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Sorry, Not Sorry?

Woman Staring Off

by Dena Wessler

Submitted to Affirmation following The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s reversal of their November 2015 policy changes that prohibited children of LGBTQ parents from being blessed and baptized and characterized members of the church entering into same-sex marriages as apostates. These changes became known within the LGBTQ Mormon community as the “exclusion policy,” “policy of exclusion,” or “PoX.” The day after the reversal of this policy was announced, Nathan Kitchen, President of Affirmation, invited anyone willing to and share their authentic feelings and all their stories of grief, anger, relief, sadness, happiness, confusion, whatever they may be that surround the rescinding this policy. “As President of Affirmation, I want to be sure Affirmation does not hide you or your stories as we move forward,” wrote Kitchen in his invitation. If you have reactions or a story to share about the reversal of the exclusion policy, please send to [email protected]. You can also read other stories and reactions to the reversal of the exclusion policy.

November 5, 2015

It was such a dark day I remember exactly where I was at the time. I sat at my desk in my apartment in Boston, MA, the state where gay marriage was legal in 2004. The same state where I married my wife in Sept 2005. Exactly 10 years and 2 months before my world crashed around me for a second time. The first time was when I came out as a lesbian to my Mormon friends and family. This was much worse though; it is one thing not being accepted for who you are by human beings who make mistakes based on fear. It is quite another to be called an apostate from a prophet who you still, in the recesses of your mind, believe talks to God directly.

I don’t have children, unlike a lot of my gay Mormon friends who tried to be straight, got married, and had kids. So, for that I am grateful. At first, when I heard the announcement, I was upset that the church would punish children for the “sins” of the parent. I then read on and realized the gravity of what the church (God in my mind at the time) was saying. I was an apostate. That news hit me so hard. I am lucky to be sitting here today writing this story.

Hopelessness on a grand scale is overwhelming. Add to that isolation and you have a perfect storm for two things; despair or grace. I must say despair hit me first and lingered. It almost killed me, almost. Grace came later. Much later. It had already been years since I had gone to church. I was still a member though because that small part in the back of my mind still thought, “but what if they are right?” I knew for me that, after this policy came out, I needed to leave. I personally couldn’t follow a church that could do something so unlike Christ. I had been reading about Jesus as far back as I could remember, and I never saw Him behave anywhere near what I saw from the church.

I had my name removed from the records of the church and it was devastating for me. I was a returned missionary, a young women’s leader, and an avid reader of the scriptures. This was too much to look past. I wrote this poem 4 days after this policy came out.

Broken

Shattered dream wasted time
Broken heart reeling mind
confusion builds life unfolds
door slammed outside cold
Heart unraveled breath confined
pain down deep fate defined
candle light darkened room
fists clenched tight broken womb
moral code wrong or right
a souls worth flee or fight
kindness lost shattered life
gay or straight death or life
silent resolve hopeful heart
untold thoughts fresh restart
gripping life pure intention
unwanted soul never mention
honest question hate or love
earthly mind Godly love
Shepard come change unknown
Christ-like hearts Power shown
time will heal pain is real
unjustified hate what to feel
strengthen soul lighted heart
family first torn apart

April 4, 2019

So, how do I feel about the reversal? I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel like I don’t have to care because now I am not a member by my own choice. On the other hand, I feel deeply involved still. God is so much more than we can even fathom and God LOVES ALL His children. If we don’t then we can answer for that in due time.

I found a church that is very Christ-centered and loves all of God’s children even the ones they might not understand. They pulled me out of the darkness into the light. They showed me God’s grace! Now I know how every person in the Bible felt who was healed by Jesus. The women at the well, the blind man, the women possessed with 7 demons, and countless others. I KNOW God’s grace. I can finally pray again and believe he will hear me and answer my prayers. I can love Him and know He loves me back. I don’t need a policy reversal to tell me that. I am grateful for all those that stayed that can now have their children blessed and baptized in the church if they choose. I still have a lot of friends and family in the church. I learned a lot of good things from the church, but, for myself, I cannot go back.

I hope this is a step in the right direction. I hope that the hope they are giving people is not yanked away again. I hope that they have real conversations about what to do when someone comes back to church carrying that hope in their mind. I hope a lot of things but the only thing I trust in is God. That was a hard lesson learned and one I won’t soon forget!

As for me and my house, I will serve the Lord and I will trust Him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. I will love God, my neighbor, and myself. I will look forward to the day I see His face and He says well done my good and faithful servant! I will ALWAYS CHOOSE love! So, I never have to say Sorry, Not Sorry!

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