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.