Smile and Nod

I'll be honest: going to church lately has been hard for me. Not only is taking care of two kids by myself difficult, but I also feel self-conscious about the fact that my husband isn't there. I've been trying to get over it since I know it's mostly in my head, but I still can't help feeling really weird being alone at church. Also S-Boogie has lately been having a hard time since she really doesn't like sitting still in sacrament meeting. She loves Primary, but this morning told me that she "hates sacrament meeting" because it involves sitting still and waiting for too long. I need to work on helping her have a more positive experience.

Going to a new ward is also hard. The last two weeks have been good in the sense that I can tell there are a lot of friendly people here. But they've also been very difficult because of the political climate. One of the first things someone from the elders' quorum said when they showed up to help us move in was "have you heard about Proposition 8?". Um, who hasn't? I feel very uncomfortable because I don't know yet where I stand on the issue. I love the Church and I still have a strong testimony. But I also have many close friends and family members who oppose the bill for a variety of reasons. I love them and feel that voting for it would be a slap in their faces. I know that Christ taught that he came to "divide asunder with a sword" and that we should be willing to forsake even our own flesh and blood to follow Him. I'm just not sure I'm ready to do that yet, and I'm still a little shell-shocked because I didn't expect to have to make that choice just by moving to California. So I hope that people at church understand that it's not always an obvious or easy choice for everyone. And I've already decided that I'm not going to tell anyone which way I vote in a few months. I just can't wait until November so we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Chino Blanco said…
The humanity and compassion you express in this post are greatly appreciated.

It may not be easy for Mormons like yourself, but I'd hope that the members of ALL churches in California could keep in mind that this contest is ultimately not about them - it's about allowing fellow citizens equal treatment before the law.
Kengo Biddles said…
Will you even be able to vote at that point? I thought you would have to live in CA for quite some time (6 months, or whatever) before you were given residency and could vote...

If that's the case, you can just push people off by saying "I'm not going to be able to vote...just moved in..."

It's a tough thing to decide on.

As for you have a store of quiet books? Those are starting to work for Ginta.
Samantha said…
You know, I've always felt it was an intrusion of my privacy for people to ask me how I will vote on any private ballot. They're private for a reason--to allow the voter to speak his/her opinion without being required to expose that opinion to the ridicule and judgment of others. And I tell people that when they ask how or for whom I have voted.

No doubt you'll be hit with lots of rhetoric and intolerance between now and November. Something I've always kept in mind is that while we've been asked to follow the church leaders, we've also been given the right to decide what is the correct path for us--and sometimes it might not coincide with what the body of mormnorm church people believe is right for every cookie cutter member.

It's never easy attending church with two small children--especially when you're the only grown-up responsible for them. Something that helped us was to bring a small photo album to church (like a grandma brag book) and a stack of photos, and allow the kids to arrange them in the album however they wished. They were required to sit still through the sacrament, then allowed to look at the pictures. Honestly, there are times (like every week) when I have difficulty sitting through the speakers--I'd be amazed if S-Boogie enjoyed it.

When you feel comfortable, you might make your situation known to your brothers and sisters at church. If there's a family similar to mine, you'll find a couple of preteens or teens who would love to sit with you during church and help with your kids. After all, they're adorable--who wouldn't want to help with them?

(This is why my comments are so rare. When I actually do comment, it's really, really long.)
Anonymous said…
If it's any consolation--and I'm sure it isn't really--I don't think I'd be able to vote in a prop-8 situation. I know that opting out of a vote is pretty dumb from a civil duty perspective, but I couldn't vote either way without feeling like I'd (a) voted against the church or (b) voted against civil rights. Couldn't do it.

As for church, I have a goal of sorting out five(-ish) sets of church toys to alternate between so every Sunday will bring seemingly new and delightful surprises during the 70 minutes of desperation that is sacrament meeting. How will I come up with five sets of toys? Where will I hide them so he won't find them? I have no idea. I just hope it works.
Courtney said…
I am so happy I don't live in California, because I don't even have to think about Prop 8. I agree with you-- once the election is gone I will be much happier. Politics are so draining.

That's tough with S-Bookie not loving sacrament. I don't know what I would do because I find sacrament meeting mind-numbingly boring. Good luck. But I think Samantha is right that some ward youth might love to sit by you and help entertain your kids.
NEC said…
re: I am so happy I don't live in California, because I don't even have to think about Prop 8.

