I Hope You Stay

Posted by on August 8, 2014 in Acceptance, Belief, faith, Friendship, hope, Jesus, suffering, women | 59 comments

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:

I hope you stay.crazyquiltjanicevaine

 

Please stay.

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.]

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59 Comments

  1. Yes, please stay.

    • :) Thanks, Joanna.

  2. Melody, I totally understand this plea. I too wish that my wonderful, thoughtful, feminist friends would stay and help make the church better. (Though I will be PC and add that I do, however, totally honor them in their choices and understand if their personal pain and dislocation is too great to do so.)

    I love these lines. “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 with you, because the Church needs that.” Beautiful.

    • Caroline, you are a good soul and I’m grateful you’re here. Thank you for being a woman who reaches out in all directions to hold hands with her sisters. Where ever we are. God bless you, friend.

  3. I definitely thing the church will go decades behind if too many Mormon progressive leave. And it will be too lonely for those who stay who definitely will confirm the presumption of the mainstream mormons that “these people are such a small group”.

    However, I do realize that sometimes it is impossible to find healing in the same environment where you get hurt. Always thinking of what is best for the church, doesn’t necessary lead to fulfilled lives and full hearts. It is important to give time to oneself to heal, to re-evaluate and recharge. If we get too many wounded people that keep attending the church but their hearts are not there, no one will benefit, including the Church. What we need is people who have taken time to heal and are at a better place emotionally and spiritually. There is a lot of wisdom (and pain) that comes from this process and it can benefit the church too in the long run.

    • Amen. Well said. Thank you for your comment.

  4. If only the church felt the same way as you do. Sure sometimes they say the right words, but they only want me to stay to the extent that they can force me to be someone I’m not. I’m in the church to the extent that it accepts me, but it has a cultural climate that prevents me from being who I really am. The church forbids the real me from staying and only allows a pretend me to stay. If you want me in the church, you need to get the church to allow the real me there with my values and uncorrelated knowledge.

    • Amen Sibling Anon.

      I WANT to stay. My greatest dream is to find a home in the LDS Church. I’ve tried to find that home, for years. I’ve stayed well past when I should have left because I agree, the Church needs people like me, people like all of us. It needs diversity of thought, person, and belief. But the Church as an institution doesn’t want me and it makes its disregard more apparent every single day.

      I want to stay but my spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health are my higher priority. I’ve sacrificed enough. Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to return.

      • Anon and Megan, Thank you for being here and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate and respect every woman or man wherever they may be – in or out of the church. We are all sisters and brothers.

  5. I’ve said it before….may do a wall sampler….that’s the really Mormon Woman….you can’t change the church from the outside….that the really feminist Mormon….

    • I don’t think that’s true. The church has made it abundantly clear that it Does. Not. Mean. to change and it does not mean to accommodate people who insist it change. It’s my opinion that being long-suffering about it will not make a bit of difference.

      The only way to change this church is to leave. To leave and take our tithes, our endless hours of service and our children with us. Then, maybe, empty chairs in sacrament meetings and Relief Society will help the leadership and the body of saints understand that only by changing can the church continue to grow.

      One day, if the change is profound enough and sincere enough, that’s when we might be able to come back.

      • Well said. Thank you.

      • Thank you, Melody, for a beautifully written entry.

    • Kitty, wall-samplers-R-us! Great idea. Here’s hoping for change sooner than later. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Beautiful. Amen.

    • Thank you, Sara.

  7. Melody, I this (and you) so much. But I can’t stay. I won’t give you flak for asking me to. In fact, I’ll thank you from the deepest part of my soul for asking me to stay.

    Thank you for asking me to stay when so many have indirectly asked me to leave, when so many have told me that there is no room for people who are like me, who feel and think as I do, to stay. Those are just those members of the church making comments on the blogs, on the local news stories. Those are the members of my ward who speak up in Relief Society and may not know that I’m sitting right there next to them as they treat people like me as “other” and dismiss us entirely. There are the messages from PR and our leaders.

    But I am not going because they asked me to. But I can’t stay because you asked me to, either.

    I stayed for a long time because I thought I could make a change. I stayed because I wanted to be a missionary for Christ and show that I was feminist because of, and not in spite of, my faith. I thought this was important, hard work.

