Twenty-seven years ago I was right here:
Just look at that guy.
Not sure why I was so serious about getting him for my very own:)
I never could have guessed how much more a girl could love when I was already head-over-heels.
Through thick and thin, ups and downs, some wing-dinger fights mixed in with some glorious top-of-the-world moments, we have been able to learn and grow.
For all those years.
And I’m the luckiest to be along for the ride.
I know in the LDS culture people marry younger and faster than the norm. How long was your dating to wedding timeline? Did you ever have any seconds thoughts before or concerns? Would you be worried if Claire got married at 19 like some girls? I think your religion is so beautiful in the family department.
Also Grace looks exactly like you!
Thank you! We started dating before I left to serve a mission. I was gone for eighteen months (and fell out of love there, ha!) but then we dated a gain after I got home and we got married a year after that. So, hard to quantify. I should link our love story in this post because it has all the details!
I think my biggest concern with kids getting married is that they find someone who they have synergy with and can grow together. I think the person is obviously so much more important than the age. Lots of pros and cons for getting married earlier or later, I think it’s just so individual!
Happy anniversary! You looked stunning.
Aw thank you Andrea!
Best wishes, Shawni. Thank you for sharing with us. Thanks to the two of you for believing that love is not only about a feeling, but about intention and faith. I have learned so much from you and hope to be able to be as nurturing and intentional in my own family life one day as well.
You know when there is 30+comments it’s heated over here !
Ladies, why can’t we just support each other? Yes Elle is an adult, but she’s still Shawni’s daughter. Please do not attack her in her own blog. She writes here as her own journal and has always been kind and gracious, please give her the same courtesy. If you don’t like it, move along.
I know i will be shot down but why did Elle get married in the temple if she never wanted to wear garments? She very rarely wears them. Don’t come at me with “ why are we talking about underwear” it’s not, I’m talking about the sacred garment that you say you’ll wear thoughtout your life as a reminder of covenants. The ‘throughout your life’ has been stated as Day and night in the temple prep book, and also in the letter written that states not to be removed if activities can be done with them. Bowling and getting ice cream doesn’t qualify.
Did she just because as long as she thinks she’s sealed that’s good enough?
They are happy, that’s what matters. Who cares about their underwear? Such a weird thing to ask.
Actually it’s not “just underwear” to them, wearing (or not wearing) it is a huge deal when it comes to their beliefs. And I think for them to want to discuss it among themselves and with us, as non members, is a great thing to do. Please don’t trivialize it.
I think there is a genuine question mixed in with what Amber is saying but I think Trish phrased it in a way that is much more conducive for a discussion so I’ll head there for my two cents.
It is not a genuine question. And it is one no one should be asking you. We live in US and the church you belong to treats adults as adults. There is not perpetual minor status of adult women here. No one ever picks on Max for his shoulder’s being bare at bear lake when not in water or playing volleyball. This obsession over her shoulders from the age of 16 is creepy especially coming from women. Too much boundary crossing.
I think Amber had a really good question, though I wish it had been written a bit differently. 😉 There is an interesting generational shift going on that I’ve observed as well.
It’s something I’ve noticed with the generation below me and it’s really made me wonder and be curious about my own children and their future spouses and the temple garment. I wonder what their experience will be. My friends and I are parenting teenagers right now, we don’t have adult children yet, but it’s a topic we’ve discussed among ourselves. Is the tradition of the temple garment going to change because of unwillingness to wear it among the upcoming generations? I admire their boldness. It’s not something I would have dared do at that age.
I hope you’ll consider addressing this, Shawni, because you have firsthand information about this as you are connected with temple-goers in this generation that seems to be bucking tradition and doing it their own way. I think a few people ask to be snarky, but think there are many of us, perhaps especially us LDS moms just behind you in life, who are wondering what this could mean for our adult children in the near future. It has been on my mind quite a lot because it’s so different than how the church has taught about the wearing of the temple garment throughout its history and I’m not THAT much older than these girls on Instagram who are not doing it the “traditional” way.
