tonight between olympic ceremonies and my emotional break from flappy bird i found myself scrolling endlessly on the homepage of facebook. i don't really do this often, but lately there's been contention on mormons and the movie Frozen. i have seen status's and have friends on both sides of the issues. some saying "i will never let my children watch Frozen again and will never buy any paraphernalia associated" and others "this is why i hate Utah and all the judgmental, unwelcoming crazy people." i'm all for preaching how you feel (i mean, if i didn't this blog would be a mantle for hypocrisy) but as naive as it sounds, i wish more people would think before they speak.
i have been born and raised in Utah and i've grown up with a very open mentality. i remember in junior high i had this computer class with the creepiest teacher ever haha he was way sketch but it was one of my favorite periods. i had a polynesian kid and a mexican kid sitting on both sides of me. by the end of the first week of school, these hommies became my closest friends! i look back on that time and remember laughing my head off and all the inside jokes we had and oh man, just everything was so great. it didn't matter that i was this skinny white mormon blonde girl. we would call each other everyday. after a while, things got more serious. i remember the times when i would cry while the foster parents yelled at my friend, or when the other would tell me that his brother was forcing him to sell drugs. but most of all, i remember the day when my friend didn't show up for school ever again, without saying a word and without knowing what had happened to him.
several adults expressed their concern to my parents and me about the "company" i had chosen.
after the school year ended, both had gone. i was alone. i went back to my other friends but to be honest it had been a real long time since i had a friendship like the one i had with those kids.
after that, i started to resent those people who had "expressed concerns" about my friendships. i also resented those who were judgmental and made accusations based on appearances. i started to resent the people who made fun of those who were different.
in turn, i became the girl who hated Utah, who would accuse all Mormons of being judgemental, conservative and close minded. i became the girl who swore often, who made fun of shade-shirts, who wore a bikini at BYU apartment hot-tubs (especially the ones with the modesty warning). i just didn't care. i liked being different. i liked being accepting and open-minded and easy to talk to. for some reason i felt like it was my job to advocate those who weren't the typical Utah mormon.
but then something changed.
i found out that someone extremely close to me, who was very young, had a pornography addiction. they were fighting so hard to avoid it but the temptation was everywhere for them. the worst was being at a pool, when girls would wear bikinis. it would make it so much harder for that person to focus on the progress he made. that same week, i found out that the apartment i was living in during my junior year of college had an anonymous internet analysis. the findings showed that in just one floor of the mens section, over 50,000 hits of pornography had been made in a single week. this apartment was in the center of Provo with over 80% of residents attending BYU.
after finding all this out, i threw away all of my two-pieces. every single one. i just couldn't justify wearing one when i knew that the struggle of pornography was real, and closer than i thought it ever would be. i didn't want to be the reason why some boy would be tempted to fall back into that darkness. and because i didn't know the certain people who were struggling, i wouldn't risk it at all. that person could be someones future husband, a best friend, a father, or baby brother. either way i spun it , it just wasn't worth it.
since then, i slowly changed my mentality. i was still open, of course. i didn't resent my friends who wore two-pieces! it was my personal choice. they have theirs. i still love them.
when vaughan and i were first married, and attended my palangi (white) ward, we would always run into people who had taught me throughout my youth. one of the days that i wasn't there, my favorite-ever-sunday-school teacher in the whole world made a comment to vaughan saying "how nice is it that rylee married a colored man!"..... i seriously died. i was SO embarrassed and so offended for vaughan. how did vaughan handle it? like a saint. he laughed, agreed and moved on. then it got me thinking, did she say that to hurt him? no. of course not. could she have re-phrased it? probably. but she most likely didn't have a second thought about it. i then found out that she had been raised in southern Georgia her whole life. her father was very racist and she grew up with terms like "colored". that's just what she knew. she is not a racist by any means, she didn't agree with her father. but because of that up-bringing, she saw the world differently. i love that woman, so much. we both do. she is very kind and funny and happy and vaughan could've chose to take it offensively and to swear off white Mormon wards. but he didn't. he chose to love her instead.
i guess that's where my point lies. i've been on both sides of the argument. i understand where both hard-core mormons and anti-mormons are coming from. not on all issues, no. but i think both extremes are waisting energy on being right and putting down "other" people. i think it's off to say that "all Mormons in Utah are judgmental" 'cause you don't know every single Mormon in Utah. you don't know why they have such strong feelings about not wearing a two piece. but the same goes to Mormons. we shouldn't put down a LDS feminist because she is doing something we wouldn't do or something we don't agree with.
i think, bottom line it just comes down to really loving people. loving the crazy mormon mom lady, loving the polynesian and mexican friend who made junior high SO MUCH better, loving the concerned adults who speculate, loving the gay couple who are pushing equality, loving the girl who is struggling with modesty and loving the people who are just trying to figure out what they believe in.
you choose if people offend you.
you don't have to be either strongly-for or strongly-against something.
you really can just love.