Monday, May 02, 2011

Equal Doesn't Mean Same

I know Osama is dead (about time!) and Obama took all the credit (I liked his speech when he gave it, but after pondering it, I was kind of miffed, and Single Dad Laughing wrote it well), but this isn't about all that (thank goodness).

There were some articles written lately. The gist: the PR for the Church writes a piece in the Washington Post about how Mormon women truly are "equal" in the Mormon church. Some women in SLC got all up in arms and blasted the article in the Salt Lake Tribune. I'm not here to talk about either article; I'm here to talk about a comment that was left in the Salt Lake Tribune article (online).

It was written by a fascinating and wonderful woman named Karen. I personally know Karen, although our acquaintance is simple, but I had to write (in full) her comment here, dear reader, give her the credit, and applaud her stance. I agree with everything she has written. Have a gander (it's long, but oooohhhhh, so worth it!):
"I've seen the weak wave of attempts to redress Mr. Otterson's remarks, and I'm not impressed. First of all, the context of his remarks is missing, and is often the case with posters in the blogosphere, and missing that, misses his point. This article just gives airspace to this renown bias in the Trib's postings.

"Additionally, in terms of comments and conversations following the On-Faith column, and some referred to obliquely here, non-sequitors fly right and left and the word "equality," once again, is ubiquitously confused with sameness. Yes, the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ stands strong and undeniable, that we are equal--in the unadulterated sense of the word "equal"--in the Church and before Heavenly Father, and in terms of our opportunities or eternal life and eternal motherhood, sisterhood, parenthood, and marriage. Equal does not equal same. I repeat, equal does not equal same. That the opposite is true is a huge, largely unexamined assumption that leads one down a path of thought like that which I have read in some of these responses and in broader discussions of patriarchy and matriarchy in the press and by religion editors globally. If equal means same, then yes, there should be x number of women in the legislature or the workplace or in the park as men. But Heavenly Mother is not the same as Heavenly Father, thank goodness, and we are not the same as the opposite sex we marry, or companion with, or associate with. We can be equal without being the same. We can be equal in claiming all blessings of God through the priesthood without necessarily "bearing" the priesthood.

"If I make dinner and you clean up, are we not equal because what I did was different than what you did? If I am at home educating a child, offering security and stability by being there day in and out while that child is young, would I forfeit that for a place in the workplace to equalize numbers? And how do you measure the contribution? I am a titled professional in the workplace and for as much good as I have done there, and with the legislative volunteerism I do, my contribution pales in comparison to the time I spent at home with my children as I was raising them. For those without children, their outreach to those around them, in or out of the workplace, counts infinitely more than being a number to equalize a workforce. Do equal numbers in the workplace--sameness--mean equality to you? Then I respectfully but candidly say I think you have a really fallacious sense of equality. Certainly we, as women of God, should be more secure in who we are than to have to match number for number on the playground--or in the presidential cabinet, the workplace, offering prayers at a particular church gathering, or any other place.

"Our ultimate entitlements, divine birthrights, are not compromised by God's order. Where there are faults or crevices in calling on women in any council, they need to be respectfully addressed and corrected. Where voices are unheard in auxiliaries or leadership that would add to the divine purpose in building the kingdom of God, we, as women, can stand up, after we have knelt down and asked for direction. If my voice is muted because of someone unwilling to acknowledge a woman's presence or value her view--a show of a cultural or personal foible of that individual--I am responsible to re-visit and re-state at the right time as prompted. If my voice is heard but my opinion outside the best solution, I can graciously accept that outcome as well. But I do not have to back down just because of my gender; to do so is a result of cultural bias on our part and faulty thinking. We receive revelation and by virtue of that, can shape those elements of our culture at large, not of our creed, that call for that adjustment. But to assume that we throw away the doctrinal seatbelt to address individual spiritual jaywalking (cutting across women's voices rather than embracing righteous women's expressions and considerations wherever that happens in life) makes no sense at all. To re-shape and re-fashion doctrine, which is what I often hear as the solution, is to assume that one of us knows more than God. Certainly He can and has revealed His will to us regarding the pattern of His Church and His organization. I refer you to Peter and Isaiah who ask: Who is anyone to challenge God and His counsel? Is His wisdom inferior to ours?

