disingenuous because sometimes I don't want to sit, but I am. I found a way to add a "cushion" so to speak (create some distance by removing myself from the things that hurt me a little more) but it's still hard. I'm not sure what I want or where to go. Your story was validating in that I'm not the only one with a struggle, but also a little disheartening through the lack of progress in church. But I appreciate your vulnerability and your sharing and your Daring Greatly in being open with the struggle. I love Brene Brown too. I haven't sat down to write out some of these feelings clearly yet, so I also appreciate the venue for the self exploration.

    So thank you for writing and sharing. I'm sitting with you right now too- it is nice to know it's not a lonely seat, even if it's uncomfortable sometimes.

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  33. Thank you for your post, honey. Thank you everyone for your comments. I am a mama, a woman, and my faith home (I am LDS too) makes it all harder. I despair that the change I pray for and know is possible, is estimated to take 40 years. That's the rest of my life time--all of it. My life matters, and 40 maybe 50 years of wandering in the wilderness--that seems like such a waste.

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  34. Your Post has caused me great thought and personal reflection, and I sincerely thank you for that. I think that you have a very logical argument, one that I am even, to many extents, in agreement with. It has many logical and even doctrinal points. Perhaps just as important you have feelings about that subject that are real and poignant. You are searching and asking questions. You are learning, and hopefully growing through this experience.

    I think that often times God's church and even His commandments don't make sense. I think the story of Abraham is a perfect example. What could have been going through Abraham's mind as he was asked sacrifice his son?

    How could a loving God asking me (Abraham) to do such a thing? This is a practice of the apostates? Is this message really from God, or have I been deceived by Lucifer?

    I am absolutely unclear how he came to a surety – which I am sure he must have as we are talking about the sacrifice of his son - that the revelation received was from God but somehow he did. I am always amazed by the story of Abraham; first, and, perhaps most obviously, by the faith that he had... but second by the absurdity of the commandment that was given by the Lord. I mean what on earth??? Sure hindsight lets us say that it allowed Abraham and his faith to be tested but really, MURDER your son!!!

    Secondly though I often find solace in this story. For it is as it reads in:

    D&C 101:4-5
    4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
    5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.

    As prophets often do… it was perhaps President Spencer W. Kimball who summed it up best:

    Blind obedience! How little they understand! The Lord said through Joseph Smith: "Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire." (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173.) When men obey commands of a creator, it is not blind obedience. How different is the cowering of a subject to his totalitarian monarch and the dignified, willing obedience one gives to his God. The dictator is ambitious, selfish, and has ulterior motives. God's every command is righteous, every directive purposeful, and all for the good of the governed. The first may be blind obedience, but the latter is certainly faith obedience. The patriarch Abraham, sorely tried, obeyed faithfully when commanded by the Lord to offer his son Isaac upon the altar. Blind obedience? No. He knew that God would require nothing of him which was not for his ultimate good. How that good could be accomplished he did not understand. [The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.59]

    When men obey commands of a creator, it is not blind obedience. How different is the cowering of a subject to his totalitarian monarch and the dignified, willing obedience one gives to his God. The dictator is ambitious, selfish, and has ulterior motives. God's every command is righteous, every directive purposeful, and all for the good of the governed. The first may be blind obedience, but the latter is certainly faith obedience. [The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.59; emphasis added]

    I pray that you find a superior relationship with your Heavenly Father through this experience and trial of your faith. I know that Joseph Smith is and was a prophet of God, whom God’s church was restored through, and that this, God’s church, is still led by a prophet President Thomas S. Monson. I don’t really understand faith, nor is mine as strong as I would hope that it would be at this point in my life. Nonetheless, we live this life with faith; the only question that remains is… where do I exercise it?

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  35. Hearing of another woman's recent experience with attempting to hold her baby whilst her husband offered the blessing brought me here. I am no longer in that season of life, but still hold the pain within of being denied, feeling denigrated, and humiliated at times by church leaders over the years. Reading your story has helped give words to that pain. You have written all that is in my heart with beautiful articulateness and simplicity. What I admire most though, is your grace in handling these painful challenges and your willingness to stay and keep trying. You have such a beautiful heart. Thank you.

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