Friday, May 21, 2010

Wanna Hear a Good Story?

I have nothing to complain about! I am enjoying church, even finding myself becoming excited at the end of the week about Sunday being around the corner! On one hand I'm scared that I'm going to hear something and bolt but so far I'm listening and able to keep a metaphorical perspective on things that I have found difficult to listen to in the past. I listen to people's comments during Sunday school and I don't get too angry. I just think of them in the context of Fowler's Stages of Faith, which I learned about from Mormon Stories Podcast. It doesn't create judgement in me towards individuals; it encourages me to understand them and myself better, let them be, and gives me peace to know that we are all at a different place in our faith journey and I try to accept others as I hope that they accept me. My comments and questions are accepted and I think, even appreciated to a degree.

The following speaks to the character of this branch president; during testimony meeting he got up and shared his testimony about the Book of Mormon. He said that if you don't believe in the Book of Mormon there's no sense in you even being here (at church) and then finished his thoughts and sat down. A few minutes later, this brave man returned to the podium and stated that he needed to take back what he'd said and clarify his position. He said that even if you don't believe in the Book of Mormon it is helpful scripture and there is sense in us being here (at church). He explained that his strong comments about the Book of Mormon come from a place of feeling so passionate about the book. I thought that was incredibly courageous to demonstrate inclusiveness and acceptance while holding to his own strong position and belief pertainig to the Book of Mormon.

The day before a church service project regarding an issue dear to my heart (helping women, men, and children impacted by relationship abuse) I prayed that God would help me come back to church. For several months I've studied the atonement from the LDS church's perspective and I really wanted to come back to the church that has provided me the richest of resources on this topic. I asked God for a blessing as simply as I could. I then decided that I would join the Relief Society to help with the next day's service project no matter how hard it would be to show my face once again. I showed up feeling some anxiety (thinking others would think, "Here she is again. How long will she stick around this time? Here we go again!"). With very little effort I was able to let go of my pride and embarrassment and I was welcomed and put to work along with everyone else. I fit in. My ego hasn't gotten in the way, yet, and it's much easier to get along with others without letting pride, embarrassment, guilt and shame get in the way. Alma 36 is my favourite chapter. I can relate to it in my own small way. Its' meaning for me is too much to explain here but I thought I'd reference the chapter that brought me back and seems to be resonating with me through my process of reconciliation.

I didn't know what to post but it never hurts to post something to be grateful for, especially this online community that has been a great help as I read others' posts and can take those thoughts, information and insights to church with me as I continue on my road to reconciliation.

While briefly talking with my branch president, without sharing specifics with him, he asked me if I had anyone to talk to about things that are hard to hear in the church. I said that I wouldn't talk to anyone here but there is an online community that is incredible in sharing ideas and providing understanding and support. I said that the General Authorities were right about the internet being an effective tool in helping to build faith in others. He seemed to understand my efforts to find support and was genuinely accepting; he even shared his experience about finding support for the hard stuff at church too. I think he gets me without me having to share anything! I always felt that from him, even though we didn't talk much together. Long before he was branch president we used to comment on each other's testimonies saying that we could relate and then we would move on. It's nice to feel understood, maybe for him too.

Why is there such a need for us to be connected to each other; to have others understand our queries; to have our frustrations be accepted and understood; to have others share our good times? Is that what the gospel is; community, collaborative, cooperative, finding strength, moving forward...together?