I’ve hit this wall before. I’ve been shattered and battered and bruised before. I’fe felt the quiet whisperings in my heart that my Heavenly Father knows. He knows me. He knows you. He knows that what’s true for me may not be true for you. He knows my heart. He knows your heart.
About a year ago, I sat in a therapist’s office. He’d asked me to choose a toy from a basket that represented my anxiety and mild depression. I thought it was stupid, but I rummaged through the dolls, the plastic animals and cars and pulled out a train. He told me to give the train a name and I named it “Bully.” He then asked me to describe Bully. I saw myself on a train track standing and pushing against the weight of an oncoming train. The train had so much more power, so much more weight and ability to run me over, but I still held my ground. I stayed glued to the track. The train didn’t really know me—didn’t know I was there. It would run be over without a ripple in its path to move forward.
Bully wasn’t my anxiety. It wasn’t my depression. Bully was the church or more specifically the way I had been feeling about the church. The church doesn’t bulldoze everyone, so don’t think I’m judging your journey if it’s working well for you. I’ve felt that way too. It wasn’t always this painful.
But this time, I was on that track and I held my ground at all costs. I enveloped my pain and made it a part of me. I jumped through every hoop as it came along, policies that hurt others, General Conference talks that poked at my friends’ hearts, and at my heart. Things I didn’t believe began to outweigh what I did. And as I held Bully in my hands and described all that I have done to stay on the track even when it was uncomfortable for me, even when I saw my LGBT friends hurt, bloodied and bruised and even pushed out. Even when I saw others who tried to make the church work for them excommunicated. And even when what I believed started looking like something else entirely. Even through being completely misunderstood, I stayed on that train track.
My therapist asked me a question. By now I was shaking. I was emotional. I was in pain. The question was, “What is keeping you from getting off the track?”
If I remember right my jaw went slack. I didn’t understand the question—not really. I didn’t see myself as having a choice. What kept me on the track was Swedish ancestors who risked everything, alienation from family and friends, loss of jobs, and homeland, all to join a new church. What kept me on the track? Mormon pioneers who sold everything for a fraction of what it was worth and crossed the plains at great hardship and loss. What kept me on the track was seeing my dad as a bishop, years of family prayer, and home evenings, primary songs, and young women’s, my mom and her faithful heart, my friends, my family, my love for all the young women I’ve taught over the years, my children, my grandchildren and their future missions and temple marriages. What kept me on the track was my own burning testimony, my own temple marriage, my good husband, our years of faithful service and the list goes on and on.
I left the therapist’s office feeling the weight of it all. My arms are so tired. My heart is worn out. It may have been later that evening or early in the morning that an impression hit me. Bullies only have power when you let them have the power. Take back your power.
Even as I write this. I’m still on that track. I haven’t taken back the power. I haven’t moved off the track—not entirely. One foot is still tied onto that track. I hate that its come to this once again. I am working toward trust. Trust that I can still be an influence for good in the world and create a safe space for my gay friends and their families. I will trust that Heavenly Father will help me create my own path and let go of the weight I’ve been carrying. I will trust that eventually I will be able to step off the track. And if I desire, back on again. I trust that someday I will not take back my power—since I’m not sure I ever had it in the first place—but gain my own power with loving Heavenly parents. Then Bully and I might be able to be friends again, but for now it might be best if Bully and I don’t see each other for a while. So Bully, don't think I never loved you, I did. You sustained me for most of my life, but sometimes relationships get soured. Sometimes relationships aren't working and it takes a lot of strength to recognize that and move off the track.