I’ve been inactive for a few years now. In some regards, it was a conscious decision. 3-4 years ago, my life got really complicated, and those complications included God and religion. I needed a break to find my center and figure out how to be okay with who I was, and I needed to do that work independently. My inactivity was never meant to be permanent. My husband (I think) used the term “sabbatical” at one point to describe my time away, and that idea stuck with me. I was still as Mormon as ever. I was just on a temporary sabbatical from church attendance.
This past year, I’ve been slowly feeling a stronger desire to return, but I’ll confess that it’s been hard to overcome the inertia of my inactivity. There have been a lot of good reasons for not attending church: work craziness, health problems, tiredness, annoyance at missionaries and home teachers, and overall anxiety about what I would find, both in the church and in myself, when I returned. But a couple months ago, something changed.
Every so often, I tune into the world of Mormon blogging, especially feminist blogging, because this blog has meant a lot to me, and I profoundly value the friends and connections I’ve made through the Mormon blogging world. I decided to tune in this April because I have friends involved in the Ordain Women movement, and I wanted to see the reception they would receive. And as I read the descriptions of the event, the authentic, heart-moving words of these women, I knew it was time to return. I read about these women and thought: these are my people, my sisters, my “soul mates.” I wanted to be part of their struggle. And I felt in a deep part of my heart that the church needs women like me.
I don’t say this to be egotistical—I am as flawed as the next person, and I need the gospel more than it needs me. However, the church will never change into a more loving and accepting and diverse place if women (and men) like me don’t show up and live who we are in authentic, believing, dedicated ways, and if people who challenge the norms aren’t visible, present, and active.
I went to church a few times in April and May, and my feelings upon returning were as complicated as I expected. I am being myself authentically, and this doesn’t always fit neatly within mainstream Mormon culture and belief, but being myself and being back at church feels right and good. I had to miss church again for most of June because of work responsibilities, but as I read the news this week about the excommunication of my friends, and as I shed some tears for them, for myself, and for the community that I love, I have renewed my intention to return. I will be at church this Sunday morning.