Next month I have the opportunity to participate as a panelist at the Sunstone Symposium in Salt Lake City. The panel will address the issue of being a “Borderlander.” Until very recently I’ve never really thought of myself in those terms. I’d always just thought of myself as, well, “Me.” I see the benefit of using labels to name what ails us or to qualify what sets us apart from others. I like the graphic image created for the Braving the Borderlands series. It’s a great visual. (I’ve read several of the articles and if you are struggling in any way with a faith crisis, I recommend them.) Furthermore, when we name a thing we can more easily hold it out in front of us, observe it, make sense of it, create better definitions and even, in the case of people, create community among other same-named individuals.
On the flip-side, labels can serve to divide us. In the context of my faith practice, I prefer labels that are more inclusive such as disciple, friend or neighbor. I can see that in some ways I clearly fit the description for Borderlander, however, the label categorizes me from where I see myself in a much broader context, down into a relatively small community of brothers and sisters with whom I have a few things in common. Wait. . . how about Sister? Now there’s a label I can live with! I’ve always liked being a sister. Not just in my biological family, but in the family of the church and in the whole human family too.
Hi. My name is Melody and I’m your sister!
Here’s something I wrote about making peace with where I am at any given moment with regard to my faith. It’s for you, brothers and sisters, however you define yourself in relation to me or anyone or anything else, including Mormonism.
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[This was originally published at The-Exponent.com.]
Often in spring and summer I perform an early-morning ritual: shortly after awakening, I move from my ground-floor bedroom to the downstairs and open the family room door as wide as it will open. Then I walk back upstairs and do the same thing with the kitchen door. Both doors face west, so when I return through the downstairs hallway I make a U-turn as I step onto the landing and head back up the stairs.
When both doors are open the stairway becomes a wind tunnel. Cool air rushes upward, sucked from the refrigerated below-ground basement by warmer upstairs air fleeing its confines to join the great ether beyond. (Who among us doesn’t love the laws of physics?) At these times a person could stand in the basement hallway or at the top of the stairs and feel a gentle breeze, if she so desired. Which I do. From time-to-time. I have a swamp cooler, which I adore during dry Utah summers, but my life-long love affair with nature moves me to allow fresh air to have its way with my home on cool, quiet mornings.
On this early Sabbath as I write, with birds chirping outside the living room window, I can’t help seeing a metaphor here. I see the Holy Spirit moving like that morning air through our hearts and minds – if we will just open the doors. I think of all the angst and sorrow and pain we suffer as human beings, as women and as Latter-day Saints. I think of all the truth available to us because we believe God actually converses with us through the spirit—God, not some abstract, mystical, incomprehensible eternal entity, but a loving parent—whispers truth, teaches us things our child-like minds struggle to comprehend, urges us to press forward with whatever good work our heart desires, and most importantly, offers comfort amidst our confusion and sorrow.
I don’t know why women aren’t currently ordained to the priesthood. I don’t know why there is a monument to “worldliness” in the heart of Salt Lake City, funded in part by the LDS church. I don’t know how God will resolve the questions of gender and identity and same-sex marriage within the context of church doctrine. I’m not always at peace about these or other concerns that plague me.
Yet, for me, the single most astounding piece of doctrine within the Mormon faith is this: that God speaks to us where we live. And that each person can find answers to her questions if she is willing to let go of whatever keeps her from the truth. Each of us can find solace and comfort through the spirit. For some, this may mean leaving the faith or stepping away for a time. For others it may mean weeping before, during or after every church meeting they attend.
For me, it means remaining open and believing. All the time. As often as possible. Because at unexpected moments and in unexpected ways, the truth makes its way into my heart from around the proverbial corner, pushing out old beliefs and renewing my faith in the fresh air, the Good News that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. That’s how it is today anyway.
How is it for you these days?