A Gospel of Liberation.

A Gospel about liberation.

That’s what I need. That’s what I seek. That’s why Church is hard for me sometimes. It can be so individualistic in ways that feel imprisoning to me. I need a gospel that is collective… in voice and in action. I need a collectively liberating Gospel after the tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. I need a gospel that is active in liberating people from captivity, and most importantly, allowing people to name their captors. Especially if I am one of them or complicit in their captivity.

Liberation is not comfortable when you are part of the captors.

Naming captors is a key element in naming pain, shame, and finding the freedom necessary to be. To move into and through transformative change – conversion, if you will – a chance to be whole. There are times that it feels splitting to be at Church. But, I come. And I stay. And I listen. And I continue to seek glimmers of freedom. Shimmers of liberation.

I am not liberated by holding another captive by my ill-informed judgments, believing that it is righteous for me to judge any person beyond myself or those within my stewardship. I am not liberated by having my integrity challenged. I am not liberated by siblings in the gospel who promote fear over family or family bound by conditions.

“I the Lord am bound when you do what I say…”

He has said, “Love one another…”

He has said, “Preach nothing but repentance….”

I’ve often wondered what was there to repent about in the 1830s and 40s, of American and British Culture? What was so widespread that everybody needed to be involved in repentance whenever a missionary approached? We hadn’t fully hit industrialization because our industry was still slavery. Imagine God asking for repentance during times of chattel slavery and indentured servitude?  It’s never happened in my Sunday school lessons, and these days, if it isn’t correlated, it isn’t preached, it seems.

“But when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

No repentance, no promise.

No love, no promise.

No freedom, no promise.

What are we promised?  That we are His work and His glory. That our immortality and eternal life is His sole aim.  That, in the end, we are to be with Him.

We cannot be with him without becoming like Him.

We cannot become like him by keeping others from him based on our flawed interpretations of judgment. Even righteous judgment.

I believe our freedom is held captive by our blind, and eyes-wide-open, oppression of others.

It’s hard to be at Church sometimes when you don’t fit into correlation.  It’s hard to watch suffering sometimes, especially when it’s built into correlation.

I have been recently reminded that my specific existence in a collective experience of global exile is a gift as much as it is a calling. As such, it is not something to be endured silently because “suffering is noble.” It is to be carried because it is only something that can reach excellence by my journey. Only I can carry this gift labeled a cursing. Only I can understand its use and its purpose.

I, similar to other celestial siblings, am given a visible marker of a divine heritage. I, similar to other siblings, am given a mark that evidences a history of freedom-seeking. I am not, like other siblings, marked “so that Satan has no hold on me,” however.

I, instead, am marked so that when I see Satan’s treatment to me from my siblings, I am reminded that this is my gift to understand the ugly in them and my responsibility to stand and grant them opportunities to be liberated if they choose to be wholly converted by our gospel.

I cannot liberate others if I am held captive to fighting and trying to prove myself to people who are not equipped or prepared or willing to understand the present and visible suffering outside of their invisible experiences. And it is painful to see their wounds demonstrate their ignorance when they figuratively stand on my back, and the backs of others, to proclaim their oppression.

We differ only in skin colors, yet, still, we differ so much. And because we differ, we suffer.

Even so, I am responsible to liberate myself, and my mind and, in turn, liberate others.

And so, I need my Gospel to liberate.

I continue to seek freedom.

I need my gifts to grow. I need to uncover and nurture my talents. I need to rise into who I am meant to be.

I am meant to liberate and to be liberated. I am meant to love and to recognize that sometimes parables are necessary – for my safety as much as for others’ learning.

I am thankful for other strong siblings in my world, who share the hue that identifies our gift before we open our mouths. I am thankful for my glaring differences, though steeped in deeply flawed men and deeply flawed ideas of doctrine, that give me the responsibility to seek, and share, liberation.

I am thankful that my gift cannot be chosen, but only divinely given and only consciously received. My gift is my liberation. I seek liberation – within this Gospel and within this life – to be the gift I share with others.

LaShawn is a mental health professional in Utah, USA. She is a lifelong member of the LDS Church and sees the Gospel as an invitation to live a full and authentic life.

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