Ah! Turn Me Not Away
On Sunday morning I flipped through picture after picture of women being turned away from the doors of our worship places. The Mormon Tabernacle choir sung in the background. Tears streamed down my face; many of those women are my friends. All are my sisters.
I have performed this song countless times but the cry remains with me always. Hear Thou my cry.
When I was 18 I swallowed two pills that changed my relationship to God. Growing up as a young, Mormon girl I knew without a doubt that God was my friend. I felt Their presence in my life and I strived to be worthy of it. When my thyroid gland malfunctioned and threatened to take my life I felt them holding my hands and promising me it would be ok. Those pills obliterated my thyroid, saving my life, but they also brought a brick wall crashing down between me and God.
When I came out on the other side of my illness it felt as if God had abandoned me. I stood at the door of the wall and knocked. I begged. I screamed. I pounded until my fists were bloody. Hear Thou my cry. But They never answered.
Answer me from Thy Throne, Haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid. Thy pity show in my deep anguish.
Sometimes I hear God whispering through the wall. I whisper back, “Hear Thou my cry. Help me!” Every so often They send me visitors who wait with me at the wall. Though sometimes I slump on the door frame or lie down on the step, I am determined to wait. I will not be turned away. I want to be there if the door opens.
Shield me in danger, O regard me! On Thee, Lord, alone will I call.
I know what it is to be turned away. I know that pain. I, also, am guilty of turning away my sisters and brothers. I allow fear or arrogance into my heart. Sometimes I foolishly believe that I am exceptional, that I have nothing in common with those standing directly in front of me. I forget that we all can speak a common language of love and inclusion. That it was our Mother, our Father and Brother who whispered that love into our hearts, hoping we would remember it always.
Oh the pain that we inflict on one another because we forget.
O Divine Redeemer! I pray Thee grant me pardon, and remember not, remember not my sins. Forgive me, O Divine Redeemer!
Many in our community are hurting from this rejection. The wound is fresh and raw. Hear Thou my cry. It is natural for those on both sides to lash out in fear and anguish. Our instinct is to steel our hearts and turn away from those who seem to be against us. I did not participate in the Ordain Women action for many personal reasons and even I have felt scorned for this. It is human to protect our vulnerabilities from others and I validate that need.
Night gathers round my soul; Fearful, I cry to Thee; Come to mine aid, O Lord! Haste Thee, Lord, haste to help me!
There is much from this weekend to mourn. There were talks by some of our leaders that felt like a slap in the face and tears sprung to our eyes. It is impossible to look at the faces of our sisters being turned away and not want to weep for their pain. The words and images of this conference still sting on our faces and in our hearts. Hear Thou my cry.
But there are also moments to celebrate. Words of inclusion that are balm to deep, soul wounds. A strengthening sisterhood. And the knowledge that at least our cries are being heard, though not understood.
Hear my cry! Save me, Lord, in Thy mercy!
Let all of us remember in the days and weeks to come that our God and our Saviour would want us to approach each other with open hearts. With Love. Let us remember that differences of opinion are not a mortal sin but a chance for dialog. That the act of listening is an act of creation. Creation of thought. Of voice. Of common ground. Of Love. Let us speak the language of our Parents.
Help me, my Saviour!