    But I can’t. I can’t keep fighting. I have no fight left. I physically can’t stay. Not even for my Mormon feminist friends, who are my community and my people, as much as I’ve ever had a community and people to call my own.

    I have to leave because I no longer see this as my fight. Because I have lost any hope that there is a God out there who intervenes in our lives. If I can’t be faithful, then I can’t fight. I just can’t do it without faith. Show me an impassioned Mormon feminist writer/blogger/activist, and I’ll show you a woman of tremendous faith – faith in God, faith in her Church leaders, faith in her community, and faith in herself.

    I’m not her anymore. I’m someone else. Someone who lives in a system that doesn’t make sense, where there are leaders who act as though the ends justify the means, where every decision–down to funding BYU tuition with tithing–has a cost-benefit analysis done in tithing dollars, where ROI is routinely calculated, but a bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush. Where the majority tramples the minority.

    Joanna Brooks wrote in her memoir, “I felt my church turn away from me, and it was a kind of death to me.” But Mormon or not, theist or not, I believe that death is essential for new growth. And I intend to die and grow in this process.

    I don’t know where I’m going, but these things I’ll take with me: compassion, empathy, grace, and altruism. A heart to work out injustice. A strong sense of my impact on others. A love for these lovely, amazing people. To quote Joanna again, this time from a different work, “How wonderful it is to have a people to love.”

    • That was supposed to say, “I *love* this (and you) so much.” And sorry, I had no idea my comment would be that long.

      • Thank you for responding so eloquently. This is how I feel.

    • I love you, Alisa. And this post, Melody.

      And I, too, and done. I read something in the book *Cutting for Stone* this week that reminded me of the church. Something about how “home” (which is how I’ve long felt about Mormonism) isn’t where we come from; it’s where people want us.

      And I know, now, that the Mormon church doesn’t want me. It’s not even up for debate. Church leaders (and many members) have made it abundantly clear to me.

      There are other places that do want me. I just don’t have the bandwidth to keep banging my head against the wall, year after year after year, hoping for a different outcome that will never come.

      I have lost all hope in the (institutional) church. I need to take my hope elsewhere.

      • No doubt, your hope is a gift where ever you take it. You are a gift and thank you for adding your voice here. I love your voice.

        I feel there is a Church of Christ within the LDS institution, made up of the institution’s members. This Church, this true inner church, is where I belong. That’s how I see it, anyway. In time, the rest will fall away because corrupted, hierarchal, power-based structures can’t endure. Only the fellowship of Christ will remain – the love and light and goodness – eventually. That is partly why I can stay. And all of this will likely come to fruition long after you and I are gone.

        Also, I believe what I wrote: “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 where you are with Christ as God, but I believe the Savior follows us, remains with us whenever we want him to. He has power to do his work in us and through us, in or out of whatever organization we find ourselves. Thank you again, hkobeal. Thank you for being here.

    • Alisa-I didn’t know you were at this point. Thank you for expressing this so perfectly. I understand. I love you too. And take as long as you want – to write a comment and or to move where you need to move. Where love is, there God is also. God is with us here, sister.

  8. I love this. Thank you for the beautifully simple and heartfelt words. They are balm to the soul of someone who often feels “unwanted unless…”

    • You are wanted as you are. By me and many, many others. Thank for for your comment.

  9. I love this post, and I love you for writing it. However, I do find it interesting how seldom faith/belief comes into the picture in discussions on staying/going. John Dehlin recently asked on his wall for the reasons people stay or go- community, family pressure, desire to change the church, hope- but no one thought to mention belief until many many comments in.

    I don’t stay because I don’t believe. When I stayed, I stayed because I did believe, not because I could make a difference, not because of the community, not because of hope for the future- those made it EASIER to stay, certainly, but in the end, I can’t control my belief, and that is what makes or breaks my relationship with the church. When I had belief, I also disagreed with so many things that hurt me, but I stayed anyways. When my belief went away, all I was left with were the parts that had hurt me.

    Some stay despite nonbelief- I don’t understand how, because the cognitive dissonance makes me literally feel ill. Some leave despite belief, and try to be mormon on their own- some succeed, but many fail. I definitely don’t think anyone who DOES believe should feel they have to be alone.

