my_bleeding_heart_by_kilroyart-d4t4sgf

This past weekend women who I count as friends, known as ward members, and as neighbors who’ve gathered round my kitchen table, joined together outside the door of the Tabernacle to ask admittance to the General Priesthood Session of conference. This past weekend men and women that I count as friends, known as ward members, and as neighbors who’ve gathered round my kitchen table, criticized their actions, calling them out as faithless, insecure, and presumptuous. While I did not stand in line or have my name carried with them, my heart bled for them.

Growing up I recall our family of seven gathering around the kitchen table, laughing and testing our wit often at the expense of some of the more awkward characters we picked from school, church or the headlines. It was always fun; I’m certain I nearly peed my pants snorting in laughter. It all seemed safe within the filter of our home. Yet whenever we were really nit-picking or began ripping into someone new my mother would pipe in over us, to condemn our ridicule, and repeat her wished-for mantra, “your name is safe in my house.” Typically we’d fail to maintain the ideal she had for us, but it did a wonder at worming its way into the back of my consciousness. I still hear on regular repeat without her voicing it; and I want to ask it of others, when I begin to feel as my mother felt.

With her mother-heart my mom had the gift to find good in everyone. Everyone, to the point of groaning and aggravation of all of us kids. We just wanted to lay into the deserving and serve their follies sunny-side up for our own merriment and pride at “thank heaven we’re not like that.” Perhaps I’m slow on the uptake, or really just like to a good time, but the consequences of my actions didn’t seem to wear on me until I got older, a little taller, and later began to grow a mother-heart of my own. Not a mother-heart solely because I am a mother, but a swelling, blood rushing, pumping, red and blue heart of compassion because I saw the bleeding world around me. . When I saw others hurt, I began to hurt a little too. Shocked at the trauma, I offered my own heart to hold some of the flow and began to know my mom’s mother-heart, modeled after Christ’s sacred one.

*         *         *

Elbows on the green formica kitchen island, I hold my sixteen year-old head in my hands as all the sadness of my high school existence gushes from my mouth and hot tears sting my eyes. I wanted to know why no one could see me. I was mad about at least forty-seven different things and wailed them all to my mother who stood across me taking all of my sorrow in and hearing my futile wishes for restitution and revenge. She’d cackle at my suggestions, but then sensibly suggest that instead “act, don’t react;” which along with “your name is safe in my home” is probably the thing I least wanted to hear. I loved being right, and I just wanted to tell it the way I saw it. It would do me no good to shame and alienate people by telling them how right I was and how wrong they were.

*        *        *

In the months that lead of to this weekend’s asking and refusal, I didn’t know how to hold my own heart. It swelled with apprehension of the unknown. I feared the rejection and the backlash for them, but mostly I feared it for my friends from my friends. It came. And I had to just stop reading because I couldn’t keep doing it anymore, I couldn’t stand for more cuts. While I did not stand in line with them, nor ask that my name be carried along, my heart went with them and I don’t condemn them: I admire their honest desire and good intentions.

When I was young and happy to pick on anyone easy, I have would have helped lead the brigade. They were asking so boldy and publically, it seemed primed for the picking. They made it open and easy. But now, when I see others that I know and love, see only an action and not the people, I grieve. It is easy to have knee-jerk reaction and push back what sticks out; it takes more time to get to know each other and let them into your heart.

Couldn’t we all just gather back around my kitchen table as friends, neighbors and church members, and talk it out? I’ll make a pot of corn chowder, some salad, and a loaf of bread.

Don’t we all seek further light and knowledge; acceptance and welcome; love and safety? Is it okay if we don’t all go about it the same way?

We’ll break the bread and pass plates while we talk.

Didn’t President Uchtdorf give a fantastic talk that offered room for all of us without exclusion?

I’m sure it would go as most things do when you take the time to talk to someone; we’d see similarities and differences, but get along amiably.

You’d bring dessert and share it around.

We’d act, and not react. Your name is safe at my home, so please gather ’round.

 

33 Comments

  1. Amira

    October 8, 2013

    Thank you, Sandra. I’ll bring a cardamom cake for everyone who wants some.

  2. Andrea R.

    October 8, 2013

    Beautiful, Sandra. Thank you.

  3. Luisa Perkins

    October 8, 2013

    I’d bring a dessert, too.

  4. Braids

    October 8, 2013

    I was surprised by how emotional I felt after hearing about these sisters being turned away. Even though I don’t really agree with their goals or methods, I think they are faithful women of God. I found myself thinking of them while I watched priesthood session with my husband. My heart just ached for them. This is a beautiful post, thank you.

