“We are all in this together. We need each other. Oh, how we need each other.”

(Marjorie Pay Hinckley)


Long overdue honest social media.

"...I wished my kids would be like so-and-so’s kids...."

"'What do you want to be when you grow up?'  My answer was always, 'A mom.'  I had a pretty specific picture of what that was going to look like, too.  Then the children started coming and I found out they had their own ideas of how things were going to be. My ideal picture changed and changed and changed again.  

"For a long time I was frustrated by this and wished things would be like my picture.  I wished my kids would be like so-and-so’s kids.  I endured comments and perceived thoughts from others about how I should be handling my children.  And I shed many a tear when it didn’t work.  

"One day I had a friend share the thought with me that these were my children and they were sent to me because of what I could do for them and for what they could teach me.  My ideal picture keeps changing, but I don’t worry so much about what others say or think anymore.  

"I try to be appreciative when others say 'You should …' or 'If it were my child, I’d …' and sometimes try their suggestions.  But, overall I know that they haven’t worked my child all these years and they don’t know what works and what doesn’t work with that child.  Mostly, I am trying to parent in partnership with Heavenly Father and be the mom my children need me to be; and allow other parents the same privilege."

I'M MAKING A SLIGHT CHANGE...

Real Life Mormon Women will now be posting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

"There is a wonderful messiness in religion..."

"Living in Utah you may think that there isn’t much diversity, but in any given neighborhood, hidden by a familiar appearance, there are diverse ideas, opinions, and conversation of real people that I’m hungry to experience.

"There is a wonderful messiness in religion, scripture, prophetic statements, and church history.  I find it exhausting being around those who try and pretend it isn’t so. More often than not in church meetings I hear extreme efforts to put the church and its doctrines in a pretty and perfect little package. 

"I learn more from the messiness rather than the sanitized version.  I’m tired of trying to fit into the standard cookie cutter in which I don’t want to fit. I want better asked questions to ponder and wrestle with, and fewer regurgitated answers. I want to hear ideas and opinions discussed, and even kindly debated, rather than have the opinions of local and general leaders blindly accepted without exploration or strong, inquisitive dialogue. 

"I want to fight my way into figuring out truth, rather than have it laid before me and peer pressured into accepting.  I want it to be typical practice to agree to disagree in Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society, and not have those around me fear for their own testimony—or mine."

CALL FOR ENTRIES.


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Let's be real,

Sue

"...the thought of having another child sounded awful to me..."

"I am happily married to a great guy. I wanted three kids but my husband wanted four. I felt complete with three and the thought of having another child sounded awful to me. My husband was certain that we needed to have another one. I was so confused how two people, working together for the same goal, could have such different feelings on something so important. Our relationship is strong and we trust each other, but this was a huge difference for us. 

"I ended up getting pregnant with our fourth child. I was angry and bitter that it happened and that I allowed it. I regretted it from the day I found out. Everyone would tell me that once the baby was born, I would love it and all those feeling would go away. I hoped and prayed for that to be the case because I was miserable. 

"I prayed that the Lord would take the baby from me but that didn't happen. The day came that the baby was born. My fear was confirmed. I didn't love the baby. I didn't have an instant bond with him. I was still angry and resentful. I didn't want the baby. 

"My baby just turned one and my feelings about him have not changed. I want my old life back. I want to only have three kids. It is a daily struggle for me to love and care for this baby. I feel guilty because I know of so many people that want a baby so bad and can't. Here I am with a healthy beautiful baby and I don't feel love towards him. I take care of him and he has what he needs but I am still learning to love him and praying everyday that I will eventually have a bond with him like I do my others. 

"Sometimes it is difficult to be in a church where everyone seems so happy and in love with their children. It makes me feel like a horrible person and mom. I hear other moms say they wouldn't give up or trade their kids for anything in the world. I want so bad to be able to say that about this baby. I wish I had that bond with him like everyone said I would happen but I just don't. My heart hurts because of this."

"I used to think that kids that got addicted to drugs..."

"I used to think that kids that got addicted to drugs were from hard family situations. I thought maybe from homes where no one was paying attention. Surely they didn’t have good parents that loved them and did all they could to raise them right. I was wrong. 

"My son’s addiction has taken me to places that I never thought I’d be. It has caused me to feel a pain so deep, that at times I can hardly breathe.  It has kept me up all night many nights. The desperation of it is crippling. Sometimes I just have to focus on getting through the hour. However, it has also brought me insight, compassion, understanding, and strength. But most of all it has taught me the power of love like I never knew before."

"Maybe this post is too sensitive of a topic..."

