Guest Post: What I Wanted to Say Today in Testimony Meeting
I have three daughters. The oldest two are LGBTQ and no longer attend church. Their youngest sister, in her mid-teens, wanted to use today’s testimony meeting to talk about them and how she loves them and how she hates it when members of our ward aren’t kind to them. She wrote out what she wanted to say and it was balanced and clear, but I encouraged her not to say it today.
Instead those who spoke in our testimony meeting focused on love and new thoughts began to form in my mind. I wanted to honor my youngest daughter’s feelings, but in a slightly different way. I was still gathering my thoughts when the counselor closed the meeting a few minutes early, but this is what I wanted to tell my ward today.
I am so very grateful for those members of my ward who have reached out in love to all of my daughters. I am grateful for the young man who was my oldest daughter’s best friend growing up in our ward, who doesn’t care that she is now a girl instead of a boy and still wants to be her friend. I am grateful for this friend and all the other friends and family members who call my daughter by her chosen female name and use female pronouns when talking to and about her.
I am grateful for the woman in my ward who never knew my oldest daughter as she was away at college when this woman moved to my ward and yet when she heard she was moving back home for a time, she asked for her cell phone number and began sending her encouraging messages and letting her know that she welcomed her back home and looked forward to meeting her.
I am grateful for my ministering sister who has a grown LGBTQ child of her own, who not only listens to me as I work through my parenting stress, but understands the particular challenges. She reaches out in love to my daughters, attending their performances and commenting positively on all the pictures of them I post on Facebook.
I am grateful for the women who give me hugs and ask how I am doing every Sunday. I am grateful when they ask how my daughters are doing and rejoice in the good things and listen with empathy and no judgment when things are less than perfect.
I am grateful for the Young Women’s President who taught lessons that were inclusive and not stressful for my middle daughter. I am grateful that she became my daughter’s dear friend, attending her events, taking her out for ice cream, dropping off random treats and notes that never said anything about coming back to church, and even sending her a graduation card after she moved to another state.
And I was grateful to the point of tears when a long-time friend came up to me after testimony meeting today – though I never spoke a word – to ask if my oldest daughter had been assigned a ministering sister. She didn’t think our ward leaders had been that thoughtful and so she said she was assigning herself to reach out in whatever ways my daughter would let her.
Yes, there are still leaders who read the Proclamation on the Family in its entirety when my children are mentioned in meetings. There are still leaders who, when asked to make lessons inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ children, respond simply with “Well, I still have to teach all the doctrine,” because that’s the only tool they have to respond to LGBTQ sisters and brothers. There are still leaders who insist on using my oldest daughter’s dead male name even when kindly corrected. There are still youth who won’t come to activities at our home anymore and members who no longer engage us in conversation or include us in social events.
Just like me, the members of my ward are sometimes loving and sometimes not as loving. Today I made myself focus on the positives and the love that has been shown to my family and discovered more there than I had recognized before.
Lori lives in the US Deep South. She has ancestry roots in the south to Jamestown and in the church to Kirtland and is firmly rooted in both, yet teaches French, German, and Latin to gifted high schoolers and encourages them to explore the world.