Sometimes I feel the blog calling to me. "Write. Write." It's a little whisper carried on the wind, and buried somewhere at the bottom of a sweet potato casserole. It's at the bottom of the laundry pile, and stuck to the inside of the blender. I push back, reminding myself that there are other things I want to be doing, like watching four episodes of "Hart of Dixie" before forcing myself out of bed to face the tomorrow that will inevitably come. For the last couple of weeks, the whisper has gotten gradually louder. "You really ought to write." Again, I pushed back. "I don't know what I would write about. Nothing interesting is happening around here."
I swear I don't always talk to myself.
Then the whisper hit its crescendo and it headed towards a blaring fortissimo, my husband worked late, and I knew it was time to write. I also knew exactly what I needed to talk about. You see, this has been bubbling up inside of me for years, but it's finally finding its way out.
I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love my faith, I love what it teaches me, and I love the person it is helping me become. If you don't know that about me, you probably don't know me in real life. But just in case you're reading this as a person who really doesn't know me in real life, I thought I'd throw that out there, because it's kind of a big deal. Especially when it comes to what I'm about to say.
Some time ago, someone I looked up to a great deal, and who happened to be a fellow member of the Church, said something about gay people that made me cringe.
I didn't respond.
Not long after, I listened to lengthy discourses from others suggesting similar feelings.
Time and time again, I was silent. It wasn't affecting me.
A few years ago, I spent a few long months working as an assistant teacher in a preschool. Most of my time there is a vague memory of peanut butter and jelly smeared on my shirt and pieces of macaroni and cheese stuck in my eyelashes. Did you know that crushed graham crackers on the floor can make it quite slippery? You do now. I had several students during my short career as a teacher, but one little almost-two-year-old changed my heart forever. His name was Isaiah.
Isaiah was painfully shy, and really
struggled with being dropped off at school. I could tell he'd seen a lot of
pain in his short life, but I didn't know why. His mom came to pick him
up one day, and I'd never seen a woman express so much love for a
child. The next day, his other mom came to pick him up. Same thing.
Same love. Now, in this small and very wealthy preschool, people started to talk. For some reason, I was unaffected by the things that were being said. All I could see was that these two women would so obviously give anything for
this sweet little boy. After he'd been in my class a little while, I
started to hear bits and pieces of Isaiah's story. The two moms who
loved him so perfectly, so completely, were his foster moms. They were
keeping him while his parents went through a bitter custody battle in which they were fighting over who had to keep him. Not who would be
privileged enough to keep him, who HAD to keep him.
I don't know
who ever ended up keeping Isaiah. All I know is that he didn't get to
stay with his foster moms, and he was pulled out of our school. I'll
never forget that baby boy with pain in his eyes. And I'll never forget
his foster moms. Around that time, I overheard people talking about
how gay couples shouldn't be allowed to adopt, because of the harm that
could come to those children. That's when I KNEW. I knew something was
wrong, and I knew something had to change. It's been four years since all that happened. I've made monumental progress, didn't you know?
Oh. Probably not. Because the only person I've changed (as if I could change anyone at all) is myself. And my babies, but that's a different kind of change. But I digress.
There are some very important aspects of my faith that I feel directly impact the way I relate to the people around me. First and foremost, though, that pesky "love thy neighbor" commandment. It's kind of a big deal, no, more than a big deal. A HUGE deal. If I, as a member of my church, am repulsing people by my refusal to genuinely love them, the consequence of that repulsion is mine. The Gospel I believe in is a gospel of compassion, love, and acceptance. I don't recall reading anywhere in any scripture about Jesus telling people they're "gross." Maybe that's just me?
I genuinely believe that it is our responsibility, as members of the Church, to love our neighbors regardless of their sexual orientation, their skin color, their marital status, or their personal wealth. The Savior of the World didn't ask us to "tolerate" our neighbors or "peacefully ignore" our neighbors. He asked us to love them. He asked us to open our arms to people who are different from us, embrace them, and love them. It wasn't just a suggestion, it was a commandment.
In a world that's being ripped to shreds by war, riddled with poverty, and being ravaged by disasters and disease, do we really have time to judge each other? In the words of the Black-Eyed Peas, (I use only the most refined quotes) "where is the love?"