On Waiting

When I started my job there were six Mormons at the firm. Well, five Mormons and one Southern Baptist who really likes us for some reason. [I’m not counting the crotchety partner who only fraternizes with us lowly associates on occasions of his choosing.] Of the six of us that ate lunch together regularly, there was one Democrat, two Republicans, one Marxist, one Independent, and one Libertarian. I liked the diversity of viewpoint because I was never outnumbered. Still, I was frustrated when we talked about Ayn Rand, because nobody hated her with the vehemence that I do.

Over the last few months, our ranks have dwindled. When we got together for lunch yesterday, there were only three of us. Two of our crew moved to warmer climes and the Baptist was busy. So we sat at a smaller table than usual and ate mediocre Italian sandwiches and after ten minutes of uninterrupted discussion between the Democrat and the Marxist about the LDS church’s happily progressive practical policy toward undocumented immigrants, I realized something had changed. The Libertarian sat quietly on his side of the table. I spoke freely and excitedly about things that matter to me. Merely by virtue of waiting, my viewpoint had become accepted, dominant even, in our little microcosm of the Mormon church.

It was like a promise, or a premonition. It was quite literally an answer to the prayer I’ve flung up for years to, please, Lord, help me find my people.

I’ve done a lot of waiting on the LDS Church and its membership. Even as a young girl, I waited for people to stop telling me my destiny was to be a nurturer, a homemaker, and a caretaker of children at the expense of the career was also apparently my destiny. [That’s the message I was getting from all sides, anyway, and not just from the wicked, secular public schools, but from my parents and local church leaders.] And even though I fight my way through dated Sunday School lesson manuals that tell men to look for wives who don’t want to work outside of the home, I take great comfort in talks from the leaders of our church that explicitly recognize that every family circumstance is different and women and families have to do what works best for them (and isn’t that all the feminists ever asked for?).

In high school and college, I waited for my peers at church to value education to the extent that our leaders taught us to and to develop their capacity to recognize that we don’t have all the answers because nobody — not even us, not even the Mormons! — know exactly how this planet came to be. I waited for the day that a lesson on Genesis didn’t veer into (the extraordinarily tired) evolution/creation debate because it turns out that some of our leaders believe in both and it’s certainly not blasphemy for me to do the same. I waited uncomfortably, rarely speaking on days like those, until I moved to a graduate student ward in Michigan and found myself surrounded my scientists and educators and all manner of free-thinking believers and, lo and behold, suddenly I was teaching the Sunday School lessons, during which I let the blasphemy abound.

This is where I own up to the fact that I did not wait very long for a nice Mormon boy to marry. How could I? I met Robert when I was 19 and that was it for me. We waited to get married, though, and so I waited for the time that I, unmarried in my mid-twenties, felt on equal footing with everybody else in the church, with their babies and more babies. From the time we got engaged, I waited for my mixed-faith family to be welcomed with same the open arms that pull other families close into the fold. 

Waiting on these last two was and is harder than the first two, since it’s less about waiting on other people to accept me than it is on waiting for myself to own my life. I’ve been helped by the fact that during all these years of waiting, I’ve met enough similarly situated folks to realize that there are LDS women who work outside the home in every ward, that there are LDS people who love and value education and show it by respecting ideas that are difficult to square with fundamental religious beliefs, and that there are LDS people — tons of them — whose families don’t fit the traditional Mormon mold. Actually, I’m going to say that most families don’t fit the traditional Mormon mold.

I’m still waiting on the LDS Church and its membership. I’m waiting for this faith to be a place where everybody feels as welcome as I finally do. Knowing that there are more people like me than not, I have faith that if I wait long enough, every Sunday will be like eating lunch at that little Italian restaurant, unafraid to say what I feel and feeling like I’m with my people.

This entry was posted in Religion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On Waiting

  1. ruth says:

    I really liked this. and i think it is true… that even if the church and all it stands for is true, there will still be people who ruin it for everyone else by deciding for the rest of us that we need to fit in a certain mold. SO glad i don’t live in utah anymore. there is WAY too much of that for my liking. also, the corgi pic? we have that shirt too… used it for the cats pumpkin costume a few years back. corgi looks MUCH better in it though

  2. Ru says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I wish we were neighbors, haha.

  3. bradyemmett says:

    Sandy! Way awesome post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this same sort of question. It’s a kind of shift from orthodoxy to a heterodoxy that allows for more people and ideas to be encompassed into the church, and not just a very narrow bubble of expectations and such. Great thoughts! thanks for sharing them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s