"The fact that the priesthood executes functions that differ makes them in no way superior to women. Frankly this rampant and consistent fallacy dominates much of the bloggernacle and hoopla about feminism. I am a feminist in the sense that I know I have a voice, voice it, claim blessings that come through my divine heritage, through the Savior's order, through covenants and ordinances of the temple, and thereby progress in revelation at a pace that is not determined by, deterred by, or defined by my holding the priesthood. It is God who sets those points of order. There is such an insidious confusion between what the priesthood is and isn't that is overlooked and understated: It is not a monarchal order but God's point of order, as Glenn Pace stated well. It does not mean supremacy; it creates order. It does not mean suppression or oppression or repression (and where these exist, they are not part of the pure patriarchal / matriarchal system; they are individual breaches of God's law and should be pointed out and addressed.) There is nothing holding me back from giving full expression to my talents. I've never, in response to one of the previous comments in this discussion, thought education was a Plan B for women, and Plan A for men. Nor is that thought doctrinal. The doctrine is clear: learn all we can of theories, doctrines, principles, things below and above, governments, languages, truth, for that intelligence will assist us in serving God, family, community. There is no gender restriction in God's directive there, so if we've put one on it, it's our own construct, our own ideas, and not the doctrine that limits us. I personally have chosen the road to higher education. It doesn't make me better, more equal to man. I was and am already his equal.

Where the stories of women need to be told; let's tell them. Where there is room for growth, let's grow. Where we are confused about how to express ourselves, let's teach each other. The power is in us already and always has been. We don't need more than we have. As a daughter of God, I inherit it. It is my responsibility to claim it. Walk in and walk out of the temple worthily and it's all there as well. The power comes from living the ordinances and principles of the gospel. The power of the priesthood is vested in us as women. We don't need to 'hold the priesthood' to receive all the Father has. On this subject, Joseph Smith said, "because of that priesthood and the ordinances thereof, every member of the Church--men and women alike, may know God." (Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, vol. 3, 1856, pp. 142-43.). (To address just the issue, would take more space, involve the New Testament model discussion, and it would only be for the sake of clarifying for those confused by the voices “kicking against the pricks” [many sincere influencers don’t, and I recognize them]).

"Finally, for this post, and in sum, because of the ordinances and being vested in the power of God on earth, His priesthood, I can know God, completely. I can live worthy to one day see His face. What is withheld from me? Nothing. That is--nothing--is stopping me... I can go at my pace; I can receive sanctification as quickly as I am able to purify my life through the grace and power of Christ's atonement and ordinances. There is no missing ingredient in coming into His presence and laying full claim to every present or eternal blessing. I don't need to wear a man's pants or don his order to be equal to any man on earth. I already am.
Thanks, Karen"

Frankly, I have nothing more to add. Which is so not like me, eh? :)

21 comments:

Jeff said...

I just stumbled on your blog and was very impressed with this post. I know the comment wasn't originally yours but thanks for sharing. It was incredibly well written.

FelixAndAva said...

Came over here via Facebook post, love this entry! Very well expresses my exact position on the subject, including addressing the reality that demanding the Church reorder the priesthood to conform to worldly notions of "equality" is challenging God's knowledge and wisdom.

SilverRain said...

Cheryl, I agree with her comment in theory and theology. But I have experienced enough things in my life, especially recently, that make it a very difficult position to defend in applied reality.

Until a woman has faced the very real fact that her temple recommend is threatened because she is "too interested in the deeper doctrines" when those "deeper doctrines" are attempts to help invite the Spirit into Church classes by delving more deeply into understanding things like faith, charity, and repentance, and realizes that she has no recourse but the mercy of the men who hold power over her recommend . . .

Until a woman has faced her bishop across his desk, struggling with her fear to try to let him know that her husband is a threat to her, only to be told by him that she is making too big a deal out of it . . .

Until a woman has had to deal with KNOWING the father of her children is not worthy to exercise his priesthood, yet having to stand mutely aside while he attends the temple and administers priesthood ordinances or face being called a liar or unforgiving or worse . . .

. . . until those things have happened in your life, it is very, VERY hard to truly understand where some women are coming from when they feel the inequality.

I hope you know me well enough to know that I'm not saying that women have to be given the priesthood to be equal, nor am I trying to change the Church. But I am trying to give an insight into why so many women feel so hurt by the way things are.

I think as long as there is a "well, not all women have an issue, therefore there is no issue" attitude on one side, there will be a "no one cares about me as a woman" feeling on the other.

William said...

