Sunday, June 29, 2014

Trials of Faith, Ordain Women, and Some Pictures of London

As I'm sure is true for a lot of you, my Facebook feed has been absolutely dominated by Ordain Women ish. News articles with the bare-bones-facts slanted in both directions, blog posts that solve all the world's problems and are shared with a cursory "amen," statuses that overly-simplify the issue, and vitriolic comments from both sides of the fence that dehumanize the other. 

Scrolling through my feed is an emotional roller coaster, y'all.  And as much as I don't want to add to the redundancy, I feel like I need to shed a little more light on what these events have felt like for someone who is on my side of the fence. 

Since I belong to a "very small minority of LDS women," who are constantly reminded how statistically insignificant we are, I am the butt of the joke for the majority of people on my Facebook. Here are just a few of the recent excerpts from the OW Facebook page:





And these are just a fraction of the people from the last 24 hours. Who doesn't need a morning dose of people referring to me as Korihor? This shouldn't bother me, right? I'm a grown woman! I mean, I read YouTube comments! I know people on the internet are batshiz crazy. 

But I think the madness on social media surrounding OW is more than just a product of staring too long into a laptop's screen in the middle of the night when you are running on nothing but Red Bull and self-righteousness. I think that most people just can't wrap their heads around the idea that this is an issue that causes real people real pain.

It's not about being right.**

It's not about being "progressive."**

It's not about sticking-it-to-the-man.**

It's not even about being a feminist.**

It's about addressing a concern that has caused me to feel inadequate

I can't help the fact that I feel like my church values me only for my biological ability to make and take care of children. And since my biological abilities in that arena are about zilch, it's easy to feel like a waste of space. 

I can't help the fact that the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and church handbooks have an infinitesimal amount of material that focuses on women and makes me feel cosmically insignificant. Even our Relief Society lessons are tailored around the lives of male prophets. If motherhood is so important, why don't men learn about it in Elders' Quorum like we learn about the priesthood offices in Relief Society? 

I can't help the fact that Eve's role in the creation makes me feel like Adam's plus one. Try as I may, I can't imagine an eternity where I am a mute helpmeet. 

I can't help the fact that it makes me feel pretty useless to know that all of sacrament meeting could go on without a hitch if there was not one woman in the entire building, but we would be at a standstill without any men. There is no avoiding the fact that men are invaluable both in church and in the home. 

I can't help the fact that even the idea of teaching my children that men are to preside in the home makes me feel yucky. Much less actually implementing the practice. 

I know what some of you are thinking. "You can help it! Millions of women don't feel the same way as you do. Therefore, you should just flip the switch and stop feeling pain."

And you know what? I wish that I could just take up my bed and walk and not have all these conflicting feelings. I really, really do. For years now--literal years--I have been praying, studying, going to the temple, taking the sacrament, and doing every other thing I can to remove this cup, but still it remains. 

Just like other trials, I can't just pray this one away. I know I have these feelings for a reason, and I know my Heavenly Parents have designed an existence that is supposed to shape me into this really awesome eternal being with luscious locks fit for a shampoo ad and ears that don't have to be tucked in when I wear a baseball hat. 

There are definitely some things about my church that cause me pain. But I don't pack up my things and leave (like so many people on twitter say I should) because I know temple ordinances are real. 

As much as people tell me that I must not be listening in conference to have the opinions I have, I know I feel the Spirit when church leaders speak. 

Despite the fact that it doesn't shed any light into the lives of Mrs. Nephi, Mrs. Moroni, or Mrs. Alma, I know the Book of Mormon is inspired by God. 

And even though I sometimes feel really crappy about the way my eternal role is depicted right now, I know I have Heavenly Parents who want what is best for me and a Savior who died for me.

So can we please all remember that people--even people on the internet--are real people with real problems? I wouldn't go to a support group for people who suffer from depression and say "Hey, I'm a person and I have never been depressed, so you should just get over it. Have you ever tried just being happy? You probably aren't praying enough. If you were more righteous your depression would go away."

*Censored not because I think my blog is popular enough for these people to find out I used their stuff, but because law school has made me stupidly risk-averse
**Even though these are all things I coincidentally love.

And just in case there is one lonely soul who is still reading this post--I have pictures of London!!! It has been my best thing to be in my best city with my best person. 

No better backdrop for Buckingham than stereotypical rain clouds.

Miles of turkish delight at Borough. 

Hampstead Heath, you saucy minx.

I didn't know that shade of green existed.

Oh Camden.

Must you be so... Camden?

If you don't take this picture, you were never really in London.

Proof that it does get sunny here.

Romeo and Juliet is definitely best done in leotards. 

So excited to have the ENTIRE car to ourselves.

But literally one. stop. later this happened.

When I was here six years ago Mexican food was no more than a spicy unicorn. Now it is EVERYWHERE. They even have Chipotle!!!

The only thing at Harrods that was even slightly within my price range.

Those terra cotta bricks slay me. SLAY me.

Can't I just have it? A bargain at $1,000 per square foot!

Brick Lane has the store from the movie Chocolat. Even though I didn't see French women in capes.

Frisbee in Hyde park is pretty dreamy.

Probably the most beautiful building I will ever work in.

But sometimes reading on a blanket is better than Frisbee.

But reading is hard when you only want to nuzzle.

A lot.

Just eating fish and chips in a place that is 200 yrs older than the Western discovery of our continent. NBD.

