24 November 2015

What It Was Like To Share That Post


Ha. I'm sure you can imagine what post I'm talking about. :)

Today I thought I'd share what this experience has been like for us...

How have your families reacted?

Our parents are both very orthodox Mormon. Danny's mom was very understanding and said: "Danny, you are ONE in a million and you married a woman who is ONE in a million. You deserve each other!!!" Isn't that the best thing you could ever hear?

I've had one or two conversations with my Mom & Dad. The Mormon religion is very meaningful to them (which I understand completely) and I know they wish my path was different. Though I think they're used to their 6 kids being extremely independent. So this is a dynamic that isn't brand new for them.

Did you receive any negative feedback from readers?

The truth is - only TWO Facebook comments seemed off to me. TWO!! And they came quite some time after the fact. This is unreal to me as this topic is EXTREMELY sensitive for Mormons and I've seen people write just horrible, disrespectful things to each other as they defend their identities on Facebook and elsewhere.

On my end, I'm trying to navigate this shift with a "heart at peace" instead of a "heart at war" - and I hope the post reflected that. Did it feel that way to you? I didn't want to shame anyone else or attack anyone's identity or push anyone's buttons as there is no need to do that. And I think it made a difference as no one seemed defensive. yay!

What About the Timing?

I've actually had a post in my drafts for over a year. The draft evolved over time. A few days before posting it, I had been in a discussion with a few people about gearing up to publish it in a few days. And then, coincidentally, a major shift in a church policy affecting gay families was made known shortly thereafter. It just felt like a good time to share my post, especially as many Mormons were eager to discuss and share their thoughts. So I posted it on a Saturday instead of waiting for the following week.

Why Did You Wait So Long To Share It?

I held back from sharing earlier in the year as I knew the topic was a sensitive one. I have many Mormon readers whom I adore and I wanted this space and our retreats to continue to feel like a safe space for them - and I'll admit I was worried they would feel otherwise. Due to a shared background, I know many of the experiences of Mormons and Mormon women, and I've always had a soft spot for teaching them my message. Our message helps people to be better Mormons. It helps Catholics to be better Catholics. And it helps Atheists to be better Atheists. I hope all will continue to still feel comfortable conversing here and being a part of this community.

Do You Regret Sharing It?

No. The experience has been better than I anticipated.

Also, it was beginning to feel like an elephant in the room for me. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable by not saying anything about it, mostly because this is a place where we all desire to connect in real ways. It feels SO MUCH BETTER to have shared my thoughts openly. It feels more natural to have it out there than to not.

Danny's Comments

Danny left some massive comments in the comments section and I love every word he wrote! We share in all of those beliefs. So you can see why we say we feel very united in our spiritual path. One thing that might be surprising to some is that the kind of spirituality we both try to live by can take place in a church, or not in a church. In a marriage, or not in a marriage. With a child, or without a child. With a job, or without a job. It's a spiritual life not based on circumstances. :) 

Also, many people had questions and I tried to answer them all in the comments section. We absolutely loved the discussion that took place there.

THANKS AND LOVE TO YOU ALL!!!

Mara

P.S. TODAY we have some family coming to town for Thanksgiving. They just barely wrote and asked if they could come and purchased tickets that day!!! How exciting is that!? We'll see how many blog posts I get out this week. Ha. I think I better say Happy Thanksgiving to you now just in case!  :)  I hope you have the most beautiful day with friends and family.

Also...some dear old Thanksgiving posts...

In Case You're Wishing You Were in Love For the Holidays
My Prayer for Today

22 comments:

  1. I love your authenticity, bravery, and love. Thank you for sharing your gifts. Wishing you and your family such a joyful Thanksgiving. We all have much to be grateful for.

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  2. Mara your post got me thinking for sure. I really had to turn to God for a greater strengthening of my personal testimony of the things that I believe or strive to believe. I relied on your testimony and ideas so much and to hear you share that was hard, I won't lie, but also a chance for me to become more spiritually independent. I am so grateful for you and Danny.
    Danny, can I ask you about scripture study? Mara you mentioned that has always been hard for you and it is the same for me! I also feel that way but know there is a lot in the Book of Mormon and Bible that can teach me. Do you have any suggestions on how to make studying effective? Any other books that have really helped your spirituality? Anything that helped either of you connect with the scriptures and really apply them to what you were experiencing at the time. I am going through an extremely difficult time and know that help from up there is needed! I know you two are busy and are so good to share your time with all of us so no pressure to answer! I love you and Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I happen to love scripture. I don't fault anyone who doesn't or who doesn't feel like it quite speaks to them. In the comment section on the previous post I mentioned how Mara's spiritual awakening came from outside the church and from outside the traditional channels more LDS people are used to (scripture reading and prayer didn't quite work for her and to this day doesn't move her as much).

