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By Linda Hoffman Kimball

My husband Chris Kimball has a new book out called “Living on the Edge of the Inside: a Survival Guide.” It’s published by BCC Press.

He describes it this way:

“This book is for people like me who have concerns about the Church that make leaving a genuine consideration, but have decided or chosen or felt called to stay and now want to figure out how to make it work. This book is about how to make it work.”

This is the culmination of decades of excruciating turmoil and growth for him, for us both. This post is not intended as a promo for his book, but an opportunity for me to ruminate on how I am not the target audience.

Chris writes from the vantage point of someone who grew up with the heartbeat of the Church. I mean that quite literally since his father was scholar Edward Kimball, his grandfather was Prophet Spencer W. Kimball and his great-great grandfather was Heber C. Kimball (– of the outrageously many wives).

I, on the other hand, grew up happily in a Protestant tradition, have called Jesus my savior since I was an early teen and contemplated becoming a pastor long before women were allowed such honor. During my high school years, my best friend happened to be a Latter-day Saint, and we had a lot of rich and satisfying conversations about God and what I would term “being alive in Christ.” (Excuse me, I err. That would be Paul in Ephesians 2.)

The spring of my senior year in high school I took the (flannel board variety) missionary lessons and mulled over them for months and months. Then I went off to college in New England and had an extraordinary experience which confirmed which direction God wanted me to go.

Note that I do not say that I “knew the Church was true”. With the wisdom of years and experience, I look back at that encounter and primarily feel God put me where He needed and wanted me. In the intervening decades He/They… have continued to confirm that They know it’s an odd fit, but I’m still “called” to be a witness for Christ in this institution. To borrow an evangelical line, I come “just as I am.”

This meant and still means that I am a believer in Christ, He who is “full of grace and truth.” In my opinion, grace gets a bad rap in pedestrian LDS parlance. I recommend Adam S. Miller’s book Original Grace for everyone. Those who need it most are likely those in upper-and middle-management “Mormonism” who forget that “after all you can do” doesn’t mean what they think it does. You might say Brother Miller “nails it.” I read his book at a time when – once again – I was on the verge of pulling out my hair with frustration, when I once again felt like a stranger in a strange land.

I involve Christ in my “everyday walk.” Why wait until the resurrection? Don’t we realize this Gospel is ours now, in this moment, exempt from the boundaries of time? I grow weary of the mantra of “do this, do this, do that” so we can “earn a reward” and/or be reunited with our families in the next life. I love my family. I would say I love God “more”, but I don’t think love is a concept that gets measured analytically.

So, while Chris’s book will be familiar in ways to those reared in the LDS Church and its culture, there are important lessons I need reminders of, too. I need to be an “adult of God” – not just a child of God. I need to detach – to use psychological lingo – to make conscious, and independent decisions based on my relationship with Deity and less because my earthly leaders – however honorable they are – tell me to.

I find it to be a lonely road. But I have a holy Companion.

(And, despite how fine a man he is, I don’t mean Chris.)

About Linda Hoffman Kimball

Linda Hoffman Kimball is an artist, writer, photographer, and poet who grew up as a faithful Christian near Chicago, & joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1971 while at Wellesley College near Boston. Early on she assumed that all Latter-day Saints were articulate, inquisitive, faithful, and socially engaged since her role models in the University wards in Cambridge, MA., were. Her husband says she is “fluent, but not native” in Mormon-ese. She is a founding member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government.

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