In The Space Where You Can't See

You ready for this? Because I'm about to drop's hot? *insert awkward giggle*

I am no stranger to internet criticisms. Goodness, when you put yourself "out there" on such a public forum it becomes "part of the territory!" A rite of passage, as some may say. I've had everything from my writing style to my parenting techniques to my physical appearance criticized. But today I entered uncharted waters: criticism from women in my religious community. Yowza!

The background story goes a little something like this: I was featured in a lovely article on Mormon Light. The article highlighted women members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who are sharing goodness and making a difference. I was honored and humbled (and a little surprised, ha!) to be among the twenty women who were featured. The article was shared across social media and on several different platforms.

And then the comments started to roll in. The majority of them were positive and congratulatory and kind. There were a few comments expressing frustrations regarding the "lack of diversity" in the group of women featured, which was absolutely valid and understandable. But then other comments started popping up. Comments like, "Wow, talk about self promotion," and , "I'd like to see stories of real women who have actually gone through trials," and, "Why aren't we featuring women who quietly go about doing good without seeking glory?," and, "Stop glamorizing the celebrity mentality," and, "Why are Mormons so obsessed with obtaining celebrity status?," and, "I am more inspired by women living everyday ordinary lives." And on and on and on!

Three main issues stood out to me as I poured over, chewed up, internalized, and grieved over every dang comment.

NUMBER ONE: I'd like to see stories of women who have actually gone through trials. Yikes! Yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes, yikes! Forgive me, but this comment is so silly it is almost laughable. My beautiful sisters, have we really and truly forgotten one of the most powerful and universal truths that was shared with us by a man we believed to be a prophet of God? And that is that LIFE IS PERFECT FOR NONE OF US. It was Thomas S. Monson who said, "Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing his or her best to deal with the challenges which come their way, and may we strive to do our best to help out."

I don't personally know most of the women featured in the article, but I do know some of them. And they know adversity as well as anybody else. That article only showed the tiniest snippet of their realities. But behind closed doors, outside the picture, in the space where you can't see, they've endured divorce, financial instability, child loss, mental illness, blending of families, chronic illness, postpartum depression, infertility, and deaths of loved ones. Would you like to know how many of those trials are mine? If you're someone who commented about us not having trials and are interested in  actually hearing my "laundry list" of them, then please email me. (Because, sister, I've got lots of them!) I'd love to meet you and have a lunch date in which I spill my guts out over tacos. Tacos are life and they make everything better!

NUMBER TWO: Why are Mormons obsessed with celebrity status? What the what the what?!? My issue with this statement is that it is a blanketed statement. It's trying to throw a nice...throw?...over an entire group of people while seeming to forget that the majority underneath that throw might not actually feel that way. It's kind of like saying all women are bad drivers. (Duh! We ain't!) Or that all dogs are best friends. (Have you SEEN Kujo?!) While I can't speak for all the women featured in the article, I can speak for myself. And I DO NOT desire to be a celebrity; not even one iota. No how. No way. Not ever. No thank you.

What do I desire? My darlings, I desire to leave the world better than I found it. I seek to use whatever platform I've been given to influence others to speak kind words and to do good deeds. I desire to give (pinatas, ha!) and to serve others. I want to remind you that you're loved and that you have a place in this world. I want you to know that I see you. And I want you to leave my presence, my street, my tiny corner of the internet, my car, my home feeling better and happier than before.

NUMBER THREE: (Which wasn't even a comment...just an overarching theme to the comments): Women VERSUS women; making comparisons while struggling to be happy for others. Sisters, where in the Bible does it say that when God blesses you He takes something away from me?! And vice versa!? It doesn't say that because our Creator doesn't work that way! We are all loved equally and unconditionally. And we're blessed abundantly.

Why do we struggle to be happy for each other's successes? It's as if we forget that one woman's success is, in reality, the success of all. When a few or a hundred great and strong women rise, we all rise. Because not only are we connected by our gender and humanity, we are also connected--deeply so--by our spirits. Like a great ocean wave, we are all moving and flowing and RISING and GROWING together. Remember: The first woman into space, the first woman to perform surgery, the first woman to vote was a success for all women.

In a recent podcast I was listening to, the spiritual teacher being interviewed talked about how we are far more alike than we are different. I believe this to be true and embrace this notion with my whole heart. It was the extraordinary Maya Angelou who said, "We can learn to see each other and see ourselves in each other and recognize that human beings are more alike than we are unalike."

If you think of all the incredible, talented, earth-shaking, and game-changing women out there in the world as a giant and beautiful chocolate chip cookie, those women highlighted (in an article that will probably be forgotten by tomorrow,) are like a sweet and tiny grain of sugar. You must know, sisters, that not only did you HARDLY get a taste of the goodness that is out there, YOU are a part of it as well!

Here is what I know: I am you. And you are me. You are my kin and my kind. We are in this messy and magical and weird and wonderful life together. That spot on a list, that feature in an wasn't even mind to hold alone. You know that, right?

It was yours, too.


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