I can see my oldest son having a hard time with the garment. He exercises and plays sports for many hours a day and is often shirtless.
Perhaps we will see a time when a camisole will replace the cap sleeve top or perhaps a time will come when a new religious emblem is used, rather than garments. I’m interested to see how this evolves throughout my life. It’s already changed so much! I recall my grandparents wearing garments that were long johns—from ankle to wrist. When going swimming with us as kids, my mom would change when we got to the pool and before we left to go home, while I wear my swimming suit on the drive and back—even though it means removing my garments. Adults now rarely keep them on for exercise or run errands while in tanks and shorts, also a shift from what my grandparents and parents did. Most people used to dress children in a way that a garment-wearing member would dress, but there’s been a shift among some families in that way too. I don’t require my 4th grade daughter dress in cap sleeves and knee length shorts.
I personally would love to see a different religious emblem be used. Maybe these young women are going to be the ones that make it happen simply by refusing to wear them. Will be interesting to see!!!
Happy anniversary Shawni and Dave! What a beautiful life you’ve created. Thanks for sharing it with us.
I love your thoughts, Trish, and I agree, there is a very interesting generational shift going on right now. We are trying to understand it as well. I would love to give a big, comprehensive “answer” for those with genuine questions, but to be honest, I don’t have one. That would be a question for Elle and her generation, (who, for many good reasons, may not want to speak up in this forum where some aren’t actually looking for answers). What I can say from my perspective though, is that I see a generation trying to figure things out. Not just blindly following, but seeking earnestly for their own answers, and striving to create their own connections with God. Perhaps that is better than my generation where we did things (some of us) without ever questioning and searching and pondering.
I think we need to give them the space to figure it all out. Life is long. The process of figuring things out, especially something as personal as faith-based principles, is a pretty beautiful thing. I’m still working through my own answers for many things in the gospel. But I’m looking and seeking, as I know Elle is as well, with trusted sources: The scriptures, mentors who love unconditionally, and most importantly with God. Does that mean I don’t think we should keep the “rules” as proposed by the leaders of our church? Of course not.
But I do believe that there is room to figure things out. Little by little.
Elle may be looking for answers to things in the gospel…. but while someone is looking, maybe that person should not take the huge step of getting married in the temple. That seems like something you do once you realize that you want to be a member of this faith and you accept wearing the garments as part of that covenant.
I would not expect Elle, with her level of maturity, to articulate any of this here on the blog. But how about Grace? From the posts you’ve done on her communications while on her mission, and the way she talks about her faith and her religion.. she seems very devout. And she dresses and acts very modestly, at least what we are shown here. Could you ask her to give her thoughts on your blog, on garments, shoulders, things that others are obviously still confused about….
If they are not blindly following and they are seeking their own answers then why Even follow your prophet? Do you believe he is a man called of God? If the answer is yes , then there is no figuring out or blindly leading, is there? You have been told when are where you should wear your garments. You go to an interview that the prophet and president of the church has set specific questions to. There is no grey area. As a parent we have dropped the ball big time in teaching kids that this is not a big deal. That basically once you get married in the temple that’s the most important thing and we then go to “ it’s a personal choice” well it’s not, and I think deep down you know it!
And yet today the SCOTUS shut down Roe v Wade. Another chance to crucify women, which they did today. And this country and world continue to do. Did you read about the brutal killing of a woman in an arab nation recently? It’s religion that has perpetuated the ideas that women as less than and the rules of religion that keep women at home, barefoot, pregnant and dumb. And you want to discuss underwear, sacred or not, that Elle does or doesn’t want to wear? It’s this thinking that has led to all the negativity against women over the centuries. I don’t know Elle or Shawni but do know that if Elle is choosing to not do something her religion otherwise thinks she should do, I saw MORE POWER to her. God is divine, religions and church leaders aren’t. Love God, follow Jesus and do right and be good. Rules and dogma and doctrine are ridiculously archaic.
