by grace

my name means grace. as a child my biggest aspiration was to be an olympic ice skater, a dream which had no hope of ever coming true due to my complete lack of physical grace. i thought the meaning of my name was a little bit funny because i thought of grace as the ability to balance books on one's head while walking in high heels or maybe even while doing triple axles. it wasn't until recently that i recognized that i could still be full of grace, a different kind, a more important kind. the kind that god is.

grace is my favorite thing about god. i can't tell you how impossible being a good, worthy, progressing person feels sometimes. i can feel so stuck, so inadequate of latter-day sainthood, so clumsily but also sort of beautifully flawed. the most important thing, and perhaps the only thing i know is that god exists, and that he will make up the difference between my potential and my often halfhearted and flailing attempts at discipleship.

so, clearly, i have doubts. i have questions. very serious ones that i'm not sure have answers.

and, should i dare to mention her name, so does kate kelly. i sat in a basement across from her a few months ago. she took off her boots, propped her feet up on the coffee table, and she answered our questions. regardless of right and wrong and questions and methods of asking, i think what we have been failing to do as a people is to recognize kate kelly and ordain women as representative instead of a fringe minority. while the easy road is to dismiss OW as a group of angry feminists who are bitter just for the sake of being bitter, it takes much more humility and compassion to see what this mormon feminist movement really means: that there are many women within this church, myself included, that feel hurt, limited, and undervalued. we can try to explain away this feeling with scriptural evidence and conference quotes that woman are equal in our institution, but all that jargon and frankly mental gymnastics doesn't change what it often feels like to be a female member of our church. it feels lonely, it feels constrained, and it can be heartbreaking.

still, at the end of the day, i feel god's familiar presence through the holy spirit. he reminds me of my worth. he comforts me with my divine potential. i feel it like a giant, fluffy, favorite blanket around my shoulders, mismatched patches of floral fabric woven through with a few gleaming golden threads, every inch of it symbolic, every mismatched part of me acknowledged, planned, usable, and wanted. this is why i am a saint: because god knows me. because he wants me, he opens up pathways for me to use my gifts, because he gave me power simply because i am his, and this power does not lie completely and solely within my physical/symbolic womb. i don't often get this from the church as an institution. i can talk a lot about the reasons why i feel this way, why i feel OW has merit, and how we can respond to these issues as a church, which i would be happy to do individually with anybody. but this is my space, one where i want to move past justifying the existence of feminism and do what i sat down to do: talk about grace.

i don't think god's grace is something he only uses at the very end of this world to save us or something only he holds. i think he is constantly filling in our gaps, forgiving us, and being compassionately patient with us as we fall short as his servants. i also think we have to capacity to do this for each other and that god expects us to. i think he expects us to forgive ourselves and others of shortcomings, to do what we can to make up for them, and to offer each other space for change and room for progression.

i wish we could act with more grace. when we mess up, when anger flames through us, when we suffer at the hands of each other, and when we fail, when we brilliantly and outrightly fail as saints, i wish we had more grace with each other. i wish we had the confidence in god and in our own faith to feel secure when it is challenged instead of placing blame and using big words to explain away doubt. i wish we had the capacity to forgive and the kindness to tenderly listen to each other before we pull out our defenses. i wish that we could admit when we are wrong and forgive ourselves with enough grace that we have room to grow again. i wish we could envelop each other with it, i wish we could truly mourn with those that mourn, i wish that we could fight for each other as sisters in zion. for us, grace and works go hand in hand. grace is action.

by grace we will be saved. with grace we will save each other.



i adore lithuania. i adore the translucent green trees and the ubiquitous lakes and the baroque architecture and the breathtaking train rides. i adore lithuania's complications and contrasts and the spectacular 10 pm sunsets. i love my free sunny mornings, my evenings brushing through fields as tall as me and my nights on the swing set. i love touching little heads and holding little hands, and oh, how i crave those little hugs.

for some reason i'm resistant to saying i'm a kid person. it's some kind of feminist attempt to prove the point that women can be women regardless of how nurturing they are, but in all honestly i am 100% "a kid person". i love them. i'm not the kind of person that hits it off immediately with kids but i do have this pretty powerful ability to bond with them through quiet love. i am happiest when i have them in my life, and i think there are two reasons for that. one is their loyalty, trust, and their simple, straightforward, and bottomless love. the other is their wonder, spontaneity, imagination, spunk, and joy. the world is full of love with children, and it is also filled with beauty and adventure.

i'm starting to feel that completion again, that wholeness of self and purpose that came to me in china and that was so very hard to leave. i love who i am when i am a teacher. i sure as hell don't get it all right, but luckily i work with the most forgiving souls on this earth.