Thursday, January 17, 2013

Being Open and Honest with my Thoughts..

I don't usually like to blog about sacred and personal things about myself, I like to blog about the fun things I am doing, things that make me laugh, accomplishing goals, that sort of thing.  But I've had a few things on my mind lately, and after reading Ask Mormon Girl, I can pretty much summarize what she said.

I consider myself to be a liberal, feminist Mormon.  Gasp...did I just say feminist?  Oh my word, that word brings out the crazy in others at times.  After taking a diversity class last semester (one in which I believe every living person should take, it changed my life, it opened my eyes to what true diversity is, and my biases.  I think we could all use reminders at times at our biases because it's all about being aware!) Anyway, the word feminist has always been a hard one for me to accept about myself..until this class.  To be a feminist does not mean I am lesbian, does not mean I hate men, does not mean I am a power hungry female trying to take over the world.  In the words of bell hooks, a woman I have come to admire, feminism is simply, "a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression."  To me, it also includes letting everyone be the way they are without judgement or criticism.

 I have struggled the last few years with people in the LDS community who have judged me for being a "different" Mormon.  Again, this is something I don't talk about often, it's a very private thing.  But I also think that I am coming to truly love and accept this side more, and in doing so, need to be more vocal about it. I've been told my whole life how open minded I am, how accepting I am others, how Christlike my love is.  I consider that to be the greatest gift I have been given by God.  I really do look at others and seek to find the best in them, seek to listen to their views even if they are completely different than my own, and I especially seek out friendships with people who are considered outside the definition of what our world considers "normal" or "acceptable."  Because I choose to love others so openly, that has caused differences to appear in what the typical female Mormon is like, or in how others define how a "good" Mormon girl should act (not that that is wrong).

I have worked incredibly hard at not putting labels to myself or others, and it hurts me when I am labeled a certain way, especially with a recent and extremely amazing relationship that I have developed in my life.  This relationship has caused me to really reflect on myself, my beliefs, and what I desire most in life.  And it turns out, what I believe for myself doesn't match what others think about me.  Going back to Ask Mormon Girl, another Mormon feminist that I have come to respect and admire.  Her blog has made me feel, for the first time in my life, that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings about being a liberal Mormon.  Surprise, surprise, there are more than just a few of us out there!  This is her words on having an interfaith relationship AKA marriage: "Will people have feelings about your interfaith marriage?  Of course.  They might be disappointed, overjoyed, or judgment, or supportive.  And their feelings about your marriage are their business....not yours." This was the best thing I have read about my experience in a while.  I have been so hurt by how others have reacted to my relationship, who have labeled it as something it is not, by the advice they felt that they should tell me without fully knowing or understanding my experiences, that I actually had to give a lot of people in my life a time out.  Turns out that what they think about ME, about MY relationship, is not pertinent to me because it's not my business!  What a relief!

 I have come to finally accept that I'm not the typical Mormon, I never will be, and I'm okay with that because I choose to love and see others as I feel Christ did (does) and that's enough for me.  One last thing that Ask Mormon Girl said that I LOVED:  And here’s the big story God gave us to make sense of all these situations:  you have a choice in this life–stay in the garden naked and simple, stick to your holding pattern, or make a choice, take a bite, get dressed and go learn something.  Be fruitful and multiply.  Fall in love, learn, make some mistakes, laugh, serve other people, reproduce, and let the whole story start again.  That’s what it’s all about.  

I think that's what I'll choose to do.  Because after all, this is MY one and only wild and precious life and I'm going to make it the best that I can!


Kacey said...

It's always refreshing and a maybe even a bit of a relief to see there are others who have similar thoughts, feelings and experiences. Thank you Ms. Tawna. Be you and enjoy life.

Melissa said...

Thanks for writing this, Tawna! I'm a liberal Mormon feminist, too. I love "Ask Mormon Girl" - Have you read Joanna Brooks' book, The Book of Mormon Girl? I really enjoyed it.

Kelsy and Brad said...

I'm a liberal Mormon feminist too, and proud of it!! Have you read Feminist Mormon Housewives? There's a blog and a closed fb group. Sometimes people post stuff I think is crazy, but for the most part it's nice to place to see that I'm not the only one out there who feels the way I do!

As far as the judgement thing goes, that's one of my biggest struggles with members of the Church. For a group of people who claim to love everyone, I sure do see a lot of judgement and even sometimes hatred behind their claims. I figure, as long as I'm happy and I feel like I'm doing what would make Heavenly Father happy, no one else matters!

Kristin said...

Oh Tawna, I love you! As you know I can speak firsthand on having an interfaith marriage. There have been people who have made offensive comments and are closed minded but I have found most are supportive and accepting. It's nice to find those that have been or are in my shoes and understand. I was surprised at how many people there are like me. Do you read C.Jane's blog? It's great and has made me challenge and really think of where I stand in certain aspects of the church. I don't always agree with her but she makes me THINK. It's

Blacks said...

I have been contemplating what to write here. I love you Tawna, I have known and admired you since you were a little girl. Your faith continually amazes. You just need to know that Heavenly Father loves you because you are his child. When people make judgements they forget this simple fact of you being his precious child. Men are that they might have JOY. I know you will find that joy because you are a continual seeker of truth no matter what gets in your path. Love you Tawna! Heather Hardman Black

Jen said...

Tawna, I love this post. All time fav of yours. I also love that you are a Feminist Mormon! I want you to know that I love you. That I know you make faithful, prayerful, good decisions and I support you in making them. I really like B. Happiness is important in our Earthly plan. Go for and seek true happiness. There will always be dips in the road no matter which path you take. Life is hard, life is beautiful. I know you walk a fine line between what expectations you were raised with and some of your own expectations of yourself in regards to religion, but the choice is yours to make. You will make what is right for you and I will love you regardless. I hope others will too. You are a great example to me, keep it up!

amanda lynn said...

Just because someone else believes differently and how you think the world is doesn't make you bad at all. God made us have decisions in our life for a reason and that's what I love about him. It may not be what others think it should be but if they love you they will get over it and get over it yourself. Now go and get married already he seems like he is the right guy for you and all other things will work out as long as god is in your plan no matter what way you think.

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