Trish, I love your question so much more than perhaps Amberrs. I really think there is a shift going on. I think between my generation and the generation below is something is definitely shifting. You are right too it’s changed throughout time and I can see it happening. I think modesty on a whole is changing and I personally would love to see a huge overhaul on How we view this. I’d love to hear Elle & Graces thoughts on it as women in this generation. They are such lovely women. I love To listen, to learn and understand. This generation has so much to teach us!
Religions shift and change so much over time. It wasn’t that long ago that the Catholic mass was in latin and now that seems insane that you couldn’t practice in your own language. Or that women had to wear veils…I attended Mass weekly in my basketball/volleyball uniforms/practice clothes as a kid. It did not seem strange to me, because I didn’t know any different.
One of the coolest things about the LDS church is getting to see a religion in its relative infancy. Though I don’t believe in the Book of Mormon/Joseph Smith as a prophet, it is really interesting from just a human standpoint to get to witness changes that we take for granted in other religions and faith traditions. In some ways, it’s made me question and doubt my own faith, which has only made it stronger. It is foolish to think that a religion will not change over time — it’s just that most of us alive today accept those changes to other religions as now established tradition.
Okay…stepping off my soapbox now. Happy Anniversary!!
I’m guessing you don’t know anything about this family other then the few pics and blurbs that Shawni shares on her blog.
What they choose to do and not to do is not your business. They are a beautiful family doing their best and don’t deserve such hateful judgment from trolls saying hateful things while hiding behind a computer screen. Thank you Shawni for staying positive even when it’s hard. Elle, you and your sisters don’t need to give the negative comments any of your time or attention. I think the negative commenters do it purposely to try to cause drama and to somehow sooth their own troubled hearts. Ignore them.
I appreciate all the positivity you share Shawni, it helps me in my own life.
So was Trish’s comment also hateful? Is she also a troll? People sometimes ask questions in a manner that is less respectful – I get that – but the question may still be one that is valid. Trish reiterated the question in a very nice respectful manner, asking as an LDS mom of small children. No one “owes” anyone any answers, but wouldn’t it be nice to see it addressed by Shawni here? And maybe discussed in a respectful manner?
Maybe Elle could take the time to respond in a thoughtful, mature way, not in a defensive way, just to address the questions… instead of with her silly immature comment above. You like bread…. what?
Anyway, I would also like to discuss whether the younger generation can “change” church doctrines just by ignoring them. It would make more of a statement if they would not just ignore them (and ignore discussions about WHY they are ignoring them..) but maybe be a little vocal about them, such as “these rules are silly and outdated, and we as modern LDS women are not going to follow them…”..
Please, people, can we have a respectful, intelligent discussion here without the questioners being called trolls…??
Elle wasn’t being aloof with the bread comment. A comment last week commented on her body and told her to eat a loaf of bread. She was obviously referencing that and IMO being funny with it.
Her comment has been deleted…. wow.
And so was the one where someone said she might respond as a mature, educated LDS woman.
Maybe the garment wearing is like the shoulder thing talked about in previous posts… it’s not a rule, just a guideline, wait – not a guideline, just a suggestion, wait – not even a suggestion, just something that old men wrote in an outdated pamphlet… and agency can be used as to whether you do what’s written in there, because – it’s not really written in there for any reason, or for anyone to take seriously…..
No actually, Trish’s comment was not hateful in my opinion and I think she has genuine questions that weren’t meant to hurt people like some of the other’s. I don’t usually comment on these negative commenters but going after someone’s children in such a mean way was going too far and yes, that’s what trolls do.