We missed the pagan celebration at Stonehenge by thaaaat much.

This picture proves that bike gear is goofy and passed out hippies are poor photographers.

The countryside was way better than stonehenge. 

If I were really artsy and had a camera that wasn't my phone stored in the elastic of my leggings (TMI?) you would be swooning.


But the brickwork with the timber!!

I actually cried while I was biking on this road. Real tears.

Just at the beauty of it all.

Even the hedges were just too much.

Oh yeah, we have castles tucked behind perfectly distressed gates too.

And churches that have been around for centuries.

I am a sucker for old cemeteries. I don't even care how creepy that makes me sound.

Is it too dramatic to say that I will never be happy again until I keep up with my correspondence gazing out from that window?

Oh you know, just William Penn's house. Of PENNsylvania.

And cathedrals, man. 

What do I have to do to spend the rest of my life in one of those? (Don't say celibacy)

Jason's first and favorite fish 'n chips.

Having Portobello just a jog away really is the tits.

Even when you have to share it with the masses. 


Kendall Hutchison said...

Alex, this is beautifully written and should be read by everyone on both sides. I understood in ways I hadn't necessarily before. I love you so much and completely respect you. I miss you!

Kendall Hutchison said...

Also- you are so sincere, intelligent, and thoughtful. :)

Margo said...

I couldn't resist reading what you had to say on this subject and this was so perfect.

The Turkish delight? Do you actually like the stuff? If you do, I have some killer musk life savers from Australia that you have to try.

natalie said...

Alex, I loved reading everything you said and I can relate to a lot of it. Thank you for speaking up :)And your pictures are gorgeous!

Chris Redfern said...

Alex. First and foremost I want to edit the caption to one of your pictures. The word nuzzle definitely needs to be replaced with snog. We all know that nuzzling leads to snogging especially with a good looking guy like JJ Smokes.
Great piece. I mostly stay away from OW or gay marriage or Obama or Lebron Hater stuff because I struggle with the incredibly narrow minded, irrational, unchristlike versions of people that the internet brings out (although I don't think that the hate or lack of understanding is not real, the internet just helps it grow) but I was wondering what your thoughts were since the recent events have unfolded. Although previously there might not have been a time I have shown it, I love discussing things with you because of your strong opinions but also the ability to see both sides of an argument. I would compliment JJ here as well, but like Hanna he enjoys math and that's weird.
I am not sure really where I am going with this, besides the fact that I am glad your testimony is solid and based on the legitimacy of temple blessings (Which, as far as an example goes of consistency and frequency, you and Jason are a golden standard of temple attendance). All I know about what is right or wrong about this subject is that i know nothing. God makes no mistakes, but we do. The church is just an organization of the things God has asked us to do. It's a facilitator. There is no church in heaven, as far as I believe, it's just life. The church is guided by the spirit but carried out by imperfect men and women. To be honest, I believe that God can change anything he wants to at any moment, here on earth or in the heavens. There are animals that God has created that can change sexes, do I think that's relevant? I don't know! But if women get the priesthood tomorrow, after the second coming, or like many people like to say "they don't need it/they have it already if you just listen in the temple/other random typical answer" then awesome! The Lord was right. Just because he changes something doesn't mean he was influenced by a minority or a majority. And just because he doesn't change something means that people telling people to leave the church for their "apostate" beliefs or comparing someone to korihor was right or justified at all. I don't think we change the Lords plan at all, but I do believe he uses questions to bring up key parts of His plan so that we can understand it better and be closer to Him, regardless of the answer. Your struggle as you called it has a purpose. What the purpose is i know not, but knowing you I know it will make you stronger.
The last thing is that, as a white male, I know next to nothing about inequality. Except that I don't think the way we apply it here on earth is the same way God does. I don't want to harp on roles because everyone is different, but I think different is good. But even then that doesn't mean everything has to be separated, such as priesthood access. I'm just saying that I think inequality, both it's reality, because there is no denying it, and what's perceived as inequality, is one of Satans biggest tools. (Just to be clear, I am not putting OW in either of those categories, because as I have said before, only God knows!) keep asking questions Alex, as long as we doubt our doubts before our faith, asking questions is how revelation has always come. I love you sandviks! Come back soon
Ps it's super late and I have no idea if this makes any sense and I'm too tired to go back and see if I said anything stupid, to which if I did, I apologize in advance.

Michael Dowdle said...

Dear Alex:

I am sorry that this past year (along with what is obviously a long period before that), has been so painful for you. Gayla and I do pray for you and Jason (and so many others that we love so dearly). We want you to know how much we love you two. Much more importantly, our Father and His Son love you, as you know. Staying centered there is best, and all questions will be answered in time. Simple advice, I know, but still true.

We have loved seeing all of yours and Jason's beautiful pictures and posts from London and the English countryside. We would love to see you and chat any time you can.

With Love,

M. Dowdle

c & h said...

I'm glad you posted this! I was worried about how you were feeling about all of the craziness going around on the FB. (Which this gif depicts almost perfectly for me: )

I myself have been struggling with similar feelings and it was good to read your point of view to open my eyes even more. I love you! Keep being sincere and thoughtful and beautiful.

Also, i just read my husbands comment and his comparison of OW and Lebron...haha sorry. In his defense, basketball is a topic he is really passionate about.

Ann said...

I've been thinking about you a lot, Alex, and wish we could get together to talk. You express so beautifully many of the things I've been feeling for a long time.

Thinking of you with love.