Sunday, January 24, 2016

Picking up the Pieces

       After the recent news that the LDS church's policy toward the Children of same-sex parents was actually a revelation instead of policy.  I found myself once again in a class feeling pain and sorrow at this pronouncement.  I had previously posted on my initial reaction to the policy here.  I thought I had moved on from my pain and was steadily progressing once again.  It turns out that years and years of hiding and denying my full identity as a worthy and loved child of God is hard to move on from.

       As I sat there I wondered, why do I still feel pain, why am I still fighting this same battle within myself.  I felt pain and longing for the many good  memories I spent in the faith of my family.  Dwelling on the what ifs and the has beens.  I also remembered the not so good times and how much I tried to change myself to reflect what I believed was God's only acceptable plan for me.  The pain and the anguish that I experienced and the thoughts of ending it all still sting as a painful reminder to a childhood spent in fear and loathing.

       Over the past few years especially around the time when I first publicly came out with this blog.  I have been growing and maturing in my faith and relationship with God.  Recent events have been quite a challenge to this previous foundation and has shattered what I had previously thought I had known without a doubt.  Although in hindsight I realized that many of those things that I professed were in a blissful ignorance of the infinite complexity that is God and the history of those seeking His will.

       I started questioning everything.  I pondered on the meaning of faith and the personal experience that is religion.  I also pondered on the possibility of being non-religious at all and not associating myself with any religion as a way to both protect myself and my future family.

       As I pondered and wrestled with these thoughts I was presented with an experience that brought peace to my heart.  A few Saturdays ago I went to a Potluck dinner at the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) congregation that I have been attending.  While there I found that the main room that makes up nearly all of the small building was filled with kids from the neighborhood.  The doors were open to everyone that wanted to have food to eat, fellowship, and fun.  The congregation that I have been attending is in a neighborhood where there are many different issues associated with poverty.  As a way to address the needs of the community, this congregation opens it's doors to all families to take part in food and fun in a safe environment.   I learned that many of the kids that lived in the local neighborhood come very hungry with many of their families struggling to make ends meet.  It really moved me how safe and happy the kids appeared there.  Many of them had no other family members there besides themselves.  It touched my heart the service that was provided to these children by the congregation.

       It was also the first time that my husband attended the congregation as well.  When I introduced him he was welcomed completely by the members with no looks or words of disapproval even from the older members. This experience made me feel even more welcomed in this community where I can be my authentic self without risk of judgment or ostracism.

       After the potluck my husband and I were driving home.  While heading home we saw a man in a motorized wheelchair on the street.  We stopped and turned on our hazard lights to see if the man needed help.  It turned out he was a veteran that had just been discharged from the hospital.  Someone had stolen his money and he had a friend who was checking on a nearby motel too see how much it would cost for a room.  Heading over there we found out that the women who was his friend didn't have enough money to put him up for a few days until he could find housing.  My husband and I are both students on a tight budget and weren't able to give the sum of money that was required.

       Thinking about the incredible charity I had just witnessed at the Community of Christ, I contacted the pastor and asked if he could help.  He listened to the situation and said that they would be able to take care of the rest of the motel bill for the man.  We were able to make the payment for the motel and we talked to both the women and the man.  The women had recently been living with a mother in law because her house had burned down a few weeks before.  The man had had one of his legs amputated and had bed sores on his body.  This man was in need of help and we were able to answer that call thanks to the charity and love of of the members of the Community of Christ.  They were willing to give freely to this homeless man who needed a place to stay while he looked for more permanent housing.  Even without meeting him they were willing to share of their bounty.  Peace entered my heart as we drove home.  I felt at home for the first time in a long time.  I felt like I had found a place that truly wanted and accepted me as me not some idealized version of who I am expected to be.  A family that saw worth in every person no matter who they are.

       A prayer for peace was given at the temple in Independence Missouri.  I wanted to share it with you all.

"I seek a heart that is attuned to listen to the sounds of human life - the murmurings of pain and struggle, the babble of confusion and doubt, whispered yearnings, the ecstatic outburst of joy and delight.
I seek a heart with an interior vision that sees beyond the surface.  I seek the peacefulness of a life well spent.  I seek the prayerfulness of the quiet, the agony of the fearful, the loneliness of the complainer.
I seek a heart imbued with feelings that can penetrate closed walls: walls that shut out closeness, walls that restrict friendship, walls that choke out life.
I seek a heart that is other centered, motivated by love of God, freely giving, joyfully surrendering selfish whims, peacefully touching life with beauty, gently walking in God's way."

        Although everyone's path is different and will have twists and turns along the way.  I am glad to know that for now, at this moment, I am in a place where I can have a greater capacity to serve others.  I hope and pray that everyone can find a place where they can express their true, authentic, and divine identities in a way that brings light and joy to this world.

       Thank you for reading and I hope that the spirit of Shalom or peace follows you in your travels.  And that this new year is filled with joy and wonder, where every experience whether sad or good brings you closer to a place where you can feel whole and appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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