"I been trying so hard. I'd like to believe that this is right. That I'm where You want me to be. That this is Your church and  I am Your child. 'Cause it's too much pain, Lord. Too much suffering."

This is Jane Mannings heart cry in the movie Jane and Emma, and as I watched her, my heart reached out in sympathy and my face was wet with tears. Her cry was my cry.  I was grateful for the dark of the theater. (See a portion of the scene here, along with the wonderful I Am A Child of God music video by the Bonner Family)

There are many areas in which this movie hit tender spots of my soul. Adoption, racial relations, loss, sorrow, hardships, faith crisis, female friendships, supporting each other through trials in imperfect ways, racism in and out of the church, the unfairness of life, wondering if God hears me, questioning my faith, checking my motivations, following personal revelation vs. what a leader has told me, the imperfections of said leaders, imperfections of myself, what it's like to be a woman, and so many other issues. But I think the thing this movie does the best is tell the truth. Nothing is glossed over. The satisfaction of the easy answer is not given. The discomfort of the unknown does not dull the beauty of the journey towards knowing. It just is. It is life and it is difficult and lovely all at the same time.

I'm watching this movie with my children. We are a mixed race family, brought together by adoption. We have been sealed in the temple for all time. The father of my children has broken his sealing through his actions. I am surprised with how much I have struggled with so many things about church since this happened. I am heart-sick at the pain I feel from many marginalized members of my faith. I am concerned about things that I feel need to change. I have struggled against my own personal demons. I have considered leaving many times and always end up feeling these two things.

First, from Mark Chapter 9,  "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." There are so many things I WANT to believe. I want that belief to be faith, not wishful thinking. Faith denotes a purposeful, actionable line of thinking. The things I have the hardest time with are the places in which I have been wounded the most. Those are my tender places that need healing and are so often poked and prodded open by the culture surrounding the religion and at time the religion I chose to practice. It is a very uncomfortable place for me to be right now.

Because, and this brings me to the second thing I feel,  the healing I seek is found at the feet of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And though imperfect, the best place I know to find Him is through the vehicle of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
John 6:60-69 says, "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."

I share these things because I feel someone out there to needs to know they don't have to choose into the polarization that is happening in our world right now. I know some people will cringe when I say I don't have to be either all in or all out right now.  I know, I KNOW all the scriptures about being luke-warm and ruined salt, I get it. I know about holding tightly to the iron rod and staying out of the great and spacious building. I know! But I want someone out there to know that it is okay to not understand everything right now! It is okay to be uncomfortable! It is okay to feel that way and to STILL hold on to the things you know for sure.
It is okay to continue on a path that you have trusted in the past even IN the place of uncertainty, even IN the place of unknowing, even IN a place of anger if that's where you are. Trust me, God is big enough to handle your uncomfortable emotions and thoughts.
My goodness, it's so hard.
One of the hardest things I've ever done.
 But I know I'm not alone in feeling this way and I don't want anyone else to feel alone either and feel pushed to make a decision from a place of fear. Fear that we're not good enough to stay because we don't have perfect, unwavering faith. Fear that we've made too many mistakes. Fear that we're just not cut out for it and that we'll never measure up. Fear of what people will think as the world continues to polarize and the choices we make will make us look even more peculiar then people already think we are. But we all know what happens when we make decisions from a place of fear.
Or haven't you seen Star Wars?

These things where people judge each other from the place of their fear are happening all over our world at every level and in every arena. And they are happening in my church. And then comes this intense need to polarize. And it is so unhealthy. The Savior was a polarizing figure, but He never pushed people to chose a side. He only invited.

So why, instead of supporting each other in our healing and forward movement, are the women of the church doing things like  judging each other on how well they are taking a social media fast challenge that was given from a spirit of love? A challenge that had no set start date, and no set way in which it should be done. Why do we feel that we need to explain ourselves and why and how we are doing this thing to each other in a church where love and compassion ought to be our motivating factor. Why, as Albert Ellis puts it, are we "shoulding" on each other? Will this continue to happen as our church transitions to more personal and family responsibility? I hope not. I hope these changes will allow for more flexibility and more personal/family growth and responsibility. I hope that they will help slough off some of the cultural traditions that I feel hold many back from the healing that is so desperately needed and was so eloquently spoken of by so many speakers in the recent General Conference.

Here's another scripture for those that seem to think going beyond the mark is a tenant of our religion.

Matthew 6:1-6 "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

While I watched Jane and Emma minister to each other, I couldn't help but hope that the fellow members of my church will accept the invitation extended to live a more authentically Christ-like life, and to lead by true example, as they help each other shoulder the burdens of belief and unbelief in a way that shows empathy and care. Jane was not perfect, and neither was Emma. One stayed and the other didn't. Neither ended up getting anything that might look like justice in this life, but there is no doubt in my mind that God gives them both the title "Elect Lady". 

Let us embrace those that carry burdens different and differently than ours. Let us be open to understanding. Let us help each other shoulder those burdens by offering each other a soft place to fall and casting aside the tendency to want to polarize each others actions and shove someone in a convenient category; divorcee, addict, depressed, stuck-up, Molly Mormon, perfect, hopeless, black, white, project, trouble-child, charity case, non-temple goer, etc. Let us remember that Jesus spent the entirety of his ministering life amid the outcast, the down trodden, the sick and the sinner and NEVER did He put Himself above them.

Let us walk each other through our dark nights of the soul and our journeys in the wilderness.

And see this movie.