Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why I Cannot Hate the Mormon Church

I'm living in Provo again. How do I keep winding up in this valley? It's like living in some weird Twilight zone, honestly. I used to think it was just because I went to BYU, but no – the whole valley is just weird in a way I can't even entirely put my finger on.

My new ward seems really great. My roommates already know everybody because they've lived here for over a year now and they're friendly with many of our neighbors. Going to church still isn't exactly my favorite thing on the planet, but it's a lot more tolerable than it was in Bloomington or during my freshman year. I have some theories about why this is the case, but I'll save them for a later post.

Something happened in sacrament meeting this week that just exemplified entirely for me why I just can't bring myself to hate the church entirely and I thought I'd share. It seems like the gay Mormon blogosphere can sometimes be kind of down on the church and I feel a little weird for not hating the church. But I just can't.

We had three speakers in sacrament meeting – for any non-Mormons reading, Sunday services consist of a few (usually three) members of the congregation speaking for about fifteen minutes on a topic that is usually assigned to them – so nothing too out of the ordinary. What was extraordinary about this particular sacrament meeting was one of the speakers.

I've seen her around at activities, but I've never talked to her. She's confined to a wheelchair, so it's hard not to at least notice her. She speaks slowly and sometimes unintelligibly. I found out from her talk that she has cerebral palsy.

She introduced herself and said, "I'm getting my PhD in math. When I say that to people, the thing they respond with most often is 'Oh wow, I could never do that.' But really, most people probably could they just won't." She went on to talk a lot about kind of applying that to a spiritual context and things.

One part of her talk stood out to me in particular. She was talking about resurrection, about eternal life. She said that she looks forward to the resurrection because even though she has cerebral palsy, she knows she will be resurrected with a perfect body. Then she'll be able to do all the things she sees us doing.

While she spoke, her face shone. I could tell that if there was one thing in the entire world that she knew to be true, it was this.

How can I hate the thing that gives this genius girl who cannot walk the ability to hope that someday she will be exactly who she wants to be?

I cannot.

The church may be flawed. It may not be for me. I may not believe it's true. Many people may have been hurt because of it. But looking at her, with her hope in her eyes and her voice, I knew that I just could never bring myself to hate the church. Because for every person who's been hurt, there is a person who's found hope.

I can't deny peace to anyone.

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  1. Beautiful posting. It always seems like those who have physical disabilities are always the most brave!


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