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10/6/13

movin on



           I went to the Ordain Women event on Saturday, which was a surprising decision, especially if you read my previous post in which I compare the church to an ex-boyfriend. I'm still working out my very complex feelings regarding my motivations for going. A few of them, in no order of importance:

1. A genuine desire to support an idea I believe in: I do believe in equality, everywhere.

2. A genuine desire to mourn with the women who are currently mourning their place in the church. As I watched countless men walk past us into priesthood, none of them making eye-contact with the women standing a few feet away, I was proud to be standing where I was standing. My believing feminist sisters are the  robbed and beaten neighbors of my world, their birth-right stolen, and desperately hurting. Sometimes they are different from me, but I cannot by the Levite or the Priest in this story, I must be the Samaritan. I was proud to stand with them, and I was proud to ask to be admitted to the Priesthood session.


3. I don't want to be a quitter. Last year I asked Mormon Women to do something, so when they answered my call, and supported me in wearing pants to church, I didn't want to give up on them when they wanted me to stand in line for Priesthood. I don't want to be a quitter.


So I went, and it was one of the most powerfully painful experiences of my life. Surprisingly painful. It hurt to be physically separated from fellow church members, it hurt to be rejected for what should be a reasonable desire. It hurt to realize that to the institution of the LDS church, I am not worth a whole lot of consideration. Lovely words by  Elder Uchtdorf aside, the tangible image of approximately 150 women shivering in line as twelve year old teens walked into the tabernacle reaffirmed a sneaking suspicion that us feminist women don't matter too much.

Especially when church spokesperson Ruth Todd kept reminding people that the women standing in line do not "represent the majority of women" in the church, and called our quiet and peaceful actions "divisive."

In the same breath that church leaders remind us that the church is not a democracy, I'm told that there aren't enough people like me to merit consideration. The church is not a democracy, but apparently you need to have the majority opinion to matter, to be validated, to be welcomed as fellow saints.

As it turns out, the church is not the good Shepard who pursues the one lost sheep.






Then there's this picture. I'm embarrassed by it. I'm embarrassed that I let my vulnerability show to people who don't understand. I'm embarrassed when it is passed around as an example of bravery or courage because mostly I feel like an imposter. I'm a person who has lost a lot in the last ten months, who has given up orthodoxy and belief but is afraid of being a quitter. I don't want to be a quitter. I don't want to feel like this pain is worthless. I don't want to abandon this faith wondering if there was anything I could have done differently or better. I want to do the right thing, even when it is hard and confusing and complicated.

But I also know that I am reaching my own critical mass for pain. My sister posted something I found really hurtful on Facebook page last night, and I lost it. I don't think I can physically handle another person questioning my motives and my heart. I can't. Not after the comments from strangers about pants, not after the messages from old YW leaders, after friends and now family how doubted why I keep going up to the door and fighting for my faith.

 I was explaining how I felt very much alone sometimes to a friend, who reminded me that pain and loneliness is sacred. You can't hide from it, and most of the time you experience it alone, in the Gethsemane of your mind. But instead of viewing my pain as something I needed to escape, she taught me that pain is a Christ-like attribute. It allows us to empathize with others walking their own quiet and lonely paths, it allows us to sanctify our minds and our spirits. Pain can be holy, and regardless of the orthodoxy of my belief system, I'm learning to believe in the sacredness of pain.

However, I also believe that pain is an active feeling. It moves and evolves and changes with growth. Pain is sacred and holy so long as we allow it to progress naturally. The moment we let us consume us, it isn't useful anymore. I hit that point last night, where I realized my pain was no longer changing, but static. I can't keep experiencing it the same way as before, it isn't allowing me to grow anymore.

On the way home last night, alone in my car, I pulled up to the driveway just as Rascal Flatt's "Moving On" came on the radio. (Yes, I'm embarrassed about that too.) But suddenly these words meant something to me. Because I realized that it is time for me to move on. It isn't quitting, it isn't wrong, it's just time. It is noble to want to be a Good Samaritan, but until mine comes along, I'm going to have to save myself. I do that by moving on. The pain might not go away, but it will change, and grow, and I'll keep growing too. I've loved like I should but I've lived like I shouldn't/I had to lose everything to find out/Maybe forgivenes will find me somewhere down this road/I'm movin' on. 

