Don’t Tell Me the Church is True; I’ve Heard That Line Before
La lune, la lune, some rhyming lines about the moon is what I remember most vividly from watching Gérard Depardieu in Cyrano de Bergerac in high school French class. The story captivated me; the poetry was beautiful and it was the first movie I watched in French that I could mostly understand. Because of this experience, a few months ago I eagerly bought tickets for a new version of Cyrano. Exquisite costumes, fluid choreography, music by members of the band The National, and powerful acting made this movie delightful to watch.
At one point, Christian, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr., decides he no longer needs the assistance of Cyrano, played by Peter Dinklage, to talk to Roxanne, played by Haley Bennett. True to his character who can’t find the words to express himself, Christian manages to blurt out “I love you” to Roxanne. She waits for more. She wants to hear Christian speak in person the words he wrote in letters. He can’t; the letters she thinks he wrote were actually written by Cyrano. And so Christian bumbles on. I love you. I loooove you. I LOVE YOU! Roxanne remains unimpressed and leaves the room breaking into the song “I Need More.”
While Roxanne sings about what more she needs Christian to say (it’s worth listening to the song here), I couldn’t help but think about how the words ‘I need more’ are surprisingly applicable to my experience with church. I have heard the church is true so many times. And yet, I need more.
I need more female leaders.
I need women sung about in hymns. I need to sing about the Queen in addition to the King.
I need an opportunity to at least prepare the sacrament, if not to also bless it.
I need a Relief Society that is actually an organization for women, run by women, without men selecting when to call/release leaders, determine the curriculum, and otherwise oversee the organization.
I need leaders to stop making racist, sexist, homophoic, and other harmful remarks.
I need leaders to hear LDS women.
I need the Divine Feminine.
I need mine and my daughter’s bodies to not be policed and objectified.
I need encouragement to connect directly with God to make choices best for me instead of leaders teaching that there is only one acceptable path, marriage and stay-at-home motherhood, that may or may not fit me or that I may or may not even have an opportunity to fill.
I need personal and leadership development opportunities.
I need a church that focuses on transformation in Christ.
I need everyone to be welcome at church.
I need leaders who acknowledge that the current church structure can cause trauma and that people who no longer attend often bear deep wounds inflicted by the institution or by people who abuse power on behalf of the institution.
I need consent during a blessing or setting apart; to be asked if I want hands on my head, shoulders, arms, or no hands on me at all.
I need an option to meet with a female leader if I choose to renew a temple recommendation.
I need more than what currently exists.
Just over five years ago I dreamed I was encased in a dusty old banana. Picture a giant Bananagrams bag. I unzipped it from the inside and stepped out of this dusty bag. I took a few steps and stepped into a column of light. In the years since that dream I have come to fully occupy that column of light and to embrace my own power.
I grieve that the church is not what I wish it was; not what it has the potential to be. I found leadership opportunities as the president of a professional organization. I found meaningful service opportunities volunteering for a Title 1 school. I established boundaries regarding under what circumstances my body can be touched in a church setting. I found my voice to speak out against comments that are harmful to me and other people. I established my own relationship with Divine Feminine. I spend time in nature to have the spiritual experiences I crave of connecting with something larger than myself. It’s an ongoing process of asking what my soul needs from week to week. It’s satisfying to claim the power to meet my own needs and monitor my own engagement with church based on what I can handle. There is still sadness and anger that this church falls so incredibly short. At the same time, I revel in the freedom to find ways to meet my spiritual needs.
What do you need?