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Monday, July 21, 2014

I AM ENOUGH: Staring Down a Faith Transition, While Transitioning, Part One






There are so many things I need to catch everybody up on. But first of all, I need to start dealing with the thing that has caused me the most distress in my life. So here goes.

I would like to share what I posted in a group a couple nights ago, that many people are asking me about. Instead of sharing it individually with everyone, here on my blog. I want to share with all those I know. I have no secrets. No so called 'TBM' family members to hide anything from. These are my real feelings, and they are really hurting me.

Trigger Warning: I am not self inhibiting myself here. I'm pretty damned hurt, and I sure as heck am not ready to make nice. I love all my friends, be they inside, transitioning, or fully outside the church, or outside every faith altogether now. My intention is only to discuss my feelings, and no other purpose. Not to hurt anyone, least of all. Many of the things I am now revealing, is new information to a lot of you. You need to know, I'm not arriving at these feelings out of the blue. Nothing has snapped inside of me. No epiphany has been realized yet. I want to be very clear, that I cannot bear to abide this sadistic status quo for much longer. It is doing no one any good. The following is true, and is actually what has been said and done to me. Many people who are privy to this information can vouch for this. A very prominent woman in Mormon Feminist Circles, and my close friend, has witnessed some of this while the Bishop and Stake President were talking to me. She sat with me in their office.
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I am noticing that although I suffered a crime of violence against me a couple weeks
ago, and it has retriggered all my past trauma of being raped, molested and abused for years, that my anxiety, depression and ill feelings caused by my faith crisis
(religiosity crisis, religious dogma struggle) far surpass everything else. I feel compelled to organize a Mormon faith that would be absent all the Salt Lake headquartered LDS Church Bull Shit, that any Liberal or reasonable person knows is inately wrong. I don't want to just leave, and go into oblivion, leaving a Mormon Church that is absent one more voice for love, empathy, compassion, inclusion, and non-judgement. Why should all the conservative GOP voting, MSDS, Mormons get to lay claim to Mormonism. They are not followers of Christ. Nothing they do is Christ-like. They are absent Faith (thinking it to be a noun, instead of the action verb it is), absent Hope (things are always so bad, always so sour, dour, scroogy, grinchy, grouchy...'My Shit Don't Stink" attitudes), and even absent Charity (The Pure Love of Christ.....if you love me, treat everyone as if they ARE me, said Jesus).

No, instead these so called, 'TBMs' spurn Charity, and readily, willfully, and proudly usurp the job of God, and place judgement on others.....and far too many of the GA approve, or acquiesce to this self divination, and anti-Christic behaviors, hegemonies, ideologies, religiosities, and dogmas. Additionally, they usurp our free agency, and the free agency of all people, by the heretical violation of our own doctrines and teachings, via the forcably co-opting of the entire population into membership of our church, by expecting them to comply with our churches doctrine, and mis-applications of our doctrines through through heinously bigoted policies.

I'm sorry for my rant. I am just a hot mess because I'm losing my religion, and I don't know what to do. I will never be atheist, and I abhor most other religiosities. I am a very spiritual person, and I need to feel a part of something. To be stripped of participating in Hometeaching and Visiting Teaching, something I have done for 39 years, and to be stripped of them coming to visit me, for the past year, is extremely painful. To be stripped of partaking of the sacrament and taking the name of Christ upon myself, or praying, speaking, or giving testimony, attending Sunday School, Relief Society or Priesthood, all for the past 7 months, is a hit to my heart. To have an SP tell me, "you pass the Temple Recommend interview, and I believe you. You are not sinning, and you are not being sanctioned or disfellowshipped, however, these things will remain in place until you repent, and renounce this last year, and recognize that you are a man, you will always be a man, and listen to me read you these verses about Korihir.........you are like Korihor. You are an Anti-Christ".....to my face! That was a religioistic murder......that really killed me.

My heart and soul is crying out in tremendous pain. What can I do?
  Nothing has changed in these 7 months. I attend sacrament faithfully, and do not partake, because I have been asked not to. I leave after Sacrament, after reaching out to as many people as I can, and they wisk me out of the sancuary where Sunday School, Gospel Doctrine, is held. I hang in the foyer talking to people for a while, but nothing ever comes of it. Nobody reaches back for me. None of the many other Trans people that used to come, attend anymore. A markedly fewer amount of gay and lesbian people now attend as well. This was supposed to be the most liberal ward in the entire Church. No. Not even close. It isn't even the most liberal, pro TLGBQ in Oregon.

