Thursday, May 28, 2015

Updated: Audition Diary

Damn Yankees, July 2014 (Hale Theatre Orem)

Marriott commercial, August 2014 (G&G casting)
Called back, not cast.

Les Miserables, October 2014 (Hale Theatre Orem)
Not cast.

Barefoot in the Park, November 2014 (Hale Theatre Orem)
Not cast.

Over the River and Through the Woods, February 2015 (Hale Theatre West Valley)
Called back, not cast.

The Little Mermaid, February 2015 (Hale Theatre West Valley)
Not cast.

USPS Industrial, February 2015 (Jeff Johnson Casting)
Not cast.

Being Charlie, March 2015 (Jeff Johnson Casting)
Not cast.

Into the Woods, April 2015 (Hale Theatre Orem)
Not cast.

Oklahoma!, May 2015 (Hale Theatre West Valley)

I get to play Aunt Eller at the Hale Center Theatre. August 12 - October 3. Details and a ridiculous amount of excitement to follow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Following Up

Between getting called back for an unexpected role (yay!), Cary Elwes winking at me, and my most recent blog entry getting so much attention, May has been a little surreal.

For those interested, I addressed some ideas in the original post by editing one point about personal revelation. I know what I meant, but based on comments, I've realized that I didn't communicate it clearly, and felt it would simply be easiest to go back and edit a little. To make things as clear as possible, I've highlighted my edits to the original post in orange. You may view the original post, with changes, here.

I had this whole huge new post written to discuss the responses this blog has gotten, but instead I'm going to let others do most of the talking. Here are two bits of writing for you:

The Millennial Star: Some Thoughts on Discipleship and "Staying Mormon"
This blog is a response written directly to mine, with some wonderful, beautiful, powerful truths that I totally agree with, and just didn't (don't) articulate well. I am always hesitant to share the deeper parts of my testimony. Some of that is due to feeling like I can never quite say what I mean--like words aren't quite enough to express what I feel. And some of it is just plain fear. I can say it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of me, but I sure find it hard to live by. The Millennial Star somehow managed to capture some of the deeper truths I carry in my own heart and express them better than I could have done. I'm grateful to this writer for being humble, wise, and articulate. It's a blessing that I share their sentiments because they express them better than I can. My strongest belief is that we can do more to grow and find peace by turning to the Lord than we can by doing anything else. If that was unclear in my original post, I am to blame. That is the most important step in carving out your place in the Church.

There is one thought from this blog I'd like to address, though, and that is the power of reaching outward. The Millennial Star blog rightly pointed out the differences between individualism vs. discipleship. But one major part of the "It only matters what you think of you and what God thinks of you" philosophy is this: God wants us to serve others. He wants us to form meaningful relationships. He wants you to find and build communities. So if we are truly evaluating ourselves by what God thinks of us, we will remember that He always loves us, but we will also ask questions like, "How can I serve and lift others?" "Who would the Lord have me help today?" "What can I do today to bring others to Christ?" God also wants us to turn to Him. Allowing this philosophy to guide our lives will naturally lead us to discipleship, simply because we are thinking about God's will. If I had said, "It only matters what YOU think of you and you alone," this would be pretty straight-up individualism. But to me, the idea "It only matters what you think of you AND what God thinks of you" covers both individualism and discipleship. For myself, it has helped me to not get too caught up in the culture, or traditions of men, but has also kept me seeking divine truth.

On Religion or Black and White and Gray
This was a post written by a dear dear friend almost a year ago. In it, she expresses the beauty of a Gospel where we can have a personal relationship with God, who understands our intentions and relationships and circumstances. This, along with the power of the Atonement, allows us to live our lives without worrying about whether or not someone else is living the Gospel correctly. I could easily use this as a defense for myself against those who, at least in the comments section, seem pretty concerned about my eternal welfare. But it goes both ways. Because I am a flawed, imperfect, fallible, messy, emotional wreck (with a German temper), there are so many times when I am critical of those around me, or are tempted to be. It is one of my greatest weaknesses--being self-righteously irritated. But Carrie's example reminds me that I don't have to worry about how others are living the Gospel. They are on their own journey. I am grateful for the people around me who remind me always to keep my eye on Christ.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and wisdom and testimonies and solidarity. Keep being awesome.

