Summerbook #3: A Place to Belong

I'm back!  We had a great roadtrip, but we didn't really do anything terribly exciting; we went and saw old friends, hung out at the beach, and ate a lot of perfect tri-tip, which is exactly what I wanted out of it.  The drive back home up I-5 was brutal.  Now it's back to life, back to reality.

my idea of a perfect day at Pismo Beach -- no hot burny sun

 A Place to Belong: Reflections From Modern Latter-day Saint Women, ed. Hollie Rhees Fluhman and Camille Fronk Olson

This was my reading on the trip; I couldn't take my giant Nazi history book with me, and that was just as well.  This is a book of essays by LDS women ranging around a general theme of belonging, but covering just about every facet of life: career, children, education, faith.

A funny thing I've noticed about LDS women is that we all think we're the odd one out, and feel we don't really belong...somehow or other.  I was lucky to figure this out at 19, when I got together with two high school friends for lunch -- one the most beautiful girl in school (but shy), one a cute and athletic flirt.  They each informed me (the bottom-of-the-heap nerdy one) that they had always been the odd ones out, not me.  So I've been thinking about it ever since, and I have yet to meet anybody who doesn't think they're the one who doesn't really belong -- at least, until they figure this fact out.  After that you can quit worrying about it.  But it does mean that essays like this will be very meaningful to a lot of LDS women.

I didn't have any page-markers when I was reading this, or it would be bristling with them.  Here are two I found important enough to mark with scraps of tissue.

The people within [the church] are not perfect.  Sometimes it feels easier to give up and stay away than to attend meetings and activities in which we may feel that our voices are not heard.  I've learned, though, that things cannot get better unless we are in the room sharing our ideas and advocating for ourselves and others like us.  Let us continue to share our light, our stories, our pains and triumphs so that others may be comforted by them as they strive to find their place...

Part and parcel to the life of faith is entering into a new and more intimate relationship with God that requires acting in such a way as to become inexplicable to all others -- including other people who share one's same faith.  What it is to live faithfully is to trust God enough to live out one's personal calling and vocation despite the criticism that inevitably comes from those who expect conformity with their own way of life.  To live hopefully is to believe that God will redeem and justify such attempts at faithfulness, which generally appear as the opposite, and to live charitably is to choose not to castigate those who make judgments based on appearance rather than intent.

I loved this book and I'll be lending it to a friend who I know will also love it.


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