I have a confession: I have not been to all three of my church meetings since the beginning of November.
My excuse was Kendell’s surgery; I didn’t want to chance bringing home any germs whatsoever.
Really, after the election I was so disappointed in my fellow Mormons, 61% nationally and 45% in Utah, for voting for Trump, especially after so many before the election were not going to vote for him. I just did not want to go and sit in a congregation who, as religious people, could feel comfortable choosing someone who only “shares” one traditional Mormon value, being pro-life. (And I put “shares” in quotes because let’s be honest here: does anyone really believe that Donald Trump cares one bit at all if women get abortions? He cares about votes and he used “pro-life”—a term that is rhetorically ridiculous anyway—as a way to get votes.)
But this isn’t a political post.
This is a post about finding answers in church.
Don’t get me wrong: I am still bitter about all the Mormon Trump voters. But a few conversations and some carefully-read Facebook statuses have reminded me that my little congregation has fewer than 45%. And after almost three months of only sporadic church attendance, I felt I needed to go more than I needed to object by not going.
So, I went to church this morning. All three meetings. And I paid attention. I went with a prayer in my heart, one of those prayers that, if uttered, would be a combination of a keen and the word “please.” I don’t even know how to name the help I need right now, as recent events (and I have now turned from political to personal) have ripped my heart out and left me absolutely stunned and in mourning (but which I can’t blog about, I’m sorry).
The answers I found at church were not solutions to these events. Not one thing has been solved. I still don’t know what to do or how to fix this problem I’m being vague about.
The answers reminded me, though, that the only thing I can shape, influence, or change is myself, because I only get to make choices for myself and how I will react.
And they gave me a little bit of peace.
So much of what I am trying to cope with has to do with choices, and with boundaries, and with knowing how to choose to act within or outside of those boundaries. In one of today’s classes, which was about reading the scriptures and nothing even close to my issues, the teacher reminded us that God does not force himself inside of our personal boundaries. He gives us a way to find Him, but he doesn’t make us come to him. He waits until we are ready to have Him enter our personal space.
I wish I could explain exactly how direct an answer that was to my “please.”
Even though it is a hard answer to cope with. It means waiting, outside. It means trying to be patient, like Christ has been patient with me. It means I cannot fix, or help, or do, but only try to send love through space and into a heart. It means the keening of my heart will continue indefinitely.
Maybe I did learn, a little, what to do. Maybe I just don’t know how yet.
Two of my answers came through hymns. We sang “Now Let Us Rejoice,” which is a Mormon hymn through and through, written by one of the early saints after a particularly trying experience they had as they crossed the plains. I’ve likely sung it one million times in the past twenty years, but this time, this time. I couldn’t get through the third verse, which has these words:
In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide thru these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We'll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.
Then all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And they will be crown'd with the angels of heav'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Christ and his people will ever be one.
This experience I am vagueblogging about is one I can only witness. Much damage has already been done in the making of space. It has been made clear that my help is unwanted and unhelpful, and even though I love this person, the only thing I can do is watch. And I very much will have to lean on Christ’s shoulder to do this. These are some days of trouble and doom for me, darker than I know how to cope with, and I think we are only at the beginning of the scourges. I’m not particularly good at this—at relying on Christ. But with this situation, it is all I can do. So that promise at the end—really, I don’t want crowns. I just want to be one with my people, in the way I had imagined but am not being allowed to right now. That is what I want.
The only way out is through and I think there will be a long road of stumbling in the dark for me.
So I will try to remember to lean on Christ’s arm. Maybe even cry on His shoulder.
The other hymn that moved me was “Count Your Blessings.” Especially these words:
Amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all.
I mean to count my blessings in this blog post. To write a long list of everything I am grateful for right now. Perhaps I will do that tomorrow. But tonight, I think I needed to write this instead: I am having a hard time. With my family, with my faith. I didn’t want to go to church, but I did, and I found help there. It wasn’t the miraculous, everything-is-fixed sort of help. But it was miraculous in a small, gentle way. My answers were this: give space, lean on Christ, remember there is light even in this darkness.
The keening in my soul is still loud and sharp. I am still unable to articulate what might need to happen for things to get better. But, I went to church with a prayer in my heart, and I found some things that brought me the smallest bit of peace and knowledge. A little bit of light to illuminate my next few steps. And that will be enough to keep me moving, if not exactly forward, at least not backward. At least I am not standing still.