It is hard to feel like the pain and frustrations are taking over life. So, for the next few days, I am going to look back at several of my favorite posts. Some of the things I will be sharing are posts from my own blog, and the comments left by some readers here. I will be including other blogs and their comments, I regularly read, I will share the link and several paragraphs that especially spoke to me. I hope these posts will help bring you a few smiles today, along with some happy tears. I know for me, that they are a place a will want to come back to when I need both an emotional release and to be reminded of the beauty of this world, and the compassionate and beautiful things that we can do for, and with, each other.
There are so many times that we hear about a tragedy, and we want to do something to help, but we don't know what to do, or how to do it. Some tragedies are compounded by bigotry or racism, and so there is even more of a reason to wane to help, because you not only want to help the situation, but because you want to stand up against those who are refusing to help.
You might think I am talking about "Pants Day," and that is completely forgivable. The arguments against Pants Day did not do credit to the members who reacted in ways that were not Christlike. (You can read my thoughts on pants day here, and another view here.) What I really wanted to talk about though, is the story of a the Crocker family, who days before Christmas lost their home, and everything in it to a devastating fire. They live in a Mormon community, where usually the bishop would coordinate making sure that the needs of the family, for immediate shelter, clothing, feed and furniture. This family received almost no help from the ward, or LDS congregation, (see the quote below from Nikki, one of the moms, to see the Christlike attitude that she displayed towards her less charitable Mormon neighbors) because the parents in the family are gay women.
One of the members of Feminist Mormon Housewives found out about the needs of the family, and the reaction of the church. While there is no doubt that there was anger and frustration by many progressive Mormons that a bishop and ward would turn their backs on these neighbors, instead of focusing on anger, fMh instead mobilized its members. The posted the story on the website, and had a link to a "wish list" of things that the family needed. As the family realized even more things that they needed, they were able to add to it. People could choose how much they could afford and either purchase an item that is that price, or make a donation through PayPal, straight to the family. (You can still find items that they need on the list. It isn't too late to help.)
Part of what was most amazing to me, is that there was not a huge media campaign, although the article cited above shows that the local media did get wind of the fMh project, several days after it had started. Many readers of fMh reached out and within days the family had all of the clothing, bedding, and basic things they needed. They have continued to receive love and support through this project.
Originally, the post of fMh reported that the bishop had promised help, and then reversed that promise. While it is true that there was very little help provided, Bobbie felt it was important to make sure that the facts of the situation were clear, and that the bishop was not demonized. I think that her letter, humble and filled with gratitude, might be what brought the most tears in a situation that brought lots of tears, of beauty and love. She wrote:
Thank you so much for passing along our story. There are a couple of things that I feel need to be corrected though. First, we have a 3 year old daughter and our 9 week old is a handsome little boy. Second, the Bishop didn’t offer anything from the store house or vouchers but did bring to my parents home a small box of items (bag of diapers, can of formula and a few items of clothing) he was very kind as he knows my parents and lives right around the corner from them. It was later that night or the next day when he posted on his Facebook page that we were no longer in need of donations. I would have never known but another angel (such as yourself and the amazing readers of your blog) was appalled at his actions. I grew up in the church so I just let it go as my lifestyle goes against the doctrine of the church. He has his beliefs and I have to respect that. He did what he thought was right for him. We are grateful for the items he did bring and thankful for his service. I can’t expect him to understand our family, I just wish he would have seen that we are no different than any other family in the neighborhood. We love, we laugh, we cry, we raise our children to be kind and give to others, we will teach them to have high moral standards and instill in them a love of service to others.
Ash and I will be home tomorrow evening and are open to meeting R. and her children. I think it’s important for them to see first and foremost that we are just a normal family who just happens to have two moms. Families come in all sizes and types and all should be celebrated.
Thanks for everything, you are truly an angel!
Bobbie"There are many former members of the church who are gay, who have received harsh treatment at the hands of those who are members of the Mormon faith. I am glad that even if there was not as much love and service given to this family, as I might have hoped for, that the softening and understanding that is being encouraged by the LDS church's new website, mormonsandgays.org and the attempts to reach out by many of the church's leaders, will hopefully make situations where leaders feel that they can demobilize their communities based on some one's sexual orientation.
