Guest Post By Amelia Christensen.
Amelia likes podcasts, ripping up gardens, and whale watching. She has two beautiful, curious, and emotional boys with her husband, and aspires to work in the mental health sector. Her heroines are Daria, Emma Smith, and Audrey Hepburn.
At twenty-two years old life stretched before me full of hopes and dreams. I was sure about my future and how certain events would make me feel.
I dreamt of the callings I would be offered as I grew in age and experience. I imagined sending my two sons off on missions with pride and a few tears. I imagined my own mission: maybe my husband and I could be the temple president and matron one day. I could offer patrons the warmth of a smile and a hug. I could sweep through those sacred rooms with clumsy but willing steps. I could be the gentle Mother of that space.
Things break. Glass that is beautiful and strong can shatter into thousands of glittery pieces. A mighty gumtree can explode and blacken with the flames of a deadly bushfire in the hot Australian sun.
It wasn’t just one day or one event. It was two years of everything I’ve ever known becoming unrecognisable. A scary, disjointed figure, often brought on by “would God really do this?” The answer was mostly “no, I cannot believe that They could do this.”
God does not esteem men above women. I cried when I heard frontier women were traded like commodities and told their righteousness depended on their practice of polygamy, but I likewise wept tears of joy when I heard accounts of them giving healing blessings and advocating for the vote. This journey into my own feminism has come with questions. So many questions.
Why don’t we give blessings anymore? Why is it bad to expect curriculum and General Conference talks to be less gendered? What good reason is there to exclude women from policy making? Why do men want me to keep Heavenly Mother hidden? My God isn’t sexist.
God doesn’t create mistakes, and They surely won’t allow Their LGBTQI+ children to feel like they are one. I won’t believe that anymore. I can’t believe that.
What if my sons aren’t looked after on their mission? What if they are gay or trans, and every minute of the two years is excruciating and confusing?
I can’t believe God restricted people of colour from having the priesthood and receiving ordinances, nor can I believe that They don’t want diversity in the church leadership. My God isn’t racist. My God embraces all that makes Their children unique.
I can’t believe God does not bless all Their children, regardless of this “status” we call “active Mormon.” God doesn’t have a club for the most righteous, where They hand out blessings like candy.
I refuse to believe God would separate families because one of the members decided to go down their own path, away from Mormonism. How could that be fair, especially when I’ve seen so much hate and contention within the walls of chapels and temples? I can still hear the gossip outside my change-room door.
Could God possibly call men They knew would abuse Their children? I can’t believe that, either. Imperfect is one thing, robbing the agency of a human under your power is another. Maybe not everything is completely inspired. How can it be?
The questions I now ask once had easy answers. They were privileged answers, dismissive answers. Alienating answers.
Burnt trees can bring new life. Shattered glass can be swept up and melted down into new things.
In me there is new hope. It is not the same, but it is just as beautiful. God looked upon my genuine heart and said, “it is good.” Because this is where God looks, into my willing and broken heart.
Maybe I’m a little rougher around the edges now. Maybe I don’t live the way other Mormons think I should, but does that matter? I have never felt closer to the Saviour and my Heavenly Parents. If the cultural and doctrinal things threaten my relationship with Them, I will choose Them every time.
My faith crisis has dropped seedlings that have developed into new faith, new testimony. I have carved out a spot in Mormonism for myself. It works for now, and though it’s not easy, it has blessed me to connect with other women in sacred rawness.
Should I choose to leave, though my feelings about Joseph Smith are complicated, there is one quote my friend shared with me that fills me with determination to make the most of things:
“And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it. Where this people are, there is good society. What do we care where we are, if the society be good?”
In this life alone, Zion has already been found for me. It is full of queers and questioners who love deeply, no matter what. I send my blessing to this diverse community and thank the heavens and earth for you.