Something about 'Mary'

I came across this clip when perusing General Conference (LDS for "super boring 2-day meeting every six months) videos. This one is from 2007, but somehow I'd forgotten about it or maybe I never saw it.


In this, Julie Beck, president of the women's organization at the time, talks about a woman (whose identity she chooses to 'protect' by use of the pseudonym Mary although apparently she's been dead 100 years or so) who enjoyed a cup of coffee on occasion, as did some of her ten children. She lived a "good long life," but Julie bursts into tears because that coffee habit kept 'Mary' out of the temple and led to 9 of her 10 children falling away from the church, and thus, many of her descendants live without the great blessings of the temple as well.

Oh, so many issues here.

Tears. The tears for coffee. Please. There is a time for tears. This is not one of those times.

Where is the atonement in this? 'Mary' is held 100% responsible for working out her own sins (don't get me started on how the Word of Wisdom does not mention the word coffee ever and it was only added as a 'thou shalt not' many many years after it was written down; the members fleeing Nauvoo packed coffee and tea in their wagons). None of us are without sin. Julie focuses on this one single sin and how it ruined Mary's life and the lives of her children.

And, the motherly guilt. So heavy. The message here is that if you, as a Mormon mother, commit the slightest sin or infraction, you risk being solely responsible for leading away your children and your children's children from the utmost happiness, and not just that - eternal salvation. No pressure or anything, but you'd better be freaking perfect or it's ALL ON YOU. 

As I said, I don't remember seeing/hearing this talk at the time, but there have been myriad messages similar to it in my almost 20 years as a Mormon.

It is only now, months (years?) into breaking free of some of the constraints of Mormonism, that I am finally able to realize the negative self-talk has stopped. I thought it was just part of me. Periods of time when all I would think was horrible things about myself. I never felt like I was good enough, and eventually I believed I never could be. And when this is the standard we are given - who could be? When I stopped expecting myself to be perfect, I became a better person overall. I don't think those things anymore about myself. I still feel guilt when I am genuinely sad about something I did or didn't do that I wish I'd done (or not done) differently, but I get over it rather quickly and I decide to be better. But the onslaught of thoughts of my shortcomings has ceased. It is wonderful. Although I feel so sad to have given up some friends, some social activities I used to enjoy, the lightness and freedom I feel now is beyond compare. And I have had, by many estimates, a pretty crappy past nine months or so. If anything I'd expect to feel more despondence and depression now, not less.

I know some people do not feel this way in the church, but MANY do. Especially women. And it's okay to admit that. It is an organization created by men, orchestrated by men, overseen by men, and so it naturally follows that it does not meet the particular needs of women. Women and men are different. That's no secret or surprise. 

I saw some internet meme that said - I may be paraphrasing, " Religion says, 'obey and you will be loved.' The gospel says, 'I am loved, so I want to obey." 

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