  5. Proud Daughter of Eve

    October 8, 2013

    Beautifully expressed, Sandra. We can disagree with one another without deliberately harming one another too.

    Btw, you said “Yet whenever we were really nit-picking or began ripping into someone new my mother would pipe in over us, to [condone] our ridicule, and repeat her wished-for mantra, “your name is safe in my house.” I think you meant to say “condemn.”

  6. Sandra

    October 8, 2013

    Thank you Proud Daughter of Eve- fixed the typo.

    And can we have that potluck now? I’m starting to crave dessert.

  7. Jenn Hatch

    October 8, 2013

    I seriously question the “honest desires and good intentions” of some of the leaders of th ordain women group: http://jennyhatch.com/2013/10/06/my-thoughts-on-the-ordination-of-women-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints/

    Jenny

  8. Sandra

    October 8, 2013

    Jenn Hatch-
    you are welcome to question their actions- that’s a typical reaction- but what I’m asking is to see people first. From those I know and have had true conversations with- I can’t do anything but love them. Same goes with those I know that have spoken against it. I know them and I love them. They have good desires and intentions as well, but might have not seen the people as people. People first. Most everyone I’ve ever met never deliberately seeks to do harm.

    I don’t ever want to cast a stone, or pick at the mote in someone else’s eye when there’s a beam most likely lodged in my own.

  9. Rebecca

    October 8, 2013

    I love your post. I agree. They were so brave, braver than me this weekend. I watched priesthood session with my husband, it was fun:) I always watch it after anyway.

    Your heart & name are safe with me. I’m so happy I live in this time of the internet where I can feel a strong sisterhood with other Mormon women, even if they’re not in my ward:)

    Thanks for this post, I hope it helps others to love as Jesus loves us all!

  10. Jessie

    October 8, 2013

    Thank you for this lovely post Sandra. It has taken me a long time to realize that I can choose my attitude and that I can choose to act instead of reacting (and I’m still working on it, but getting better). I could question their intentions, I could get angry about their actions, I could hate them and spend a lot of my time worrying about what their doing and figuring out ways to tell them they are wrong. Or I could just spend my time on something else. It’s my choice. And lately I feel like I just don’t have time to spend on worrying about and judging other people’s actions. I don’t want to fill my life with that, even when it is kind of fun and makes me feel good.

    I also love what you have shared about your mother–she seems very wise. I want to be like her and to make sure my home is one where people’s names and reputations are safe. There are many paths to pick in life, but the older I get the more I realize I want to follow the path of love, kindness, mercy, and fellowship.

  11. Jessie

    October 8, 2013

    And I wish we were having a nice potluck lunch–I would bring a tasty autumn salad with apples, nuts, cheese, and a maple vinaigrette.

  12. Sarah Dunster

    October 8, 2013

    Love this. Your name is safe in my home… beautiful.

  13. Shannon M

    October 8, 2013

    What a beautiful post. Thank you. My greatest concern about this whole thing has been the way members who are under commandment to love one another have drifted into name-calling, character assassination, and general contention, and I think your post is a great reminder of how we should approach disagreements of opinion in the church.

    I do not support the goals of ordain women, but as a single woman I understand (to some extent) what might motivate someone to join its ranks. To simply dismiss their concerns does them no good and ultimately does us no good either–and we should be more concerned with doing good for each other than condemning each other. Like you, Sandra, I’ve met very few people anywhere in life who deliberately seek to do harm, and we are all better off when we look for the light in each other than focusing on the darkness. (Look for the light has become another favorite catch-phrase of mine since I saw this TED talk earlier this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sauCsC9XUxY&feature=share&list=PLIq1B6OENfKzQ-uckWEV8idpIPVXCamfm)

    A general authority once offered council at a fireside that I repeat to myself often: Take your love to your loved ones and your concerns to the Lord (meaning, don’t react with hostility or frustration when your loved ones make choices you don’t agree with). As followers of Christ, we should all be more concerned with how well we are loving those we disagree with than how well we are proving them wrong. Ultimately, we are all in the Lord’s hands anyway.

  14. Katie R

    October 8, 2013

    I love this post. Over the past several years I have been reading, thinking and praying about what I think women’s role(s) in the church are/have been/should be. While I have desires for change in some areas, I cannot at this time get behind the Ordain Women movement. I do, however, feel saddened and hurt by how much anger and lashing out has happened as a response. While on my facebook feed all of the anger has been directed towards OW, I hear rumors of it going both ways. Even if we do not agree with one another, I would like to see greater charity in our responses.