As an HR professional I run into the topic of equality on a daily basis. Certainly we have all been discriminated against from time-to-time and to various degrees. These experiences shape our idea of equality and fairness. It also seems as though the further one feels the pendulum has swung to one side, the further it must swing to the other in order for things to be "fair" in the aggregate. One of the common threads that I see either expressed or implied in nearly every discussion, legislation and common law (as related to employment and labor law and discussions pertaining to or related to such) is that of "equal" being synonymous with "same". This fundamental mistake causes more headache and heartache than just about anything else I can think of. I'm not just referring to Title VII matters...this topic permeates all facets of work, home, religion etc. Does this issue not all boil down to a “me vs them” attitude? Certainly it is natural to compare oneself to others…but the “me vs them”, “different so not equal” mind-set is rampant in society today. I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen to good people…I’m speaking to the OP’s core topic…that which feeds both personal offense and lawyers wallets; the idea of mistaken equality--pride. Differences, when appreciated and properly harnessed, are what make families, businesses, countries and societies grand. It is in the finding common ground, appreciating and utilizing differences, and trying to ignore minor annoyances that great things happen. I’ve tried to respectfully convey this in both personal and professional discussions and forums. So when I come across someone who so beautifully and eloquently articulates what I myself have been trying to express (albeit in a different context, but the same fundamental principal), I feel it necessary to chime in for a moment and say, bravo!

Thanks, Cheryl!
PS I should note, since I mentioned business, that since the law often doesn't perfectly coincide with the concept of equal not being synonymous with same, when working in business the law supersedes all else in the performance of one's duties. Our job is to help change the laws that we don't believe are what they should be, not select which ones we'll follow and which ones we'll dismiss.

flip flop mama said...

I loved the comment you posted from that woman. It was educated, insightful and correct. While I am sad that there are women like the previous poster that feel like the fallacies of men transfer to the fallacies of God, I do not believe that. I believe that God loves us all equally. We all can speak to him and gain a personal testimony of him and our divine worth and our divine responsibilities. I think ee are looking at this life through such a small pinhole and if we could only see more we would understand that there is no inequality.

michelle said...

"I think as long as there is a "well, not all women have an issue, therefore there is no issue" attitude on one side, there will be a "no one cares about me as a woman" feeling on the other."

SilverRain, I think what you are saying about having compassion for those who struggle, and why some do, is important.

But I also think it's important to see what Karen is saying. It's not meant to be a fight between those who don't struggle and those who do. It's an effort to try to share what is truth in the gospel.

What you have experienced could have happened with a woman behind the desk, too. I think it reflects human weakness, not weakness only found in men.

It's a fearful thing to realize that human weakness can get in the way sometimes. But it's a wonderful thing to, line upon line, gain a conviction that ultimately, the Savior's grace and power transcend all of that. Even IF a leader makes a mistake along the way, that can be covered by Christ, and will be. To me, Karen's message is about HIM and HIS power, and that the gospel and its ordinances allow us -- men and women alike -- to access that power.

I will say it again -- I think it's important for people to have compassion for the pain some women feel. But pain isn't often a good lens through which to understand or frame truth. Truth is power, and I think that is what Cheryl and Karen and others are trying to share. Truth brings light, hope, peace, and power. I pray that you can find that peace and power in your life. We all have our barriers we have to push through, but I think it's essential to seek for truth about the Savior and about God's plan to help us face the reality of our pain. (And I need this reminder, just in a different way!)

SilverRain said...

Michelle—I agree with what you say. I hope that flip flop mama isn't fingering me with the "previous poster" comment, because I don't believe that human fallacies translate to divine fallacies. I believe in the divinity of the Church, believe me. If I didn't, I'd not still be a member because I can't think of one experience that would keep me here if I didn't believe it was founded by God.

However, I don't know if I agree that pain is not a good lens through which to see truth. The Atonement happened at least in part because of the need for God to suffer pain. Christ descended below all things so He could gain compassion and know how to succor His people. If those of us who believe in the Church and its divine calling cannot bring ourselves to put the pain of others up as a lens (not THE lens, but A lens) through which to access truth, I don't believe we are following Christ's ultimate example.

Compassion is not a feeling, it's a lens.

And while I agree with the truth in the sentiments expressed by Karen, Cheryl, and others, I also strongly feel that such expression of those sentiments are not the best way to address the concerns that so many others express. I feel it does more to alienate than unite, and that does not align with my understand of Christ, His life and His church.

I'm not saying this to call anyone to repentance, or pass judgment on people. Not long ago, I didn't have the perspective I have now.

But right now, I have the mixed blessing of carrying the pain from one "side" and the faith from the other, and I feel compelled to speak from that perspective while I still have it.

Cheryl said...

