A cover by India.Arie. So I was still mad today, until I spent some time at church and with some of my really good female friends, and then – the final kicker – went and stared at the temple for a while. It calmed down some of my anxiety and extreme anger to the point where I could see that I was stronger than I had been. Which makes all the nonsense worth it. Let me tell you another way.
Sometimes I imagine my future appearance on The Daily Show about my book (assuming its still running when I end up mattering). I have my mug that I will cherish forever in front of me on the desk and Jon Stewart props up my book and says, “So I read this book and I have to admit my first thought when they handed me this book was, really? there are some? enough to write a whole book about?”
The audience will laugh, and I’ll smile while taking a sip from my mug. Then he’ll say “But seriously, why are you a part of this church? You’re smart – you have to have heard about that ban against black men holding the priesthood? And remember when you guys were against gays? Preventing Boy Scouts from getting their Eagle Scout? Or when women received death threats for wearing pants to church?”
I’ll lean forward and this is what I’ll say, “So you want a logical answer for why I participate and believe in a religion that seems to be constantly be preventing some group or another from feeling accepted and equal and whose membership sometimes reacts badly to efforts to express and change the circumstances which cause those feelings?”
Jon nods or says something snarky. It is The Daily Show after all. “Well, Jon, there isnt one.” And Ill sit back. Eventually he’ll follow up the question and Ill answer for real. “Jon, faith isnt logical. It cannot be arrived at through thought alone or reasoned with. Most of the things we have faith in we have no control over. Sometimes past experience supports our faith – the sun came up yesterday, gravity existed last night – so all these things will most likely happen again tomorrow. However, we dont know that, we just know that they have, so our best bet is to assume it will again. But sometimes we dont have reason to fall back on, we have to take a leap to believe the voice or hope inside of us could be true and right and we jump forward into nothing. That is why I participate and believe. Because one time I jumped, and something/someone caught me.”
The interview will go on and on – we will talk about how I cant stand soda so I never think about the caffeine rule (even though Im addicted to Vitamin Water Zero’s energy burst, which is tons of caffeine). And whatever else is in vogue about Mormons in that day. But I will have told the truth. When I was small and everything else that supported me failed, and there was no earthly way to go on in such a world, I took a leap of faith that a God loved me, and He knew me and He was in charge and would make things alright if I just kept moving forward and listened to him.
Things didnt get “better” for a long long time, not until recently, like the last 5 years, would I say I finally was becoming whole. I spent a long time trudging forward with no idea of what happiness felt like. I remember a week in college that I felt light and looked up, and thought, “Is this what everyone else feels like all the time? This is sooo much better!” It wasnt permanent, but it gave me hope. God has continued to hold my hand and lead me forward through the darkness until I arrived at a point, where I feel like the world is mine. Ive never been happier and more excited for the future, despite being scared out of my mind, because everything that comes next is nothing like what came before. Its another leap of faith, but this time I know God will catch me. Just like He did tonight – he eased my heart and reminded me of how far we had come, and how great Now is given all the crap that came before, so think how much better Then will be if I can survive this.
So I stay. Because the organization lead me to God, and the God that I have come to know I will never leave. No characteristic about me, black, female or smart, will change the relationship I have forged. The religion and I will work it out, but the God that I love will never abandon me, despite how it feels to bear the hardships I may be called to experience, like dating, or dumb friends, or Utah. Its been ok thus far, and its only getting better.