I am so thankful for all of the support I have been receiving the past few weeks. This has certainly been a challenge, and I do not think I would have been able to handle it in the way that I have without the dozens of emails, messages, phone calls, comments, etc that I have received.
However, along with that support so many people have shared similar painful experiences that they have either experiences or are experiencing today. In some ways, reading these accounts have been more painful than what I have been going through myself. Too many friends, family, and acquaintances--too many good and faithful saints--are suffering because of the (usually) well-meaning but ignorant actions of local leaders. It has been a comfort for me to know I'm not alone, and I know it has been a comfort to others to know that they are not alone either.
The problem is that I should be alone in this. This (or similar acts) should not be a recurring problem in the Church. I should be alone in facing the hurtful acts of a rogue local leader, but I am not. I wish I could just cast the blame at my local leaders (and my own naivete), but I cannot. This is not to say that the corporate leadership of the Church is behind the actions (which I do not think they are), but rather that the bureaucratic organization of Church leadership, the cultural perception of an infallible Church, and the failure of leading Church authorities to address these problems are the root causes of these acts.
I'm so torn between my love for the Church and for the potential that I see in it, and my exhausted desire to just walk away from it.
Last night I received an e-mail from someone who is having her own challenges with a well meaning bishop, and I hope she is fine with me sharing her words:
"I work so hard at trying to stay in the Church. Really hard. More often than not I feel like I don't fit. This just feels like I am being pushed out. I am tired of fighting, of trying to be careful to say the right thing in the right way so that my voice is heard but I am not rocking the boat too hard, and I am so tempted to walk away from a community that frustrates me yet that I love.
"I am trying to reframe this and I am having a hard time with it. It isn't just this one incident. It's like this has been building for so long and I have been trying so hard and this is the breaking point. Right now I feel like I can't be who I am, and believe how I believe, and still try to be a part of the Church. I have spent the last two months reading and studying the words of Christ in the four gospels. I don't understand how I have been teaching anything different than what I have been reading about in the scriptures.
"I keep trying to adjust my perspective but some of the things I am most passionate about are being smashed . . . my emotions are screaming at me because of the way I am being treated.
"My heart aches."
Rereading this is bringing tears to my eyes as I type (largely caused by a sobbing gene that I inherited). I could have written this myself, as could so many good, faithful saints. My heart is aching so much, not just for myself, but for so many that are hurting so much right now--especially for so many out there who do not have this enormous circle of support that I have found.
In it's desire to love the 99, the Church is utterly failing the 1.