Return to Sender: Heartbreak sent in a letter to Church HQ
The best way for me to benefit from General Conference is to skip the live broadcast (and live social media reports) and wait to read the talks after they are printed and once I have heard feedback about which talks could be difficult. When I realized I needed to open Facebook this afternoon to respond to a string of messages about a group meetup, I did so cautiously, knowing what might be in my feed. And, sure enough, I saw in the first post that President Oaks had made a joke about a woman who wrote a letter to him expressing her concerns about polygamy.
I stared at the screen for a few moments completely unable to move, then rapidly started combing through the comments trying to find more information. How silly a question, he implied. The audience had laughed. What a silly, laughable woman. She was asking about being sealed to a widower—wondering if she was sealed to him (and he remained sealed to his previous wife) if the three of them would be forced to cohabitate together in the next life.
There it was. It wasn’t my letter and they weren’t all laughing at me. The immediate relief was soon replaced by seething anger.
Almost two years ago, I started feeling like I needed to write a specific general authority about my difficulties in getting a sealing cancelation and my concerns about nonconsensual polygamy were it not to be canceled. I wrestled with the idea for many hours with God. Why did I need to write about my experiences when I am arguably one of the most private people in the world? Couldn’t an extroverted, open-book member of the Church just copy her public social media posts and send that instead?
I finally struck a deal with God: I would write and send the letter if it ever got to a point where I felt very certain that it was the letter that I was supposed to send. I spent the next year writing and revising the letter. It ultimately turned into a ten page single-spaced letter. On October 17, 2018, I was completely sure that it was as it should be. I took a deep breath, printed it, and mailed it to the Church Office Building.
The response to my letter was far from positive. It broke my heart, to be honest.
It wasn’t my letter to which President Oaks referred, but I have a whole lot of words for President Oaks.
Instead, though, I want to speak to this woman who also wrote a letter to Church leaders with her concerns about polygamy.
I’m so sorry.
I’m so sorry that your vulnerability and sincere questions were mocked in front of the world. It absolutely makes sense that you would wonder exactly how the relationship would work in the next life. I applaud your desire to have full information before you entered a marriage. I admire your faith in the power of temple sealings. I respect your willingness to seek counsel from others.
I feel so much love for you and I want to send you my favorite antique apple varieties that are perfectly crisp and juicy right now. I don’t know how to fix the pain you feel but I know that God loves me when I eat these apples that truly are too good for this world. I don’t know how you feel God’s love and maybe you are even allergic to apples, but I want you to know that you are not alone. I see you, I support you, and you don’t deserve this.
Also, my sealing still hasn’t been canceled, so if you’re also unhappy with your situation in the next life, come find me and I’ll be the Thelma to your Louise.