    I simply cannot will myself to believe the restoration happened, or that the priesthood is a real, eternal, exclusive, necessary power. Church history (and current leaders’ actions) have taken that option of belief away from me. Because of the evidence- empirical and spiritual- I have now been exposed to, I can no longer belief in the BoM, Priesthood, Temple Covenants, or Restoration Narrative any more than I can believe the sky is green. Maybe someday the evidence will change again and my faith can be more flexible. I’m not closed to that idea.

    So many people have entreated me to stay, have told me to have faith… but no one tells me how to believe in something that feels so wrong to me now, that I feel God wants me to set aside.

    I don’t want to nitpick, because I loved this post and know your sincerity. But a few lines actually hurt: “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.”
    I’m glad He was there for you. I am. But you have to realize that experience is not universal. Many who have left have tried so hard to do JUST that- to look for Christ, to accept His answers. And while I did not sense an ounce of accusation or assumption from you, it IS something I’ve heard so much- “if you had just focused more on christ”, “if you had just prayed more”, ” if you had just read your scriptures and had more patience”. The implication in all of these is that I didn’t try hard enough, I didn’t want it badly enough, I didn’t focus on the right things. When in fact, I did, I just got different answers.

    I don’t know why He answers some, and others (like me) He seems to do His best to show that a literal belief in His divinity and atonement is not needed. Maybe whatever divine being is pulling the strings just knows that I personally do best without the atonement, that it had been a weight on me rather than a support, so he told me- my frail, mortal self- what I needed to hear. I don’t know. But I do know that spiritual experience is so incredibly subjective, that we simply cannot guarantee our route will work for anyone else. Mormonism had not been a good fit for me, it was not helping me be my best self, so God helped me shed my belief. Whereas I know people who DO become their best selves in and because of Mormonism, and God helps build their belief.

    So I reach across the aisle and give you a hug. I love you sisters who stay. I love your strength and I love that you are making the church better for my family who still believes, whether they appreciate you or not. But realize that asking me to stay, without telling me HOW to believe again (despite spiritual promptings NOT to)… there is no where to go from there.

    • Also, I saw the pingback from http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.com/and thought it was the OTHER wellbehavedmormonwoman at blogspot,and I got REALLY confused. ;)

    • Jenn – Thank you for taking time to share your experience and to articulate your thoughts. That means a lot to me. You have expounded on points I only touched upon, including the uniqueness of each person’s search for God and spirituality. Your personal affirmations from the divine are beautiful. Thank you again for those words.

      One of the most problematic things for me in responding to your experience – and the subtle question at the end about faith – is that the words I use will sound just like what you always heard in church. The words are the same, although they come from me. And I have been into the pit. I have climbed my own mountain. I have doubted and railed and sobbed and raged and all of it. So, when you suggest that my supplication for you (or anyone else) to stay, lacks the tools you need to re-grow faith, I will say that if you even have a desire to believe, then let that desire work in you . . . see what I mean? Those words may not work for you at all. But I am sincere in saying them.

      Because I believe in Christ’s atonement and because that is where I found a savior I will offer that to whomever wants to believe. It is a good offering. But, as I said in the post and as you re-stated, “I do know that spiritual experience is so incredibly subjective, that we simply cannot guarantee our route will work for anyone else.” Indeed, there may not be a universal answer if the universal offering of Christ’s atonement is not real for you. And, believe it or not, I actually understand that and honor it as your truth.

      I love that you would share your very personal experience and feelings here. Every woman’s journey is a jewel to me personally. Every story matters. Every one. So, thank you again. And thank you for your generosity about this post, given your painful experiences in the past.

    • How to believe…great question. Here’s my take on it. In my personal journey, there are three componants to my “testimony”. Each is necessary and separate, yet also dependent upon and reinforcing toward the others.

      The first is rational, intellectual thought. Things have to make sense to me on that level or I find them hard to reconcile and account for. Frankly, if things don’t get through this filter I struggle with the rest. Study and hard work in many good books make this possible for me. I have found that the more I come to comprehend the world around me, the greater my comprehension of the gospel and what it means.

