There is a stone sitting on my heart. I want to disgorge it, to reject it in a peptic tide of embodied catharsis, but it stays, stuck, somewhere under my breastbone, and each time I shift, in vain attempts to find a more comfortable position, it only hurts more.
I am an adult convert to the Mormon church. My conversion was baffling and truly painful to my family, and I understand why— but I believed in the expansive vision I had when I was looking for a home for my soul. The ideas that compelled me step into the warm waters of the baptismal font were expansive; an open canon, personal revelation, a new vision of Eve, recognition of the divine feminine, prophetic guidance, eternal progression, absence of hell, everlasting hope and the reality of continued individual worth beyond death. I fell in love with that expansive cosmology and theology. I still love that part.
The vision I caught of my faith sustained me through some of the darkest years of my life, and has granted me a vein of richness, adding depth to my tapestry for which I would be far poorer not having experienced.
As is the nature of all light, there is also a shadow. My family is vitally important to me, including the five members of my family who are gay. For years, I have attempted walking the razor’s edge, precariously balancing the expansive vision I had for my faith with the frequent words and occasional actions in my church which caused dissonance in the face of my love for my family—all of my family.
I believed what I was taught at church; I was entitled to revelation for myself, that I was to pray and ponder and decide my own position on things—indeed, that wasn’t just a recommendation, but a requirement. Our minds and our agency are so precious, so invaluable, even God does not violate them. So I found peace in the dissonance. I didn’t need to be like everyone else, and they didn’t need to be like me. God loves everyone. Family matters.
I was naïve.
In light of the stone bruising my heart, and bruising the hearts of so many people I love, I have no interest in discussions of tests, faithfulness or obedience. I am neither a goat, a tare, nor chaff; I am a child of God— so is every member of my family, your family, and the entire family of mankind. In the Gospel, I am nowhere called to set aside my own conscience, to follow blindly. If words mean anything, and they do, then I am practicing exactly what I was taught at church- which is to pray and ponder and listen to the Sprit, and that God loves everyone.
I have realized that what I thought was an expansive place for everyone is, in fact, contracting. We actually have the theology and the tools to make room for everyone at the table—it’s so achingly, wonderfully, beautiful and is so laden with potential. It’s that theology that drew me to choose this as my home. But I am realizing the church is only great and spacious from the outside. Unlike Mary Poppins’ bag, the Weasley’s tent, or the Doctor’s callbox, at least for now, it’s actually smaller on the inside.
To the detriment and loss of us all. And so the stone remains, bruising and breaking my heart.