During a recent doomscroll session on Facebook, I pulled myself away and forced a full stop. I had a mission to fulfill.
But first, the doomscrolling — I belong to a private Facebook group made up entirely of women who in some way are separated from the Mormon church. Some are inactive members, others who have openly removed themselves from the church, and still others who are in mixed-faith marriages (with one of them engaged in the church and the other not at all, or participating with limited activity), but all of them on what I would call a faith journey. Confessionally (and by the way, Mormons don’t have formal confession in the way Catholics do, but that adverb specifically seemed the right one for me to choose in this moment), I initially joined this group two years ago to see if I could find clients in my work as a transformational guide. I have never actually solicited anyone — nor do I intend to — but I have stayed on as a witness.
Whenever I pop onto this private page to read what’s been posted, to catch up on the lives of these women spread across the country in their range of communities, life and relationship circumstances and stages of their respective faith journeys, I am no longer surprised by the common and persistent theme of posts and responses to said posts. These women are hurting, and deeply.
Most of the women who post (there are over 9000 members in the group and certainly not all of them are posting, myself being part of the latter percentage) are sharing intimate and vulnerable situations they are personally encountering. All of these situations are heartbreaking for me to read, especially with the pile-on comments that add up to literal volumes of the stories of families abandoning their loved ones, mothers and mothers-in-law belittling, guilt-tripping and blaming their daughters, and entire communities gaslighting, ostracizing and turning their backs on these struggling women.
They are alone and they are seeking support in an online forum, where they’re not alone in their fears and in their experiences. It’s so difficult to read these accounts of mothers not loving their daughters.
My mission, which became evident to me only at the bottom of one-such doomscroll session, was to immediately step away from Facebook and to shut it down completely, and to then open FaceTime and call my own mother.
My mother answered my call with a whispered finger drawn across her lips, warning me not to speak too loudly because she was at work, at her volunteer position with the Mormon church as a researcher and a guide for anyone visiting the Church’s records building in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Why are you calling me at work?” she whispered before I’d had a chance to make any noise.
“Hi, Mama! You sure look pretty today. I just wanted to tell you that I love you!”
“Well, I love you, too. Now why are you really calling me?”
“No, really! That’s all I wanted to say. I’m just so grateful for how you keep loving me even though I don’t go to church anymore.”
She so matter-of-factly stated: “Well, of course I love you no matter what. You’re my daughter and I love you.”
“Yes, well there are so many women I see hurting because their mothers are choosing to fight against them instead of just loving them, and it makes me so sad for those moms and their daughters, and so grateful for you and for me. I just wanted to be sure you know that.”
And my mama — who is the actual greatest — looked at me with her beautiful soft smile and said, “I do.”
My mission — to ground into what was, what is, and what will be — is, has been, and always will be — to love out loud, just like my mama continues to do with me.