      The second is spiritual sensitivity. I don’t quite know how to describe it, except that I have this constant sense of something more, something greater, some moving force in my life which is always (or mostly always) there. It brings me a sense of purpose, and calls me to be more than I am. I cultivate this as best I can by seeking it out. I pray for it. I look for it. I expect it. Maybe it’s all in my mind, but everything’s all in my mind, so it seems real enough. It is a lens, perhaps “the” lens through which I view the world around me. I truly believe that it provides perspective on the things that I study, and brings peace at times when no other answers come.

      Finally, there is what I call my experiential side. It’s my petrie dish for testing the things I think I know, or principles I’ve been taught to believe, in the real world. Do my beliefs test out? After I’ve made my oblations, paid my dues, and magnified my calling, what? Do the blessings flow? Do the miracles happen? Are there things I cannot account for with my rational, logical, intellectual mind? Are my prayers answered?

      So here’s how this works in my life. I read the Book of Mormon. I don’t just casually read it. I dive in. I study it. I read what others have gleaned from it. Over and over again, I ask in my rational mind whether it makes sense. I marvel at its complexities, its literary construct, and its consistencies. I study geographies, cultures, history, and ancient things. I ponder what it might have been like to witness its coming forth. I study the many accounts of eyewitnesses, and I ponder their credibility. And yes, I especially revel in and benefit from those who deplore it, those who dismiss it as mere fiction or fantasy. They stir me to ask the hard questions, and look at things in ways I might not otherwise. They also bless me.

      Along the way, I’m also seeking to feel the spirit of the book–trying to peel back layer upon layer of insight as I yearn for greater understanding. In this pursuit, I’m looking for principles, for things that the authors intended to communicate to me in the here and now. To do this, I often have to get into the right spirit myself. Prayer helps. Then I try to put those things into practice. I try to live by what I read. As I do, I come to know in a deeper, more subtle way that it is true.

      What I have found is that each of these three dimensions of my journey serve a purpose. Without an intellectual / rational underpinning for my belief, I’m not sure the Spirit alone would suffice. Yet without the Spirit’s refining influence, I’m not sure a purely intellectual pursuit would be all that appealing. And in the end, if this entire effort did not manifest in real-world, undeniable miracles, blessings, and personal witnesses, then I also would wonder whether any of it mattered at all. For me, belief is a practical pursuit with literal, tangible fruits.

      That’s how I believe. Godspeed in your quest to find your way.

    • What a beautiful post. Thank you Jenn for expressing this side too. I want to go back to where I did believe in the restoration but I simply don’t anymore. When you wrote “When I had belief, I also disagreed with so many things that hurt me, but I stayed anyways. When my belief went away, all I was left with were the parts that had hurt me.” that resonated with me to my very core. There were so many things about the church that I loved that made me crazy, that I couldn’t accept. I finally decided that I had to set those aside and focus my energy on whether the restoration really took place. That’s where it all fell apart for me. The extreme pain comes from losing all the good parts of the church that I love so much, the community, the selfless service. It’s in my DNA all the way back to Kirtland. I don’t know who I am if I’m not Mormon because my entire life and the choices I’ve made have been based on that belief. It’s a devastating place to be.
      Melody, I really appreciate the door you have left open. I hope someday I can return and partake of the good parts that I miss so much. I know it won’t be the same because of my unbelief , but it’s where “my people” are.

      • Laurie- thank you for being here and for sharing your experience. I wish you ongoing peace, where ever you are. Your comment and others are so important. The pain is real and terrible. I appreciate you taking time to share. And thank you for your kindness toward me.

    • Jenn nailed my experiences exactly. Without belief, it just doesn’t work. I tried to just focus on Christ, but the LDS church doesn’t just do that. It is so much bigger that than, and I can no longer support it. We left over a month ago, and our family feels peace.

      • Thanks for sharing this. I wish for every woman to find peace in her life. Blessings to you and yours.

  10. Melody, thank you for writing these honest, sincere words. I have that same hope that the people I love will stay, and the same understanding, that many can’t. The pews are getting so lonely, and so many of the richest, most insightful, and thoughtful voices are quiet. It hurts and hurts again.

    The last thing that I will say here, is that I want to be a safe space and a home space. I wish that I could sit together with the HKOBEALs of the world and share bread. We all need welcoming.

    • Amen, Rachel. Amen.

  11. “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.”

    I really needed to hear that right now. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

    • I appreciate you taking time to comment here. So glad this helps. God bless.

