Guest Post: Today, I Couldn’t
(We are approaching the one month anniversary of the national election. This upcoming week we will feature a few posts that reflect on life in a President-elect Trump world. Liza D composed this guest post the Sunday after the election.)
By Liza D
Church today was fine. The toddler didn’t make anyone cry in nursery, the baby had a blow out but it was manageable, the annual visiting teaching hoorah (what I saw of it when I wasn’t dealing with the poop) went smoothly, and testimony meeting had lots of people saying lots of normal church things: do more missionary work; temple work is important; so grateful to have a living prophet; lots of confident “I knows.”
The only explicit mention of the election was a reference to that quote that’s been going around… about how it doesn’t even matter what happens in the White House so much as it matters what happens in our own homes. It’s not a bad thing to say–none of it was–and people had conviction as they testified about things, some of which I usually feel passionate about, too. But today, I couldn’t bring myself to join them in that kind of feeling. Because all I felt today, surrounded by mostly Trump supporters, was spent and puzzled and let down and resigned. Today I just sort of inwardly shrugged at all the ways it all felt dumbed down and surface level and oblivious, and at how too often it feels like all we Mormons say is, “Ah, isn’t it nice to be right about everything? To come to church and brush away any discomfort that might threaten our rose-colored view of the world with sweet, soothing little platitudes and then skip home?”
I know I’m being super callous right now, and that this kind of apathy wouldn’t just be wrong but dangerous to remain in. But it’s all I had today. And because of that, today especially, I needed to feel that we were there to worship a God who feels and weeps and whose heart “swells wide as eternity” at the misery and pain and sin of ALL humankind. Today, I needed to feel that we worship a God whose heart broke when they threatened to light that woman on fire if she didn’t take off her hijab, and whose righteous fury was kindled when those Latino kids were harassed by classmates, and who heard and understood the sobs and anger and fear that overtook so many of us this week. This felt like a Sunday where we needed to go to church to cry and hug each other and say “I felt exactly that, too” and “tell me how you felt, because I want to understand,” and where we all needed to sing the hymns in minor keys and testify simply of Christ and the depth and breadth of His love, and then roll up our sleeves and go out and let our faith motivate us to do something real.
But church was per usual today, and that didn’t surprise me, or sadden me even, really. Today my heart was in knots and my resolve felt dead, and I know all that must be worked out and healed with forgiveness and compassion and humility. But today, I also realized that the strength to do those things won’t come from but despite church. That those are things I will need to bring WITH me to church, eventually, as I again pick up the exhausting work of figuring out how to effectively express difference in a place that isn’t always kind or listening to that kind of thing.
But today, I couldn’t.