      But for me, my awakening occurred within the church narrative. I've LOVED scripture and its ability to describe the spiritual journey for many years. I've grown in my understanding of how I should read those scriptures over time, of course...but I've loved them since my late teens.

      There is one book from the LDS perspective that I wish EVERY Mormon was required to read. It is called "Light in the Wilderness" by M. Catherine Thomas. She does the best job of any book I've read within the LDS framework for helping you understand the real goals of the spiritual journey, and what the inward journey looks like. She does a better job of describing what the natural man/woman mindset is, and what it means to overcome it. If there is one person who's scriptural knowledge and capacity to communicate spiritual ideas that i wish I could own for myself....it is M. Catherine Thomas. She is the first author I read since my mission who made the message of the scriptures come to life for me and make it feel like I was reading them for the first time.

      Mara also agrees and thinks her writing is divine. Like I said, if I could force you to buy this book, I would. I think it should be required reading. It will raise the bar for what you are looking for spiritually in your relationship with God and others, and will simultaneously describe what it would mean to actually achieve and experience that.

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  3. Also, so very random but are you grain free? I would love to know more about your diet and lifestyle in regards to how you care for your body as I know that is tied to EVERYTHING else!

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    1. Grain free - no. But Gluten free - Yes.

      Mara can respond more another time - but Mara's always admired that her mentor who helped her begin to experience spirituality required her to also change her diet. The basic things she was required to change to show she was serious about working on things was she had to stop eating wheat flour, and she had to cut out processed sugars.

      It wasn't just for health - the goal of her mentor was to help lift the mental fog that those things often contribute to. Mara certainly felt that, and ever since has felt a strong connection to food/health and its effect on the inner world of mental clarity and spiritual strength.

      It's one of the reasons our Ecuador Retreats include a detox using healthy foods - we are trying to assist creating the kind of mental clarity that makes growth a little easier.

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  4. I read another blog the day after you wrote that post with a similar post but in a completely different tone almost devoid of any love or gratitude for the readers. The comments that came we're so full of contention, it was crazy. I simply made a comment that everyone should check out your blog haha! You are amazing and I hope to live my life more like you!

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  5. This most certainly is a blog about love. I'm so thankful to be apart of the community here. Michelle

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  6. Wahoo for family coming! :) I bet you are way excited to show them all the places you have found while living in Ecuador. Like I said before, I knew the post was coming. I know it sounds strange, but it is very true. I am so grateful to know you through this blog, as I am 100% sure you are a kindred spirit and I hope that one day our paths will cross. You deserve to be happy and you are spot on with what you said about where spirtuality is found. I agree with you 100%. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

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  7. I don't think I'll ever forget meeting Danny and Mara Kofoed. I was at a YSA conference in Manhattan and a girl I liked was going to a breakout session with these "bloggers'. My initial reaction was "sounds kind of lame" --but wanting to be close to this girl got me into the room. Very grateful it did. One of the best hours spent in my YSA career--and probably the best hour I've ever spent at a YSA Conference. I got a very distinct feeling at that time that "God helped bring these two together to convey a special message to the world." It was especially helpful because my sister's marriage nearly ended around that time due to infidelity, rocking our entire family. That hour with Danny and Mara provided tremendous healing. I've periodically followed the blog for the past few years. I like the way you two approach life. I like the way you love each other. Mara's post caught me off guard. But after reading the commentary, I can tell there has been a lot of thought and heartfelt consideration given to this decision and that your spiritual bearings are strong. I enjoyed a lot of the insights that were presented in that post and I'm adopting many of them into my own spiritual journey. I'll have to give more thought to one idea that seemed to float through: that a person can be a faithful Mormon, with all that the religion demands and promises, while the person's spouse departs from the religion, and the couple nonetheless remains on a parallel spiritual journey to ultimately arrive at the same destination. Interesting proposition to which I'd like to give more contemplation. A favorite quote: "The test of first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the same mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." (F. Scott Fitzgerald). I think I'll put that quote to test by comparing/contrasting the themes flowing through Mara's recent post with a favorite talk from the most recent LDS General Conference.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/why-the-church?lang=eng.