So I am left with this conundrum. I have been told, I am not sinning, and I am not in trouble, or being sanctioned. I hold the Priesthood, and have not been asked to stop utilizing it.That's right. I am a woman who actively holds the Priesthood. Am I just supposed to be an acquiescent little patsy, and let them continue to hurt me, while nothing ever changes. They say I am living the Standards, I have full standing, yet the things they have asked of me, put me squarely in a sound proof room of invisibility, with no expectation of anyone ever visiting me from the Church, or me ever visiting them. They know they are required to love me, and I see this is hurting them, but still nothing changes. I continue to shower and pour my heart full of kindness, love, empathy and compassion upon them. It appears this is a great standoff, that I'm losing interest in. I have finally had enough of it.

This was a Life Event I posted just an hour ago:



BECAME A UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST TODAY

I am transitioning in my beliefs by adding beliefs, values, principles and ways of thinking, loving, learning and loving. I consider myself a Unitarian Buddho Pagan Free Mormon Universalist. I have not resigned from the LDS Church neither have I been excommunicated, and have no plans to do so. They don't recognize my legal name or sex, and I will only recognize my name and sex. Officially I don't exist and never have. That's their loss. I have found a place where I am more than comfortable, I feel of the spirit, am edified, and I am openly and happily celebrated.

Today was my second time attending this downtown Portland congregation. I went with 7 Transitioning Mormon Women. It was the most awesome feeling of community and family I have ever felt. The spirit testified so strongly to me today that I could not contain all of it, and a lot of it leaked out of my eyes.

This is the right place for me right now, and I have a personal revelation and witness of this. I will still advocate for TLGBQ and Women's full standing of inclusion in all LDS Levels including Priest or Priestesshood.

The most important thing is that I am Happy, and I am very hopeful of making the world a better place. I know that I AM ENOUGH. 


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So I am progressing.....growing, moving forward, kicking against the pricks. I refuse to be sent down the river without a paddle, heading to the waters of endless torment, and status quo oblivion. I'm actually going to let the Chaff of my life GO! If it's not progressing forward, it is going backwards. Doubt is the family of Faith. We should not spurn doubt while embracing cynicism, pessimism, and absolutism. Just the opposite, but that's not my experience in 51 years in the Church. They are always "Things are just so bad. The world is such an awful place", we need to clique and klan up, be exclusivist and supremacist. So sour dour, scroogy, stingy, grinchy, grouchy, and most of all arrogant, and neo-pharisite. NO! I can never do that. No God I will ever care to worship ever wants such an attitude, ideology or belief system. Spurn that cynicism and pessimism, embrace doubt. My faith is growing because of that, not diminishing. I am more devout than ever, more hopeful than ever. Things are getting better every day.

To be Continued.........


All My Love,

Leahnora, Leah, Transbopeep

5 comments:

  1. I stated that people can feel the judgmental vibe from you, even when you aren’t speaking. I agreed with your Dad’s advice to not interact with people” who think their shit don’t stink” because that level of self-satisfaction is inherently unsafe, but I pushed back that it is no better to go about pointing out how much other people stink, and that this habit is contrary to discipleship to Christ. Truth, gentleness and love are Jesus’s tools. Truth, harshness and judgment belong in Satan’s bag. Truth itself can be used to grow or kill people. It is a tool that we grow up to learn wisely.

    Though we had not seen each other at church recently, I was wanting to find a time to talk to you about these things again, because though we discussed it many months ago, somehow the ideas of this discussion did not stick. Though it was good to see you in church with me, you generally sat beside me and made comments through-out the talks to show that those speakers were not coming up to your standards. When we brushed just lightly on the idea of judgmental speech, you said that you remembered that I did not like it because it “offended” me. In all that talking in December, “offending” me was not on the list of bad outcomes of loaded language or judgmental speech. What I would have expanded on was how that judgmental tone in church was affecting your ability to attract friends. Though you had started visiting the branch with the goal to make friends, you had had several people come up and welcome you, but instead of following up with them, listening to them and learning about what goes on in their lives and what their triumphs and sorrows are, you only kept track of those who welcomed you, as though you were looking for a fan club at church rather than looking to participate as a friend to those you met. Instead of making friends, you were scaring them away, and I couldn’t blame any of those who were withdrawing.

    As for specific interactions with the leadership, you make the assertion that they told you that you weren’t sinning and yet they took the sacrament and regular participation in church from you- which would be interaction through the Sunday School and Third Hour options, interaction with a home or visiting teacher. The fact that all of these dynamics are jumbled up in the reader’s eye does not aid comprehension about what actually happened. I normally wouldn’t articulate much about these things, except that you make this as a public accusation. But a few things I would point out is that there were problems in the way that interaction was happening in those settings, and that the leadership saw these things and had an obligation to come up with a fair, kind response. In my opinion, they did.