Oh, final thought. This is unrelated to anything spiritual. But if you're wondering why I'm naked, here's an explanation. (Don't worry, it's totally G-rated.)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Stay Mormon When You're Tired of Mormons

A couple of years ago, there was a blog entry that made the rounds called "Being a Mormon Misfit." I loved the message of hope and belonging that it provided. I also appreciated this friend's response, reminding readers that many of the Mormons we think of as "mainstream" probably have a lot more going on under the surface than we think.

I think the Mormon Misfit does exist, if it only means someone who just feels like they don't fit in. They could in actuality fit in, but just not feel like they do.

Because God knows I've been one of those people--someone who feels like they don't fit in. Modesty makes me grumpy, I have a second piercing in my right ear, I am pro-gay marriage, and you guys, I have a tattoo designed that I want so so so badly. But I've also felt a confirmation of many of the truths of the Gospel. And sometimes that puts me in a contradictory place.

So over the years, I've found a way to carve out my own space in the Church. It's an ongoing process, but I thought I'd share some of my tools--a practical guide to how to carve out your own space of belonging. Some of these tools may work for you, some of them may not. Spirituality is so so personal. But if you sometimes sit in sacrament meeting and wonder what the hell you're doing there, know that I've been there, and sometimes I'm still there, but remembering the following things help me to keep perspective.

6 Things To Remember When You're Tired of Mormons

1. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you--just what you think of you, and what God thinks of you.
This is probably the biggest guiding principle in my life. And it's completely impossible to truly remember and live by all the time. But it's really what everything else in this list comes down to, and when you can remember it, it's empowering. So what if the Relief Society President thinks you're immodest? She's not in charge of your eternal salvation. And even if she or other leaders have a hand in your eternal judgement, God's judgement will override any of that.

2. Personal revelation is more important than anything else. [I think I was unclear in this section, so I've added a few additional clarifications in orange, as of 11:00 pm Monday, May 18th. I apologize if that makes anything in the comments make less sense...I couldn't think of a better way to address these things!]
In our Church, we speak often about the importance of obedience, of faith in the Church, of following the counsel of leaders even when we don't understand it. And there is value in those things...we can grow and learn from doing those things. But there may be times that your own conscience may dictate otherwise. Those are painful moments, and it can be really really difficult to trust that you're doing the right thing in following your own heart. And maybe sometimes it's NOT the right thing [to follow your own heart]. But your responsibility as a human being is to take everything you are told to the Lord. And if your own personal revelation says something contrary to [what leaders of] the Church [may say], trust it. [I'm not talking about things like commandments. Personal revelation will not be contrary to the COMMANDMENTS. I'm talking about things like leader's opinions on the Big Bang, or the best way to be a parent, or what legislation should be passed. I honor and sustain the men and women called to lead this Church, but recognize that it is not meet that we are commanded in all things, and that sometimes something that seems like revelation for the entire Church may not be when you seek confirmation of it.] Others may judge you for [your interpretation of statements by leaders], but those who pass judgment are not in charge of your eternal salvation, so it doesn't matter what they think.

3. You have permission to leave if your pain exceeds your nourishment.
I mean this on a short-term basis, although I think it can apply long-term. But since the point of this post is to help people stay active if they want to, I'm mostly focusing on short-term. It's inevitable that someone will say something in one of your meetings someday that rubs you the wrong way. You may never have a day when you go to Church and 100% agree with everyone around you. Most of the time, you can just shift your focus, listen to the Spirit, dig into your scriptures on your own, find some way to help you stay grounded. But sometimes the sheer effort of doing that distracts from the actual nourishment you could be receiving. So if you need to step out for a few minutes, for the rest of the meeting, or for the rest of the day, give yourself permission to do that. Take your worship into your own hands. It's almost always best to stay. But if you're not getting anything out of Church, put yourself in a situation where you ARE being spiritually nourished.