Shawni, I think you are trying to sugar coat things. You have been in the temple, you know 💯 on how we have been instructed to wear the garments. You are told again when you get your recommends that they are not to be removed unless it’s for something that can’t be done With them. Why are we so scared to upset the generation below? Too scared to say “ if you don’t want to wear them, then don’t get married in the temple, you not ready” instead of being scared what others will say. I admire those that wait rather than going to the temple to say they did it and have zero desire or testimony of it.
Spot on, Emily! Even before you go through the temple, you should understand the expectations of wearing garments. The instructions are to wear them day and night. And there are very few reasons not to wear them. Everyone is an example. Some good. Some bad.
I tend to agree with Emily. I am not LDS and do not pretend to understand any of the reasons behind some of their more bizarre rules, suggestions, admonitions, ….. but the garment thing seems to be pretty much a given. Swimming or exercising, sports, .. those are things where it is not practical to wear them. But day to day life? I think that is obvious. I think that the younger generation is given “agency” or lattitude in this because the older members do not want to give them an excuse to leave the church. JMHO
I’m LDS, with adult children about the same ages as Shawni’s. My daughters have been to the temple, and we discuss the proper way to wear the garment as a sort of ongoing conversation. Before going hiking or to the beach, we ask each other if it would be better to keep garments on, or to take them off. It’s just a comfortable check-in, like asking if they’re on their periods and need a tampon… no big deal, just checking in with each other and making sure we all agree to keep our clothing modest in each new circumstance, and to wear the garments as we’ve promised to do.
Good for you and your kids! That is how I imagined it would be in normal LDS households that are conscious of the rules and are “trying” to keep them!
Some families just find it easier not to enforce these things…. to say that their kids are struggling for understanding…. looking for answers…. they already have the answers. They just don’t like them!
I don’t see where this is all that difficult, for people who have been raised with these things in place. For me, to change to doing that would be hard. But then again, how hard is it to wear something? Pray for guidance? figure it out? – no, you already have the guidance and there’s nothing to figure out… except for if you want to keep your promises to your God and your Church. Young people want excuses, ways out, reasons not to have to do something… that’s why maybe age 8 might be too young to baptize these children. They can’t understand what they are getting into..
But why would you want to keep doing something if you disagree with that particular thing? Just because someone else says that you should? It’s amazing to see young girls (in general, not only LDS) take the time to reflect and THINK about their beliefs.
I’m catholic, and there are things about my religion that I disagree with, therefore I don’t follow them. That doesn’t make me any less catholic – that makes me a human being. Good for Shawni and her daughters for being true to themselves and taking the time to figure things out. Isn’t that what we want for our kids? Hopefully, this generation will be able to change things – without blindly obeying and without judging what other people do with their lives.
Cassia it makes you WAY less a Catholic! You don’t follow some of the teachings? Not because you are an imperfect human but because you choose not to ?? Then yeah, honey … you are no more Catholic than the man in the moon.
If your garments (or anything else) made you speaking that way I don’t see any point in wearing them or practicing any other sort of religious beliefs. We should be much more civilized than that, very non inventive, ‘honey’.
This is not JW or a cult. A woman being sexist, infantilizing an adult woman by trying to shame her mommy for a photo you saw perhaps out of context belonging to a church you are not a member of. Shame on you. Iran might need more police to check women and girl’s hijab on the street. Your would be just perfect. Over there you would have to have her husband, father or brother present as guardian before she is released. Cause women over there are not really adults.
@Apple – this person just said she is a Catholic but doesn’t follow all their teachings. Being Catholic is not a hereditary trait.
It is a conscious choice of religion. Hello… if you belong to a religion you should believe in and at least TRY to follow the teachings. Yes, all of them. No cherry-picking allowed. And I do not wear magic underwear, thank you very much. I just cannot stand when people claim to be of a certain religion “but don’t really believe it and don’t bother to follow some of the rules that don’t fit in with my lifestyle…”
An infinite amount of people can go to heaven. Not just 144,000. So we don’t need to be checking hemlines. I hope you left whatever religion made you this way and still believe in God.