Yeah, actually you do have to think about it. Even if its not in your state, you still have to think about it because how it goes down there affects the whole range of how states will discriminate or not discriminate against gay people and their families.
skyeJ said…
Being the only voice in the wilderness doesn't make you wrong. I like the comment about your vote being private and YOURS alone. Like your relationship with the divine, you don't have to explain or justify it to anyone. Vaya con Dios, baby. Not sure if that's spelled right, or is even supposed to be used that way. :) I guess the Master of Spanish will get what I'm saying. I would come sit with you if I could.
brinestone said…
As for the first half of your post, I totally know what you mean. Jon Boy is often sick (it's a chronic thing), so I go to church with the boys alone about once a month or so. I always feel self-conscious about being there alone, and it's really hard to manage two small children on your own.

Amen to the second half too.
Vanessa Swenson said…
Four years ago when a similar bill came up on Utah's ballot, I simply left that part blank, not voting either way. When I got home, my roommate and I were talking and she asked me what I voted. I'm always willing to talk politics and don't mind saying who/what I voted for and why. I told her I left it blank and she was shocked. Seriously, it was easier to leave it blank. My vote didn't affect anything anyway in Utah and it avoided potential family problems.
Was there an American flag hanging up in your Sunday School? If not you missed out. One of our friends got the flag treatment. Ack!
I really feel some solidarity here. In my last blog posting I got raked across the coals by my BIL for being critical of the all-or-nothing Christian voting bloc in regards to gay marriage and abortion.

For me, the hard thing is that I truly believe marriage IS sacred and that in a perfect world, children would be born into homes with a mother and a father; but at the same time, I am fully aware of the realities that exist in our society. We have to live in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.

State laws giving "defacto" relationships equal status with marriage are more offensive to me. At least with gay marriage we are talking about individuals who WANT to commit to one another. I'm also not clear on how legally re-defining (or defining) marriage changes the sacredness of an LDS temple marriage. I mean, I read about people saying we must "protect marriage at all costs." Does the legalization of same-sex marriage somehow threaten my own marriage? I don't think so. Will it make it harder to help my kids sort out what I want them to know about marriage? Maybe. But that is already going to be the case, with homesexual behavior becoming almost as common now as heterosexual behavior. (I saw two women making out for all they were worth at a bus stop the other day.) Legislating a definition of marriage is NOT going to stop homosexual behavior. Ever. Do Christians think to re-closet everyone?

This has been hard lately for me too. And the church thing. One last thought today. Yesterday we are studying the war-chapters of the book of Alma. There is a lot to be learned there. Our teacher spent the last several minutes of the class reading quotes by general authorities for when war is justified.

I did not disagree. I am not a pacifist and have never claimed to be. There are times wars must be fought and your family defended.

What I took issue with was that the teacher said (really), "War is a part of our world. It always has been. It always will be. I'm sorry to those you who love John Lennon, but peace is never going to get a chance." !!!!!!!!!!!!! I raised my hand and I was going to very politely point out that the bulk of the Book of Alma is about a people with so much faith that they buried their weapons, even to the laying down of their own lives when their enemies came rather than break their covenant with God. Yes, there is a time to fight. But there is also a time NOT to fight. Just as entire cultures may choose when to fight or not fight, individuals must decide too. We need compassionate, Christian voices arguing for peace in these perilous times. Why is it so easy for LDS people to say, "War? Sure!" but "Gay people? Never!" when the overriding message of our own scriptures is love, compassion and above all, moderation.

Sorry for the post . . .
Kailey said…
science teacher mommy- AMEN! Christ taught LOVE... "turn the other cheek". Who are we to be CASTING stones? Oh, how I could go on and on (but hopefully, I won't). What it all boils down to for me is the SIMPLE example of the Savior's LOVE for EVERYONE. Maybe it's simple minded, but I feel it applies to all aspects. I even vote by it. And maybe I am forgetting something, but in the BOM, wasn't it the corrupt who were attacking a STARTING the wars?
Just because the BOM is litterd with war, doesn't mean it was good!