    I'm sure I'll learn a lot. Thanks as always, you two, for your tireless efforts to infuse love into a world increasingly in need of more of it. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. I appreciated your comment, the great quote and link to a great talk. I needed to read that talk.

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    2. Thanks Adam! We've always loved those YSA meetings we were able to do. I'm lucky that I still get to teach YSA Gospel Doctrine and Institute every week.

      And, loved your quote from F. Scott. Reminds me of one of the quotes from Joseph Smith that I love - "By proving contraries, the truth is made manifest." As human beings there is a great portion of our lives that is dedicated to black and white thinking. Not only have I been there, I'm quite sure I'm still there in many areas of my life.

      However, this concept of understanding what it means to reconcile seemingly opposing ideas really has been one of the sources for discovering the best truths I've encountered.

      Keep it up!

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  8. Gosh, I really do have to say, I can tell your heart is at peace. That is what this is. I am a practicing LDS woman, and that is what I live and love right now. It has been interesting seeing so many people step away from the church lately, and a bit scary and sad. But your message was still filled with love, not hate. Too many have been filled with hate, and that is not something I want in my life, for any reason. Thank you for loving and growing and sharing your light with others!!

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    1. Allison -just a note to say I appreciated your comment so much. Thanks for your kindness and "friendship" here on line. I am SO happy that the church is a great home for you. There TRULY is so very much to love. Today we saw several American families at the park playground (here in Ecuador). And there were about 10 or more wheelchairs there, too, as the families were playing with and caring for Ecuadorian children with special needs. From afar, I said to Danny - I bet they are Mormons. And it turns out they were!! Several families had come to volunteer at an orphanage for their Christmas this year. Anyway, there you go. Lots to love, no doubt. XO

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  9. How do you make your green smoothies ?

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  10. I am so impressed with you. It took so much bravery and courage to do what was right for you. I was proud of your last post - I think you make a strong leader and a shining example of living for the right reasons. Keep up the good work!

    Lynn Howard
    Author
    http://www.amazon.com/Write-Books-Travel-World-Doctor-ebook/dp/B0193VYJOY

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  11. Danny, I have a hard time finding spiritual connection in the scriptures. Would you give me advice on connecting with the Scriptures? I have a desire to give them a place in my spiritual path but am seeking the how?
    A

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    1. Like I said above, I think from the Mormon perspective, reading M. Catherine Thomas's book is a great way to get a deeper and better perspective. At least it was that way for me.

      It would be really difficult for me to flesh out what has made them meaningful to me, or what might make them meaningful to others. The truth is, for a time, I struggled much like anyone else does. I read and couldn't get very far without getting bored or wondering why spiritual learning needed to be so difficult.

      I will say things shifted for me when I had an experience/encounter with Godliness that helped define what I would be looking for in the future. It was powerful. Honestly it changed my life. When I had experienced that, it put everything else into perspective, including the scriptures.

      Perhaps the best thing I've done, and many have done it as well, is set out with something to learn. I loved buying one of those multi colored pencils, and then selecting a topic I wanted to learn about for each color. I would use yellow to highlight everything about Jesus. Orange for the Holy Ghost and renewal that comes from being born again. Purple for everything demonstrating the virtue of Love or more specifically the Love of God. Blue for repentance. Green to help me understand covenants. Red for everything else that was interesting but I couldn't categorize.

      The important thing is that when you set out deciding you are looking for something, you are more likely to find it. Having the topics helped me. I don't do it as formally now as I used to....but I'm always looking for something. You know the saying "When the student is ready, the teacher appears"? Well, I think that's part of what makes them come to life. Not just a willingness to read (which can often feel like torture), but an actual expectation that you will learn - in fact you expect it so much that you've got your pen in hand to record what is important, and you've got topics selected that actually matter to you and your journey at this moment.

      My dad tried finding connection to Scriptures for 50 years...but it wasn't until he started reading in the manner I just described, truly expecting to learn, that it all changed for him and they finally came to life.

      The script you tell yourself about understanding scripture is important. Ever know anyone who said "Oh, I'm just not good at math, nobody in my family is"? What chance is there that someone with that script playing in their mind about ANYTHING is going to experience anything different than the oft repeated phrase. "I'm not good with languages", "I can't cook", "I'm not a good speaker", "I'm not good at talking to the opposite sex". All of these phrases are often perception, and not reality. Or even if they are current reality, they need not define forever the future.

