Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mourning Perfectly

As an adult, I have fallen in love with the emotional side of the Atonement—the understanding that when we face trials, Christ “is not a silent observer. He Himself knows personally and infinitely the pain we face.” (Source) For too much of my life, I associated the Atonement only with sin. The Atonement was of course happy because it allowed me to be forgiven, but there was guilt associated with taking advantage of the Atonement, because it meant I had screwed up.

But “the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature” (2 Nephi 9:21) that he suffered are not all connected to sin. And turning to Christ in our moments of pain, particularly during the trials for which we bear no responsibility, is a hopeful, miraculous experience. It’s one I have complete faith in. I know that Christ understands precisely what I’m feeling, even when no one else does.

While I’ve spent the last few years coming to better understand this side of the Atonement, gaining a greater testimony of it, I still don’t understand how it works. How can these abstract emotions be shared? How did he feel what I feel? How does Christ relieve this pain? Much of the how is obviously beyond my comprehension. But I’ve also spent some time recently wondering if maybe I understand more than I thought I did.

As followers of Christ, we’re expected to, among other things, “mourn with those that mourn.” (Mosiah 18:9) I can’t speak for everyone, but this comes naturally to me when the one mourning is someone I love. And even when I have no direct connection to a trial they’re facing, their grief becomes—to a small extent—my own. Simply put, when a loved one mourns, I too mourn. I know I don’t mourn their losses as deeply as they do. I don’t feel them as acutely as they do. But they’re real to me. Sometimes sadness penetrates my soul as if I personally experienced a loss.

And I’m a mere mortal with a limited capacity to love.

But Christ isn’t mortal. And his love is perfect and eternal. I wonder if his time suffering for us occurred not just because he loved us and was willing to suffer but because he loves us and so he had to suffer. Meaning, he saw what each of us would face in our lives. And he saw how sad or alone or depressed or despondent these experiences would make us feel. Just as we automatically mourn with our loved ones who mourn, maybe he automatically suffered the very feelings we would eventually suffer.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day Without a Woman

I participated in the Women's Strike, despite waffling about the decision to do so and feeling reluctant even once the decision was made. I participated in the Women's Strike, and it wasn't empowering. I felt bored. I felt pointless. I felt guilty. I felt embarrassed. But I didn't feel empowered. Ultimately, the reasons I was skeptical about participating turned out to be the reasons A Day Without A Woman ended up feeling, for me, like a day without a purpose. 

Why did I want to participate? 

I'm a feminist. I care about women's issues. And I regret not participating in the Women's March. I had a lot of reasons for not joining in that display of solidarity, but that weekend as I read news coverage and scrolled through Twitter, I felt I had let my gender down. I felt I had passed up a chance to unify. I felt I had missed out on part of history. I realized too late that what I had perceived as a lack of focus regarding the mission of the march was actually the purpose. On that incredible day, people found their voice. And it didn't matter that the voices lacked unison; they had harmony. 

I liked the idea of today because it felt similar. I liked the idea of joining in a widespread expression of what women contribute in the workplace, in the economy, in society, in the family. I liked the idea of drawing attention to those contributions.  

Why was I hesitant to participate? 

While I see sexism regularly and try my best to call attention to it, I am rarely the recipient of it. I'm surrounded by great men and strong women. I have had the privilege of being judged more on my merits than on my gender. And something rang false to me about protesting when I hadn't personally been adversely impacted by nature of being female. But I also recognized that my privilege is exactly why I need to take a stand. Because there are women all over who haven't been as fortunate. 

So what was my day like?

I had told my boss I wouldn't be in and why. He respected my decision and said he'd see me Thursday. Our office's annual chili cookoff was today, and I missed that. The mock trial team I coach has quarterfinals tomorrow, and I missed their practice. I didn't spend money. I hung out with my sister and her family. I read. I watched tv. I watched footage of the Women's March organizers--who prided the movement on the peacefulness of January's march--being arrested for impeding traffic and felt embarrassed. I watched my mock trial team's message feed about practice and felt guilty. As 5 o'clock approached, the time I otherwise would have been preparing to leave work, I couldn't help but feel like I had wasted an entire day. I had accomplished nothing. Other than some temporary profile pictures, my red jeans, and a Nevertheless She Persisted tshirt, I had nothing to show for my participation in what I expected to be...something more. Something noticeable. Something meaningful. 

Do I regret participating? 

I don't know. I don't think so. I'm not even prepared to say generally that the day was unsuccessful, because I can't speak to the effect the strike might have had on others. And honestly, I'm grateful to know that this form of activism doesn't work for me. That means I can work at finding other ways to support causes I care about and, hopefully, find more fulfillment in pursuing them. 

With all that being said, I hope I hear that others had a different experience. I hope that somehow, to someone, today made the world better. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Putting Pen to Paper

...or fingers to keys, as it were.

Writing has long been a tool I use to process emotion. It's also the way I prefer to communicate. My mom would often get mad at me when I was younger because rather then tell her I had done something wrong, I would write her a note. It's how I would apologize to her after a fight, too. It's easy to dismiss this approach as cowardice--it is, after all, easier to write something than to say it to someone's face. But this dismissal fails to account for the fact that often, I can't say something out loud, as much as I might want to. I'm a rational, logical person. But I also feel emotions very strongly. And when I know that my emotions will interfere with my logic or rationality, I look for ways to dilute those emotions. Writing is usually the solution. If I try and say something to your face--something I care about deeply--there's a chance I'll fail because I cry or I get off track or you interrupt me. I'm normally confident in my ability to be articulate, but when I doubt my ability to be as articulate as I need to be, the written word will always be there for me.

