Saturday, September 30, 2017

God Didn't Do This To Me.

Well, it's #LDSconf weekend and Mormon Twitter is out in full force, tweeting how spiritual everything is, and occasionally calling out crap we hear from the pulpit (*coughcoughOakscough*).

But those aren't the kinds of talks I want to talk about. There are some other talks that sit somewhere in between. That make me uncomfortable because of their content but that are not necessarily out of harmony with how most Mormons understand the Gospel. I know that my own understanding is limited, and I'm willing to admit that perhaps I am wrong about this, but I'm gonna throw it out there anyway: I don't think God designed my pain.

The grand metaphors of God, the Great Chess Player in the Sky, leave me feeling empty. I don't think a God that loves me is up there like some cruel Tetris God just sending line piece after line piece just to punish me. Those of us who have had to endure harsh trials have questioned ourselves because of talks like Elder Rasband's. We've thought that God punished us. When I was about 3 or 4 years into my infertility, I started to question a lot of things I had done in my life. Was I too mean to my siblings growing up? Should I have said no when that one guy wanted a NCMO? Did I throw off God's plan for me when I didn't marry my ex boyfriend? Is it because I married a liberal? Actual questions that passed through my head in these moments. And these are just the ones I'm willing to share.

I do believe in some divine design. A lot of what Elder Rasband said rung true to me. I do believe that there is a plan to help us all gain salvation. I do believe that humans like Saul/Paul are there to teach us great lessons about worthiness and our own ability to change. I absolutely believe that we are all here to be engaged in the cause of Christ and take care of each other. But just because I believe that God made the map doesn't mean that I believe my Heavenly Parents are picking out challenges for me.

And yet Elder Rasband states, "What may appear to be a random chance is, in fact, overseen by a loving Father in Heaven. … The Lord is in the small details of our lives, and those incidents and opportunities are to prepare us to lift our families and others as we build the kingdom of God on earth."

The idea that God's design includes every aspect of my life makes me uncomfortable. I don't believe that God sent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc. as special tests for the people most affected by them. I don't believe that people lose their jobs so God can see how well they handle running out of money. And I definitely don't believe that my infertility is some grand test sent to me to make me a better person.

The thing is, maybe my infertility did make me a better person. Perhaps I am more empathetic because of what I've been through. There are some positive things that have resulted from my infertility, like my ability to get a degree and seven years to get to know my husband. But do a handful of benefits make it worth nearly seven years of physical, mental, and emotional struggle to get pregnant? Is it worth the thousands of dollars I spent or the nearly 100 shots I gave myself? Is it worth leaving a family member's baby shower in tears because the tiny clothes were just too painful for me to look at? I don't think so.

In the end, what I most believe is that rain falls on us all. Good or bad, we all have trials. I'm not going to pretend that certain privileges don't make those trials easier for some, because they do, but the emotional toil I've been through on my own path does not teach me that God wanted me to have a rough go of things. Rather, I believe that Heavenly Father and Mother love me. I believe that when I struggled most deeply in the pit of despair, they and my brother Christ struggled with me. I believe that they cried for me when I cried. I absolutely believe that they cried for me more when I ran out of tears and lost all feeling for a while.

The Atonement serves no purpose if our trials are designed to beat us down. I believe that the Atonement is more beautiful if God didn't create hard lives for us on purpose. And like I said, maybe I'm wrong on this one, but I don't want to be.