  15. Emily

    October 8, 2013

    This is a comment from Ray on the BCC blog: (I loved it so much)
    “Mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort have no disclaimers or limitations. They are important even when the cause of the mourning and need of comfort aren’t understood or shared. In fact, I believe one of the truest measures of charity is how we act toward those who mourn and need comfort for reasons that we don’t understand or share.”

  16. Sophie

    October 8, 2013

    Emily,
    I love that comment. I think it’s such a great mantra…there are so many hurts and losses that other people suffer than we don’t understand because it falls outside of our limited understanding and experience. Thanks for sharing that.

  17. Sandra

    October 8, 2013

    Just talked with my mom who deferred credit to “your name is safe in my home” to this conference talk: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/your-name-is-safe-in-our-home?lang=eng&query=your+name+is+safe+in+our+home.

    Wow. There are some fabulous comments. Thank you.

    And Shannon I can’t wait to check out the link.

  18. Sunni

    October 8, 2013

    Sandra,
    I appreciate your love and caring. I have felt it when we spend time together too. You have a good spirit about you.
    I also loved Elder Uchtdorf’s talk Saturday!
    Where I differ is what the group of OW or other’s with the same agenda are asking to accomplish. I trust our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and our prophets past and present. My faith is firmly rooted in a desire to do God’s will. And as much as each individual heart might at times wonder, question, and sometimes bleed. All will be right in God. Always. Everytime. With perspective and confidence in Him we find our most fulfilling value and worth.
    But you are right – All should be done with Charity, the pure love of Christ. Let’s pray for that!

  19. Ana of the Nine+ Kids

    October 8, 2013

    You are right, we should not cast stones but that doesn’t mean that we accept everything everyone does as honest and well intentioned. I can sympathize with the desire to not be shuffled aside or dismissed because of gender but at the same time the way they went about this feels in so many ways like a betrayal. I feel like I live in a war zone that is getting ever less tolerant of my views of gender, that the Church is fast becoming the only safe place. What they did smacks of an attack on that safe place. I have no desire to make personal attacks and I have refrained from running them down but at the same time their actions hurt.

  20. Michelle

    October 8, 2013

    What struck me most about conference was the loving and gentle way our leaders spoke. So loving. Just like your post. Thanks Sandra.

  21. Kerri

    October 8, 2013

    Lovely and kind. I would love to be around a table with all of you.

  22. Sandra

    October 8, 2013

    Ana- You are completely right- no one needs to entirely accept and agree with another’s actions, how can you when you can’t control or shape them.
    I worried about the event was scared that it would sour some people on the earnestness of the people involved. Thank you for sharing your feelings without personal attacks- I wish we could see more of that than what I have.

  23. Emily M.

    October 8, 2013

    Sandra, I loved this post. And I also agree with Ana–the way they went about this feels like a betrayal. I want their names to be safe, I agree, and I have defended them to others in discussions, and yet I also hear the call of Elder Ballard at Education Week, to defend the Church publicly. I want to show love, not just show love but feel it and live it, and yet I also feel that I need to step up my faith and be more open about my convictions. Doing both at once, testifying without being self-righteous, is hard, and I don’t always get that balance right.

  24. Handsfullmom

    October 9, 2013

    Compassion and the not casting of stones is always correct. But so is standing as a witness of Christ’s Church and sharing what you believe is right and true about living prophets and the Lord’s Church.

    I have compassion for the people with the bullhorns, the signs and the anger who frightened my son at the Manti pageant last summer and I believe they are children of God deserving of compassion. But that doesn’t stop me from teaching my children that such people are wrong and articulating why they are.

    I’ve seen much vitriol towards the Church coming from those who are part of this movement. It’s unfortunate that there’s been unkindness going the other way, too.

    I stand with the prophet and not those who fight against him and say that “nothing less” than their view of what the Church should do is acceptable. I seek to get counsel from the Lord and follow it, not the other way around.

  25. Sharon

    October 9, 2013

    I’m absolutely with handsfullmom. I wish i could articulate it as well as Maureen Proctor did in Meridian Magazine which is free and on-line.
    Remember the counsel “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over”? I have charity towards those who choose to take the position to dictate to the prophet what the church’s position should be instead of choosing to align their will with Heavenly Father’s. It would seem as if they don’t believe the prophet is the Lord’s mouth piece. also respect their right to do so. I’m going to have to ponder more about feeling compassion towards them; right now i don’t. It seems as if they want God and His prophet to align their wills with their group, not vice versa. That’s why i struggle with feeling compassion. Charity because they are still His daughters.