"Maybe this post is too sensitive of a topic for the times that we are in, but it is something that has been a part of my life for 18 years. I need to give a little back story before I can explain my struggle.

"I have a father and brother who are both gay. My father was born and raised in the LDS church, served a mission, and married my mother in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. After 35 years of marriage (and knowing he was gay his whole life) he and my mom divorced. It was hard even though I was in my 20s when the divorce was final. Having your parents divorce is never fun, but watching your father struggle with who he is and where he fits in in life is not either.

"My little brother has been my very best friend throughout my life.  He came out (of 'the closet') when he was in his teen years. He is no longer a member of the church, and in fact is strongly against organized religion in general. He works hard at trying to get me, his best friend, to pull away from the church. Which then leads to my struggle.

"In the news and media we are seeing so much about equal rights for gay marriage. We also see many stories and we know where the LDS church stands on the issue. There are many members of the church who are gay and who struggle with where they fit in all of this, trying to find a balance and peace in their lives. My heart goes out to these people. I have watched my own father struggle with his testimony of Jesus Christ and with who he is for 18 years of my 31 years-although his struggle has been much longer than that.

"It is extremely hard to know and believe what I do, but also to have the love and respect that I do for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community.

"My faith, beliefs, and testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel are as strong now as they have ever been. There is no wedge between my Heavenly Father and me. I have lived part of my life without the gospel in it and I know that it is something that I want and need in my life. I have an unwavering testimony of Jesus Christ and his Atonement; and the gospel brings joy to my life on a daily basis.

"That being said, yes, I do have a unique/different perspective on certain things. One being gay marriage and the rights of gays. I stand as a supporter and ally to the many members of the LGBTQ community because of my dad and my brother. It is hard to be a member of the church with the views that I have, and what I feel is right in my heart. I struggle that we do not, and in many ways cannot, discuss this topic more openly. I sincerely believe that there are many other members of the church who have this same struggle-being in the middle can be emotionally exhausting, but it is a fight I will keep fighting.

"I want to live as Jesus Christ taught, loving one another unconditionally. I will continue to be a support to those I love.  

"I am a active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I am an ally for the LGBTQ community."

"...'If you'd known then what you know now, would you still have done it?' "

"Recently a friend asked me 'If you'd known then what you know now, would you still have done it?'  She was talking about my experiences as a foster mother. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done. 

"I truly, deeply, bottom-of-my-heart feel that it is what the Lord wants me to be doing.  People sometimes tell me they could never be foster parents. I always answer that if they felt as strongly as I do that the Lord wanted them to do it, they could, because I could not do this alone either. Nothing in my life has ever made me rely on the Lord this way. I have literally spent entire sleepless nights in prayer. I have begged God for guidance, for peace, for help. 

"I cannot even describe how painful and difficult the past 3 years have been. But I have not been alone. I have felt the Lord guiding my words and my actions. I have felt Him flood me with the love He has for my foster (now adopted) son. I have felt His arms around me in my darkest moments. I have had angels sent to me in the form of friends, neighbors, and family members, to give me the support and help I needed. 

"And still, at this point, I have to consider the experience a failure. My son has not been able to rise above his difficult past. He is, in fact, doing absolutely nothing to move his life forward in any positive direction. He is sinking. He is repeating his parents' mistakes. It breaks my heart. I am hurt and angry and frustrated and guilty and so, so sad. 

"Sometimes I feel so shattered that I have a difficult time breathing. And I have to ask, what was the point?  Why did I put myself and my family through the conflict, the stress, and the sacrifice? I would give anything for that kid if I felt that it would honestly make a difference, but it hasn't. And yet, knowing all of this, would I do it again? I think I would. I have grown closer to the Savior through this experience than I had ever been before, and I would not trade that.

"A wise friend pointed out to me that in a way, what I am doing has strong parallels to the Atonement. I am doing this voluntarily because God asked me to.  I did not cause the crap in this kid's life, but I am willing to cause myself tremendous heartache in order to try to fix it. That's what the Atonement is all about—the fact that Jesus Christ, because God asked him to, willingly suffered in order to try to fix all the crap in our lives. Crap He didn't cause, but He tries to fix it anyway. And I say 'tries to fix it' because, just like in my situation, it doesn't always work.

"How many people really, truly appreciate the Atonement and avail themselves of it in their lives? And how many people turn their backs and reject everything Jesus offered? I'm not Jesus. I'm not saying I'm anywhere near that. But I have proved to myself, and I believe I've proved to the Lord, that I am willing to do anything He asks me to do to try to save His children. Anything. For as long as He needs me to do it. I'm glad to know that about myself. And I still have hope that my son will be a success story someday. I'm not done with him and the Lord isn't either.

