I spent most of the day yesterday refreshingly offline thinking all was right in the world. The news of Kate Kelly’s and John Dehlin’s disciplinary councils finally hit me with full force a couple hours late, as I haphazardly glanced at my phone while stirring noodles for dinner. Somehow dinner made it off the stove and into my kid’s mouths. From there my ability to fulfill anymore household duties waned as my kids ran amuck outside and I sat at my computer in shock at what had happened.
Earlier in the day, my girls and I were listening to the new Frozen CD that had come in the mail. I watched as they danced around the living room singing, “Let it Go.” Even my two-year-old twirled along with them singing, “Go, Go, Go.” As I watched them, I marveled at the beauty they exhibited by dancing freely and singing a song of empowerment. Then I was saddened by a thought. Disney has done more to empower my girls lately than my church has. Disney has given them the right to openly be who they are and embrace their power, not to conceal it or to be afraid of it.
I think that’s why the news of Kate Kelly and John Dehlin hit me so hard. Here in essence, the church was telling them to stop being so vocal about their questions. It’s not wrong to have questions, but keep them to yourself or discuss them only with your bishop. Conceal don’t feel, right? Or if you have to feel, at least keep it to yourself. The euphoria I felt earlier from watching my daughters dance around the room was definitely gone.
As I was mulling over all of this, a message popped up on facebook. A distant friend had heard the news and was reaching out to me because he knew that I was involved with Ordain Women. We had a good, long discussion about it and he told me that he had harbored a lot of deep questions for years. I was the only one he felt that he could talk to about it. I knew that feeling well. I thought back to a time when I felt like my faith and my whole existence were crashing down around me. It was John Dehlin and Dan Wotherspoon from Mormon Stories and Mormon Matters who had caught me in their safety net and helped me to put the shattered pieces of my faith back together. I pointed my friend toward their podcasts, knowing full-well the irony of what was happening.
Because Kate Kelly spoke loudly about her questions and her truth, I was able to do so as well. Because I did, my friend was reaching out to me with a lonely struggle he had dealt with for years. Because I’ve been in that lonely place myself, I knew where to direct him. I knew about a community started by John Dehlin that embraced me with open arms and helped my faith to blossom and expand. But because of the work of these two people, they are branded as apostates. If that is apostasy, then I feel more comfortable around apostates than I do in a church that fears people who speak out. If it weren’t for them, I would never have known that I wasn’t alone in my own feelings and thoughts. If it weren’t for them, I would not have connected last night with a distant friend from my past who also thought he was alone in his feelings. Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are part of the solution, not the problem. I will echo many voices I heard throughout last evening: I am still part of this church because of people like them.