Foxy- the church does not take an official stance on politics. I have a copy of the letter that says so. You are not voting against the church because you vote differently than Joe Mormon. It bugs me to no end when people think we are mindless followers who only think of ourselves and how to best push our beliefs. Ugh, I think I'll stop now. I know your stuggle though... I feel it too.
Kailey--maybe Foxy is referring to the letter read over the pulpit a few weeks back about Prop 8? It was from the first presidency and we were urged to use any resource available to us, including our time and our means, in order to encourage lawmakers to pass and/or uphold laws defining marriage. Maybe this was just a west coast thing?
Kailey said…
Thanks. I did not know about this, and have to admit I am surprised. I have been on vacation. I am just glad to see that people are talking about it. I think the church gives a lot of wise counsel, of course, but it is still up to us to ponder it and apply it. Is this the first time the church has done this over the pulpit? As a convert, I have never seen it done before, and have always been impressed that they would challange us to decide for ourselves through the tools and principles we are taught.
Anonymous said…
I just read 13 very thoughtful comments. However, it troubles me that so often people miss the distinction between 'the person' and 'the behavior'. Regardless of what you are talking about, IF you believe something is right, you are doing no person a favor to NOT support what is right. (I say that, realizing that not everyone is going to agree with what I think is right.)

I personally believe that some of the most special people on earth are those sent here with the challenge of same sex attraction (perhaps a lesser challenge wouldn't be challenge enough for their strong spirits to enable growth), but I also believe that the best ETERNAL options for eternal happiness are within the bounds of heterosexual marriage (and I have logical reasons; not a matter of 'blind obedience'). My NOT supporting same sex marriage may not change a thing, politically, but I wouldn't want to go on record (with God OR with any of my brothers and sisters) as supporting something that is less than the best for the people I love - even if they don't understand it! I see it as something like teaching teenagers that abstinance before marriage is the best way, and then handing out condoms 'because you love them'. I WON'T LOVE THEM ANY LESS if they choose to use condoms and have sex before marriage, but I'm not going to be the one to enable behavior that I think is not conducive to their greatest, long-term happiness.

And after that outburst, I must add that I DO sympathize with your dilemmas. I've been there. Hang in there. You're doing a GREAT job!

PS: To anyone reading this, please consider carefully what I'm really saying here, before taking offense.
Very thoughtfully put, anonymous. Just as gay people should not be judged as somehow less than human, LDS people should not be judged as narrow-minded zealots because of their firmly held, studied and prayed about religious convictions. It IS possible to love sinners and hate sinful behavior, but it takes a whole lot of real charity to walk that line.

I think political-ish issues have been given over the pulpit before. There was a law attempting to legalize gambling several years ago in Utah that the church mobilized against, stating moral grounds. The active LDS teachers I knew struggled with this one--the proceeds from the gambling were earmarked for education. The same conservatives who voted against the betting voted against any tax increases to help Utah's struggling schools. There are never easy answers.
JB said…
Man, I know the feeling! Well, not exactly, but it's lonely and you feel. . . out of place when you go to church by yourself. Everyone else is with friends, siblings, parents, spouses, etc. I think I probably felt it more than people intended it, but it's hard not to feel that way sometimes.

It seems to me like a number of people in the LDS community are having a difficult time with the church's stance on gay marriage. In fact, if the church didn't think people were going to believe God was okay with it, I wonder why they'd bring it up in the first place. It seems that there are a number of people in the church who want to reinforce how LDS they are and how Righteous they are or even just to convince themselves they're doing the right thing by talking about it with other people like it's Obviously Right and "we're all gonna do it, right? Right??" I think some of it is a fear that they're not doing the right thing or a hope that other people will be more confident about it than they are. . .

In any case, best of luck with whatever your choice is. And welcome to the best state in the union! ;)
heatherc said…
I know I come very late to this discussion...sorry (I was lead to your blog through a series of links). I do have compassion for your struggle with Prop 8 and don't think it is a given that it should come easy to all people. But I truly believe the Watchman on the Tower has a foreknowledge of what is to come... And I would hope that all LDS members approach this subject with the attitude similar to "anonymous". This is not a matter of making judgements on how others spend their lives. Sadly this is a matter of protecting rights (ironic I know, for both sides!). To "science teacher mommy": yes, it does somehow threaten your marriage. Please forgive my weakness in explanation and instead may I respectfully request that you spend just a few moments reading much more educated writings. has a list of ten reasons marriage should be protected by a constitutional amendment and there is a really good article on; in the newsroom called the divine institution of marriage. I know that if prayerfully considered this matter can be sufficiently laid to rest in your mind and heart no matter which way you vote.

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