I don't think that's what Karen's comment was about, though, SilverRain. It was simply a reply to the rampant message that somehow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints --as a CHURCH and as DOCTRINE --treats women as inferior because of worldly views of what the definition of "equality" happens to be this decade. It honestly had nothing to do with personal stories of suffering.

We start with truth. Doctrine. God. The Plan. The Atonement. All of that is enormous, encompassing. Then we move downward into individual experiences and circumstances. Karen's comment was about TRUTH --not the narrow view of personal circumstance.

I had a really hard time with your first comment, and it wasn't because of your personal pain, it was because of the assumption that I have no idea what you are talking about; that I DON'T have the right to recognize or feel truth because I happen to have a stable marriage.

I may not have suffered your pains, but Karen has. In fact, SilverRain, I hate that I'm doing this, throwing it back in your face, but Karen knows EXACTLY what you are going through --and since I know what your specific pain happens to be, I'm talking specifics. So, please don't compare our trials. Don't compare your experiences with mine to use it as a judgement stick of whether or not the LDS Church truly loves women as much as men. Not only does it NOT work, it isn't fair.

That, boy-howdy, is the truth of places where the minutiae of the doctrines of Christ are analyzed to death. They are allowed to feel pain and suffer and then hate the Church for it, but for those of us who have pain and suffer but LOVE the Church for it --we're the crazies! It's the worst kind of hypocrisy I have ever seen.

People like Karen and michelle and others are trying hard to help explain to people that in order to find peace and love and joy and relief is to RUN towards Christ and His true Church. Debating about whether or not one particular Bishop somewhere (who is mortal, weak, and sinful like the rest of us) represents the Priesthood doesn't solve problems. The only place to find truth and solace is by turning to Christ. This isn't about whether or not men know what they are talking about, it's about having faith and believing that God does.

My apologies for the rantiness of this comment. I've been thinking about it for a while.

Cheryl said...

Okay, and now that I've written it, I feel awful. Argh.

I'm sorry, SilverRain. I actually do understand where you are coming from; I'm just out of practice when discussing touchy things online. It's been a while since I've held a blog conversation like this. I know I did it all wrong and broke all the rules.

If it helps, at least you can know that I speak truthfully and without editing? Ha! Yeah, well, whatever. :)

SilverRain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SilverRain said...

Don't worry, Cheryl, I don't think you came across as harsh as you seem to think. And you called something out that I didn't realize was in my comment.

I wasn't trying to say YOUR life as in you. That entire comment was more reflecting on how I reacted and felt before I went through what I did, and generalizing it.

Nor was I trying to compare experiences Karen might have had, though I can easily see how both those things came across.

I guess what I'm saying is that by focusing on "Truth" as something to run towards, by emphasizing the truth of the Gospel to women who are hurting, we come across as judgmental and exclusionary. Speaking to the PR comment which sparked this whole shindig, holding up OTHER women's opinions about how everything is equal and hunky-dory to women who still have genuine pain only serves to deepen that pain. It doesn't change hearts or minds.

Although I think we can and should testify to the truthfulness of the Gospel and the love the Savior has for each of us, I don't think the message is going to be heard unless we can demonstrate that love. And I mean in every comment we make.

I am sure that those who are trying to testify don't mean to sound abrasive, and a person who feels relatively whole and safe in the gospel would be able to see past the rough edges to the truth of what is being said, or not even feel the scrape at all. I also think there are many people who are deliberately attacking the Church without coming from a place of personal pain and yearning. But wouldn't it be better to focus on listening to those who are in pain rather than trying to destroy the Adversary's deliberate darts?

I can only come from my perspective and what I feel. I don't feel a need to be the same as a priesthood holder, but I do feel a deep and burning need to be heard, recognized, and valued as a woman. And that doesn't happen sometimes. It doesn't happen MOST of the time. And as a woman without a husband, I am not valued as a contributing person in the Church. (Though maybe it's my own personality and not my womanhood which is not welcome, I have no way to determine the difference.) I have and will likely never have any kind of voice that will be listened to in regards to what I and people like me need, because it's automatically seen as a lack of faith. That can't be entirely replaced by knowing that the Church is true and that the Savior loves me.

As I've done some soul-searching with Him, I'm beginning to realize that it's not supposed to. YES you have to be forgiving about the weaknesses and charitably long-suffering when it comes to the pain. But that doesn't mean you can't try to encourage hearts to open, either.

michelle said...

