I am not in school right now and I am finding myself with all this pent up stuff. I don’t want to call it energy because that might make it seem like I can accomplish more tasks like cleaning my house, unpacking garage boxes or making slime with my kids. Instead, my brain is going a million miles an hour but also feeling sluggishly slow because I am not finding an outlet for my brain energies. I have grown accustomed to that uncomfortable strain that comes with trying to learn something new. The absence feels unnerving like I am continually forgetting to do something.
It is weird that at almost 40 years of age I am realizing that I like to be kept busy. Something my younger self hated more than creamed tuna casserole, just kidding, I liked creamed tuna casserole, more like run day in PE.
So my thoughts I am feeling in an almost tangible manner are these: People are not perfect, thus the running of any organization cannot be perfect, but the ideals and principles of said organization can be perfect when based on universal truths.
In the past I spent some time not being very “Mormon”, granted it wasn’t for very many years, but in that short time away I tried with all my might to push against every rule, regulation, hem length, I had ever been presented.
Making my way back was a very purposeful decision, I didn’t just fall back into activity. It was and still is a very purposeful process.
Some days I forget that process. I forget that I am most happy when I am anxiously engaged ( I say that a lot) the words “anxiously engaged” make a picture in my mind of something strong, immovable and right.
Part of this process is continual learning.
I decided I wanted to learn more about Brigham Young. He was the second prophet of the LDS church in this dispensation, behind Joseph Smith. I sought out knowledge of him not to discover fallacies and holes in the doctrine of the church I frequent, but to understand him more fully. My studying thus far reads as most early American Protestant religious books. There is a whole lot of speaking in tongues and miraculous claims by those seeking spiritual enlightenment.
I have realized a few things in reading this sketch of brother Brigham.
1- I always want to separate early saints from their contemporaries. However, they were very similar to their contemporaries, they were not raised in different circumstances than their neighbors, they farmed together, worshiped together, married one another. Early saints are early Americans and immigrants. Sometimes we want to separate people into groups forgetting that as a whole we are more alike than we are different. Their failings, when compared to today’s standards, are vast. Certainly, they should have known better, acted differently, lived to a higher standard. It is really easy to forget that early saints were brand new to being Mormons. Brand new to having a living prophet guide an organized religion. Brand new to living the standards that we in the LDS church feel are second nature to us. They should have known that slavery was wrong, that women were capable of more than birthing babies and sweeping floors, that some of their actions did not exude the love and peace that Christ’s ministry taught. It is hard to remember their lives cannot be fairly compared to the standards of today.
2-I have also realized I would have bristled under Brigham Young’s leadership. I think there are still instances of leadership styles that feel prickly or self-righteous or pious or outdated or misogynistic.
3- I cannot fully reconcile my feelings towards the early leaders of the church and their policies, but my testimony does not lie with the history of the church.
4- It is not very easy to have a conversation about early church history and show a level of discontentment with early leaders and yet still convey an overwhelming reverence for the trials each of them endured in living their convictions. I feel at war with myself trying to reconcile how the social norms of their day rub me the wrong way and conversely knowing the early leaders taught and prophesied eternal and lasting truths.
As I grow and learn and stretch, I begin to understand things. Sometimes the things I learn make me twitchy. Sometimes I read something and the truth of it sings to my soul. Sometimes I am presented with ideas that affront my reality so much so that I feel an internal force field being thrown up in an attempt to protect myself from the attack.
I am slowly learning in this process back to the eternities that every bit of knowledge I gain comes back to a couple resoundingly simple questions.
1- Do I truly believe Jesus Christ is my Savior and atoned for me?
2- Does this information have a bearing on my eternal salvation?
Being grounded in those two questions has allowed me the freedom to explore more fully the history of a people I belong to. I enjoy gaining an inside glimpse into the psyche of others. Sometimes in gaining that insight, I am faced with ideas and actions that do not fit neatly into my previously carved out reality. However, I can have the space to recognize the importance of gathering information and digesting it in a way that allows for greater understanding and hopefully leaves me better than when I began.
It feels satisfying to come to the conclusion and to always remember that people are not perfect, thus the running of any organization cannot be perfect, but the ideals and principles of said organization can be perfect when based on universal truths.