Tag Archives: charity

Teaching the Ideal, Living the Real

I first realized that my parents had sinned when I was about 13 years old. The lesson topic was the law of chastity, and I suddenly thought “if my parents had been keeping the commandments, I wouldn’t be here.” My mom had always told their story in a funny way and I loved hearing about how my parents had met; they had moved in together without telling her family, and one day my grandma came to visit my mom, but my dad opened the door instead. They got married and my mom returned to church activity a few years later. I was proud of her for bringing us to church every week and serving faithfully in our ward, and I loved my dad even though he didn’t come to church with us. During the lesson I looked around at the other girls in the room, including my friend whose parents weren’t members and weren’t married, and the one who had figured out that her oldest sibling’s birthday was only five months after her parents’ wedding anniversary. Our teacher earnestly told us that keeping the law of chastity and saving sex for after a temple wedding was the only path to a happy family, and yet here we were, living in our imperfect, mostly happy families.

Church can be painful sometimes. When I feel pain or discomfort from something said at church, I sit back and think about what the problem is. Often, I’m feeling the prick of conscience that lets me know that I’m not keeping the commandments as best I can. This pain can be a positive motivator to help me change and to feel a greater resolve to become more Christ-like. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I go to church every week—to renew my covenants with God and to learn more about His teachings and His plan for me. Other times, however, pain comes from things that are said that are not in line with God’s doctrine and that are wrong. I hurt because someone has made assumptions about others or about God that are not true and bring about shame. Shame comes when we feel that what we are is wrong, not that what we are doing is wrong. Continue reading

Kate and John

My heart won’t stop hurting. I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin have been summoned to church court for their activities related to the Ordain Women movement and the Mormon LGBT movement. I’m not upset because I’m an ardent supporter of either movement. I’m upset because I firmly believe that every Saint deserves to have a voice in our community. I’m upset because I am so grateful to people like Kate and John who are willing to say “dangerous” things out loud, when so many of us want to, but are too afraid to. I’m upset because of the atmosphere of fear that enters into our faith community when this sort of thing happens. What can I safely say? What causes dear to my heart will be “approved” by my respected church leaders? Do I trust my own spirit to hear and interpret the voice of the Holy Spirit, or do I leave that solely to my leaders, who I am sure listen to the same Spirit? What do I do when those spiritual interpretations collide? This sort of conundrum causes all sorts of self doubt. Some walk. Sometimes I wonder if the best of us walk, and if my choice to stay is foolish or faithful. I’ll say it right here at the start, though: despite all its man-made quirks and flaws, I love the Church and am convinced it holds the power of full salvation. So I stay. But right now, it just hurts. Continue reading

We are all apostate

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Woman begging, by Tomas Castelazo

The man who sidled into the back of the rented Hungarian chapel was unprepossessing, at best. He was slightly built and dark-haired, wearing a cheap, white button-down shirt and nondescript pants. Certainly, there was nothing in his appearance to explain why the elders straightened to attention, why my companion and I exchanged knowing glances. The members had noticed his arrival, too. A slight rustle and murmuring swept through the small congregation.

The elders had brought an investigator with them that Sunday. I wondered what the young man would make of the newcomer’s inevitable testimony about the truth of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s calling—and the apostasy of every prophet since. Continue reading

Why I Love Relief Society

IMG_1992Olea has decided 2013 is a year of discovery, both of the world around her (she is currently living in the south of France, her first time overseas) and the potential within her. She would describe herself as open-hearted and optimistic (she loves words starting with an o), and her best friend tried to convince her to use the word “wise”, but clearly that didn’t work.

I have always felt a special connection to the sisters in my life. I loved the Young Women’s program, and often it was the only place in my life that I felt I belonged. When I moved from Adelaide to Melbourne, at the end of high school, to join my family who’d been there all year, I was looking forward to joining Relief Society. I had visited during holidays, and spent time with the young women, but when I went to Relief Society, I felt accepted and wanted in a deeper way than I ever had before. In classes, I was encouraged to share my experiences and testimony, and my needs and opinions were considered when planning activities, though I was only 18 and new to the ward. Our ward was very small when I first arrived – it had just been split, and wasn’t much bigger than a branch – and over the course of 6 years, we moved to a new building (from our rented hall-plus-a-few-classrooms) and now we are worried around Stake Conference times in case of more splits.

My first activity, as part of the new Enrichment focus that encouraged small groups organised by sisters, was a book club. We met monthly in a sister’s home and read, among others, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Don Quixote, something by Charles Dickens that I have since removed from my memory, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Lovely Bones and My Sister’s Keeper. We discussed authors’ intentions, favourite characters and unexpected plot twists. We discussed our families and friends and personal experiences, we shared philosophical views and argued about ideas, sometimes even relating to the book we’d read, often until (and occasionally after) midnight. Continue reading