We’re pleased to feature this guest post from EOR.
Like many people, my relationship with The Church is a complicated one. I converted from Catholicism at the age of 15 and despite over 20 years of membership there is nothing that necessarily ties me to The Church. I come from a large family, none of which are LDS nor have any intention of becoming so. So I have walked this road largely alone.
My faith in God and in the Gospel has never been in question, even sometimes at great aggravation to myself. However, The Church and I have had what can aptly be described as a “love-not exactly hate” relationship. I have gone through periods of inactivity for varying reasons which I won’t address here including one currently. I also have a similarly complicated relationship with myself.
In Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo and Frollo have what is (in my opinion) the single greatest song in Disney history. It succinctly sums up each character as well as compares and contrasts them with rich, spiritually infused vocals. This 2-part song also serves to sum up my interactions with The Church and with my inner self. Heaven’s Light/Hellfire sees Quasimodo and Frollo both relaying the story of their object, Esmeralda. Both characters are profoundly impacted by her but in two very different ways. The Church is my Esmeralda; my object for purposes of this analogy.
Quasimodo approaches the idea of Esmeralda from a very low stance. She is an “angel” who deigns to “kiss his cheek without a trace of fright.” Quasi has been taught that he is a lowly creature, less than human, and while he feels himself undeserving of the light of Heaven he is grateful to be able to experience God through her. In ways I am like Quasi and I approach The Church from a grateful standpoint. Mormonism has enriched my life in ways too numerous to name here. I am grateful for the opportunity to utilize the vehicle of The Church in order to have made covenants with God for myself and by proxy for many of my family members. These are sacred times that no matter where my relationship with The Church stands I will always tout as an absolute moral good
Frollo on the other hand sees Esmeralda as a temptress sent from below. He prays to Mary to either allow Esmeralda to be his or to remove her from the Earth. Frollo is convinced of his righteousness and virtue and approaches the object from a grasping and jealous place. “She will be mine, or she will burn” is Frollo’s last refrain before setting out to find her and kill her. In ways I am also like Frollo, becoming convinced that I alone think and feel and know what is right. There have been times where I have felt that if The Church (and it’s culture) did not change to accommodate me and what I believed was right then I wish it would go away forever and “here, let me help it along… “
While I perform this repeating struggle I am lucky enough to have never been shunned when in a state of inactivity. By design, I have very few close friends and those close friends that are LDS have always maintained our friendship. Our mutual respect and love has helped to keep me close to The Church even in times of great despair and crisis in my life. I knew these people would love me no matter what choice I made regarding membership and activity. To them, the heart was more important than the Temple Recommend, and they know I have a strong, fierce, love for God, the Atonement, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, in great part because of them here I stand, holding The Church with an open hand instead of grasping or thrashing. Perhaps she and I can experience the light of Heaven together again someday.