  12. Had a tough day. Watched a Nightline special on Warren Jeffs and the FLDS and I was horrified at all the parallels our faiths have. I belong to a cult. It’s a cult in which I feel the Spirit, grow closer to the Savior, and have an enriching community. I love so many parts of Mormonism. But it really is a cult and I don’t want to be duped. I feel duped sometimes. Ya know?

    But when KK was exed and I went to the temple (something I rarely do — too much trauma) in anguish seeking something, anything from God, He was there. He told me through the Spirit that this is His church and He wants me in it. He told me to be patient and the reward would be amazing. I felt relief, relief that God was in this Church and He was giving me encouragement. But I also felt weariness. Because He told me to stay and be patient. And even though He promised me an amazing reward, I knew the journey would be filled with maddening patriarchy.

    But I stay. There is more good than bad for me in Mormonism. But it’s not easy. If you can, stay with me, so I don’t have to be alone in this beautiful, backwards faith.

    • Thanks for your voice. And for taking time to share your experience here. I hope you have a nice and peaceful day today. :)

  13. As far as I can tell, I’m the only male to post on this, so I feel like I’m treading on sacred ground, but I had a few thoughts that might be helpful to some that I’d like to share.

    First, I’d just like to preface this by saying how deeply moved I was to read the heart-felt and tender comments above. I truly hope my comments are received in the same spirit of unity and love.

    My first thought is that, as hard as it may be in the moment, going away isn’t always bad. I’ve had immediate family members excommunicated, who spent years–decades even, outside the Church, only to find their way back–this time in the right way, or at least in a different way, for the right reasons. Ask them, and they will say it was the best thing that ever happened to them. To be sure, being outside the Church for any period of time without the full measure of covenant blessings has its risks. But it also brings with it something that head-down constancy often cannot–perspective. Life is a journey, and some of us need time and distance to put things into focus. One thing is certain, as Melody has so eloquently stated, there will always be a loving and tender welcome extended to those who choose to come back, and even to those who leave while they’re away.

    My second thought as I was reading was to reflect on the account in John 6 where Christ teaches the people some doctrines pertaining to his own divinity that were “hard to hear” and offended many to such an extent that they left him. They actually left Him. It is a marvel to me that people of good will and faith could be so blind as to be right there with the Savior himself, walking, watching, feeling of his love, and yet turn their backs on him and leave. But they did. Upon observing this, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “Will ye also go away?” to which Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life.” So I would humbly pose a few questions to those of you who feel constrained to leave: How do you think those ancient disciples who turned their backs on Christ because of the confusion in their own hearts feel now? Now that time and experience (death?) have shed a brighter light on truth, how do they feel now about their actions then? Justified? Rewarded? In a better place?

    To be clear, I’m saying if you feel constrained to go anyway, then godspeed. We love you more than you know, and pray for you to find peace and to someday return. But also know this as you leave. Going away won’t make the Book of Mormon any less true. It is, you know. Nor will it make Joseph any less of a true prophet. He was. In my life, I have found safety and peace in sticking with the fundamentals while also taking stock of the fact that there are many more issues out there to be dealt with–at some point, in some way. Tolerance and patience are godly virtues that bring peace.

    Here’s my point. We don’t know much about a lot of things, and one of the things we don’t know much about is why God appears to have set things up the way he has with patriarchy, priesthood, and all. Some of the things he has to say are hard things. Some do not comport with our modern egalitarian views. Someday I hope to ask him about all that. Seems to me there might have been a better way, with opportunities for more inclusion and less alienation. I don’t know why He did what He did or why we don’t know enough about Her. At least not now. But not having all the answers is a fundamental aspect of our humanity, of not knowing the end from the beginning, and of our mortal probation here. I’m OK with that.

    • I appreciate this comment, Kirk. I imagine many, like myself, agree that going away isn’t always bad. You obviously care about this and I appreciate you articulating your feelings and your testimony. You tried to create a soft landing for the reader. I’m not sure it worked though. I’ll be honest with you, this comment feels like a sermon at several points. The aroma of privilege comes through pretty strongly too. I hope you will consider altering your approach when commenting in this forum in the future. Nevertheless, thank you for adding your voice. Take care and have a lovely day. [If you would like clarification about how to adjust your approach here, please send me a note at melody(dot)new(at)gmail(dot)com.]

