Monday, May 11, 2015

“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”

I was just listening to a youtube video of a sermon and this quote was in it. And I heard it. I really heard it.

“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”

The idea that there are these moments in our life, when we are lifted and struck like a bell, is really beautiful to me. To me, it is in these moments where I can feel or see God, whoever or whatever he may be. It is the moments where things feel clear and right and good and you feel like shouting out that I can feel that there is something more to this life.

Why don't we share these moments more? Is it because we don't realize they are happening or because we quickly forget them? In the sermon, the minister hypothesizes that it is because we are scared of being judged or misunderstood and so we water down these clear, bell-like moments into lukewarm ones. 

My Instagram has been a great way to surface journal the past couple of years of my life. I have thousands of photos of trips and dogs and houses and friends and it is really fun to look back and see how much fun I have had. But do I put those bell-like moments out there for the world to see? No, I don't. And I need to keep track of them - I need to remind myself about those moments of clarity in which I don't water down to lukewarm. In which I record as I remember them so that I can see trends in what makes me feel clearest.

This sermon was one of them. It was given by a minster named Aaron White who preaches at the local Unitarian Church in Dallas - I have been going there from time to time when I feel like I might die from going to my local mormon ward. I have come home crying more times than not the past few times I have gone to mormon church - I have felt alone, and isolated, and different and like I don't belong. I have prayed to feel good when I go, only to feel anxious and sick once I arrive. I feel like the dumbest kid in class - the one who isn't in on the secret because I don't KNOW what everyone else does. Like I said in my previous post - faith and belief (IE - admitting to not knowing things are true) is not seen as a positive thing in the mormon faith, and it is insanely hard to go someplace where you feel that you not only don't fit in, but someplace where you are actually not valued for who you are. 

I have felt some bell ringing moments listening to sermons like the one on youtube at the local Unitarian church. I have felt like I can breathe. I used to feel that at mormon church - in general conference, mostly - but haven't felt like that for a long time. This past general conference was especially brutal - I felt like I was holding my breath or biting my tongue with almost every talk that was given (except Uchdorf. I love that man) What does that mean? It is to the point that I am scared to go to mormon church because I am afraid of coming home in tears again. Is it okay to not go, when it is so incredibly painful?  Is it wrong of me to want to avoid that pain, that shame, that feeling of unwelcomeness? Is it bad I don't want to sit alone, I don't want to be ignored, I don't want to feel left out because I am not in the same mould that everyone else seems to be made in?

I was talking with a friend and she said that religion is a tool to help us find God - find those bell-ringing moments in our life where we find clarity. And that if that tool, or religion, stops helping us - we put it down and pick something else up. There is still so much I value about the mormon church - the way that it helps its own, the doctrine of eternal families, the level of commitment it requires of your life - that I'm not sure I am ready to put it down. But am I allowed to hold two tools - one in each hand - to help me find God? I have always thought that any other church would feel wrong - and in the past, when I attended other churches, they did. No bells were ringing for me - other than those in the bell tower. So what does it mean that I feel this way now? And not in a church that has the sign I was raised with out front? 

This is the most raw and real post I have probably ever written on this blog, other than my ones about depression (which surprise! a lot of which had to do with how I felt about church), and this is way way way scarier to put out there. But here it is. I am fragile and trying to figure out what the heck is going on in my life. Hopefully this blog can be a safe place for me to do it. 


Jamie said...

I've been to that Unitarian church a few times and many of their sermons really resonated with me. I also really like their sr. minister Daniel Kanter. Good luck with your journey, Sabrina!

Brittan said...

I felt like this for years without being able to articulate it. It's nice to not feel alone in that.

holsen99 said...

Oh Sabrina, I'm so glad I found your blog. I have so many similar feelings. I cry all the time at church. (Learn to play the piano- behind the piano in primary is a fantastic place to hide) I'm fighting to stay, and feel like I'm losing ground more often than not. But then something will happen that gives me enough to cling to for a while. I hate the back and forth. I want to just KNOW and decide. But it's just not that easy, is it?