my faith crisis didn’t begin with politics or church history.
i was nine when my father died and i was standing in a line at a mortuary, part of the spectacle that is Those By Whom The Deceased Is Survived. a pregnant wife weeping, parents and siblings greeting mostly people they don’t know, small children who don’t quite understand what’s happening, me. standing still, neatly groomed, receiving hugs from people, listening to shitty condolences like, “it gets better,” “he’s in a better place,” “isn’t the temple such a great thing,” “god has a plan.” my father, The Righteous Man, lucky enough to get Called Home and to get to participate in The Work from The Other Side Of The Veil.
lucky him? bullshit. what kind of god would decide that 36 was the perfect age to leave me, my two brothers, my mother, six months pregnant with my youngest brother. what kind of work could be more important than my family. i broke apart, not only in grief from a dead dad but also in sorrow because i could not believe in a god whose operations included taking my dad from my family to perform some Duty deemed greater than being around to see me grow up. selfish? most definitely. what nine-year-old does not believe that their needs are most important?
as i grew older and continued to try and grapple with what i saw as the barrier standing between me and belief, i tried to be the best at Church. i knew all the right answers to sunday school questions. i knew the scripture stories and powerful standalone verses, and where to find them. as recipients of assistance from the church and from individual ward and stake members, i bore witness of the importance of a system that took care of its members. i participated in leadership callings, paid tithing, volunteered to play the piano, cried around the campfire at girls’ camp. i did everything i could think of to try and break down that barrier. FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT. i was just waiting for that moment when everything would click.
eventually it was too much for me. everything in the church was predicated on a belief in god–a belief that i had lost and never again cultivated, despite my best efforts. i met feminism after i resigned myself to never being able to break through my belief barrier. i met feminism. i became aware of shady parts of church history that people preferred to just not talk about. i spent time reading about the church and its political involvements and its tax-free status. i researched the history of women’s ordination.
my brother left on a mission to el salvador and became happier than i’ve ever known him to be. my mother and brothers continue(d) to be buoyed up by the promises of the gospel, the atonement of jesus christ, and the possibility of being reunited with my dad because of my parents’ temple marriage.
on this coming sunday, easter, my small immediate family will gather with the rest of my dad’s family and eat and discuss sunday school lessons. my grandfather will have us watch easter dream and talk to us a bit about the power of the atonement and importance of the resurrection. no one will mention my dad, but we all know he’s the underlying reason for this annual speech from the patriarch of our family.
and i will sit there, struggling to understand how everything comes together. like last year and the year before that. not that i do not know how everything comes together. i know.
it is just a world to which i have no access.
i guess i have made my peace with that.