I don't know what this means for this space, this weird little blog that's seen so much. I just want to write about TV again, honestly. But it feels odd writing with the ghost of my old self in the title. I don't know what I'll do, but I think at least for a while it is time to give this space a break. Thank you to everyone who has followed me here. Thank you for your nice emails and comments, and even the mean ones that made me a better writer. May any God (except Xenu, he gives me the creeps,) be with you 'til we meet again.

Also, here are the lyrics to "Movin' On" in case country music is your thing. 




I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on

I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on




80 comments:

Ashley said...

Oh, you've had more than your share of hurt and pain. There are so many of us right there with you, but because of this wonderful blog and your brave involvement with the issues, you've been beaten down more than you deserved. I admire you so much, and also your choices, including this one. I love your articulation that pain can be useful, but sometimes it is not. I am happy for you that you have identified this point for yourself as the latter, and I wish you so many blessings and much peace. I will miss your voice here, though. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for all you have done.

Lauren Donna said...

As someone who finds herself realizing her own testimony of things and overcoming the challenges that follow, I want you to know that you do matter. A lack of understanding should not make us unkind, but I know you have experienced so much unkindness.

Also, what an amazing photo. Anyone who wants to know where your heart is should take a good look at this photo.

Linnea said...

I really admire you, Stephanie, and respect your decision to move on and do what is best for you. I have loved your blog, and been touched by so many things you have written here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Courtney said...

I so identified with your last two posts. I reached my breaking point of pain more than a year ago, and I have asked myself most days if I gave up too soon. When I think about it rationally, I don't think I did. When I finally decided to move on, I felt very strongly that if there is a loving God, he/she/it wants me to be happy. Also, I am a good person, and I felt ready to stop trying justify myself as one and trying to convince a group of people who should accept me anyway.
I wish you the best of luck. I admire your courage in being outspoken about your beliefs and doubts. It's something I could never find within myself.

kdstentzel said...

Moving on is rough. Remember though, your experiences and ties to Mormonism aren't any less valid than those of the people who chose to stay. If keeping that part of your identity is important to you, don't let others try and shame you out of it. Fuck 'em.

Steph said...

I have read your blog for the last several years. Your thoughts have always given me a lot to think about. We have different opinions about many of your topics, but I have appreciated hearing what you have to say. And despite those differences in opinion, we are fundamentally the same. We are both children of God, and we both are looking for happiness and peace. May we both find it! Thank you for sharing so many things that are close to your heart. Good luck!

Sunny said...

I just want to give you a virtual hug. I may not understand all your pain, but I know it is real pain and I ache for you. I hope you find peace and happiness whatever life brings you and wherever you find yourself in regards to the church. God loves you no matter what because He knows you are truly seeking Him. I truly believe that it doesn't matter what church you belong to if you are honestly seeking to learn about and honor God in the process.

Holly said...

you just rock and I just like you. I would love to read what you say about TV--or anything, for that matter, but especially TV, because it matters. it was an honor to stand with you in line.

Holly said...

p.s. I admit to being moved by that picture of you and bursting into tears when I first saw it, but I also admit that one reason I like it is that you look SUPER CUTE in it despite the tear. People are shallow and it really is all about your looks.

Courtney Buell said...

I found your blog when you wrote that post about Bentley and the MD. I loved it. I stuck around though, because you're brilliant and your posts always gave me strength as I've been going through a faith transition of my own. Thanks for always being honest and reminding me what good writing looks like. I also really admire your bravery and integrity, especially in the face of such idiotic scorn. I'm staying subscribed in case you change your mind. If you start fresh at a new website someday, please tell us when you do!

Kelsie said...

I hope you know that your thoughts do matter to many people, whether they disagree or not. I always appreciate and respect (and I believe most people do) those standing up for what they believe in - whether or not the majority, minority, or anyone else for that matter believes in it too.

Regardless of my own opinions, your blog has helped me better understand another point of view that I haven't always so easily understood before. Our Heavenly Father loves you and knows you as well as anybody else, and that truly, at the end of the day, may be the only thing that matters - or at least the only thing that can bring us real happiness and peace. Wishing you comfort during this time, and hoping you know that you have an internet-friend who might think a little differently (I admit I am a Republican :) but who respects you, especially your bravery and willingness to share personal thoughts and beliefs.

Danielle said...

