Sunday Musings

I realized about half way through Sacrament Meeting today that I this very thing I’m about to mention may have been happening my whole life, but I just noticed today. Is it always the case that the talks the weekend before General Conference are all about following the prophet?

Speaking of, my friend Davey pointed out this article from the Salt Lake Tribune that addresses an important question, are Mormon prophets infallible? To me the answer is obvious if you’ve read scripture or paid attention. No.. They are good men who teach wonderful things, but they are men nonetheless, and if there’s one thing Christianity teaches us all it’s that we are all men, prone to mistakes and errors throughout our lives, no matter who we are. But it’s an interesting topic in light of things like the talks that I heard at Church today where people talk about following the prophet blindly. I’m firmly of the school of thought that we need to reflect on, meditate op, and pray about the things that fill us with doubt. It’s hardly a revolutionary position, it being one of the cornerstones of Mormonism.

But on this spring Sunday when the weather has gone from snowy to sunny to cloudy, I’d like to leave you with a column by Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers on Christianity, all about spring, and resurrection, and surrender, and hope. It’s one of my favorite things ever written. (For those sensitive to such things I will warn you that Ms. Lamott swears a few times.) Here is a excerpt I love, love, love.

Jesus said from the cross (OK, so I’m paraphrasing), “Look, you’re a human, you’re badly wired, you’re in desperate need of grace. And you will die, as I am dying up here. But we can surrender: We can commend our spirit into my father’s hands. We need to forgive everyone first, though, because we don’t want to die angry, like other people I could mention …”

Jesus opened himself up entirely to the fear and suffering even though he would have preferred a little something from Column B. He said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me,” but he kept his eye on the prize, which was feeling loved by God, which is new life. And he let people he loved keep him company in his suffering, which is about as radical a concept as I can imagine. I don’t want people’s company when I have the flu or PMS. But when friends of mine have opened up to this willingness to have companionship at the end of their lives, or when they were losing or had lost a child, which may be the same thing, at some point they found themselves involved with material that enabled them to hook onto something bigger than the grasping, crying “I.”

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Have I mentioned that I feel like I’m having a bit of a mid-life crisis? Yeah. Maybe it’s the change of weather, maybe it’s Daylight Savings Time, maybe it’s the crazy stressful two weeks of work. I feel poor and boring and a little bit unloved and feeling like maybe my life is somehow wasted? I find myself on one hand really wanting to have kids, but also having anxiety attacks when I consider it too intensely. I want to go to Europe a lot and have health insurance again, but I really, really don’t like the idea of going back to regular full-time work. I want to be thin and shapely but I really love food and the not exercising. I want to have a well-organized craft area, but I also want to buy yarn whenever I please. I have terrible house envy every time I go to most of my friends’ houses or condos but I want the freedom to go see the world for months on end whenever I want without worrying about a mortgage. I want to have lots of fabulous friends (and I do, actually) but I have the hardest time picking up the phone and talking to people lately. And last but certainly not least I seem to be having some serious problems with envy. I look at most of my friends with their nice homes and pretty clothes and nice bicycles and vacations and my mental three year old takes over my brain and induces serious pouting and metal muttering  ”Why do they get to have all the good stuff? Why don’t I get to have nice things?”*

So here I am in my funk and if you read all of that you probably think me crazy or pitiful. It’s okay if you want to judge me. No, seriously, allow me to redeem myself a little. Do you read Seriously So Blessed? It’s a satire of “Mormon Housewife Blogs” . The blogs in question are chock full of gorgeous crafts and happy family moments, and they range from the hipster to the saccharine (the two not being mutually exclusive.) They are enough to make the sane and balanced feel schlumpy and disorganized and poor and wrong. I have to constantly remind myself that while these women may enjoy raising children and vintage cupcake toppers just as much as they seem to, these blogs are a compilation of their happy moments, and are not journalism.

Much has been said of the pressure that many, if not most, women (maybe especially Mormon women) feel to conform to some imaginary standard that we can’t necessarily define, but all the same know we’re not meeting. I had one of those epiphanies for myself reading this interview with the creator of Seriously So Blessed. I have to admit I read the interview wondering whether or not she’d address the complaint I’ve been hearing lately that the blog went from clever to mean a while ago. She didn’t address that, but this passage from the interview really struck me:

In any highly homogeneous culture we all feel pressure to be and look and think and act a certain way. Many Mormon women are hard on themselves because they’re good and want to be good and in our culture we do a lot of self-reflection and introspection on how we can improve. Part of being a member of the Church and part of being a person of faith and a follower of Christ is always thinking of how you can get better. With a lot of young American Mormon women that quest can get out of hand quickly. You start to think you need to be absolutely perfect in every area. You need to be having nonstop fun all the time, your marriage needs to be perfect, your kids need to be perfect, and you need to have to have pictures of every activity. I get emails from readers saying that there’s this unattainable standard that they see people around them portraying (or seeming to portray) and that the blog helps them realize that nobody’s perfect and it sounds ridiculous if you make things seem perfect all the time.

So that made me feel a little bit better. I’m still first paragraph crazy, but the part about how we feel like we not only need to have the “perfect” families and homes and scrapbooks, but how we feel like we should be having fun all of the time, really struck me. I could probably do with a little more fun, but it’s okay if I’m not out with girlfriends shopping at Anthropolgie and eating Cafe Rio every night.

Besides, Cafe Rio is too heavy. Makes me feel gross.

 

* For the record, I’m a nice Mormon girl and I know that “the cure for envy is gratitude” but it’s not always that easy. Did I mention that I’m in a funk? A funk, people!

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