Monday, October 14, 2013

There's Nothing to Fear, but What You Feel


"Sometimes I think that it's better to never ask why"- Pink

Wow. If crap could be holy, this would be one of those occasions. I haven't written in FOREVER! I have friends that don't even like blogging who have me bested. It's literally been three months, o sea, 1/4 of a year, since I've had anything useful or otherwise to contribute. I have some ah-splaining to do..."

Here's a mild recap of some things that have happened. I honestly probably don't remember them all.
  • I still work at Vivint, the leader in home automation and security. But I got a new job. I hesitate to call it a promotion, because I'm not sure that it is, or that I did anything to earn it. But I enjoy it a lot more than when I used to call people up and be like, "hey, so... security?" The nice thing is, I actually think they're great systems, but selling them wasn't my strong point. I have to admit, I used to have a great disdain for salespeople; now I admire them. The honest ones, at least. It truly is a skill, and I am truly now the Team Scheduler- the person who makes sure all those systems get installed for the time when the customer wants it, or as close as humanely possible. It takes a good deal of patience and organization, and I'm enjoying the challenge. The fact that I get free food, Vivint swag, and work with some pretty cool peeps doesn't hurt either.
  • I'm dieting. What's worse, I'm on a stupid diet. Really, all diets are dumb, but this one takes the cake (except that it doesn't, or I'd be eating it). It's called the HCG diet, and man, do you lose weight quick! I'm down 20 lbs. in three weeks! It breaks all the rules of health-conscious common sense, but I have to give it credit-  it works and it works well. Essentially, I got to the point where after I came home from the mission, I was eating like it was my talent, and was I ever practising!  However, in an effort to be around for the year 2025 and so that my clothes fit again, I decided to do something about myself, and when this whole "diet" thing is said and done, I just want to learn to have an interdependent relationship with food; one where we both need each other but aren't obsessed with each other. No more sneaking off to be alone in each others' arms late at night!
  • The play's the thing! Or it was. I was just recently in a production called Well Written by Tim Larsen for the Liberty Lake Community Theater. The play is about a doctor whose patients are all famous writers that are making her crazy- Shakespeare, Hemingway, Jane Austen, Stephen King, etc. I played the secretary, the doctor's confidant and the one who ultimately has the answers everyone is seeking. You might say I didn't even really need to act ;) But really, I forgot why theater is really my first love (sorry food!), but all it took was being with a stellar cast in a stellar production to remind me. Theater is about strengthening communities, forging friendships, and telling powerful, thought-provoking stories that force the audience to contemplate the human experience (cue your oohs, ahs, and single rolling tear here). Anyway, it was a blast, and I'm delighted that I got to be a part of it.
My awesome cast!

Me, backstage. I was the only one who got to use the mic!
 And now, on to something completely different and much, much more revealing, maybe more so than I've ever been in a public forum before. I feel like I've been an observer for so long- feeling one way but trying to stay on the sidelines where it's safe, where people will still think the best of me. I don't think that I can do that anymore.

Most people who know me at all know that I am a self-proclaimed feminist. I've never burned a bra in my life, but I have served a mission, gotten an education, voted in every election since I turned eighteen, and I hold a steady job. The fact that I can participate in all of these activities freely and without shame is at the very heart of what it means to BE a feminist. So like the term or not, essentially, if you believe women have the "right" to do those things, then guess what? That belief falls under the umbrella of feminism because things weren't always that way. Just as many people who feel that they are 'spiritual,' or 'creative,' have different ways of expressing those beliefs and ideas, people who are 'feminists' have different, often very personal definitions of what it means to them.

And this is what I've been having to come to terms with, because I'm not just a feminist- I'm also LDS, a Mormon. And for some people, the two are easily reconcilable. For me, that's not always the case. You see, in my faith, women don't hold the priesthood, which we believe to be the power of God on earth to act in his name. It never really bothered me much- until I went on a church service mission. Ironic, right? The mission was an incredibly faith-building, extraordinary time in my life. Most of this blog is ABOUT my mission, for freaking Pete's sake. But I couldn't help but feel annoyed that there were some things I just couldn't do- I could help bring people to Christ, but I couldn't give them blessings, and I couldn't baptize them. In fact, I learned and was surprised (though I shouldn't have been), that without the priesthood, new areas of the world can't even be opened for proselyting. And for the first time in my life, I felt that I was missing something that would help me to better help others.

Cue my arrival home in February, right after an event called "Wear Pants to Church" had taken place, where women were encouraged to wear pants to Sunday meetings to open up a dialogue about how gender is viewed in the church.  And now, fast forward to my recent present, when the group Ordain Women has been peacefully petitioning that church leaders prayerfully consider women's ordination to the priesthood. Not demanding it. Not threatening repercussions for not receiving it. Just asking that the people we believe speak for God ask him what He thinks.

You would think they'd asked people to come nude to church and for everyone to renounce the gospel.

I've read the hostile comments online, and it leads me to wonder, what the hell are people so afraid of? It's not looking like women are getting the priesthood anytime soon, but even if they DID, I can only see this being a positive thing. More willing hands to bring about more blessings and help share the burden with the good men of the church. I do believe we talk about being "equally yoked," which is hard to do when one gender is doing the majority of the heavy pushing and pulling ( with church callings, blessings, meetings, administration, etc). I know all women in the church don't feel this way, and  may not really want the priesthood. I'm growing to learn to respect that viewpoint as well.


Two yoked oxen. Genders unknown
blog.chron.com

But on a more "selfish" note, I personally  would like more of a voice in the church I attend. I've never liked the idea that as a female, I can gently suggest an idea that can then be considered by the patriarchy- I want to be a moving force in meetings and decision-makings, or not just necessarily me, per se, but women in general, female leaders, the few that we have. Just to be clear,  I don't think women are abused or mistreated in the church- but I think they're underrepresented,  and I think that those of us who are trying to have an honest, open dialogue about how we feel need not be looked upon with fear but with an open mind. Who knows- everyone might even learn something from it.

So why is this so hard for me to admit when it's something I truly believe? Well, 90% of my friends and family are LDS.  I'm usually the type that likes to get along with everybody, be everyone's friend. It wasn't until recently that I saw a Winston Churchill quote that struck me hard, and made me pensive:

       “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for        
      something, sometime in your life.”
 
 Now the point isn't that I want enemies, obviously. The point is, I need to stand up for what I feel is right, even if not everyone I care about with agrees with me. In fact, many of my friends have little problem expressing their views- I've read what some of them have been saying on Facebook or in church about Ordain Women, and women and the priesthood- and I'd be lying if I said they'd been giving rave reviews. And who wants to deal with the possibility of being labeled an apostate, an unbeliever, or as someone lacking in faith? Um, NO ONE! And I don't feel that I am or even that so far I've been treated that way. I feel like what I AM doing is taking some age-old advice and applying it to a new-age question:

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Matthew 7:7

yelp.com
I've always loved this picture of Christ knocking outside the door; I had it on my scripture case throughout my mission. The general interpretation is that he has no handle to open, you see- we do. He's a-knockin' and we have to let HIM in. But the thing about doors- they always have two sides. And he's give me permission to do some knocking too, if I have questions. All I want is to be able to ask them.

Openly yours,

Sweeney