I’ll Stand Tall

A photo by Julia Caesar. unsplash.com/photos/asct7UP3YDEMy plan was to move to a new ward and never go this past January. I was tired of crying through the sacrament every Sunday since the November 6th policy was announced. I was tired of waking up in the morning with my first thought being, “Something awful happened,” and then, remembering what that was.

I went to some other churches, but I felt like I had been dumped and was cruising the bars looking for love. But, I didn’t want to go to bars, I just wanted my boyfriend, er, church, back.

My husband took the kids to Church without me, and then, I got called to be in Primary. I figured I could just do my calling–not learn anyone’s name and not like them (because I didn’t want new Mormon friends and I wanted the separation to be complete) until I figured out how to gracefully get out of said calling.

In our Primary, we have an amazing chorister, and she was teaching the kids a song she found in The Friend, “I’ll Stand Tall.”

As we learned the chorus, I started to cry.

I’ll stand tall! The Savior is beside me.
He’s always there to guide me.
I do not walk alone, I’ll stand tall!
His Spirit will direct me,
His loving arms protect me.
He’s on my side, so I can stand tall!

I have family members and friends who are affected by this policy. I didn’t (still don’t) know if I could be loyal to them and remain a member of the Church. I wanted to make the decision: in or out, active or inactive. But, that song reminded me of something I had forgotten. My Savior is always beside me, He knows me and will help me stand tall. This truth has been with me as I’ve learned another important truth over the past few months: He doesn’t actually care if I’m LDS.

At the Exponent retreat this year, one wise friend said, “The less I believe [about Mormonism], the more I hold on to what I do believe because it is so precious.” I’m slowly learning this. I can hold on to what I love about the Church. Labels defining activity don’t matter because the distinction about whether I’m in or out doesn’t matter to me or my God.

In the past couple years, I’ve clung to key doctrines about love, integrity, divine nature, and eternal progression that I learned in the Church, from my parents, from members of my tribe. But, I’ve let go of quite a few things, enough so that I don’t know if I’m really “in” or “out.” I’ve very recently come to believe that that distinction no longer matters. I don’t define my status in the Church by a checklist I follow (or don’t follow). And, it isn’t anyone else’s business to give me a label.

I’m learning to stand tall and trust my Savior, and I love the hopefulness in the final verse of “I’ll Stand Tall.”

When I face a challenge
That’s either great or small,
I’ll show my faith
And courage every day,
So I can stand tall!

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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13 Responses

  1. Emily U says:

    I love this, Emily. Your thoughts remind me of Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on Christianity without churches. I’ve been trying to reconnect with God this past year – it feels like trying to connect for the first time, really. And one of the questions I have for God is how he/she feels about the immense flowering of different religious beliefs in the world. I feel bad if people believe wrong things about me. Does it bother God if we don’t believe the right things about him? This is another way of asking if it matters where and with whom I worship. I feel like God is answering, I’m here and I want you to know me, and anything that connects us is OK by me.

  2. Katrina says:

    I love this. And I feel your bravery in sharing your heart gives others validation in feeling similarly. Thank you.

  3. Jenny says:

    Wow Emily CC, you’ve beautifully expressed the same process I’ve gone through in my own faith recently. As I struggled to be an active member, I would pray and meditate on what God wanted me to do about church. Every single time the answer came so clearly that God didn’t care whether I went to church or not. That has also made it easier for me to choose how to be mormon and be me, like you said, without worrying about how to label myself and how others will label me. I love that song and your thoughts about it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Heather says:

    Thank you. I find this deeply moving and I find your refusal to be either “all in” or “all out” refreshing. And I am not surprised that God is speaking to you thru primary songs. More than 20 years ago you introduced me to “I’ll Walk with You” which I’ve tried to use as my spiritual theme song. Glad to have another track for my divine mix tape.

  5. Chelsea says:

    It’s posts like this that remind me that Exponent II is for EVERY Mormon woman, regardless of her current label, status, or experience.

  6. Patty says:

    Thanks! Hang in there. I’m looking for the song!

  7. Andrew R. says:

    “I don’t define my status in the Church by a checklist I follow (or don’t follow).”

    I’m not convinced this is true. However, the checklist you use is defined by you also. And to an extent I am not sure that is a bad thing. There are very few fundamentals on the list of musts. Keeping the covenants being the highest, and often least defined. We all have to work out for ourselves, as you appear to be doing, what keeping them means to us, and in God’s view of us.

    ” And, it isn’t anyone else’s business to give me a label.”

    Nothing could be more true than this. And until people wake up to this idea I am afraid we will all live with the notion that we are judged – even if it isn’t always the case. But I would also say, don’t spend too much time trying to label yourself. You believe in God, you believe in His Plan – eternal progression. So, progress!

    “And we will prove them herewith”. I am not a believer in a God who spends His days sending trials. There are enough trials in mortality for us to get our fair share without God making them happen. Not to say that from time to time He doesn’t send specific things to specific people. For me the “policy” makes some sense, and doesn’t effect me, or my family. It has an effect on some people I know, but none that are making any waves about it. So it isn’t a trial for me. Clearly for you it is a huge issue, and a trial of your faith. That you can continue to serve is great, it is part of the Plan – things get in our way. There are things that the Church has done recently that are more of a challenge to me.

  8. Ziff says:

    Wonderful post, EmilyCC. Thanks so much for sharing this. I particularly love this conclusion you reached.

    “But, I’ve let go of quite a few things, enough so that I don’t know if I’m really “in” or “out.” I’ve very recently come to believe that that distinction no longer matters. ”

    Such an excellent point! It seems like there are a lot of people, both in more “in” and more “out” positions who would prefer a bright line so everyone can be categorized more easily. I really like your approach, though, where you hold on to the parts you love and don’t worry about other people’s desire to put a label on you.

  9. spunky says:

    Beautiful post, Emily CC. I’m also not sure that God cares if we are LDS or not.

  10. Violadiva says:

    My SP told me this joke a while ago:
    “Saint Peter was giving some new angels a tour of Heaven. As they approached a closed door in a hallway, they could hear laughing, music, children, merriment of all kinds. Saint Peter said, “Let’s just tiptoe quietly past this door and continue the tour.” The new angels said, “why? what’s going on behind that door?” Saint Peter replied, “Oh, it’s just the Mormons. They think they’re the only ones here.”

    Thanks, EmilyCC for sharing your vulnerability in this [safe-ish] place. Since we’re all in this life together for such a few short years, there’s just no time to divide ourselves, is there? There’s only Us and Us. <3

  11. Nancy Ross says:

    I love this – and I especially love the values that you still hold to. Certain beliefs about doctrine and dogma may not survive a faith transition, but our shared values are what’s important.

  12. Masako Barrowes says:

    Emily, Thank you for sharing this. I felt deeply connected with you as my attitude and struggles have been almost identical with yours. I have been wanted to be in or out but I am still dragging myself to church only to fulfill the responsibility in the primary/CTR5. The struggle continues but I read the book titled ‘God is not Christian’ by Desmond Tutu, a collection of his ministry, few years ago. After I read that book, I thought that it doesn’t matter if I go to this church or that church or this Shinto temple, or ladies prayer group locally. Because my belief or action doesn’t change just because I go to LDS or other church. It just hurts and heart aches when I see and hear the things I disbelieve are said from the pulpit. Then my instant thought would usually be, that’s it!! this is it! I am out of here! Then I come back and repeat the cycle. The cycle may continue until we see a change we hope in the church.

  13. Aimee says:

    I love what you shared here, Em. All of it.

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