I only found your blog a few weeks ago. And like a crazy stalker, went through and read all of your old posts! I loved them. I loved them all. Thank you so much for your honesty and bravery. It was wonderful to find someone who had felt some of the things that I am feeling and know that I am not alone. I really am grateful for all that you have shared, good luck with your journey!

Amy Grigg said...

Stephanie, I love your blog. I have loved your insight and the beautiful things you have written. They have made me laugh, and made me cry, and mostly made me wish I knew you in real life. Thank you for your strength, and for your weakness. They have enriched us all.
So, so much love.
Amy

wendipooh13 said...

I just want to say THANK YOU for your efforts, for your blog, for standing up for woman, for saying what you feel. you are sooooo NOT alone, there are many more of us!!!

Elder Richards said...

It comes down to this. Heavenly Father does not agree with you. Or else it would be changed in the church. Wishing you luck in happiness

Stephanie said...

@ Elder Richards. It comes down to this: We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

We don't know if Heavenly Father agrees with me or not. It hasn't been revealed.

Sandy said...

Quitter!!!

Kidding. I know what you mean, though, about not wanting to give up. I stepped back from activism after pants and I feel almost guilty watching all those eager Mormon Feminists march forward. But, you know, times and seasons.

I hope you start a new blog as the Ex-Mormon Adult In A Healthy Functional Marriage and write about TV and teaching high school.

PinkPirate said...

As a non Mormon woman fascinated by Mormonism I've enjoyed your blog for a long time, and wondered, a little, how someone as smart and courageous as you could swallow the hurts the Church inflicts on strong women. I can't imagine losing what you have lost. Please keep writing, about anything, here or on another blog. I would miss you too much otherwise.

Ariane said...

I haven't really been following this movement because I don't agree with it. However, as I read your blog entry, my heart broke for you. I'm sorry you are experiencing pain because you don't feel like you matter. You DO matter. Please believe that.

I was excommunicated 4 years ago for something that I didn't think was that serious. I was angry for a long time. I believed that this is a man's church, that women don't matter. But I was wrong. I met a bishop who cared for me like I was his daughter. He welcomed me into a ward that took care of me and loved me back into the church. I was baptized about two months ago and I am so happy that I made that choice.

There are still some things that I don't agree with, but I realized that no matter what happened to me in the past or who did what to me, I have infinite worth to my Father in Heaven and I can be forgiven an infinite amount of times due to the Atonement. I have never felt so much comfort as I did when I realized that concept.

Sometimes we ask for things that we don't get. It's the way the world works. Despite reading some of your posts, I'm still not sure why you want the priesthood. I've never felt deprived of that power. I feel like because of the Atonement, I have power. I feel that I've been given power through motherhood.

I'm now a single mother. I have 6 sons and 1 daughter. I'm fortunate to have 4 sons who hold the priesthood, but I still preside over my home because, well, I'm the only parent. I wish with all my heart that there was someone I loved who would share the responsibility with me. Not because I'm weak. Not because I'm brainwashed. Not because I don't think I deserve to have that power. I just know my place as a woman. It's not to be submissive and abused or forgotten. Motherhood is to be revered and cherished and held sacred. I don't have time or energy to hold the priesthood. I'm too busy holding my children.

Thankfully, the Atonement isn't just for forgiveness of sins. Christ felt our pain, emotional and physical. He felt our stress. He felt our longing. I feel so blessed to be able to give my troubles up to my Savior.

I'm a strong woman with strong opinions. But I'm happy with the gifts I've been given. It makes me so sad that you don't relish in the precious temple covenants you made. I had my blessings revoked and I have about 10 months before I can get them back and I am counting the days.

I hope you find what you're looking for. Sometimes you realize what you're looking for isn't anywhere near as good as what you had. Trust me. I've been there.

Elder Richards said...

Sorry my post posted my sons name when he was a missionary, it wasn't from an Elder. Yes, we do know he hasn't revealed it. It would come forward if it had been.

CTW said...

Stephanie, I'm new to this space. I came here because of your photo which I posted on my facebook page. I found the photo to be beautiful. You are beautiful for being brave enough to join this effort. For me your photo is a symbol of the pain I feel whenever I am judged by my own friends, family members and sisters and brothers in the gospel. Sadly it's usually the sisters who write comments that condemn those of us concerned with equality.

Laura Pennock said...

