I underestimated the amount of people this would affect. I thought I would be pretty lonely in my doubts/questions, but it was clear to me today that many other people are questioning. My ward usually has people racing to the pulpit to bear their testimonies, and a very long line on the stand to wait for your turn. Never once in my 1.5 yrs in the ward have I experienced silence during testimony meeting, and we've always gone at least 10 minutes past time. Today, no one got up for a minute. It was the weirdest thing ever. Complete silence. Once people started getting up, there were of course those that got up to bear testimony that prophets speak only God's words, etc., but the majority of the testimonies were about the "things that matter," and were centered on Christ. I didn't expect that from my ward, and it made me realize that I am certainly not alone. It was great.
But then, our lesson in Sunday School was centered on the new policy, and I didn't say a word. I should have, but I didn't. I know, I'm a bit of a coward. But my goal is not to create animosity. And I didn't want to speak in anger. I need time before I can make an eloquent, thoughtful, and loving comment about my thoughts on the policy to a large body of my peers at church. So I bit my tongue. However, I had to teach the Relief Society lesson today. I knew that I should have said something either during testimony meeting or during sunday school, and I didn't, so I started with a brief statement that I was glad I had to teach today, because it got me through the doors of the building and into church, and because this was the first time in my life that that was extremely difficult for me. I told them I came to church anyway because of my testimony of what is true and right, and that if anyone else was struggling, they should know that they are not alone, and that it was okay to struggle and question and doubt. I then taught my lesson on the VERY exciting topic of "spiritual and temporal welfare." Who doesn't love a lesson about debt and food storage?! As I left the building, I was stopped by 3 people, and then had 3 other people contact me after, to tell me that they really needed to hear me say that I was struggling. That they were waiting for someone to express concern. That they were also struggling and needed to hear that I still have a testimony that got me to church. I only said it because I felt like maybe one person needed to hear it. Six. Six sisters were also sitting in that room, biting their tongues and praying for peace. One sister, who I do not even know (I really wish I knew her name...shame on me), hugged me and started crying. We shared our concerns with each other, and I told her that I'm not questioning my testimony of the gospel itself, but I am really, really struggling with everything surrounding this policy. She looked at me and said, "it's okay if you need to question your testimony!" (which I feel like was something we were told NOT to do throughout the day). Bless that lady! And, really, shame on me for not even knowing her name. She even ran me down in the halls as I was almost out the door. What an angel she was to me today.
I don't like to be too personal about my experiences, but today I prayed and fasted, not to know whether the policy was right or wrong, but to receive the comfort and support I needed to continue going to church. Six sisters gave that to me today; as well as a handful of friends, members and nonmembers, that have reached out to me via text and email to tell me that my voice is needed in the LDS community, and that they are grateful I stand for what I believe in, even though it means I'm going to be disagreeing with someone (whether it's disagreeing with nonmember friends on certain topics, or disagreeing with some church culture and policy). Those friends have been an answer to my prayers. Is it that easy? Absolutely not. As I mentioned in my previous post, this will be an ongoing struggle with some tough times ahead, but for now I think I've confirmed that I need to be in church regardless of my disapproval of some of the choices the leaders or other members make. My testimony of the gospel belongs there; and others need me as much as I need them for support. So, thank you, once again, to so many people that reached out today. It meant the world to me. You all mean the world to me.