Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Claim You

I vividly remember the day that I listened to Joanna Brooks' speech at the 2011 Mormon Stories Conference in SLC.  She talked about her Mormon heritage, and then about how many different kinds of people there are who have Mormonism in their bones. She celebrated the diversity, and then said loudly and passionately "We Claim You!"

At the time I was feeling quite awkward about my relationship with the LDS church. My husband had disaffiliated from Mormonism just a few months before, and I suddenly found how disenfranchised I felt now that I was in a "part-member home" and had "no priesthood in the home." The kids saw daddy staying home from church and they didn't want to go either. I found myself often going to church alone. I found myself missing church more than I ever would have in my youth. My husband's faith transition had been happening simultaneously with my own, but our conclusions had been different: he was done with it, but I could not be. Mormonism is in my bones. I'm not the same kind of Mormon as I once was though. For so many reasons I cannot return to the safe, sweet way I used to live.

Being an outsider is nothing new though. I have always been an outsider. As a kid I was homeschooled. Now I'm a hearty supporter of homeschooling, but it made me an outsider at church because I was the only one.

And I realized that we make many kinds of outsiders.

And here's the thing. A lot of people have looked at the PANTS event and concluded that it is about female ordination. Or that it is about LGBTQ something or other (because of the suffragette purple I suppose). Or that it's about feminism in general. Or trying to attract attention and create contention. Or trying to put down women who wear dresses or are satisfied with the status quo. Or about trying to prove a point.

I will grant that last one. It IS about trying to prove a point: It is about proving that we believe that love is bigger than judgment. It is about saying to all those outsiders WE CLAIM YOU and we love you and we count you among our brothers and sisters.

  • To the young person who is homeschooled and always feels left out; I claim you.
  • To the one who is 'weird'; I claim you.
  • To the one who is whispered about behind his or her back; I claim you and promise those whispers will never come from me.
  • To the one who is overweight; I love you.
  • To the one dealing with an eating disorder; I love you. 
  • To the one who has ever felt awkward because your clothes were 'wrong' or 'not stylish' or 'uncool'; I claim you and I understand.
  • To the sister who is disenfranchised because she is unmarried, divorced, or otherwise "does not have the priesthood in her home"; I claim you and support you
  • To the sister who wants children but cannot have them; I love you, I understand you, and I support you more than you realize.
  • To the sister who does not want children; I claim you and respect your choice.
  • To the sexual abuse survivor; I accept you, love you, and do not blame you for what happened to you.
  • To the one who is the only member in her or his household; I claim you and support you.
  • To the one who is struggling to find her or his place in the church; I claim you and I am your sister no matter what.
  • To the one who has been so hurt that you cannot bear to come to church anymore; I claim you and I love you.
  • To the one who wears pants to church because the weather is cold, because you have small children or a calling in the nursery, because you play the organ in church, because you have a health condition, because you don't have a dress, or simply because you feel more comfortable or confident in pants; I claim you, I support you, and I stand with you this year and last year and every year.
Pants for church in 2013

This is me actually 'in church' today via conference call. Cuz that's how it is in the Alaskan bush.

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