So that's why I'm writing this. Because I have so many thoughts, fears, disappointments, and emotions right now. Completely free of hyperbole, I can tell you that I'm in mourning. Six days removed from the election, I can see slightly more clearly and I know that that mourning is not for an entire nation. I (still) believe in America. I (still) believe in the Constitution. And I want to believe that the structure of our government that has withstood nearly 230 years will remain undamaged four years from now.

But still I mourn.

I have not been quiet about my support of Hillary Clinton. But I haven't told many about my political journey over the last year--about going from "not that female president" to #ImWithHer. It has been a year full of research, of reading, of realization. It's a process that deserves its own post. Its own conversation. I have come to love Hillary Clinton for who she is, without reference to any other candidate. And trust me, knowing that she will not become this nation's first female president brings forth its own round of tears every day. I mourn that loss, that possibility, too. But again, that's not why I write.

I write because I thought I knew you. Maybe not you, specifically, who's reading this. But you my community, my religion, my friends, my countrymen. On November 7, I thought I knew who surrounded me as I drove on freeways and walked on city streets. I thought I knew whose tweets I liked. I thought I knew that even if we disagreed on politics, we agreed on morality. On kindness. On goodness.

I thought I knew that there were some people in this country who wore red hats and trolled my feeds and hashtagged #MAGA and that those were the people who supported a man who spews hate and greed and conspiracy and lies.

I thought there were people who said both #NeverHillary and #NeverTrump and that those were the people who refused to vote for Hillary for reasons I disagreed with but who also refused to vote for him for reasons I respected. I saw people talk about Evan McMullin and I was inspired. I was inspired to believe that my hope for the end of the two-party system could eventually become reality. I was inspired by people who knew that their candidate couldn't possibly win the election and who were principled enough to support him anyway. I thought many times, how neat would it be to see Utah neither red nor blue on CNN's election map but to see a third party win the state? Because even though I support Hillary and wanted her to win, I wasn't na├»ve enough to believe that a republican state would suddenly go blue. I did believe, though, that those who profess traditional republican values would be willing to support a traditional republican and vote for McMullin.

And on November 8, I was blindsided. Yes by the entire country who defied the polls. Yes by millions of Americans who support a man I find despicable. But mainly by people who I thought were similar to me. BYU fans and members of the Church. Members of a Church that decried hateful immigration and refugee policy proposals and rhetoric. Members of a Church that teaches love for your neighbors. Members of a Church that preaches respect for women, chastity, and godliness. I tremble as I type this truth: 61% of members of the Church voted for him. Voted for hateful immigration and refugee policy proposals and rhetoric. Voted against their neighbors. Voted for sexual deviance. For sexual assault. Voted against women. And while religion and politics are separate, religion and values are not. And I just. can't. believe it. I can't believe that so many of you who share my chapel and my temples and my name turned your back on what I thought united us.

Am I judging and generalizing? Yes. But that doesn't change the fact that since last Tuesday, every person I see, I wonder. I wonder, "Are you one of them? Did you vote for him? Did you do this?"

Twitter, a social network I loved, has been tainted. Because the same people I cheered with every time BYU scored a touchdown started to show their true colors last Tuesday. They came out of the closet, so to speak, and embraced a man publicly that prior to that day they had only supported in private. Maybe that support started during the primaries, or after the republican convention, or maybe only in the voting booth. But whenever that support started, they didn't admit or acknowledge it. They lied by omission. They tricked me into believing that whatever our disagreements, on one thing we could agree: He cannot be our president.

But then the election results rolled in. People who I had previously connected with and respected severed any connection and lost my respect. And I thought, if 6/10 Mormons voted for that man, did 6/10 BYU fans? And I thought, do the people who sit next to me at games agree with him? And I thought, we are not the same. And I thought, I don't want to be associated with you.

And I thought, how? and, why? and, is this real? and I cried.

And still I cry.

Friday, November 13, 2015

mission: accomplished

If you follow my other blog, you might already have seen this. But I decided to double post for maximum reach.

I know De Nouveau Review is a beauty blog and this giveaway might seem out of place there. But no amount of makeup, skincare, or hair products could rival the beauty of watching a loved one accomplish a goal.

My little brother, Matt, is my hero for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is his ability to set goals and then attain them, even in the face of adversity. I often see what he overcomes to reach his goals and realize how little I do to develop my own potential.

Earlier this year, I was in St. Louis when Matt won the NCAA wrestling championship at 174 pounds in about the last three seconds of the match. Then, I was fortunate enough to watch Matt reach another goal: writing a book about his journey. I have had the pleasure of reading the book in its many versions, and it is nothing short of inspiring. It has helped me as I prepare to face the next chapter of my personal and professional life. It has, in short, recommitted me to excellence.
I want you all to have the chance to feel inspired, too. So I'm giving away a signed copy of Matt's book. Enter below, and then go buy the book here. If you win, you can keep the signed copy and give away the one you bought, or vice versa. (Remember, Christmas is just around the corner!)

Spread the word. And, as always, thanks for reading!

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