Oh Stephanie!! We had only just begun out lesbian love affair -- I am the one who emailed you that I simply adore your blog. I saw you at the Ordain Women event and I thought, "I love the way her hair is cut." It seems we have the same kind of hair. I did not make the connection that you were my dear Mormon Child Bride or I would have run up and hugged you and introduced myself. I will continue to participate in Ordain Women events and if I see you at one in the future, even if you have left the church, I shall indeed introduce myself.

Laura Pennock said...

Oh, Stephanie! We've only just begun our lesbian love affair and you will be gone. I am the one who emailed you last summer that I adore your blog! I saw you at the Ordain Women event on Saturday and I remember thinking, "I love the way her hair is cut." It seems that we have the same hair type. I had no idea it was you or I would have run up to you and hugged you and introduced myself. If I see you at another Ordain Women event -- and I hope that I do even though it sounds as if you are leaving the church--, I will introduce myself. I commented on the facebook page that the picture of you was one of the iconic images of the day. I so wish you peace in the days ahead whatever they may bring.

Laura Pennock said...

Wow! Looks like I got to comment twice. Didn't realize the first one had published!

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Brittany said...

Well, I guess I'll be the selfish one and ask you to stay. Not if it hurts you, not even often, but... as my good friend Rhianna would say, "I want you to stay..."

Maybe it's because you were brave before I realized I needed to be. Maybe it's because the posts are so damn enjoyable. But reading your experiences of struggle and fight makes it seem worth it to keep trying. Even if you're fighting a different fight now, your example proves it's possible to survive and move on from what's painful,and that's a journey that I can't help but admire, support and cheer for.

Emily Hatch said...

I've loved reading your blog and following your journey. You are not alone, and trust me, moving on will get much easier with time. Can't wait to read whatever it is do write next!

Mary said...

I so appreciate everything you have written. I came to your blog at a time when I was feeling guilty for having questions I'm not supposed to have. It helped me so much. Strangely enough, it helped begin a journey that led me to a stronger testimony of the doctrines of the church, but also the happy realization that the culture of the church is not the doctrine. I don't know what will yet be revealed.

I feel women do have the priesthood manifested in a different way, and I know there will be many who think I'm just making excuses, but I'm not. This is the result of a lot of searching and prayer. I simply think many men in the church don't understand this to be the case. Hence, the division.

Anyway, your thoughts led me to this. I hope you pop on occasionally. Everybody needs to be challenged out of their comfort zones. You put yourself in the line of petty, insensitive ignorance to do just that. Thank-you.

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MJ said...

I love you, Stephanie. Just don't leave Facebook, or I'll be devastated m

MJ said...

I love you, Stephanie. Just don't leave Facebook, or I'll be devastated m

McGee said...

I feel you, for sure. You've been a great motivator for me in terms of thinking through and processing how I feel about having left the church and what's left in it for me and my family. This is where I'm at today-I am Mormon, but not LDS. There is a culture much like the Jewish community, which I can claim without claiming the LDS doctrine any longer.

Here's how I came to that...

http://justmcgee.blogspot.com/2013/10/cutural-mormon.html

Blog about whatever you want, just don't not blog. You would be missed!

PinkPirate said...

I friended you on FB bc I miss your blog writing. ;) Mandy Howes Pais. Hope that's not creepy.

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Tasha said...

Stephanie, that gave me goosebumps. Pain is sacred, but you have to know when it has stopped serving a purpose (other than just to make you a miserable B , in my case) and let it got. All at once, or little bits at a time, move on, let it go, find a new way to be. I hope you will keep writing in a space that I will be able to read. It resonates with me every time. XO

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DarwinsMoth said...

Hello Stephanie. I heard your CBC (Tapestry) interview on a drive home today from seeing my family. I am of no particular faith, (and I don't "speak Mormon"), but yes, I hope empathy IS common for many of us, across faiths, politics, and cultures. I brought my forearm down across my eyes at least three times during your talk to wipe away tears. I am cheering for you - stay strong, stay sensitive, stay your course.

Ruth-A-N said...

I heard you speak on Mary Hynes Tapestry and it was beautiful there a lot of us out here. Know you are not alone :) Stay with it...change the geography and people's hearts and minds. You can do it!!

L.M. Harbaugh said...