"I wish we all would be a little more gentle with one another. "

"The first day of my college public speaking class, my professor told us of some counsel he received by a general authority of our church, given to all the English and communication professors on campus. It was a reminder that they specifically tread on holy ground as they read and listen to stories from their students, most often in regards to the deepest, most personal things from their lives. Their stories

"I feel similarly about blogging and social networks. The Internet is a place of sharing. Instead, we sometimes use it as the place to assign judgement and make assumptions based on the smallest snippets of other people's lives.

"Marvin J. Ashton said, 'If we could all look into each other's hearts, and understand the unique challenges each of us face, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.' 

"I try to be so mindful of that when I interact on the Internet. I wish we all would be a little more gentle with one another. "

"Having children and being married is harder than I ever thought it would be."

"Having children and being married is harder than I ever thought it would be. I love it, but it is constantly overwhelming to be the one needed by everyone else. The little boy laughs, shared memories, and hugs make it all worth it, but...I never realized I would feel like I was drowning some days. It never occurred to me that my every moment could be used by everyone else. And I never knew what a severe lack of sleep could make me do or say. 

"I'm grateful for my family and for my faith, which taught me at an early age the way to find comfort and joy, because it is the only thing that keeps me sane somedays."

"...I have realized how important it is to NOT judge..."

"In the last couple of years I have realized how important it is to NOT judge a book by its cover. I grew up with people doing it to me, so I found myself surprised to be doing the same to others. 

"I opened myself up to cultivating new friendships with people I thought didn't like me, or were uninterested in spending time together. In doing this, I have come across a really wonderful friendship—one I wouldn't have thought would be so fulfilling a couple years ago.
"So, you know, love one another and all that jazz. Don't be intimidated by other sisters around you. Be friendly and you never know ... That friend you always wanted might be right under your nose." 

"I will be the first to admit I am a slow learner."

"I will be the first to admit I am a slow learner. I believe that I can do things on my own—my own way. For as long as I can remember, I have felt the need to 'save' others. If I see an injustice, I feel obligated to go in headfirst and fix it. 

"I was recently taught a difficult lesson. In my attempt to 'save' a little girl in the foster care system, my husband and I brought her into our home and our hearts. We both felt very strongly that we were doing the right thing. We prayed about it, fasted about it, and prayed some more. At no point did we think this would be easy, but we also were blinded as to just how difficult it would prove to be.

"After struggling for 2 ½ months to make this difficult situation transition into a peaceful solution for all involved, we came to the heartbreaking decision that it was just not possible. I felt like a complete failure. I had been entrusted to care for this little girl, who for no fault of her own, had been dealt a horrible hand in life.  Not only had she suffered, but our children had now suffered, and our relationships had suffered. I questioned why my Heavenly Father would lead our family down this destructive path. Why had we felt so strongly that we were supposed to do this, when it brought us to this point?

"Once I allowed myself some time to grieve for what could have been, I realized I had my answer. This little girl needed to be removed from the dire situation she was in. We were a temporary resting place while the family she was meant to be with became available. Things happen for a reason, one that often times I do not understand. 

"Our family is still trying to dig out from all the chaos that was created in those few short months, but I do believe that our prayers were answered, and continue to be answered; not as I would have hoped, but as our Heavenly Father knew was necessary."

"...I found out my husband...had a pornography addiction..."

"Six years into my 'perfect' marriage, I found out my husband, my hero, my stalwart priesthood holder, had a pornography addiction. It shook me to my core. I have learned and grown so much. Along this path, I have learned that my Savior is my truest and most loyal Friend. That He will never leave me. I have learned the power of the Atonement and how it compensates for all pain and suffering. I have learned that everyone has hidden heartache. That the most beautiful women in my neighborhood may be hurting inside. That the perfect family I see every Sunday, may have major struggles and is hanging on by a thread, trying their hardest to make it. I'm learning to be 'softer' with people. To be more compassionate and less-judgmental.

"I have learned that life is full of choices. I choose to find the beauty in life and in the people around me. And every single day when I wake up, I choose my husband. I choose my marriage; and most importantly, I choose to love myself!"

"It's really easy for me to love and connect with those..."

"It's really easy for me to love and connect with those who are brutally honest with their struggles; or the person who questions their testimony; the person who battles addiction; the person married to an addict; and the parent of a troubled child. This also includes the gay person questioning where they fit in with the church; the person battling mental or emotional problems; and the person lost in their grief. I feel this way as well with the older unmarried member; the childless couple; and the lost sheep.