SilverRain,

If those of us who believe in the Church and its divine calling cannot bring ourselves to put the pain of others up as a lens (not THE lens, but A lens) through which to access truth, I don't believe we are following Christ's ultimate example.

I hope you know that I understand and agree with this. On the other hand, I think it's important to acknowledge that sometimes people like Karen and me and others who are trying to defend the Church are backed into a corner. Too often, I have felt like I have to choose between compassion and doctrine. I can and should seek to listen and be loving. But there is a flip side to that. If 'love' is only defined and accepted by demanding that one jump on the bandwagon of criticizing the Church, then I can't do that. It's like the gossip lessons we hear. Why is it not ok to talk about individuals in merciless ways, but it's ok to publicly tear apart the Church w/o allowing anyone to step in and say, "That's not the way I see it. Have you thought about it this way?"

The way I see it, Christ was both compassionate and also fiercely loyal to and firm with truth and doctrine. It's a very difficult thing to do both, and most of us fall short to one side or the other. I think those in pain want more of compassion than sometimes they get, but those who are loyal to the Church also deserve to have their perspective and faith respected as well.

I saw this with prop 8. Taking a stand to protect marriage was defined by some as hateful, no matter how much many of us tried to show that we really do care and really tried to understand the 'other' point of view. But too often, it reached the point where there was an ultimatum offered. It's an impossible situation when it gets there, and that is often where feminist discussions are, in my experience.

You and I know each other well, so would you be willing to engage with me here with a little illustration of what I mean...and then you can coach me coming the other direction?

You say, "And as a woman without a husband, I am not valued as a contributing person in the Church." I completely understand that this is how you *feel.* And you have had experiences in your life that only intensify this feeling that as a woman, you are valued less. You know how much I struggle with you and ache with you on that. You know how much I validate that you have been through so much.

But there is more going on here than personal feelings in what you have said. The way you express this here takes it beyond your personal realm and, at least at face value, defines or accuses The Church in a more general way. That to me is not truth (even if it feels true in your personal experience).

How can I both listen to you and your pain, show compassion, help you feel heard and cared about, but also gently push back and draw a boundary where I feel you are also making generalizations about the Church that aren't true, that don't reflect doctrine, and that I believe can actually perpetuate the pain you and others feel?

michelle said...

One more thought:

"I think as long as there is a "well, not all women have an issue, therefore there is no issue" attitude on one side, there will be a "no one cares about me as a woman" feeling on the other."

I know that it can appear that women and others talking about the Church are saying "well, it works for me, so deal with it" but I don't think that is what Bro. Otterson and the women he quoted were doing. And I know that isn't what Karen was doing. I know sometimes this does happen, but a lot of times, there is a lot more to women's sharing than just an in-your-face, "deal with it" kind of attitude.

In fact, I think often there actually is a lot of compassion driving the desire to share, with understanding for the pain some experience. Perhaps ironically, it's because of that realization that many share their testimony and faith in the truths such as those Karen shared.

And maybe that is a good reminder for those of us who share -- to share in a spirit of compassion and love and genuine concern, not to 'be right' or respond defensively.

SilverRain said...

And maybe that is a good reminder for those of us who share -- to share in a spirit of compassion and love and genuine concern, not to 'be right' or respond defensively.

That is exactly what I was trying to get at much more succinctly. I think everything you're saying about defending the Church and the doctrine is true, but I think what I'm attempting to drive at is that when we defend defensively, we're not doing anyone any favors.

To use your example above about me, I think something that would have helped coming from my Priesthood leadership, and something that has helped to a lesser extent from those who do not have stewardship over me in the Church, would have been something more like, "I can see how that is painful. I want you to know I don't feel that way about you. I love how you do XYZ." Of course, the trick has to be that it is genuine and not condescending. That love and concern has to be real.

In the example where my faith was challenged, my priesthood leader basically said, "I enjoy your comments in class, but you sound like you are getting too involved in the deeper doctrines. I was involved in the deeper doctrines when I was younger, so I know how it is." Seems sympathetic on the outside, right? Then he leaned forward and asked in a tone that said he already knew the answer, "How would you say your faith in Christ is right now?" Not once was I asked where I was coming from or what I was trying to do. He had already judged my faith as lacking, judged my focus as wrong. Based on what? Because I'm not satisfied with packaged answers. I never talk about Kolob doctrines or go into peripherals. My comments are focused, drawn from the scriptures we are reading at the time, and applicable to what is being discussed. I don't even challenge the packaged answers so much as try to draw them out and build on them.