  26. Debra

    October 9, 2013

    i certainly don’t agree with OW’s methods or all of their goals, but i don’t think that the lord expects us to be blind followers, either. we should pray about the things our leaders tell us and about questions that we might have about how doctrine and culture play out in our church. obviously, there are women in the church that feel marginalized at some level and i don’t think it’s fair to say, “all is well in zion,” and ignore that there are women will real concerns. this church was founded because joseph smith had doubts about religion and asked questions. president uchtdorf’s saturday morning session talk speaks directly to these issues in a beautiful and loving way. there have been mistakes made in the past in the church. it is run by imperfect humans, but as sandra has reminded us, they are people and above all, we need to remember that in our interactions with our fellow saints.

  27. Debra

    October 9, 2013

    as a follow up (sorry), maybe when the prophet speaks, the DEBATE should be over (a lot of the reason i disagree with OW’s methods is because i feel like they are trying to debate, which is an adversarial endeavor), but i don’t think that it should mean that the discussion is over.

  28. lonna

    October 9, 2013

    I was in Utah this past weekend. I watched the news broadcast that night. I was impressed with the churchs who interacted with these woman. She was very kind. She walked along the line and talked and hugged who she could. I don’t know how these women could not feel loved.

  29. Maralise

    October 9, 2013

    My name was not with the women of OW this weekend nor did I attempt to attend Priesthood Session. But I consider myself a proud feminist and, as Sandra so eloquently described, my heart was with my sisters this weekend (in love, in fear, in trepidation, in humiliation, in earnestness, in joy, in sorrow).

    I got emotional when the women of our ward were invited to attend Priesthood session in our ward building by a member of our bishopric over the pulpit in Sacrament meeting. I cried when I watched the session real-time at home instead (my choice. too lazy to head to the church). Sometimes the mourning that we’re required to do as Saints can be a heavy burden indeed.

    Kate’s interview on Radio West provided some very keen insights into her motivations and that of the movement. I found her explanations cogent and, in an interesting way, very orthodox.

    In my heart of hearts, I see patriarchy as a mortal system and that gender equality (however God wants that to look like) in the heavens is an inevitability. However, I don’t have much hope that we’re ready as a people for that kind of paradigm shift here and now. Unfortunately, some of the reactions to the OW movement have shown that as well.

  30. Blue

    October 9, 2013

    Below are our commenting guidelines, just as a gentle reminder:

    1. The aim of Blog Segullah is to highlight a variety of women’s perspectives within a framework of shared beliefs and values. Commenters need not be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but a general respect for religious belief is required.

    2. No insults. Critiques should address the argument, not the person.

    3. No excessive diversion (or creating a threadjack) from the intended subject of the author.

    Comments which violate these standards may be removed at the discretion of the blog editors.

  31. Ana of the Nine+Kids

    October 10, 2013

    One question I have for OW, which I would ask if we sat around a table together is how come they have highjacked the domain name of A Well Behaved Mormon Woman and refuse to give it back, even though she has used it for years. To my mind this is, at its best mean-spirited. I don’t understand why an organization that claims to be honest and sincere would do something like this.

  32. eljee

    October 10, 2013

    I think there is a fine line between being critical and mean toward these women and simply expressing honest opinion about it. Sometimes I think it’s hard to know which is which, and sometimes I think it’s a matter of individual perception. Most of what I’ve seen would fall into the category of just expressing opinion about OW’s actions, but I can see where others might see it differently. I think that all church members have a right to have an opinion about what they are doing and to express that opinion.

  33. Melody

    October 10, 2013

    Thank you for this beautiful essay and for the reminder of that wonderful conference talk. “Safe in my home.” You express yourself so well and you so graciously address a heated topic.

    Ditto to Marilise. Everything you said. I’m surprised and moved by your bishop’s invitation for women to attend the priesthood session broadcast. His behavior reminds me of my favorite part of all of General conference, which, incidentally came from the priesthood session. . .

    From Bishop Gérard Caussé [quoting Victor Hugo’s Les Misérable – when Jean Valjean seeks refuge in the priest’s home. The priest says:] “This is not my house. It is the house of Jesus Christ. This door does not demand of him who enters whether he has a name, but whether he has a grief . . ..”

    Many women in the church, myself included, have a grief about the inequality that seems to plague mortality – especially inequality between the sexes. I my opinion, supporters of OW are asking us all to see this grief. I’m seeing more clearly as a result of their efforts.

    Although I’m not convinced female ordination is the answer at the present moment, I’m convinced it will, in time, become routine.

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