"What I really have a hard time with is loving those who label the above as a flight risk, a trouble maker, a bad influence, a question mark, or someone who 'just needs to have more faith' (please, can we please stop saying that to each other?)

"But I'm trying, because Christ didn't say love thy neighbor that you agree with, or connect with, or understand. That love applies to everyone. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying."

"...one of the greatest realizations..."

"I think one of the greatest realizations of my adult life has been that now I get the luxury of being picky about who I'm friends with."

"...I frequently need to remind myself that life has seasons..."

"I have found that I frequently need to remind myself that life has seasons. There are some activities I can no longer do since having children (at least not without extensive planning). There are some activities I can do with my young children now, that I will not be able to do with them when they are grown. There are some activities that are better suited for a time when my children are older. I struggle with wanting to have too many adventures now when some are more appropriate for another season, when this happens life gets too complicated and uncomfortable."

"When my marriage fell apart..."

"When my marriage fell apart in a completely surprising way, after years of deception, my heart was broken for longer than I care to admit, but in that brokenness, I found my strongest witness of God's love and presence in my life.  It was actually worth it. Long story, short summary of the value of horrors in life!"

"...I find myself feeling like I’ve lost myself..."

"With all my children at school I find myself feeling like I’ve lost myself. I get the bits of time in between dropping them off and picking them up from school, taking them to piano lessons, straightening the house, grocery shopping, doing laundry, my church calling, being a wife, and meal planning. 

"I know I should be studying and using my free time wisely to better myself but I just feel purposeless and like I’m drifting, nothing can hold my attention. There’s no motivation inside me. I frustrate myself that I can’t just get on with life and love this new stage, but I’m sentimental, and it feels like I’m in a holding pattern."

"I’m a big tent Mormon..."

“I’m a big tent Mormon--I really like discussing all the different ideas and theories out there. The fact is  we are not given an adequate explanation for every event in the scriptures. It leaves our minds open to think through these things and decide for ourselves. You may be wondering what I’m talking about because you, like me a few years ago, may not know that there are about a million websites for people who are Mormon, yet don’t agree with every single tenant the church teaches.  When I teach, I want the class to be a welcome area to discuss and give different points of view without fear that someone will go home and say, ‘Guess what Sister so-and-so said in Relief Society today!’ but rather, “Sister so-and-so mentioned this point which I had never considered before.’  

“I believe the Bible to be true, but I doubt that there was a world wide flood.  I believe that God and Christ created the earth and put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but I doubt that the earth is only 6000 years old. These are the kinds of things that I just don’t understand with my mortal mind, so I shelve those thoughts and ponder on them. I have lots of thoughts and different ideas that don’t make me an unbeliever, but rather someone who invites discussion into my life. Doubt is not sin—it is the invitation to our minds to learn more.   


“Terryl Givens said: ‘The call to faith is a summons to engage the heart, to attune it to resonate in sympathy with principles and values and ideals that we devoutly hope are true and which we have reasonable but not certain grounds for believing to be true. An overwhelming preponderance of evidence on either side would make our choice as meaningless as would a loaded gun pointed at our heads. Many of us will live out our lives in doubt, like the unnamed father in the Gospel of Mark. Coming to Jesus, distraught over the pain of his afflicted son, he said simply, ‘I believe, help thou mine unbelief.’  Though he walked through mists of doubt, caught between belief and unbelief, he made a choice, and the consequence was the healing of his child.’”

"...I shouldn't embarrass my son..."

"I recently learned that I shouldn't embarrass my son in public just to make myself look funny."

❈ ❈ ❈


"I swear so much. Like way too much. It's not like I am dropping the F bomb all over the place, but I can't get over the fact that sometimes a ‘hell’ or a ‘damn’ is completely appropriate in some situations." 

"Even though I don't really observe the standards..."

"Even though I don't really observe the standards that LDS individuals follow, I still appreciate where those standards brought me.

"I've had trouble trying to fit in and accept the fact that I felt a little different than my childhood friends when it came to going to church and talking about it. I didn't really know how to feel or what to believe sitting in Young Women's for years. And because of not knowing, I began to resent the people that followed the Gospel's teachings. Because I thought they were wrong.

"To this day, I don't agree with most of the teachings and beliefs, but I can and will respect them.

"The past few years have been about me accepting that everyone can have different beliefs. They can live their lives in the fashion that may make me question them, but it comes down to being happy. I have had to come to the realization that my loved ones DON'T have to like what I'm doing or what I believe in because I have no right to dislike what they believe. It all comes down to love.