I heard you on Tapestry today as well. The tears...so true and honest and understandable. You are mourning something you loved more than anything. I've been there. I have been finding my own way for some time now....and you will too. Prayers and affection for you.
The Lord of All cherishes you...no matter what you believe!

Here's a fave poem, by Mary Oliver, that's helped me:

“The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
― Mary Oliver

Stephanie said...

@ L.H. Harbaugh, Thank you. I think a poem is the nicest gift anyone can give a person.

Stephanie said...

@ Ruth-A-N-, Thank you for your words of encouragement. I like the idea o changing geography, I just wish it wasn't so painful. :)

Stephanie said...

@DarwinsMoth, Thank you. It is strange to think of my words reaching so many people, and even stranger (and beautiful) to think they meant enough for them to write me. Thank you for cheering for me.

Toby said...

Stephanie, I am a 66 year old male. Heard your interview on CBC radio on being alone. Loved it. It appears that when the .....isms ( Mormonism, etc.) become so large and literally try to control us then faith has lost its purpose. Some one told me once: if it doesn't look like the life of Jesus or like His words than discard it. It seams to me that most institutionalized faiths have created a lot of hurt and pain. Thanks for your vulnerability

Betina said...

I just listened to your CBC interview while I put lights on the Christmas tree. It was moving and, with 3 daughter and a son I can so relate. I feel that way about my son too, though. In fact, I feel more certain that he will be hit by the huge garbage truck of patriarchal privilege than anything.

I wish we could sit and have non-coffee (or real coffee) together some time.

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St. Peter's Church said...

Dear beautiful soul,

I want to tell you that you are doing the right thing. I understand your pain completely. I am now an ordained Anglican priest and the pain and oppression and heartache that I have experienced is very similar to your own hurt. I still face oppression from my church on a daily basis and as hard and lonely as this struggle is, I know that God upholds me in my ministry. Please, please do not give up the fight, dear heart. You are a strong and brave woman who God has gifted with courage and rightness. Please email me if you like shonaboardmanATgmail.com

Kimberly Wilson said...

I am SO glad I happened to miss this post until I saw the most recent one. Phew! I would have been grieving. Seriously. I hope you keep coming back and keep having things to say, because you matter. Your pain matters. If I actually thought of myself as a shepherd (and I don't; I gain more insight from you than you ever would from me), and I thought you were a lost sheep, I'd be calling out for you, I would. :-)

Kimberly Wilson said...

Ok, now I've looked through all the comments, too, and how sweet you have been to comment back on some of them, and I see that even some of my own sentiments are echoed from others.

I agree with all others; your voice is something to be shared, and people want to hear it. If you switch to a new blog, or a new forum, just give us a heads up. I can understand why you feel you have molted from your blog title shell. :-)

Loved that poem, too, that someone posted. Still think your most recent post is poetry in and of itself.

Kimberly Wilson said...

Okay, last comment from one of your lovely ADD friends who forgot why she decided to add a 2nd comment. It was to say that after reading all the comments, I am selfish, too. I want to keep hearing from you!

But I gotta put on my big girl panties and remind myself that you don't write a blog for me, but for you. If you keep writing, in whatever form, I'll still read.

I lied this summer (by accident) when I said that I hadn't been following your blog recently. I went back home and looked over it, and realized that while I go months without reading, I ALWAYS catch up. Always. So, that means that I have read pretty much every blog post you've ever written. :-)

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totally stumbled onto your blog by accident. I left the mormon church almost 9 years ago and that Rascal Flatts song has always reminded me of the feelings I had when leaving. Also Tory Amos, Crucify. if you need another song.

And just so you know, it does get better and easier.

Jeffrey K Hunt said...

Why do you seek so much the approval of others? Why does the LGBT community have to be excepted by others? They and you are who you are! The mere fact you are blogging about this shows how much you are trying to get the approval or acceptance of your decisions to leave the LDS church! You know what you have to do but have created this spot in your mind that somehow thinks you have to have others say, "I left the Mormon church too and it feels so great!" As if this would make you feel better! Just accept yourself for who you are, let the past live in the past and quit letting the hurt you have felt guide your life!

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Sam & Jessica family said...

You are incredible! We must be living in a parallel universe or something! Thank you for sharing your truest self here. You are letting your light shine before all of us. I wish to reflect that light back to you. It amazes me how people can blog and withstand criticism and judgement. I know that I am way to chicken for that. Your courage gives me courage.