Years ago, I was among a large group of relatives at a Christmas party. My uncle wanted each of us to tell something about ourselves. One family member declared that she was working on being happy. Being happy! What a strange thing to say. Just be happy, I thought. How hard is it? That was back at the age when I had everything figured out, under the age of thirty.
Life, since then has taught me a thing or two. Happiness seemed outside of my grasp, a decade or so after that party. The endless lump in my throat. The heavy chest. The tears only a blink away. The utter hopelessness. For me, that first depression was only a mild one, but it taught me what my relative meant. Happiness wasn’t as easy a thing to maintain as I had previously thought.
Now another couple of decades have passed since then and the happiness roller coaster continues. One of the tenets of my Mormon faith is personal revelation. And even though a quick search on LDS.org shows that personal revelation is talked about by our church leaders literally thousands of times over the years, it’s something that church members argue about. If you bring it up in Sunday School or Relief Society you will find that your personal revelation will be subject to scrutiny by other members. We judge each other’s personal revelation. But see, I don’t think we have the right to do that. By the very name of it, there’s only one person entitled to it—the individual. So if you think I'm off in left field, that's ok, that's your right. And it's my right to be me.
I have no doubt that some members of my faith have wondered if I’ve gone off the deep end because I post so many controversial things, especially on LGBT issues. And then yes, there’s that other little thing—my feminist leanings. In the last year or two as challenges to feeling real joy have yet resurfaced, I’ve prayed for answers. Sometimes I would lie in bed at night and not be able to sleep because of the anxiety I've felt over the way my church didn’t have any real answers for the LGBT community. Over the years I’ve read a few things. I've listened to BYU’s Dr. William Bradshaw. I've read Carol Lynn Pearson’s books. I’ve listened to LGBT friends and parents. I've read about suicides attempts and suicides. My heart grew heavier. I had to take a break and step away from the church for a time. Attending caused me too much pain. The God I believe in would provide a viable path for his children--all His children--not just the straight.
One morning as I lay in bed, after another sleepless night. I was so sad. God doesn’t reject his children and neither should His church. While I was thinking about this an answer came. And it was very clear. “Don’t just mourn. Do something.”
Well, I’m no expert, but I know my heart. A few years ago, I didn’t dare post anything. I didn’t dare write anything on this issue. Even though I felt like it was important then, I didn’t want my name attached to it. But the great thing about personal revelation is that when you follow the spirit, He gives you the peace and confidence that you need to go forward. Finally, I understand that fear dissipates when you exercise faith. And as I am following my purpose and writing my blog, doing interviews, and attending meetings, my peace and happiness has returned.