    First, at a lunch with me and a friend, you stoutly said that Jesus is not at all the only path to salvation and that there are many ways to spiritual wholeness. You used strong language against those who talk about Jesus as necessary. The person we went to lunch with was very confused and hurt by what you said. I did my best to sooth it all over. But I note the request that you withhold from partaking of the sacrament happened soon after this, when you were meeting with your leadership. My theory is that you made the same statements with them that you did with us, and that your leadership had no choice but to ask you to withhold from partaking of the sacrament. Until you wanted the gift of Christ’s atonement, it isn’t appropriate to take the sacrament.

    to be continued...

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  2. PART 1
    Leah, my friend, all in all I am glad to read that you’ve made these decisions that respond to your needs at this point in time. I very much support your attendance at the Universalist Church and hope that all these decisions you are making will help you to grow and have a better and brighter future. We are all on the path and the most important part of a journey is the courage to move.

    I wanted to take a moment and respond to some of the ideas you did present of your views of the branch/church in general. It seems important here to say that even when two people are in the same room, they can perceive things differently. In truth there are as many versions of “reality” as there are people to observe it. I don’t say that anyone’s version is more correct because I look to Jesus to sort out our issues. But I would like to discuss what I perceived and how it did and sometimes did not match what you perceived, because (though I am unnamed in your statement) you call me as your witness, and in fact I was witness to many of the things that happened. A reason that I do this is that you have made your perceptions public and I don’t feel that your write-up presents a view of these complex events that is balanced, discussing both your views and the likely views of those you were interacting with. Your write-up appears one-sided. It is very important, especially when making statements that judge events, to give all onlookers the most comprehensive understanding so that they can trust that the judgment is fair. Otherwise, anyone who receives any judgmental statement feels the obligation to withhold agreement until they hear the other side (and sometimes there are multiple sides). Most of all, your write-up compresses many months of dynamics into just a paragraph or two. I’m an expert at distilled analysis but even I can only present all facets of dynamics in few words with the help of graphs or tables. Otherwise, compression means judgment without supporting documentation. I’m not saying this to ask you to expand the write-up. I am only saying that the more compressed any analysis is, the more difficult it is to present the views of all sides fairly, and given that there are emotional angles to this I can understand needing to gloss over things in order to get to the meat for you.

    I would like to start by bringing us back to the conversation you and I had last December as I drove you to work. You had sat next to me in church and were over-flowing with judgmental statements about not just ideas but rather about people, specifically all of Utah (or whatever passes for the majority, the decision-making classes, etc). Marriage Equality had just been instigated in Utah and same-sex couples were using the same civil contract as anyone else to access legal protection and processes for those who qualify as legally married. Of course, as a Mormons for Equality organizer I supported equal civil protection in Utah and every other state. But even as we were discussing this development, you could not contain your strongly judgmental statements, saying that the people of Utah had usurped the constitution or rights and were trampling minorities. As you were making these statements somewhat loudly and emphatically in church (on the Sunday set aside for celebrating Christmas) I asked you to tone it down and keep it just between us until we could discuss it in the car, when I opened up the conversation. You began again with judgmental statements and did not stop until I asked you pointedly to explain the other side’s point of view. At the time, you could not explain any other point of view. I asked you if you were uneducated or inarticulate and you answered no to both. I suggested that when you feel that there is no view but yours it can be good to slow down, maybe even pause altogether, until you can articulate all sides fairly, as if those you don’t agree with are right there with us and you want to persuade those people, too

    to be continued...

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  3. PART 3
    I believe that your views on this have not significantly changed because after church not long ago you felt to complain about one of the speakers who told a story about bringing the message of Christ to Asian immigrants who had never heard of Christ, the fall or the Plan of Salvation. You thought that the missionaries were wrong to do this. I have never asked your leadership what discussions you have behind doors that do not include me, and they would not tell me if I did ask. But logic suggests that you are probably consistent on both sides of the door and that their request that you withdraw from partaking of the sacrament was appropriate.

