Sunday, February 1, 2015

We don't fit the Mormon mold. But we'll pray for those who do.

Ok, it's been just a little while since I've blogged and for whatever reason I find that today I'm sorta sad but I don't particularly want to blast it all over social media. Instead I shall blog about it like Mormon women tend to do, attach a link to my Facebook and rest assured knowing that most scroll right past as I generally do when a blog link ends up in my news feed. Anyone who takes the time to read this is either bored, concerned about me, or a stalker like George's ex-wife and her family (stalk away, heaven knows I do the same to you)
The topic of today's blog is very close to my heart and very misunderstood by those around me. At this point I've shaved part of my head (how could I possibly turn down a dare from my teenagers?). I have what should have been 9 new ear piercings, but my most favorite one ever fell out and I had to remove the stud from my tragus as I pierced too close to my face and ended up piercing the muscle, this causing irritability when I smiled.
Three new tattoos have appeared on my body and a the moon and stars on my ankle that was chosen from the wall of a filthy tattoo parlor in 2000 has been modified to include the birthstones of all six of my children. The tiny stud I loved so much once again sparkles in the perfect place on my nostril.
And (brace yourself)... I skipped church today. (Seriously, as I typed that last sentence, the bishops grandson stopped by for fast offerings and I noticed him at the door just as I screamed "SHUT UP!!!" At the dogs. The poor kid looked terrified). Don't fret, I am just down with the flu. I'll be back next week, sticking out like a sore thumb.
Have I apostatized? Am I leaving the church?  Um... no.
HOWEVER... (That's a very big however)... Many people might at this point.
Why? Because Mormons pity those who don't meet a certain standard. Yes, they pity. They pity the body that was given to me by my Heavenly Father because they see the ink in my skin, the adorable flower shaped studs in my ears and  the missing hair on my left side that I've grown so fond of. They pity my girls because they see their side-shaves as unfeminine, thereby a mockery of their role as clean, socially acceptable, righteous and good LDS girls.
And how do I know they pity?  Maybe I don't. Maybe it's in my head because I'm on the wrong path, not living up to gospel standards, not being a good example to the youth of the world, etc. I've heard it all. I've pitied the Mormon women who didn't fit the mold. I've prayed for them and found strength in knowing my sisters in the church were praying for them as well.
Don't think the church has been a negative in my life. We saw a lot of good. A LOT OF GOOD. And we will never forget the good. We'll never forget the neighbors helping when my brother had his seizure. We'll never forget the meals brought in when mom had her surgery. We'll never forget the Christmas parties where we were loved by Santa just as much as the other kids in the ward were. The list goes on and on.
That doesn't mean we don't remember the bad at times. And when I see the girls in my ward smiling at my daughters in the same way one smiles at a homeless person on the street, it reminds me that I got those looks too. And it hurts like hell. When we go to church functions and eyes flicker to the new tattoo that I couldn't cover because it was still healing, I instantly think of who I was ten years ago when I fit into that mold. What would I have thought? Would I have prayed for the poor misguided soul? Would I have counseled her through private messages or cowardly texts to remove the ghastly piercings, cover the tattoos and grow a beautiful mane of hair to fit in?
I would love to say no. I would love to say I wouldn't have been a part of the crowd ignoring the outcast. But I don't think I can. And I don't know how I feel about that. I really truly don't. Because I was so very happy at that point in my life. Probably more so than at any other point. But the big question was, how happy did I make other people by pitying them and making them my lds project, to be drawn back into the fold?
With all of that in mind, I now watch my daughters at the ages if 16 and 17 deal with the same issue I have. Especially Camilla. Her Mormon friends don't want a girl with a side shave. No Mormon boy would go out with a girl who so obviously puts the worldly trends before what's accepted in  the Vernal, Utah Mormon standard.
But her standards are high. Too high for the "other" kids. She lives like a Mormon girl, but doesn't look like one. And I see her suffer for it. I see the pity in the eyes of the young women. My girls hear their whispers. And I don't want to take her. Not at all. Not to Sunday meetings. Not to weekly youth activities. Not to any of it.
But I do. Because she believes the teachings just as much as I do.   While getting ready for church last Sunday, my Seritta made a comment about feeling as if the other girls would stone mine given the chance.
And yet, we go. We love this gospel. We love the teachings. We love the temple. We love the amazing people in the ward who love and accept us. And once again, I will pray for my sisters. For those who have taught their children to shun kids who don't uplift them, rather than uplifting the girls who may need it. I'll pray for the moms who shit talk me and my kids in front of their children. The children my kids have to go to school with. I'll pray for those who have "left the flock" by being unwelcoming and judgmental.
And I'll hope that what I've taught my girls will pull them through the frustrations of living in a religion where those who should love you most, simply don't. That harsh reality will forever be a part of our church and it's so very heartbreaking to me.