Daughter Tries Big Girl Underwear
Long, long ago in the exotic and dreamy land of Texas, my wife and I raised 6 gorgeous daughters. Our third child was almost done with diapers. She was so ready. It had not escaped her notice that the 2 older sisters wore something very different around their waists. Not a clunky diaper like her. Something big kids wear. Something she was determined to wear, too. One day, this bouncy ball of energy confidently strode into the living room. No baby underwear this time. As an eager & innocent child, she had plundered her sisters’ underwear drawer. There she was, regally sporting plural panties. That’s right. Not just one pair, but three, pulled up on her little body. But, wait, there’s more. My cute toddling girl didn’t quite have the knack. She had put both legs through one leg hole and pulled all three panties up over her waist. Her wide & properly proud smile, was met by my ear-to-ear grin. I was working with all my mightiest might to not break out laughing. I’m chuckling as I write. Chuckling at the vision of two tiny legs in one hole, with the other openings dangling at her side.
My daughter’s first attempt at new, big girl attire, was memorable and fun. With a slight correction from mom, she got it right from then on.
This past Sunday, I made my first attempt at something I’ve wanted to do for over 12 months. Probably, like my little girl from years ago, I got it a bit wrong, on my first try. Hopefully, with a little help from mom, I’ll get it right from here on.
Over one year ago, a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all states. My church, the Mormon Church, believes that marriage should be only between a man and a women. It had actively, and for a while, effectively, campaigned against gay marriage. Lots of money and muscle were poured in.
A few weeks after this landmark decision, our highest church leaders sent a letter to every congregation in the United States. Instructions were given to gather all the adults together on a specified Sunday, have the letter read, and then open the floor for questions and discussion.
When the designated day of discussion arrived, a distinguished visitor did too. In the Mormon Church there are a number of high leaders called General Authorities. Only a few years have passed since one of our own was called to this lofty position. A marvelous man by the name of Gifford Nielsen. He and his sweet wife had lived in our neighborhood and raised their kids in our congregation. They are beloved and well known by all. By the way, we refer to a General Authority as ‘Elder.’
The letter was read. Questions were raised. Elder Nielsen stood to direct the discussion. It was all good. Interesting. Informative.
As we considered issues regarding gay people, my heart became heavy. I wanted to do something, but didn’t know how. So, I asked a question that resembled a statement:
“Over the years, several of my friends have been gay. But, at the time, I had no idea. They may not have totally understood where they were at, either. In every case, we lost touch. They just disappeared from sight. Years later, when we reconnected, I discovered that they had come out as gay. Some were divorced. Some never married. Some were still married. All had suffered from rejection, depression, shunning, fear and loss. In every case, I regretted that I had not been there to support my dear friends during this dark, difficult, and lonely period. But, none of them had any confidence in the loyalty of church friends. I don’t want that to EVER happen again. Somehow I want to send the message to all in my circle of acquaintance that I love and accept them if they are gay, no matter what!”
Elder Nielsen’s response was beautiful and direct, “That’s exactly the message the church is sending, that we love everybody.”
His words have haunted me for these past 12 months. What I desperately wanted to do was send a message of love and acceptance to all in my circle of association. Someone, that I know is gay and has not come out yet. I don’t know who he or she is. But, I want them, to know, without any doubt, that I am a true and loyal friend. Gay or straight has no bearing, whatsoever, on my affection and respect for them. Never again, do I want to see a friend suffer alone because he did not trust the faithfulness of my friendship.
And, then, a way forward materialized. Some weeks ago, a few women with concerns like mine, encouraged as many as they could, to wear a rainbow ribbon to church. Its purpose would be to send the very message that Elder Nielsen had voiced last year. The same message that the church wants to send. Hopefully, these good tidings would especially be seen and sensed by those who are struggling to figure out their identity. My church attire now contains the comprehensive color of my rainbow ribbon.
Dad Tries Big Boy Underwear
I took the ribbon one step further. Like my daughter’s donning of 3 pair of underwear, I might be about to, metaphorically, cause a similar comical stare. My first attempt to address a large group of friends, with the hope of giving hope to the hopeless.
In the LDS church (Mormon Church), the first Sunday of every month is reserved for a special type of service. It’s called Testimony meeting. No one is scheduled to speak. The sacrament (communion) is served. Then, the balance to the meeting is open to anyone who wishes to share their spiritual feelings.
Just a little nervous, I sat in the pew with my colorful rainbow pinned in prominent contrast to my black shirt. I had not planned to ‘bear testimony.’ As I sat with the grand kids and listened to the heartfelt testimonies, my heart started to thump…in my throat! It was urging me on, to not let a prime opportunity pass. Elder Nielsen’s message of love rattled in my brain. Off to the podium I confidently strode, with all my queasy uneasiness.
I related the Supreme Court’s pronouncement. Told of my friends who had come out. Shared our General Authority’s concise and comely counsel. Quoted the Book of Mormon, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God. Quoted Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.” Not unto the richest, or most respected, or best looking, or most popular. Unto the LEAST. Then we have done it unto Jesus.
Then this, “I love these teachings of Jesus. And, I’m sending a message with my colorful ribbon, that I love everyone in our congregation. No matter what your situation. No matter if someone comes out as different from others. I’m here. Never again should one of us suffer in loneliness. We are all a loving people. I love and support you.”
It’s a simple message, right? A message needed so badly by a somebody so precious. A treasured somebody, who I may never know. A somebody yearning for a glimpse of healing hope.
Now, I hope that my mom, or my friends, will help me make necessary corrections to my message. My little girl got her undies right. I want to tidy up my good tidings. And convey them over and over and over again.