You Must Be Stonger Than Me
I think was is even harder for me, is following council that I don't personally agree with. In 2000 I was experiencing some serious difficulty in my professional life that had seeped over into my private life. It was not a pretty time in my life. I honestly did not think I was going to make it through that period of my life unharmed. But, as the darkness began to recede (as it always does) and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I made a choice that I wanted to remember this time in my life; I wanted to remember that I was stronger than the forces that seemed to conspire against me. So, I walked into Wild Bill's with every intention of getting a tattoo. Nothing big, and nothing anyone could see when I was fully (or even partitally really) clothed. But, I couldn't find a design I was willing to commit to. So, instead of a tattoo I got the upper cartilage of my left ear pierced. I picked out the perfect hoop, and had a burley looking man who was inked up and down his arms shove a needle through my ear and create something that for me was a symbol of my strength. I loved that earring. I constantly fiddled with it through my long days and sleepless nights. Just putting my fingers to the metal somehow made me feel able to endure the trials in my path. Later that year I sat next to my mother as President Gordon B. Hinkley addressed the women of the church and told us that we should only have one set of earrings in our ears. My hand flew up to my ear and at the same moment my heart became a bit hard. How DARE someone tell ME what I can or cannot do with MY body!?!?! My mother leaned over to me and whispered, "You better take that thing out." To which I responded, "Over my dead body!" There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to remove my symbol of strength. It was mine and no one else, not even a prophet of God, could tell me what to do with it.
A few months later I sat with a dear friend at a young single adult fireside. I had defended my choice to keep my earring in to many of my church friends as well as some of my singles ward leadership. It was MY choice, and I was making it MY way. The speaker at the fireside was talking to us about faith, about faith not only in God, but in those who have been called to lead us. He mentioned the earring issue and I felt my heart grow even stonier. He then posed and answered the following question, "Will a piece of metal in your ear keep you out of the Kingdom of God? Absolutely not." I smiled. But that smile disappeared with his next question and answer. "But, will willful disobedience to a prophet of god keep you out of the Kingdom of God? You bet it will." Suddenly, it was painfully clear to me that I had been seriously disobedient about something that was trite at best. I reached my hand up to my ear and felt the metal hoop there. It didn't feel the same now, it didn't hold the same strength I thought it did. Suddenly, it seemed like a sign of my weakness rather than my strength. I took the hoop out when I got home and placed it in my memory box. I wanted to remember what it was like to choose the right, choose what deep down I knew was what I should have been doing all along.
I still have issues with some of the things we are counseled to do. It's part of being a seriously bleeding heart liberal. I don't believe in the death penalty, I support a woman's right to choose an abortion, I think gays should be able to marry, etc. etc. etc. I have my own reasons for these beliefs, my own testimony if you will, of what I believe to be right and wrong. When I sit in a meeting and those beliefs are challenged it can be extremely difficult for me to keep my heart soft and open to the Spirit. But I also know that the Lord has given us agency for a reason, that he had given us our minds and hearts to make choices with, to love others with, to be right and wrong with. I am so glad I get to make my own choices, so glad I can choose to follow the council of the Lord, so glad for leaders both locally and globally who have the best of intentions for the members of this church, even if they fall short. But most of all I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father, who knows each of us well, who guides us, challenges us, and helps us become life Him through trials and joys.