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Peter van der Walt
Peter van der Walt

We Can Stand in Strength Despite Static Noise

by Peter van der Walt
July 2013

To survive is not enough. To constantly just cope, to aim to get by, to try to reach ‘being okay,’ as if that was something worth aspiring to, not only robs us of our full potential, but is a denial of the power and promise of a God-given life.

And yet, just as I am about to make progress, just as I’m about to feel good or be happy, some self-righteous moral celebrity says something that bursts my bubble. They do it well —they practice all the time— and they always speak with a great deal of conviction.

As many celebrated the repeal of DOMA, others whined about how it would spell the end of civilization. When Prop 8 was overturned, thousands cried tears of joy. Others piled on the wrathful rhetoric. You post a happy picture on your Facebook wall… and one of your contacts feels the need to bring you right back down to earth with a nice cynical ramble or crude comments. It must needs be that there is opposition in all things, it seems (2 Ne. 2:27).

For many of us, both LGBT and straight, our religious walk can feel like a constant battle. We’ve been put through so much, and some of us were actually hurt. The result is that we always seem to be in the healing stage: Trying to cope; trying to get better; trying to achieve okay.

Those who always remind us of how bad we are don’t seem to have the same problem. They seem positively fabulous… always there to chirp or demean or denounce or attack, with such self-assurance, and their worlds are all supportive. They are, after all, the majority. The status quo affirms them.

Now, healing is important. If you’ve been very hurt, I want to encourage you to do whatever you need to, to heal and get better. But there also comes a point when “okay” is just not enough: We want to walk in strength. Live life fully, blasting away at our pursuits of happiness with vigor and passion. A point where we are no longer on the defensive and have some self-assurance of our own. When we don’t just survive but thrive.

There’s a lot of static noise in the world. Sometimes from people we care about. Sometimes from church leadership. In my own experience, the thing to do with static is to tune it out.

When it comes to my own religious walk, I found that the irritation and hurt caused by those who constantly oppose me diminishes in direct proportion to how spiritually nourished I am. It’s hard to feel confident when I seldom pray, never sing a hymn, live from crisis to crisis and forget to bring myself deliberately closer to Heavenly Father.

When I know my scripture like the back of my hand, empower myself with regular activity, uplift my spirit with the closeness I get from prayer, sing my hymns, do my fasting, then the words of the unjust are revealed to be exactly what they are. Ridiculous. Those who spread prejudice have been so consistently wrong throughout all of human history.

I’m extremely proud of Mormons. Over the past year I have seen Latter -day Saints, gay and straight, male and female, black and white, young and old, walk in Pride marches all over the US. I have seen resources and groups supporting and helping and promoting and accommodating–ordinary people working for a more just dispensation.

Surely there are those who do not support the growing arc in its bend towards justice. But actually, really, seriously: who cares?

It is time for good people to stop being so apologetic about themselves and those they love. It is time for us to walk upright, spread the love and make the world a better place. Yes, some will cry moral outrage (as they did once about interracial marriage). Tune out the nay-sayers like you would the annoying uncle at the family BBQ.

Some stiff-necked people will insist that God has forsaken you or that He is as bigoted as some of those who claim to be following him. The notion that he disapproves of you is just wrong.

God has NOT put you away. He has NOT cast you off forever. Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement? To whom has He put you away, to whom has He sold you? (2 Nephi 7:11).

So really…

Go ahead. Have some fun. Make some waves. Live a little.

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