salvation is in the struggle

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A bird we found outside of our window a few days ago.

 

Can I say something honest? I am going to say something honest at the risk of alienating someone or many someones. I suppose that's always the risk when we're telling the truth of our lives, isn't it?

 

Living the Mormon faith has never been easy for me, but I usually recognize the importance of the struggle. In the Book of Mormon, we read about Enos the hunter who wrestles with God in prayer. His experience is intense and violent and visceral. Like Enos, I am constantly wrestling with my religion--seeking and searching, continually uncovering and tearing open. For me, the wrestling is an essential part of the faith journey. It can be messy and exhausting and confusing at times, but the voice of God eventually fills my ears, my heart, and my toes as I lie prostrate on the wild and wet earth.

 

"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens."  --Enos 1:4

 

Trying to live my faith in Utah has proven to be the most arduous period in my spiritual development, and I'm having a difficult time honoring the importance of the struggle. Most of the time I feel suffocated. It's as if a giant pillowcase, bursting and squirming with the painful-for-me parts of Mormon culture, has been stuffed into my mouth. There is a constant buzz of anxiety, an incessant insect, that lives in my throat. I wake up on Sunday mornings with a rock lodged firm in my gut, and as I kneel at my bedside, praying for the rock to be removed, all I hear is the distracting buzzzzzzzzzz of the insects that have taken residence in my body.

 

I want to attend church on Sunday and feel the sense of community I've felt in past congregations. But church in American Fork, Utah is not my place of refuge for reasons that I am still trying to uncover. I am certain, however, that the people are not the problem. My neighbors are kind and loving folk who bring you raw honey and potted flowers.

 

It is me. It is me choking on the culture. That's the problem.

 

Mostly I worry that my view of the world--with my support of feminist issues and gay rights--not to mention my constant questioning of basically everything--makes me an ill-suited Young Women's leader. And perhaps, if we're being really honest here, an ill-suited Mormon. These growing insecurities won't lead me out of my faith tradition, but they do make it very difficult to feel at peace among my fellow Saints.

 

It is nighttime in the wilderness. Like Enos, I will still raise my voice high so that it reaches the heavens. I will wrestle with God until he descends from the celestial sphere, and we will wait together as the din of culture subsides. When all is quite, he will lean in and whisper that restorative truth my body is aching to remember: My daughter, salvation is in the struggle.