    The second item is their request that you participate only in sacrament meeting, and only as a member of the congregation. This meant no Sunday School, third hour or visiting or home teachers, which is a serious constriction of participation, I agree. I think this has much to do with the way that interactions were happening at the branch. If you recall, one day we were in the branch president’s office and we were discussing how to be gentle with people who disagree with you. We had both just been in Sunday School where there was a concept being discussed and I did not agree with the teacher. I raised my hand and was called on, and then I proceeded to elaborate the point of my disagreement in very gentle, round-about, non-threatening language so that the teacher and the room could think it through from my perspective and not feel that I was attacking the teacher or the church because of my gentleness. I was so gentle, the teacher felt he could still propound his view and he did. You then raised your hand and tried to get the teacher to call upon you, but by your body language he could tell that you were going to give him a rhetorical pounding. He couldn’t handle it and so he didn’t call on you. I did my best to calm you down and others nearby could see that. As we were talking just a few minutes later in the branch president’s room, you admitted that you wanted very much to tell that teacher what you felt was true. I addressed you at the time saying that it isn’t necessarily just right or wrong that we talk about at church, but there is always obligation to do so kindly. If there is any chance that your conversation could have been shaming to the teacher, that would have been very disruptive and shattering to your hope of making friends. You would have sent the signal that it isn’t the person that matters, it is much more important that they come up to your standards or you would publicly humiliate them. Very few people have the ability to withstand that kind of interpersonal risk in their own community. The most likely way to address that risk would be to not take it and so the people would have withdrawn from you even more. Again, I was not in the room when your leadership made the request that you limit your church participation to sacrament meeting, but I suspect that the request had much to do with these problems. I sometimes ask myself how I would have handled the challenges you presented and I’m not sure I can come up with answers that are any better. These leaders knew that I was your friend and that I was devoted to your health and wholeness. They knew that I was doing more than any visiting teacher they could have called would do. I believe they made the best decisions they could.

    I was not in the room the day that the “Korihor discussion” happened between you and your leadership, but I was with you all soon after. With all of these doings, I saw a lot of emotion and tried to be a good friend through it. On the day that this occurred I saw how much pain everyone was in including your stake president. Now, truth is truth, and I don’t hold that any person necessarily has it. “Line upon line” can mean that none of us have the real understanding of anything. When that is the case, we are not going from wrong to right but from wrong to less-wrong.

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  4. PART 4
    On complex questions that require the heart to make many turns (and no hearts do that instantly) I wouldn’t expect anything else. As for your stake president, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so broken-hearted while doing a church calling. He must have said things that were painful to you, but I know this man. I know he said them as kindly and gently as he could have, and he stayed around for hours to try to support and comfort you, to walk with you through the pain. He was there for you, Leah. He would have continued to be there for you. It took my breath away. Seeing your stake president treat you with such respect and care caused me to trust him, and I don’t do much of that.

    These last months I have watched and hoped. I wanted to talk with you soon about the way that I see people. I thought it could help you. I think we all have something to give and we all have something to learn. One of the things that I have that I think could have been a good exercise for you would be to try to see people the way that I perceive them. As most folks know, I am quite introverted, but I am very perceptive. I am quiet much because the world around me appears so loud and complex. If I had been raised in a different home, I might have relaxed into autism. But I was compelled to be perceptive and I don’t regret it. In church especially we are in our most vulnerable state, emotionally open. I think this is good for us. When I see church people, I watch how they move, what they choose to talk about, what they appear to notice and not notice. I listen to how they organize their thoughts and present their insights. I ask myself what this says about the width of their own experience and what they will likely be able to perceive. I listen especially for areas that appear bruised, so that I can treat those ideas tenderly. I think we have to bring some “packing peanuts” to every relationship because no one is exactly like ourselves, and those who engage with us need to feel that their feelings are safe from harsh judgment, even if their feelings are wrong, in our opinion. With some people, I bring a lot of packing peanuts to the conversation because they are fragile and narrow. With others, I can bring fewer packing peanuts because they are robust and stable and able to accept kind disagreement. Being able to determine where everyone is in their strength and vulnerability makes us good friend potential, and followers of Christ. Jesus is the ultimate companion, able to venture with us through the darkest, deepest paths and lead us out as we are ready and able.

    I wanted to have this discussion with you because it appears that you have pulled back very far from trying to understand people. For many months you would sit near me and whisper your disagreements with the speakers to me. I was at a loss at the time to frame just a few words that might help you to listen as I do to the speakers instead of only judge the speakers, who after all are doing their best and probably somewhat frightened and worried at the speaker’s podium. The words that I whispered at the time were only, “Leah, try to enjoy the talks.” As it was a challenge for you to enjoy the talks, my suggestion seemed to stop your verbalizing but did not start a process of perception and kindness to the speakers and indeed everyone around you in church, who knew your feeling because your whisper carries well. I think the only benefit of that attempt on my part was that you were more quiet but not that you were more open. A few weeks ago we heard some amazingly good talks about the Savior and his transforming power in our lives. I really enjoyed those talks and thought about them for days. After the meeting, though, I asked you what you thought and what caught your attention, and you couldn’t name much, except idea that Jesus doesn’t want us to lie. That was a very minor part of a much more complex concept discussed in the talk, one that meant a lot to me. I was not sure how to bridge the divide.

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  5. PART 5

    Now, you’ve made a new decision that will take you in another direction. As always, Leah, I support your journey and your growth. You feel that the Universalist Church is right for you at this time and I think that may be true. I trust Jesus to care for your feet on this path and hope that you learn many things and share them.

    Always, Marni Z

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