I awoke this morning to post after post in my newsfeed regarding recent church disciplinary actions. As I have previously shared my feelings regarding the position of women and the Priesthood, I had no intent to comment any further. However, I feel a nagging reminder of how my experience may lend a unique perspective. I don't want to comment on it, because I hate dredging up contention and never wish to do so, but I feel strongly that I need to do so. If nothing else, perhaps my children may wonder, sometime down the road when I am not there to answer, and let this be a record of my feelings. There are many friends and family members of mine who may misunderstand what has happened and what it means, because the media will inevitably dramatize matters and twist words. That is their job. I want you to know that I stand up for my church and my beliefs not because I worry about what you may then infer about me or because I have some crazy notion of it affecting my ability to convert you or something...but because this is something I love and feel strongly about. Truly. Additionally, there are many women I know who are hurting and feeling confused and sad. Please know that I love you. I don't care what your position is on the Ordain Women movement. I truly don't. My deepest wish is for you to have the peace and contentment that you deserve.
You see, I've been there. I was much younger, yes, but I have questioned those very things myself. Please do not assume that I have simply been born into a religion that I have blindly followed throughout my life. I can assure you this is not true. I have struggled with questions and worked them out, sometimes over many years of prayer and study. I have ultimately come to a peace and understanding that is mine, and mine alone. It took a lot of softening of my heart and waiting, but it came. I do not tell you this as some sort of badge of honor, but so that you understand where I am coming from. How I wish I could hold you and tell you "Don't you see?! The answers are there! Go to the temple, do initiatory work, be still, listen and you will know!". I struggled with the question of the church's view of women and Priesthood as a teenager who was working out a lot of issues regarding my father and church and beliefs. I honestly don't recall the answer I received at that time, but I do recall that I came to understand that I simply did not understand it all and that was enough. It was not until I was, as an adult a few years ago, faced with the very real question of Priesthood authority and blessings in my home that I approached this subject again. As a mother, deeply concerned about her welfare and the welfare of her children, I ached to have the blessings of the Priesthood in my home when I did not. I felt their absence. I went to the place where there world could melt away so that I could 'be still' and hear the whisperings in my heart. I had been to the temple many times before. Many. It was not until I was in that place in my life that I heard the words that were said, that had been said every other time before, that put to rest all of my worries and assured me that I had all that I needed. That is what I wish my friends who are struggling could feel. I have faith that in time you can and I can assure you that there are many who pray for it. It isn't about one being right or wrong. It isn't about questioning church doctrine and working things out for yourself. Need I remind you that the very foundation of our church is based on the premise that the Gospel did not exist on the earth in its entirety and one who questioned went to the Lord with his questions to work it out? Countless recent talks by General Authorities (modern-day apostles and prophets for my non-LDS friends) have also discussed doubting and faith and asking questions. You cannot have faith without first seeking. Our church does not promote that.
Regarding excommuncation and church discipline..... Oh how I struggled with that for years! Again, not until it became deeply personal did I understand. Please know that the removal of one's covenants (excommunication) is never done lightly and is always done out of love. I am so grateful for a loving bishop who was able to explain it to me in great detail. The time came up, not so very long ago, when I was faced with the possibility of the excommunication of a close loved one and my feelings regarding the matter were brought up. This was something that would impact me directly and I was asked what my feelings were regarding whether that should be considered a course of action. It broke my heart to answer in the affirmative and yet I knew in that very moment that it was the right answer. You need to know this.... We are taught that as we are given, so it is expected. When you have a level of knowledge and understanding, you are expected to live accordingly. When you are unable to live up to your covenants, promises made between God and yourself, then you do lack the blessings that come from keeping those covenants. It is more than that though. When you have reached a level of sin or transgression or are in a place personally where perhaps your judgment is so clouded that you cannot see clearly, then it is better for you to not have those covenants because with the breaking of them also comes consequences. Now, please understand that I am not saying that so and so is a sinner because they have been excommunicated. I am not. What I am saying is that when a person has their blessings, ordinances, covenants, whatever you want to call it, removed from them then it is out of a love for them in that it absolves them of those consequences until they are able to return to full fellowship and able to again live up to the promises they have made. It is a blessing and a gift. I absolutely and fully believe that. It need not be an absolute. I have seen the return of dear friends from excommunication and heard their stories. I have seen and felt the effects of disfellowship and other church discipline. I did not always feel this way, until it became personal and I experienced it. My heart aches for the dear church leaders who carry this burden, as I know it weighs heavily upon them . Let us be compassionate and understanding. Let us have soft hearts toward one another, whether we share the same beliefs or not.