As for the general question asked about garments (not in response to the personal aspects) – I just want to share some thoughts in regards to the search for a “why” behind dress codes and garments. I’ve loved studying the Old Testament this year (I never really have before) and it’s interesting how big the theme of the importance of being different from the world is, and also the importance of following the Lord by following His prophet. It’s interesting how those are the things talked about as being the things that will keep us safe in the last days. The phrase “even the elect will be deceived” haunts me because there is an abundance of deception. I’m grateful that through the combination of the prophet and the spirit (that we have as we keep our covenants), we can know truth. We gain power to not only know truth, but also to help lead as many people to Christ as we can, as we set ourselves apart from the world by the way we look, sound, and act. We don’t need to “steady the ark”, there is an approved method for change. I realized I haven’t done a great job of teaching my kids that one of the big reasons for many things we do is to gain the power available from being different in the ways the Lord has asked. Although I believe the LDS church has a specific part to play, there are so many good people from so many different religions that are doing their part as well. The work is definitely bigger than us, but we can’t stray from the knowledge we have and the covenants we’ve made and expect to have the promised power and light. With that being said, no one is perfect and the plan is amazing because it gives us opportunities to learn and make the changes we need to make to continually realign ourselves.
I agree that they should figure it out. Wholeheartedly believe that educating yourself and making choices for yourself. Which Elle did right?! I mean I figured that 2 years after her civil marriage she would have decided and looked for anwsers! She only went through the temple a few months ago and immediately stopped wearing her garments. She chose knowing full well what she was doing. She wanted the blessings of being sealed yet no commitment to any of the other things that go along with it, and as parents you knew that but didn’t say a word.
You would fit in well in Afghanistan. Why are you nitpicking over whether she is right with God over how she dresses in public with no context to the photos to her mother. She is an adult. You spent no time complaining Max’s BYU volleyball uniform didn’t conform to garments.
I have to say having read the blog since Lucy was a baby I do not understand why so many potentially older women are so obsessed with Elle’s shoulders since she was 14. I find it creepy. I also find the lack of problem solving unfortunate. BYU athletics are easy enough to search for. Many garment wearing temple worthy people playing sports. You see them in bathing suits without garments and obviously that is fine with the school and the church, you see the same as well as many other BYU uniforms. You also see people not immediately showering to putting on regular clothes after the game or practice. And what is more goofy if their need to infantilize her. If they see her without them on a social media post they should ask there. If there is no way to ask then don’t. Do they want women 18 year old or older to have to answer to or please their mothers. Even more goofy among these older women is the sexism. No one complains about Max or fusses over his clothes or volleyball uniform or what he wears hiking or wondering whether the photo was on the way home from the beach or not. There is no hotline to report a violation of garment wearing to one’s leadership. It’s not communism, it is not Afghanistan, it’s a church. Shame on all of you. Happy Anniversary.
I haven’t had a chance to come back here today and yow. I so appreciate the kindness shown. Thank you for those who chose civility and grace as they posed questions and thoughts. I believe, if religion has anything to do with it, THAT is what it would strive to teach.
I do find this discussion so interesting because we all find different “rules” that are black and white and others that are gray. Perhaps that is just human nature? If garments are black and white, is judging others black and white as well?
If we have learned anything about social media, we must know that what we see in the sliver of someone’s life that appears online may not represent their entire life.
BTW, our anniversary was awesome:)
happy anniversary mamma!! love you & dad so so much, sorry i had to make your anniversary all about me 😉 can’t wait to see you xoxo
Thank you for your example of civility and grace Shawni! And what you said about social media and then how that relates to your thoughts about judging is so important. I just wanted to add the observation that the garment commandment falls under the first great commandment (if ye love me, keep my commandments) and judging falls under the second (which is of similar importance to the first!) The two great commandments are both essential for our exaltation and we (definitely I do), fall short on both. We have to be careful about finding the balance between law and love and trying to correct ourselves when we tip the scales by living one over the other. I find it especially hard as a parent to find that balance- I’m sure it will take a lifetime of learning for me.
