It's been a strange few weeks for me. Clawing out stronger beliefs is challenging and sharing those beliefs is terrifying, but I've finally arrived at a point where I can no longer remain silent.
I hate labels. I've hated labels my whole life. I've often prided myself on the fact that it sometimes takes awhile for people to realize I'm a Mormon. Because people always have an idea in their minds about what being Mormon looks, sounds, and acts like. And I'm very often not those immediate stereotypes of the word. It contains moments of insecurity and disappointment for both me and the person with whom I'm speaking; the constant question of "Am I being the person I need to be? Am I Mormon enough?" Labels create expectations (positive or negative) and I've never felt as though I fit those expectations.
Which is why I've spent the last couple weeks questioning my labels. Trying to figure out if my beliefs and my beliefs were contradictory or if they were aligned.
I went to the Womens March in Washington last week and let me tell you; it was wonderful. I felt a spirit of unity and hope for change during an unsettling political transition. If I can be frank, it was a feeling I wished I felt more regularly in Relief Society (one of the largest women's organizations in the world and something I have increasingly learned to appreciate over the years). I was marching for equality for everyone I love; for the refugees and the immigrants; for team LGBTQ; for my students who have limited control of their life situations; for acceptance of everyone.
My poster read "Nasty Mormon" because I am finally ok with my labels. I am Mormon. And I used the word nasty because I want to share my voice and work for positive progress. I am not a docile, timid woman (#surprise!). I will fight for my students and my friends and my loved ones with my voice and my actions. I will not sit idly by and wait for the right time because the right time has always been now. I only received positive feedback for my poster. I wasn't alone. No one was alone and no one should be alone.
But then I got back from the march and I felt guilty. I felt guilty for being white and for it taking this long to fight for my friends who aren't white. I felt guilty because I felt like I wasn't Mormon enough. I started questioning myself in a very serious way. Was what I fighting for wrong? Was this not the right thing? I pleaded and prayed and yelled and cried. Now that I had finally accepted my labels were they starting to falter?
(Spiritual moment) I opened my scriptures and immediately turned to Luke 10. I gobbled up the verses and the accompanying study guide. I read of loving ones neighbor and the Good Samaritan. I read of Mary and Martha opening up their home to receive our Lord and Savior. I thought to myself: this is what it's all about. THIS. And in that moment, my beliefs perfectly aligned.
Love is always the answer.
So I go forward with more confidence in the fight for goodness and charity.