I was raised Mormon. I've talked about this in the past, and let me make this disclaimer now, before we get any further: To each their own. Live and let live. These are things I believe in. I've no plans to sit here and trash the LDS religion, only to say that for me, since I was old enough to ask questions, I have known that the Mormon faith was not a good fit. Politically, ideologically, and then some, it was not the church for me. I've known plenty of amazing, kind, and Christ-like Mormons, though, so if you feel compelled to badmouth them in the comments, please refrain. Thanks.
Now that I've said that, let's get started, shall we? Despite my misgivings about being raised Mormon, it is terribly difficult to walk away from a faith and ideas that have been told to you as a child, and so rather than actively searching for a better fit, I just stopped going. I've never stopped believing - I have a firm foundation and faith in God. But I had no spiritual home, no place I could go to feel the love and be renewed in Christ. So, off I went. I hit the library for books on many a religion. Some I crossed off my list immediately, others I researched in depth. In the end, I narrowed it down to three that fit with my thoughts about life, love, and - importantly to me - equality and human rights, and then visited those churches over the course of several Sundays each.
In the midst of this journey, I found out I was "unexpectedly expecting". My world was turned on its side. I felt a range of emotions previously unimaginable to me, and was in the most difficult, darkest time of my life. I had a big decision to make, and it would - no matter what I chose - come to be the most important decision of my life, as well as the hardest.
On Mother's Day, 2009, I walked into a local Episcopal church. I was struggling with the content of the day as I thought long and hard about whether or not I would actively be a mother when the next Mother's Day came around, when an usher walked up to me with flowers and asked, "Are you a mother?" It was their custom to give a rose to the mothers in the church on Mother's Day, but yet this gesture felt as if it was for me alone. Not knowing what to say, I excused myself, and sobbed in the bathroom until I could piece myself back together and go back in.
Flash forward nearly four years, and I found myself back in church a few weeks back, sitting across from the bench where he asked that fateful question so many Sundays ago. I'm not saying that I would have come to a different decision ultimately without having found my way to the church that day, but I can say that when I left the service that Sunday, without my rose, I felt resolved and peaceful in a way that I had not felt since those two pink lines appeared.
I would get a rose the next year. In fact, before I got that rose, both myself and my daughter would be baptized into the Episcopalian faith, just feet from where that exchange took place.
Now, when I walk into services - something I've resolved to do more of now that a new Rector has come in and replaced one that left our congregation feeling as though something was "missing" - I know that I am home. I know that I'm in the right place. I know when I walk in and see a female Rector talking about the gospel, when I sit next to an openly gay couple and their foster children, when the woman ahead of me wears traditional African garb to services - none of which would be accepted or allowed in the faith I was raised in. I am proud to send these messages to Ava. I am proud that she will be raised in a spiritual home that cultivates the idea that she is worthy of holding any office in the church, even if she marries (we can all hope that marriage equality will be unanimous when that time comes, right?) a woman.
If I've gone off on too far a tangent, I apologize. I rarely speak of faith or Christ in great detail. But I do speak about love, and equality, and hope in great detail, and aren't they the same when it comes down to it?
"Wherever you are in your journey of faith, you are welcome at this table."