I think it’s interesting ask is why The Church made (and continues to make rules/covenants about underwear. Seems like to purpose of religion is to focus on our spiritual health, create a pathway for connection with the divine, provide community, encourage loving kindness, etc. all wonderful stuff. Regulating bodies, sexuality, etc seems more like control than spiritual connection. I mean do we really think God cares about what kind of underwear anyone wears?
It is not unique to this religion. Muslim and Amish and orthodox Jewish married women cover their hair. Men in the orthodox Jewish faith wear a garment under their shirts as well and something on their head. The thing about garments is this particular church fairly young. Yet garments in coverage over the body and fabric have changed with the fashion and location of those wearing them. Same fabric won’t work in Hawaii as in Utah. They used to come to the knee. I do think it’s creepy people are checking out a 20 something’s clothing to guess where she is at and what underwear she has on if it’s not the beach/exercise and then comes complaining to her mom.
I love that Kristine brought up how other religions also wear specific clothing to remind them of their covenants with God. All symbols to help us remember that God is with us. I think that is such a beautiful thing. If someone is translating garments to be something to control them, I think they might be misunderstanding that beauty. Garments, to me, are not about modesty or sexuality or regulating anything, they are a gift that if thought of in the way (I personally believe) they are supposed to be, they can be a daily beautiful reminder to live our lives as God would want us to. To remind us to that God will “reach for our reaching” (a phrase in one of my favorite hymns), if we only remember to reach.
The garment has beautiful symbolism to remind us of the saviors atonement and promises protection to those who wear it faithfully. It contains reminders of our covenants as well as helps to set us apart by the way we dress. I’m so grateful for the garment and am truly enriched and blessed by everything it does for me. Just like anything else the lord asks of us, we receive more than we give but we have to understand it in order for it to enrich us.
You’ve summed up exactly how I feel about garments.
I am also very thankful for them & feel that they are a great blessing.
In the UK most houses don’t have air con & I know a couple of people who won’t wear them during a heatwave. I want to tell them to pray & ask for Heavenly Father’s help in this, as I know He will help them.
I follow another blog run by a member of the church & was shocked last week when she showed some dresses on her blog that weren’t church standard at all.
Oh I just realized I said pretty much the same thing right above before I got to this, Jill. Thank you for the thoughts. I so agree with what you said: that we have to understand in order for it to enrich us. That understanding may take a little longer for some than for others, but it’s a beautiful process as we look, (and “reach” as I said above) to make it a beautiful part of our own lives. We have to do that personally for ourselves. I believe that none of us are in charge of how others do it (even in the temple the words they use are very careful to point out that this is a personal commitment), but when we seek to understand and we begin to grasp it all, we feel so lucky for the gift. I hope that makes sense.
As a former Mormon, I see this thread as a conflict between people who try to live or have tried to live Mormonism to the “letter of the law” as we were taught, and people who make adjustments to the rules for their own comfort. And they are definitely bending the rules – there is no room for interpretation in the instructions about garments given in the temple. I wish I had been comfortable bending the rules as a Mormon – it would have mad my life so much better to be able to say “These garments are making me miserable and I hate wearing them” or “I have two small children, a husband who works all the time/travels frequently, and no family in town to help me, so I won’t be taking a calling in Young Women’s” or even “I don’t really want to get married in the temple, I’m not ready and I’ll be so sad that most of my family cannot be there.” I just kept on going and trying to fit the mold until I couldn’t anymore. And I do resent the way changes to church policy happen later when people do start to say those things, partly because I wish I had taken care of myself first and not worried so much about what the Mormon god, or my bishop, or the women in my ward thought. And partly because the Mormon religion is so unreasonable, and so unbelievably difficult for people who are converted, or of lower income, or without a wide network of Mormon family and friends, or who are LGBTQ, or who have disabilities. Those of us without the security to ask questions of the church and its doctrine and policies, or assert our own identities, accept and forgive our own limitations, and receive the support of a community that does the same, are at an enormous disadvantage. I pop in to this blog because it is a glimpse of the kind of life I thought my devotion to the church would bring me, and it reminds me why I left. I left because of the devastating and hypocritical sanctimoniousness of the church’s leaders, the crushing hierarchy of the money/faith combo, and the excruciating rejection I felt as a member. I’m sad I don’t have the network of Mormonism, the fun aspects of its culture, and the giant extended family unit I hoped for, but I have freedom from the judgment I imposed on myself and that was imposed on me by others, and that’s much better.
