Bravery and tears. P.S. See you soon at Wellers SLC.

I’m packing my bags.  I’m boarding a plane tomorrow for Salt Lake City, and I’m hoping to see you Thursday night, 8/23, at 7 p.m. at Weller’s Books.  I’m bringing a copy of The Marie Osmond Guide to Beauty Health and Style to give to whoever has the most outstanding object lesson story to share.
And I’m really looking forward to meeting a bunch of you all and crying a few tender Mormon tears.  It always happens. We are a crying people.  I know it’s a good day when someone (men, usually!) tweets at me with mock outrage that they had tears dripping down their face on public transport because of the book.  Tears often mean good things in Mormonism.  They can mean softened hearts.
I want to share with you a letter I got today from a reader who read the whole BOMG camped out in the BYU Bookstore at my alma mater.  (I hope he got some cinnamon bears from the candy counter to strengthen and nourish him!)  Please read.  Is there someone in your life you need to have a tough and tender conversation with?  Is there someone you want to share your story with?  I hope my book gives you the courage to do so.
This letter is from a young man; we’ll call him “F.”
“When I asked the BYU bookstore clerk this morning if they had a copy of The Book of Mormon Girl; I was honestly expecting them to say no. The clerk, however, grabbed one of the two of the copies on the shelf, handed to me, and I began reading.

“I was excited to read it after hearing the recommendations from some close friends. 

“I laughed out loud at your descriptions of growing up in an LDS home. I too have felt the anxiety of finding my root-beer among the cokes. My heart ached as you described the crises that came later in life. I loved the book, in fact, I read the entire thing there in the bookstore today (with a brief break for a foot-long black-forest ham on wheat).

“While reading, many people walked past me… possibly judging a 25 year old guy for reading a book with three little bonnetted girls on the cover. Two individuals stopped to talk: my best friend and the mom of a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen in years. I talked to both of them about your story and how it relates to mine–the conversations that resulted had a powerful impact on me.

“My best friend has been along side of me for 7 years… we met my first day at helaman halls. Through my mission, through the rest of my under-grad years, and through my faith crisis this past year, he’s been there praying for me. He understood, as I recounted some of your stories, how relevant this book is to my own life and experience. We then talked for over an hour about issues of faith, doubt, leaders, and the future of the church–I felt more honest, more connected and more hopeful as a result. I knew that, if for no other reason, your book mattered because it led to that conversation with my friend.

“Then (after the sandwich break) I saw the woman whom I hadn’t seen in years. We talked about our families, her feelings about becoming an empty-nester for the first time… and then what I was reading. I told her about how it with interesting to me to read about people’s experiences navigating the difficult aspects of Mormonism and how these aspects have lead me down a painful (but important) path this past year. She then opened up about her experiences with faith and doubt, as well as the experiences of her two sons who have left Mormonism. She talked about her current experience serving as the Relief Society president and the trials and blessings involved. Once again, your book inspired a much needed and affirming conversation for me today.

“Your honesty and bravery has inspired me to be more honest and brave.

“I have recently rediscovered the testimony that I was mourning losing. Nothing has been more painful for me than questioning the very thing that has given so much meaning to my life. Through this agonizing process, however, I have felt myself grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.”

Thank you, F, for being brave. Thank you for sharing.  See you all Thursday night in Zion.
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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Bravery and tears. P.S. See you soon at Wellers SLC.

  1. Elle

    Have a wonderful time in Salt Lake! Can’t wait until you venture down to my area–the Valley of the Sun.

  2. Rachel

    I love the strengthen and nourish part of this post, I laughed out loud reading my e-mail. I have had to stop reading your book several times when tears welled in my eyes reading it on the metro. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Kathy Haynie

    Your book has helped me to be more honest and brave about my own story. I am a middle-aged empty-nester newly-called YW president. Some of the girls ask tough questions. I struggle with my own doubts at times. Stories like yours help me to sort through the doctrine and the culture, and they help me to focus my work with youth on inviting others to come to Christ rather than dwelling on do’s and don’ts. I am also finishing up a masters program in nonfiction writing. My thesis is a memoir of a 6-month period in my life, and again, your book has modeled ways for me to be more honest with my story. Thank you, and best wishes for a wonderful time in Salt Lake.

  4. I just bought your book and I am nearly done. I really, really loved it. I was bracing myself for some harsh criticism of the Church or for some sacred things taken too lightly, but I was never uncomfortable with the book at any point. Not that I’d necessarily give my MOM the book, but anyway…I just wanted to say that I really, really wanted to come to SLC tonight and see you talk, but I can’t because I have visiting teaching tonight and I’m too scared to go alone and too scared that the feminists will scare my husband. Anyway, good luck with everything!

  5. SharonGoldstein

    Have a wonderful time. And I’ll look forward to your episode on “Being” with Kristin Tippet.

  6. Ann

    I too lived in So Cal as a LDS girl growing up. I too grew up in the 70′s and 80′s, was in the dance festival, went to camp, experienced and thought so many of the same things you did as a LDS girl from the same era. Your book moved me. Thank you, thank you for voicing what I haven’t been able to say from my heart.

    I was very close to my gay uncle growing up and as he suffered and eventually passed away from AIDS, it was his partner and our family who was by his side with love. He wanted Primary songs sung to him. After it all, to him he was Mormon. And I believed that and still do. To have people from my faith not see the love my uncle and his partner had – the devotion all the way to the end of life included – was heartbreaking. We don’t have all the answers but love IS the answer.

    Thank you again Joanna. I love being a Mormon and love my heritage. There is a place for us all. For me to read that in print makes all the difference.

  7. Juan Sanit

    I’ve heard the hype and am planning on checking out the book. I live in N. Utah and am not mormon – my family and I often have to look on in awe as the faithful tromp by our house every sunday on the way to the ward. Hopefully your book will help us understand the faith.

  8. utahcanadian

    I’m sorry I missed it, but even if I’d known I couldn’t go. I had my fourth son that day, and was in the hospital in full recuperation! It’s an event I would have tried really hard to get to, though. I really enjoy and respect your work.

  9. Bonnie Peck

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful book. I just finished reading it and the tears are flowing.
    I have been really struggling this past few months with my faith. I am a liberal democrat and I am having a lot of issues with all the Romney love at church. I still struggle with the whole prop 8 thing as well. At the same time I love the church.
    Sometimes I have a hard time trying to reconcile the two. I don’t feel quite so alone anymore.

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