A couple of weeks ago we had the missionaries come over for dinner. As we were talking, one of elders made the comment that several people don't see us a family oriented church. I took the opportunity to explain to him why that might be. Though there is a strong emphasis placed upon the family - even the definition according to the proclamation (see here) seems discriminatory. We're not all like that. The average family doesn't fit the mold. The proclamation gives us an ideal that we are supposed to strive for.
When I wrote this post, I referred to a couple named Juleen and Al Jackson. I mentioned how I'd been under the impression that Juleen had believed that the show should have focused more on their story (or families of similar living) rather than explore those that didn't quite fit into the mold of "Mormon living" - she DID NOT say it that way, rather that is my own interpretation. In her mind she represented the higher population of what and LDS person is. In my mind she represented what the "ideal" Mormon "should" be - to a degree anyway. Probably the family values would fit into the mold of the "ideal" family - not to say they don't have problems. Everybody has problems.
There were times of tension in my mom and dad's house - nothing like the average family. As Corey and I have both mentioned, our family was not perfect, but by comparison to so many others, it almost seems too good to be true. Same with my brother, Patrick and his wife. I know there have been struggles with fitting into the perfect mold - but even so, I think theirs may also be one that many may view as too good to be true.
I definitely don't fit into the mold - not even close. Too much tension between me and my middle son - even from this far away. He says things that set me off. Even without that added stress, I just don't believe our family (with me as a parent) fit the "ideal" mold.
Corey and his husband have Christianity and a great love and respect for mankind - but they're certainly not part of the "ideal" family - not according to the proclamation. They are shunned. Oh, the Church says "we welcome them" and they may feel it among certain members, but I don't believe the Church as a whole.
I remember attending the temple ceremony when my cousin was married to his wife. She had a large family, and as I recall, by the time Roland and I had entered the room, it was just standing room only. There was my Uncle Ross and Aunt Fern to support him. It was the first time I had felt a personalness and connection during the ceremony and not just the routine of going through the motions. It was special. It was the most awesome temple marriage ceremony that I have attended.
Not all family members are welcomed to the temple. There have been many invited to wait in the foyer and not be part of the ceremony due to a sacredness. But when you are on the outside waiting, it is kind of hard seeing that the church is family oriented when all of the family is not together for the great event. I think that's why all the hoopla with wedding receptions. ALL of the family members can be included whether they hold temple recommends or not.
Earlier this year I noticed his wife's name had been removed from a family conversation. I emailed Corey and asked if he knew the reason. Apparently the two had divorced the year before. He forwarded an email that another cousin had sent about the situation. I read it as though the family was trying to erase the former wife's existence out of their lives. How would they ever be able to succeed after eleven years of marriage? She and Michelle's daughter had read the eulogy together at my uncle's funeral. Surely there are good things to remember? I'll admit that I did not get to know her all that well. It would be easier for me to erase her as part of family, and yet there are things that I will never forget about her. I will remember the feeling that I had at their ceremony.
I have another cousin who also got divorced just this year. Corey did tell me about that one before her name was also removed from the family conversation. I heard his wife just left him. I don't know what happened. He's now a single parent. I believe his children still lives with him, but I don't know.
I'm sure Dallin Oaks wasn't implying discrimination, and yet that is what I heard as he gave the statistics of mothers having children out of wedlock. I thought of another cousin who many have always considered odd. She brought her fiancé to Tony's missionary farewell. My boys had thought him even odder.
I represented the family by going to the luncheon and wedding reception. They looked happy. They divorced after she gave birth to their daughter. I don't know why. She said having a baby freaked him out - which is weird as he is the eldest of at least four sibs and sounded like a good brother making sacrifices and assisting in their upbringing. I had assumed he would also make a great father.
I remember when she announced her decision to have another baby. She had gone for artificial insemination. I don't know if there were any that understood or supported her choice - which may have not been hers alone just as my decision to marry Roland. Roland and I both know God had a hand in getting us together.
Tina is quite prayful. She's temple worthy. The decision made was not made lightly. It may have been a struggle for her. I know her finances have been even worse than ours have ever been. And yet she went through with it and gave birth to a second daughter.
I am one who questioned her choices then . I have since commended Tina for her brave decision. She provided a sibling for her daughter among other things. I don't know all. Perhaps she doesn't either. She's had a lot of challenges and a lot of hardships. She is a great mother. But she certainly doesn't fit the "ideal".
It's tough being a Mormon. I can deal with the persecutions outside of the church better than I can with the ones that seem to be coming from our leaders. In her case, she had the option of not carrying the second child - or even keeping the first for that matter.
In the case of divorce, you do not have that option to control the decisions of another - and why would you want to? Things often happen beyond our control that lead us on a path different from that which we planned for ourselves or led us to believe that we were on the right path. It's bad enough being put in that position. Single mothers don't need the reminders that they are single. Sisters who attend church without their spouses don't need reminders that they also don't fit the "ideal" because their partners choose to be inactive.
Overall I enjoyed conference. I really did. But I had allowed something about this one to set me off. I suppose it is me not listening to the Spirit rather than how the message was delivered. This is why we have so many speakers often speaking to us about the same topic. Not everyone resonates with everybody else. Some talks will touch some people while others allow their minds to wander and as I pointed out before, we don't all receive the same message. I'm happy that Jenna was able to take away something more positive than I. I really am grateful for diversity. All of us need that.