"Living in a hateful shell destroyed me as a person and burned a lot of bridges in the process. I am still struggling to build myself back up and beyond to the person I aspire to be. And, even though I used to hate it, my LDS background has helped me along the way."

"...I was confronted with an awful truth: Life is not fair. "

"Here's my struggle:

"All my life I have always been 'the good one.' I have tried to make good choices and have never strayed far off 'the path.'  My life was pretty good, until I was confronted with an awful truth:  Life is not fair.  

"Sometimes we have to suffer the consequences of other people's action, through no fault of our own.  Because of the free agency of others, I now find myself as a single mother to four young children.  I find myself as the one who has to go to work to earn the money, the one who must do the work around the house and maintain the house, the one who needs to guide and teach my children in what they need to know and how they should act and treat others, the one who has to make sure the kids have everything they need, the one who tries to somehow make up for a huge void of a father-figure in their lives, and in my free time, still find time to have a life myself.  

"It's not fair.  My life is not fair.  And I'm mad about it.  I'm angry inside that I find myself in a situation that I did not cause.  I had no control over this.  And it's not fair.  I'm angry at the man who promised and covenanted to be my companion and failed.  And I don't want to forgive him.  Right now I WANT to be angry.  I know that one day I will need to forgive him.  Not for him, but for me.  But today, I'm okay being angry. 

"Life is not a pretty picture that we paint.  Life is full of ugly brush strokes.  Today all I see are the ugly brush strokes destroying the beautiful picture I had painted for myself.  I only hope that one day, those brush strokes will turn into a masterpiece."

"Sometimes as mortals we take ourselves too seriously..."

"Sometimes as mortals we take ourselves too seriously, particularly when it comes to our families. We need to remember that mortality is like a dress rehearsal and the next life will be the flawless performance. Satan likes to try to convince women that our actions are somehow solely responsible for the successes or failures of those we love. In reality, outside of myself, nothing I do in life is going to permanently (eternally speaking) damage anyone else, not husband, not children, not friends, not strangers. Even if I do something that causes temporary damage, the Atonement is there to fix the problem for both me and for the person I have hurt. 

"To illustrate: a few years ago as I was serving in the Primary presidency in my ward. We had worked really hard to prepare for the sacrament meeting program and had grandiose expectations of greatness. We had a great script. We had lots of practice time. Then came the rehearsal on the Saturday morning before the big day. It was a disaster. I was certain that this would be the first Primary program in the history of Primary programs that would bomb and we were going to ruin sacrament meeting for the rest of forever.

"But the next morning, the program came together with just the right amount of enthusiasm and tenderness. The shy Sunbeams shone brightly, the too-old-for-Primary 11-year-olds bore sincere testimonies. The Spirit in the meeting uplifted everyone in the room and the Primary kids did what Primary kids do by presenting, predictably, the best sacrament meeting of the year. I have to humble myself enough to admit very little of what I did made the difference in the value of the program. It was the purity of the kids that made it work. A wise friend told me that is they way it is every year with the Primary program.

"When we get beyond the veil and get to see this mortal probation in the eternal context, we are going to realize the same is true. Some of our lives, or at least aspects of our lives, are a complete disaster. We have hurt people we love, we have said words we wish we could suck back inside, we have had uncharitable feelings towards people we don't know, we have even served unhealthy meals to helpless children. It is all for our benefit so we can learn what not to do when we get to the opening night performance beyond the veil. The stuff that really matters is in the next life. That is where flawless will really matter, and be possible.

"It is all part of the plan. Heavenly Father knew we would need this dress rehearsal. That is why we are here. The Atonement is infinite and eternal. 'All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ' (Preach My Gospel, p. 52)."

"I love the doctrine of marriage..."

"I love the doctrine of marriage and eternal families.  But I think our church puts an almost unhealthy emphasis on marriage, especially for young girls.  

"Somewhere along the line I began to equate personal worth (my own and that of others) with marriage or potential for marriage.  Not everyone will find the right person for them in this lifetime, and that doesn't make them any less special or faithful.  Personally, I would rather stay single than marry someone who was not right for me." 

"I always knew I wanted to be..."

"I always knew I wanted to be a wife and a mother, I'm not sure I ever thought far beyond those two things because in part, that's what was reinforced to me over and over again growing up and truthfully, I was a little bit scared to think about what or who I would be otherwise. 

"Now that I am those things, and I love being those things (most of the time), figuring out who I am, independent of all that I've experienced, is one of the most self-affirming and growth inspiring challenges I never expected."