Hi Molly, I so appreciate you sharing these feelings and I’ve been waiting to come back to this comment when I had some time to write out a thoughtful response. First of all, I’m so sorry that this religion has caused you pain and hurt. I know that is not what God would ever want a religion to do. I think your points are incredibly valid.
Have you watched The Chosen? I know, this is a tangent, but I often think that the Christ portrayed in that series is the Christ I envision, filled with compassion for every person and every situation. If you were to go to Jesus and say any of those things you mentioned, “These garments are making me miserable, ” or “I am so overwhelmed I cannot take a calling right now,” or “I’m not ready for the temple,” I believe He would have complete love for you and would be willing to wait and to seek to understand. For a lifetime if necessary. For you to gain that understanding and have a desire to do those things asked of you.
The problem is, in my opinion, (and I think you agree from your last few sentences), that there is a cultural norm to do all these things without questioning. Like you said, it takes a particular amount of security to ask questions about doctrine and policies, and really, the majority of people in the church may be ok to just follow along. That is great if that’s how they personally can build their foundation to be strong. Some people have a natural gift of faith and these things come easy for them. I know because I think I am one of them. Growing up I didn’t have to question, I just knew the church helped me build my relationship with God and I loved it. I loved how I felt at church. I loved learning more about Christ each week (still do).
But I honestly think for many the “pushing back” is what helps to build their foundation.
The questioning, the digging deep. And I think that is a beautiful thing! But I get what you’re saying, sometimes the culture looks down on that. I do not think that is the gospel. How can we change that? Dave and I discuss that all the time.
If someone doesn’t feel comfortable at church as it sounds like you didn’t (and I know so many others are right there along with you! And me sometimes too!), I believe things need to change. Church should be like a hospital where people can come in their brokenness to be healed. To find a better way. To feel unconditional love as they try to align their life to follow Christ’s example.
But there are three problems with that:
1) Sometimes the change needs to come from inside the person who is struggling. A humbling experience that we tend to want to shrug off in our modern-day society sometimes. When someone is feeling shame, it is easy blame the church rather than reaching deep inside to consider what they could do better (this is not you I’m talking about btw, it sounds like you did everything you could to “fit,” which really shouldn’t have to happen).
But the whole purpose of religion is to have boundaries. Not “everything goes” if we want to strive to continue to progress. We have to have the valleys where we realize we have so much to learn along with the beautiful vistas. And not blame others or feel shame if we are in a different spot from someone else.
There was a kid in one of our wards years ago who didn’t have a very involved family. He had struggled in the church, but had learned and grown, and decided he wanted to serve a mission. He worked hard to turn in his papers and get ready to go only to be denied because he was overweight (missionaries have to be able to ride bikes and walk a lot, obesity can lead to some pretty tricky stuff on a mission). Dave and I were dying at this rejection for that kid. We loved him and were so rooting for him! Didn’t they know that this was a big deal he was trying to go on a mission in the first place? This was going to totally turn him away.