      So be careful what you say to yourself about your ability to read or understand scripture, about whether or not God can/will speak to you through them (and of course through many other means). Be careful what limits you set on yourself, in ALL areas of life. The script in your head often defines your "reality" - or at least your experience of it. We must all learn to be very selective of what thoughts encourage growth, and what thoughts limit it.

      Hope this helps a little. :)

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  12. Nice post! thank you for sharing it. :-)

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  13. I stopped attending the LDS church almost a decade ago. It was the hardest and easiest thing I ever did. Going to church was an ordeal, because I no longer believed, I did not want to belong, but accepting that something that had once meant so much to me was meaningless hurt so badly. I lost a lot of friends. They didn't mean to not be my friend anymore, but there were only so many times I could explain why I didn't want to attend. Eventually dealing with their kindly meant but thoughtless questioning exhausted me and I just lost touch with most of them.
    Despite meeting some of the kindest and godliest people in the LDS church that I have ever met, I can't say it was overall a good experience. I am glad that I kept away from alcohol and drugs and sex when I was a teenager, but I am not sure the sexual shaming and ambition strangling were worth it.
    I was so sad to see Ordain Women leaders excommunicated and threatened. Women need to be in leadership positions in the church (I was a Relief Society President, that isn't real leadership). Currently the system takes away any avenue for a woman to build self-esteem or purpose other than temple marriage and children. These things are wonderful, but they are not the end all and be all of living on this planet. The subtext for having a career as a backup was "You know, if you are too fat to attract a man". Now I have so many friends who ended up with no man and no career because they didn't dare be too ambitious, but the number of active men to active women made it impossible for them to marry in the temple. So in addition to loneliness they will struggle their whole lives with poverty. I married a catholic guy, and he's awesome, but I know inside the church, our marriage would just be seen as a failure because he isn't Mormon. We have a wonderful son, but as much as I feel the call to nuture him, I am still an individual with ambition and an intellect. I need a career for these reasons as well as the financial stability. I ended up with a fabulous life, but in spite of church teachings, not because of them. I realized that Mormons were going to tell me how to life my live, but none of them were going to share in the sorrow and pain I felt, and that if I wanted to be happy I was going to have to decide what that looked like and go for it.
    I also have a member of my family who is homosexual and dated a homosexual guy, who was trying desperately to be a perfect mormon male. So I have seen the hell of being gay in the LDS church, and frankly experienced the collateral damage. The announcement about children with gay parents wounded me, not because it was personal, but because it seemed such an unnecessary way to wound hurting people further. All of this sounds like a rant, I know, but that it only because I can't get my voice to come through my typing. Mostly I am just sad that people are still being hurt.
    Mara, I don't know you, other than reading your blog now and again, but I wish you and all your loved ones peace. For me the most amazing thing about leaving the LDS church was learning that there was still a spiritual journey to be undertaken, still things to learn, still a God to approach. May you have that journey.

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  14. Thank you for sharing an update!! I can relate to the elephant in the room feeling ... waiting for my time when I can share my own feelings and how I'm moving forward with family and friends.

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  15. Are there any parts of Mormonism that you still hold on to or have chosen to keep? I think it would be hard to give away all the good parts.

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    1. YES. I am so glad you asked! I had thought of this topic after the fact and regretted that I didn't include it anywhere. But yes, yes - there is SOO much from the church that I cherish. Essentially, I love what they call "the gospel" - the teachings of Christ. I love all of it! The Atonement and redemption is such a beautiful thing to me and I have found a way to access that - even on a daily basis. I love the tradition of service and I'm so thankful that I've been taught to live that lifestyle and hope to always. I love a lot of the symbolism in the temple - all leading to communing with God. I love the sense of community and will likely still participate in the Mormon community in some ways - and also will work to experience or create community in other ways outside of the church, too. I love the sacrament - the renewal - and currently work to "at-one" in other ways. I love "the Plan of Happiness". I love the tradition of a holy day - a Sabbath day. I love the concept of faith: "Ask & ye shall receive." I love the concept of free agency.

      I most definitely am who I am because of many things and experiences - and being a Mormon has been a huge influence, for which I am grateful. I enjoy and cherish SO much from all I've learned. And I hope to learn even more as life continues.

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