I really struggled to find anything to be grateful for yesterday, and even today. Anytime something or someone I love is thrown into controversy, it’s tough to see the forest for the trees.
And since the blogosphere, Twitter, and Facebook are already rife with opinions about recent LDS policy shifts, I’ll only offer this suggestion: find faces.
When Jana Riess interviewed me for my book, she asked me about some really hurtful things someone posted to her blog in response to a piece about single people. I told her that when people make generalizations about any marginalized group of people, often it’s because they don’t have a face they know or love within that group. The only people to ever criticize me for being single have been people who do not know me. And when people I do know make hurtful comments, I call them on it by reminding them I am single. They often say “Oh, but that’s not you.”
But it is. I’m a face of a single LDS woman.
If you are LDS and reading this, regardless of how you feel about the new policy, I encourage you to find faces. Find faces of families with gay children. Find faces of straight former spouses, once in a mixed-orientation marriage and now divorced. Find faces of primary children unsure of their status at church.
Find faces of those who are angry about the policy, then find faces of those who aren’t angry about the policy, then find faces of those who are angry at each other over whether they are feeling the “right” kind of anger.
From all sides, find faces, then find compassion. Listen to seek understanding. Mourn with those who are mourning. Comfort those who are in need of comfort.
Early in my teaching career, I admit I was quite ignorant to the pain in the LGBTQ+ community. And then a student came out to me. In the time since, other students have come out to me, and it’s rarely a conversation of celebration. Often it’s tear-filled, as these students share their fears of being rejected by family and friends. They cry as they promised me they tried to be “normal” and it just didn’t work. They look at me, hopeful that I will not treat them any differently.
Find faces. I see them every day–not faces of LGBTQ+ LDS youth, as no students who’ve come out to me were LDS. But my compassion for children and families who are marginalized has increased tenfold. Find faces. Look in their eyes.
Then look at your own face, and find compassion.