But you know what happened? That kid humbled himself and got to work. He lost weight. He got so motivated. He read his scriptures and dug deep. He put all his efforts into becoming healthy and became and incredible missionary.
Those boundaries changed his life for the better.
This could have gone the other way, of course, but I like to think that bishop was inspired enough to know this change could happen. That this would be a tremendous lesson for this kid. And also that that kid was humble enough to put in the work to change.
2) The church is run by imperfect people. They make mistakes. I know of stake presidents and mission presidents who have made horrible mistakes. My own stake president was excommunicated shortly after I returned from my mission. I personally believe this is part of our learning process. To learn that no one is exempt from sin. We all have learning to do. And we can chose to say things like “just like me, that person is learning,” (because we all are, aren’t we?), and give people grace, or we can choose to hold grudges and let someone else’s decisions determine our own paths.
It takes a strong person to think, “that doesn’t work for me, but I’m still learning. And I’m going to be ok with people judging me if I don’t conform, I’m still going to church no matter how people perceive me because this is my progression, not theirs” (as per some of your struggles you mentioned).
3) Change takes a long time. There are so many deep-set cultural norms in the church that aren’t necessarily part of the gospel. They are things that have come generation through generation and are set up to be part of the gospel but they’re really not (the “fencelaws” as one person calls them in a podcast I listened to…I’ll have to link that because it’s good!) There is a lot of heaving and adjusting and realigning in the church right now, but movement is slow. And we have to figure out a way to understand along the way.
Phew, sorry so long, but I’m just grateful to hear your perspective to learn from, and hope that you will find mine helpful as well. I hope you have found happiness and hope you can find grace for those who have made you feel the way you did at church. Everyone is learning and hopefully growing but we’re all doing it in such different ways with such different experiences and backgrounds and capacities to grapple with. I am sending love and respect to you as you seek your own journey.
I’m thankful for all the perspectives shared in this post. I hope we are all learning from each other in some way.
I’m late to this, but would like to still leave a comment. Change is inevitable. Change is going to happen within Mormonism just like it has in the past and just like it has with every religion. It is going to take people taking a stand about certain issues for those changes to occur. For example, during my 30s I did not attend the temple because I refused to promise to obey my husband. I told two bishops that the reason I do not want to attend is because my husband has no authority over me and I will not promise to “obey” him. In my late 30s I was surprised when a bishop told me that the temple ceremony had changed and that women no longer promised to obey their husbands. Clearly I was not the only woman who did not like this! Enough women took a stand, told their bishops, and change happened. I am 42 now and have complete respect for this younger generation making a change when it comes to garments. There is no way knee length garments are going to be around forever, and I’m certain this younger generation is the generation that is going to change it. Will people only wear them on Sundays and/or to the temple? Time will tell, but there is no doubt a change with garments is on the horizon. I gladly welcome it!
I don’t agree that garment standards should change just because some younger people don’t like them/won’t wear them.
There are also older people in the church, not just younger ones. We’re important too.
I hope the length of the garments never change, as it could definitely change the stress standards that we have.
I am proud to dress modestly, even it means being different & not being up-to-date with clothes.
I think the wording of the temple recommend interview is a big sign that garment wearing is going to change. A bishop no longer states “day and night” and in the temple we are instructed to wear them “throughout our life.” The handbook is just a handbook. It changes all the time depending on the culture of the world. This allows a lot of personal interpretation and pleases all the generations. The older generation can continue to wear them as they always have, and the younger generation can wear them “throughout their life.” I am noticing with the young adults that they wear them on Sundays and while attending temple. The first presidency will not come out and make a formal announcement about garments because, yes, it will upset older generations. But the changes they have made in the temple recommend interviews will allow a natural cultural shift without making a formal comment. Older generations will pass on and what remains is the younger generation who has changed the cultural norm, and a church that makes changes to keep younger generations in the church. This is not the first time the church has made changes to fit the cultural norms of its members and societies. Change is inevitable.