Was he inappropriately concerned with my faith? No. But how much better would it have been if he first said, "I've noticed you make some great comments in class. Where are those coming from?" Then he would have been listening before passing judgment, acknowledging me as a person before assuming where I was coming from.

Am I upset because he isn't perfect? No. If that was the only thing, it would have been nothing. But there is a pattern of judgment, a pattern of us vs. them, that comes when we as faithful members of the Church become defensive and pre-judgmental. Because of it, I feel like a wart on the foot of the Church, and I am a person who has tried to dedicate my entire life to the Gospel, for whom my faith in my Savior is my top priority. How much more for those who haven't had the good training I had?

SilverRain said...

Online, I have found that you don't have to leave the playground to the bullies. But just like any bullying tactics, the answer is not to fight fire with fire, but to field their aggressions candidly and with a feeling of acceptance. It is to develop a feeling of mitleid (which is the German word for compassion: "sorrow with") that recognizes and accepts that "there but for the grace of God go I." It is acknowledging and accepting in our own hearts that we could just as easily be led astray, that those who are are really not all THAT different from us, and rather than being afraid of that and reacting out of fear and resentment, we accept and acknowledge our own weakness and ability to fail to understand truth.

It's saying, "if I had gone through those things, maybe I'd have felt that way, too" or "I think I can see where you're coming from" or "when I went through those things, I felt some of the same things you did." and eventually saying,"After struggling with this and praying, I came to understand ABC when this happened to me, which helped me. Know that I am here for you any time you need me. I know I would have loved XYZ types of support when I was in that same place," or candidly saying "I worry sometimes about ___, too. I have seen ____ which led me to wonder about it. But I know that I can do ___ right now, without anything changing, so I focus on that," or any number of other things which break down walls, put us squarely on the same side of trying to muddle through life.

I know that doesn't always work. It definitely doesn't work with those who are actively trying to tear the Church apart, who masquerade behind masks of pain in order to draw the aching hearts to them. But with those, it is still beneficial, I feel, to simply say, "You're wrong. I can't speak for others, but I know that I don't feel that way about ___ and I still support ___ doctrine." But that is after inviting the Spirit into your heart. Not once, but in every single discussion.

I don't know that this is the be-all-end-all answer. It's what is helping me navigate the difficult waters.


Look at Karen's remarks. In the first paragraph, she uses "weak" "not impressed" "missing his point". It automatically name-calls. It's all true. The arguments do miss the point, aren't particularly impressive, and are weak. But the writing mantra is, "show, don't tell." If you are trying to persuade others and not just yourself, you must show the weakness and when it comes to spiritual things, it must be shown in a gentle, strong, peaceful and loving way.

Otherwise, you are like them, simply trying to rally the like-minded with no real defense made. And in the process, you alienate some to whom those comments resonate on a level, and automatically side them with the enemy.

Does any of that make any sense?

SilverRain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormon Women: Who We Are said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michelle said...

SilverRain,

I am having a hard time formulating thoughts in return. I agree that compassion is so very important. a listening, caring heart is, too.

But I think there is something missing from what you are saying, and that involves the responsibility of those who struggle in all of this.

I read your thoughts and only feel more helpless, to be honest.
In short, I guess I'm not sure it's as simple as you say...and as you know, I've wrestled with this for years and continue to do so.

At some point, I think we could end up just going around in ways that only intensify the 'us' vs. 'them' sentiment, which I really don't want to do.

I'm so sorry you feel the way you do right now in the Church. I hope you know I'm here and want to walk with you as you sort through it all.

SilverRain said...

I'm not saying we shouldn't speak up. I'm saying that unless we can do it in a spirit of love every single time we should wait to speak up until we can.

I have seen your comments, Michelle, and it is obvious how hard you try to show love.

Perhaps Karen was trying too, I really don't know. But love is not the feeling I get from the comment. It is more frustration and irritation, which, while vastly warranted, I feel only makes us look every bit as judgmental as they say.

Others try to provoke us to respond in just this way, so what good does it do us to do exactly what they want? Respond, yes, but respond with long-suffering, kindness, etc.

michelle said...

I am sorry you felt that from Karen's comments. Of course, I can't answer for her, but I think it helps to consider the comment in the context in which it was shared. I also think it's important to give people like her the benefit of the doubt and assume the best intentions.

See what I mean? It kind of just goes around and around.... ;)

SilverRain said...

Of course! I didn't comment on it because I was good at it. Quite the opposite.

How shameful that I did the exact thing I was trying to say we shouldn't do: forget the person behind the comment.