  14. Melody thank you for opening up this space with a warm and heartfelt invitation to stay. So many comments in the thread resonate with me. I’m struggling to find Jesus in the LDS meetings I attend. Too many Sundays I feel like I’m attending the church of gender roles. No one is lighting up actual candles for ovaries or penises, but symbolically…. Just ugh! Please can we talk about being like Jesus instead of making idols of gender roles? Please!!!
    I’m so used to Mormon Church. It is what I know. I don’t want to go anywhere else. But at some level I think that if I were braver I would follow Jesus right out of my faith into a more Christian and loving religious life path.

    • Amen, sister! I feel your pain. Maybe especially here in the U.S. it feels like a lot of focus is put on peripheral matters. It felt very different when I visited Fiji to spend time with my daughter at the end of her mission. Thank heavens for good souls who live in the heart of Christianity. Thank you for saying this. And for staying. Have a lovely Sabbath.

  15. Thank you for this post, Melody. I, personally, needed to read this. I am staying simply because it isn’t time to go and I don’t know if it ever will. For my own emotional health I gave up the idea that the church will change and even that it wants me to be a part of it’s body–although it helps that my current congregation really does. So yes, I am staying but it doesn’t make the decision an easy one. I am grateful, however, to have your testimony that Jesus, our brother, will make the burden light. That I can turn to him and that at least in my small way I can make the church better.

    These comments though, they make me want to weep until all the water and salt my body can expend is gone. These are my sisters. I cannot even begin to articulate the wound that has been done to them, to me and to our community. How? How could we have allowed this to happen? It is soul piercing and I am not sure we will ever recover.

    • Mraynes, the pain is tangible. Your pain is tangible. This post was hard to write. Reading the comments and connecting with my sisters’ pain is harder. (understatement-your words about water and salt say it well) Thanks for being willing to add your voice, both painful and hopeful. Thank you for being here.

  16. I’m trying to react to this kindly, since I know the intentions are kind, and intentions matter. But I already looked to Jesus. My relationship with Jesus is fine, but it was only after I left that I found him. I think so many problems would be solved if we stopped talking in world-truths and generalizations. And yes, I know you tried to do that in the beginning of your post, but it was so quick to end with a universal call (I hope you stay/The church is better with you in it) and I don’t do universal calls anymore.

    I wish we would say, “I hope there is a place for you to stay in the church if you want to.”

    And I strongly disagree that the idea that the “church is better with me in it.” The church doesn’t need the Mormon version of me because the Mormon version of me is dead. No one needs a corpse.

    But when I left I left alive, and I can do more alive than I ever could dead.

    • Stephanie, thank you for your honesty. It’s difficult to communicate everything one wants to communicate in an online forum. If you and I were well-acquainted you would feel this post as a personal call.

      As it is, I hope there is a place for you (and everyone else) who can or wants to be in the church. I also hope my voice would help to make that place.

      “The church doesn’t need the Mormon version of me because the Mormon version of me is dead. No one needs a corpse.” Beautifully stated. I get it. God bless and thanks again for your comment.

  17. I read a post by a gentleman on a blog recently that referred to the time he spent on the Internet discussing the church at length with other brothers and sisters who are struggling, as being better than sunday in gospel doctrine class. Your thoughtful post has touched me. I thank you for that.
    l have been more spiritually fed while on my own journey through thoughtful and uncensored Internet postings by likeminded saints whose newfound knowledge has seen them ridiculed, persecuted and abandoned by church friends and family. Thank you for your kind loving words of support.l can tell that you’re trying to understand.
    Seeing as l haven’t been to my ward in 18 months, you would think that l have left the church. Not yet. While on the cusp, l’m still hanging on.
    I cannot deny my own personal revelations. I cannot deny the spirit. I cannot deny the testimony and sacrifice of my ancestors. But knowledge has killed my testimony. What are we supposed to do with all of the evidence of Joseph Smith’s transgressions. (Not to mention Brigham Young) throw into the mix all the covering up the church has done, excommunications to silence, outright lying to us. My world has been shattered, as nothing else could have hurt so….and l am sad. So sad. I still pray, and love the Lord with every ounce of my being….but where do we honestly go from here?
    Until, (and if ever) the church is a safe environment to speak truths, then l choose to stay away.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience, Marianne.