Another situation that was a little closer to home was my post earlier this month, titled, A Letter to Leah, has had a response that has brought tears many times over. Leah is transgender, and is in the process of transitioning from a man who has been a husband, father, priesthood holder, and active Mormon man for almost 50 years. She is choosing to be true to the woman that she has felt inside her since she was 4 years old. It is a scary thing to to, and yet she feels that if she were to remain a man, she would be lying to herself and to God. So, she has come out to her friends, her wife, and her daughters. She has started the process of coming out to people at church. Some of the reactions have been positive, and some of them have been heart wrenching. Through every interaction, Leah has continued to feel that she is making the right choices for her life. She feels the love and acceptance of her Heavenly Parents, and I have felt their support in being Leah's friend.
I wanted to share Leah's response to the A Letter to Leah post. It makes me cry every time I read it, not just for her, but for all of the people who are hurting, whether it is because they are transgender, abused, lonely, or feel unloved or unlovable. I wish I could write a letter to each of them, letter them know that they are loved by their Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and that they are of great worth. I wish I could make all of them feel the way that Leah did, when she was writing this comment:
My heart is so full of love and compassion. No one has ever written me a letter like this, or a letter about me. Your love, empathy and compassion towards me, and for me, are so incredible I am in awe. I have been suffering writers block lately, unable to write the poem I wanted, or make my list of goals and necessities to bring me to where I need to be by the end of this year. I can't even write letters to my wife and three daughters, or for my Bishop. This will give me the inspiration, and edification I need to snap out of my funk and resume my journey.In another small gesture of friendship to Leah, I sent her a print of one of my favorite paintings, by Talya, another good friend. It is one that hangs in my home, and that is of a young woman, in a beautiful dress of red and orange, looking the epitome of serenity and peacefulness.
Everything you say, about building these habits in our lives, for being a loving, empathetic, compassionate, altruistic, and charitable person, I take directly into my heart. That is truly the person I want to be. In some measure I have always been, but you have shown me I can still do so much more with my life. You have shown me that happiness is something I can work for, if I love myself, and love others.
I like how you and all my new, and wonderful friends here, have captured how diverse and complicated I am. That is one thing I am quite sure about myself of. You explained it beautifully as "you did not sign up for easy, you signed up for joy". Yes, it would have been so easy to go with my status-quo life, remaining acceptable to my Church, but never amounting to anything, keeping my Talents buried, and living a lie, a guilefuly sinful life. It hurts me to no end, that I may well lose everything I have known all my life, just by deciding to be authentic, and not be a fake human being.
Knowing that I have people online here that support me, and knowing I have a top tier of the most wonderful best friends I could ever imagine, and knowing I have true Sisters, a select few, who treat me like a sibling, and there is you Julia, my beautiful, wonderful Sister, and best friend, I am comforted, and filled with love. I am inspired to carry on the path I have begun, and to step it up.
I know I have so much love to give, and to share. I know my Talents are to share of what I have, and what I am capable of. I am very tired right now, having never felt so much pain in my life, and yet having never felt so much love, at the same time. I know love will win out.
I love you Julia! You are, and ever shall be my friend. I love the inspiring photo, very me.
All My Love and Tenderness,
|Follow the link, it is much better in high resolution. :-)|
I sent a print of it to Leah, knowing that she needing some beautiful things in her life, and Talya's art is not just beautiful, but also soothing to the soul. The day that the picture arrived, I received this email from Leah.
"Julia, my Sweet Sister!
My day was so beautiful. I heard my side screen door open and what sounded like a tube fall onto the jam. I went up, and sure enough, the UPS put it at my side door, the print you sent me. I quickly opened up the cylinder, and I just cried. It is the most beautiful picture ever. I will always cherish this. This is so dear to my heart. The divine feminine in a red silk dress. Oh Julia! Your taste, and what you thought I would like, was spot on. It is the perfect gift. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I then went for a 10 mile walk in the snow and ice. I needed it, badly. I was feeling terrible and tired and useless. I dang near fell on my keester about a dozen times, but I saved myself each time. I'm home and rested now.
Hope your feeling better.
I will leave that with you for now, but expect more moments of happy tears, from all over the Internet, mixed in with other posts over the next few weeks. I need them, and I suspect a few other people do too!