I Hope You Stay
It’s not very politically correct these days in the feminist or progressive Mormon community to make a plea like this. We’re expected to honor every woman in the place she stands, to wish her well wherever she goes. And I do. I also want to be able to say what’s in my heart and on my mind.
Political correctness has never been my strong suit. And I’m not sure how to say this except in very simple words. I could say I’m asking out of love, but that may not be entirely true. Except that I love this church. With all its sexist, puritanical, hierarchical insanity, I love it. And I love you too. People like you are making Mormonism better, so even if it’s selfish of me to expect you to listen, I’m going to come out and say it anyway:
Please don’t go.
Can I help you?
How can I help you?
What can I do to help you stay?
If you’re thinking of leaving Mormonism, please reconsider.
Maybe none of this matters to you anymore. Maybe you’ve reached the breaking point or your therapist has advised you to go. Maybe your wounded heart or your guardian angels are leading you away for your own good. And what can I say to that?
What if you’re having digestive problems, anxiety, or insomnia? What if you and your believing, active, conservative Mormon parents (who fear for your eternal welfare) will never find lasting peace, and you can’t live that way any more? What if you can’t be authentic if you stay?
What can I say about your unanswered pleas for greater understanding, inclusion, and equality from your religious home?
What if Joseph Smith was weird and Brigham Young was an egomaniac?
What if God has told you that no matter where you go or what you do, you will be loved and cherished; that it isn’t necessary for you to stay in order to receive his grace and salvation?
I don’t know what’s best for you. I have no idea. It’s not my business. That’s between you and God. But I do know what is best for this Church. I’m convinced, confirmed, inexorably bound to my belief that the Church needs you in it.
I wish I could offer a universal formula for how to do this in your unique circumstance. I can only tell you what worked for me: Look for Jesus. Find him or let Him find you. Invite him into your Gethsemane because He’s there already–waiting for you–in the moment when you think you can’t take it any longer.
Maybe you’ll tell me, “That’s easy for you to say” or “It’s not that simple.”
Well, you know what? It isn’t easy for me to say. I may take a lot of flak for it. And it is that simple. If anyone can help you stay, Jesus can. And if anyone can give comfort if you choose to go, He can. And if you do go, I hope you come back some time and bring all you’ve learned and all you’ve become, because the Church needs that.
So, I’ll say it again, because the body of Christ is made up of its members and you are one of those members, through which the perfect beauty of that body is manifested. Please don’t go.
I hope you stay.
[I want to respond to the painful and beautifully articulated comments below. I will be attending a Mormon Women’s History symposium all day Saturday, August 9th. But I’ll respond as I am able on Sunday. Thanks to each of you for your amazing souls and your moving words.]