  18. Melody, thank you for this. I haven’t been to church in almost 2 months now. I needed some space. And that space has shown me that I DO want to be part of the church; I miss my spiritual home. My hesitation in going back is that I’m not sure the church wants me (as so many here have expressed), or that I can safely share my authentic voice. Your post, and being part of this community, really helps. Thank you for putting your honest self out here for us.

    Navigating faith is such a personal, scary, beautiful, challenging, exhausting, strengthening thing. There are so many contradictions, and it’s so different for every person. Your post has really made me think about the ‘why’ of it all. Why would/should I stay? Why would/should I leave. The answer all comes down to Christ I guess. It can be hard to separate our needs from what He wants for us. And I do still have faith that He wants the best for us. I love this: “If anyone can help you stay, Jesus can. And if anyone can give comfort if you choose to go, He can.”

    Thank you for this thought provoking post!

  19. Thank you, Melody. I appreciate your sincerity in wanting us to stay, especially right now, when so many seem determined to push us out.

    • April, I respect you and admire your courage. Thank you for the strength you bring to the MoFem community.

  20. I don’t know many of you. I have bumped into your words on other blogs and forums, so I can place you and your names/pictures. The past 6 years has taken me down the same road most of you have shared. I am still torn, tossed about, and deeply unstable. So far from the assured LDS gal I once thought I was. The past months have hit my heart like an atomic bomb. The Scarlett Lettering of sisters, and a few brothers, is just illness creating. I rage, I sulk, I shout at heaven. I also still attend. And every week as I walk in the double glass doors I look at my image reflected there and tell myself and those who have already left – “I am here to day for all of us.”

    I can’t answer any of the pain. Sometimes I just want to roll in a ditch and die from the agony. The silence or few words I speak, defies the monologues I would love to give to my ward members, male leaders and believing friends and family. Not to retaliate, but to open eyes to the continual pain they inflict. Right now though, it will do no good. So I wait – Like Juanita Brooks, who continued to attend, even as her ward rejected her because of her book on Mt. Meadows Massacre.

    But I don’t attend purposelessly or in my old purpose, I attend because I hope to bring Jesus Christ – and his message back to the church. And though my only gift toward that may be my physical presence in the metal chairs in the back row. I will be there. Heaven will hold record of it. While I sit on those chairs, all of you sit with me. I call them bench buddies. Lavina Anderson was my first buddy, but we are becoming quite a crowd. Each of you who need to walk away, I have noted your names, and will be keeping your seats warm in my bench. I also hope you don’t mind, but I will be taking the sacrament in proxy for you. Jan Shipps takes her communion in proxy for Lavina. It’s a symbolic gesture of our inter relationship.

    I don’t even know most of you – but we’ve bumped shoulders on this things called internet – and I thank you. God speed where ever your journey takes you. May light surround you as you go.

    Thanks Melody for opening the doors to these conversations.

    • These are wonderful thoughts and images. Thanks for being part of the conversation. And for your good heart.

  21. Melody, this is exactly what keeps me strong and keeps me at church. We need to hear more pleas like this to stay. I hope with all my heart that we will start hearing this from the church, but for now I am grateful to hear it from beautiful souls like you in my feminists community. Right now we’re all we’ve got so we need to encourage and support each other. Thank you for your beautiful post!

    • Jenny, you are one of the strongest and most gentle women I know. I feel blessed to have met you. And grateful for your influence in the world, in the Church, especially. Thank you for being who you are. And thanks for your kind remarks here.

  22. Thanks for this, Melody. I agree. I hope as many people as possible who are hurt by the sexism in the Church can stay and make it better. I completely get that for many people this isn’t possible, but for selfish reasons (it will make things easier for me!) I hope people who can stay do stay.

    • Amen, Ziff.

  23. I want to want to stay. I want to find Christ, and strength in Him, despite the Church. I have to find a way to shelve my dissonance, the digs, and stay for the good, find it. It has worn me down for so long, so I have to find a way to stay.

    • Scoopy, thank you for being here. Stay if you can. We can sit by each other. . .

      Your comment makes me wonder how many are around us in the pews, but who can’t come out and say this. Thank you again. I hope with all my heart you find what works for you. In the meantime, me and others are here if you need us.

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