Today’s Sunday Spotlight features Jen. A very brave woman who opens up about her own heart wrenching story that ends with a beautiful message of hope and love. Thank you for sharing Jen!
Hi, I’m Jen. I love hiking and fishing and horses and camping, but I found those loves after I left the church. I was raised as a very active Mormon. I was married in the temple at nineteen, and for several years after I was endowed, I made sure to go to the temple at least once a week. At one time, I had five callings, because I believed saying no to a calling was like saying no to Heavenly Father.
My favorite calling was being the choir accompanist. I love music, and I am very grateful that the church’s need for piano players pushed me to learn to play. When I was twelve, my YW leader asked if anyone could play. At the time, I couldn’t, but I taught myself to play. By the time I was sixteen, I could accompany the hymns in YW and played prelude for sacrament meeting. At sixteen, I wanted to play for the Mount Timpanogos Temple open house, so I taught myself to play the organ.
I was married in the temple the first time at nineteen. My marriage experience included being raped and beaten. I was called names, cheated on, spat upon, thrown into walls, had my possessions destroyed, my family members threatened, was told I could never see my family, and had my life threatened.
I went to several church leaders for help at various times. One told me that my responsibility was to be in the home keeping my husband happy. One told me it was a worse sin to deny my husband sex than for him to force himself on me. I was told I had committed to obey my husband, and as soon as I repented and did that, my life would be better. Several told me that a man can’t rape his wife. I was given a book on communication after I told one bishop that I was afraid for my life.
Five years ago, I finally left the church because the teachings and the environment were killing me.
Emotionally I felt like I HAD to tell my story. I knew there were so many women that were (and are) so happy with the current structure of the church, but I also believed there were other women like me. Women who had been raised with the patriarchy and suffered in silence. I wanted to make a difference. I thought maybe I could help someone else to avoid the pain I had suffered.
It also felt like a “coming out” moment. I finally owned my story. Although others had called what my husband did “rape” and “abuse”, I had been too afraid to use those words. Going to bishops for help and being shot down had left me so scarred and afraid, I had a hard time talking to anyone about what had happened. Not only did I write down my story, it was then shared for everyone to read.
I haven’t been to church for a long time, so its hard for me to remember the specific ways I saw gender inequality play out at church. I just remember constantly feeling like I was “less than” because I was a female. The individual events have faded from my memory, but I am still working to heal the emotional scars those events left.
I have a lot of hope for the future. My life now is a million times better than I ever could have imagined. Last week, I bought a house with a man I love and who treats me like I am important. We are partners in life, and I didn’t know that was even possible. I got to sign my own name on the mortgage papers. Not his name, but mine. That was really cool for me.
Worldwide, it seems to me things are getting better. We are talking about sexism and gender inequality and racism and bringing awareness to causes in ways that we could never do before. We are (as a human race) learning how to be better humans. I am amazed at how much growth people have gone through, and continue to go through.
The day I posted my profile, I received phone calls from each of my siblings. They don’t believe women should be ordained, but they called me to tell me they were proud of me.
My family has shown me what love is all about. We don’t agree, and we love each other. We are all different, and we support each other in the things that make each of us happy. They may not support women’s ordination, but they support me in supporting women’s ordination. That means a lot.
Family isn’t about religious beliefs, family is about love.
I had several friends thank me for sharing my profile. I discovered many friends who were silently supporting ordain women, but I had no idea. I had other friends tell me they hadn’t really thought about situations like mine, but having trained leaders AND female leaders would help women in abusive relationships tremendously.