My dear friend,

People underestimate how hard it can be to see both sides of an issue. When you can see something good intermingled with something bad, it places a burden on your shoulders. Everyone around you is choosing sides, and you’re unable.  I see you as you struggle and wrestle with this weight. I see your pain, and I see your hope. I know that your spirit feels torn and aches in a way that you can hardly articulate.

You’re uncomfortable with some things. You wish there were less talk about the letter of the law and more of the spirit of the law. You start fidgeting in sacrament meeting when all of the talks are about obedience to some principle or other, and no one has talked about Jesus in a few weeks. You struggle with many aspects of church history, and the more you dig, the more the narrative in official church manuals seems borderline deceptive. You see the sexism inherent in the culture, and you’re frustrated about strict gender roles. You wonder about women’s ordination. You’ve been quietly supportive of marriage equality for a long time and have done a lot of cringing when people make ignorant comments about homosexuality in Sunday School. The new policy changes rocked you to your core, and you’re still trying to recover.

But you love the gospel. You have a testimony of the Savior and the Atonement, and you are confident that you are a Child of Heavenly Parents. You feel the presence of the Holy Ghost in your life. You have a testimony of the restored gospel. The Plan of Salvation brings you comfort and joy. You find peace and enlightenment in the Scriptures, and you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ. You love that being a member of the church provides you with fellowship, community, and opportunities to serve. You love being a part of the home and visiting teach programs.  You have found personal growth while serving in your callings.  Your contributions to the church are matched by the blessings you have received from it. You love being a Mormon.

You are okay. It is okay. It isn’t black and white. You don’t have to approach these issues with binary thinking. There are people on either side of you that are going to take the all or nothing approach. They will want you to deny any problem blindly, or they will encourage you to disavow it all.

You don’t have to do either.

Don’t let your spiritual journey be dictated by the journey of others. Plot your own course.

Claim your faith.

Leah Marie earned a BA in Political Science, and a Masters in Public Administration. She is currently working towards her PhD in Public Policy. She is wife to an English professor, and mother to 3 beautiful boys.

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