4. God's children are flawed, imperfect, fallible, messy, emotional wrecks. 
That includes:
- The elderly man who takes his sacrament talk as an opportunity to share his personal opinions on abortion and gay marriage
- The bishop, Relief Society president, the Elder's Quorum president, and any other leaders
- The lady in Sunday school who says the only sex ed children need is the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife
- The Stake President's wife, who tells everyone from the pulpit that you will feel the Spirit more if you shower every day
- The guy in your ward who says he gets to tell you that your stick-on tattoo is against the Honor Code because "he has the Priesthood and you don't" 
- The Sunday School teacher who dismisses the comments a woman makes about the lesson, and then welcomes the EXACT SAME COMMENT when it's made by a man
(All of these are based on true and personal stories, BTW.) The point is that, like everyone is always saying, "The Gospel is perfect, the people are not." And as difficult as it is to remember, this also goes for the prophets and apostles. Which takes me back to point #2--personal revelation is more important than anything else. If a leader says something you don't feel comfortable with, you have a right to take it to the Lord, figure it out, maybe even reject it. But no one should have to censor themselves to your own standards/beliefs...Even the idiots have a right to be here. They have a right to say whatever they do, and you have a right to dismiss it if you feel you must.
(Also note, you are a flawed, imperfect, fallible, messy, emotional wreck.)
The other part of this truth is this: In the words of an old friend, "If somebody seems perfect, then either #1, they're Jesus, or #2, they have something to hide. Probably #2 though." This is where Val's point about the Mormon misfit being a myth fits in. Many of the people you see at Church may seem "orthodox" and "perfect," but are likely carrying things the rest of us can only dream of. Don't fail to imagine others complexly.  

5. The purpose of Church is to nourish everyone, including those who are just beginning.
For those who have been members for many years, or for the intellectual types, Church can sometimes just plain get boring. There is so much insanely interesting stuff in the scriptures and in Church history...complicated details that deserve our time and attention. And 99% of the time, that's NOT the stuff we talk about in Sunday School. But that's because everyone is at a different place in their progression and testimony. What if someone is returning to Church after a long hiatus? Or what if someone just got baptized? Or what if they're just investigating? Discussing the connections between LDS temple ceremonies and Masonic ritual is NOT going to bring them closer to Christ--it will probably overwhelm them. I'm not saying that studying those things is bad. In fact, I think it's really really good and really really important. But that's what personal study is for, or discussions with friends and family. This is totally the "Gospel According to Liz," but to me it makes sense to say that while there is overlap, Church is primarily the time for nourishment, and personal study is primarily the time for learning.

6. For most of us, life is better with the Church than without it.
This is the ultimate truth that keeps me in the pews. Because I haven't always had the Church in my life. And there have been times when I've had the Church, but not as fully. And here's what I think. Life can be painful and complicated and overwhelming. And that's true whether you're in the Church or not. So if it's true, you might as well continue to receive nourishment where you can. I know I can use all the help I can get when it comes to life, and the Gospel is the best source of help I've found.

The Rock Wall
Here's my final thought. An institute teacher shared this with me years ago, and it's a FANTASTIC analogy. Your testimony is like a rock wall. (Don't worry about the purpose of the wall--the analogy doesn't stretch that far.) Everyone is constantly building to their walls, stone by stone. And every now and then, you may stumble upon a stone and not see exactly where it fits. It may be labeled "gay marriage" or "visiting teaching" or "hymns are boring" or "why do we have so many freaking meetings and why are they so freaking long." But that doesn't mean you abandon the wall. It means you set the stone aside and keep building with what you DO know. And as you build, you may suddenly see where that stone fits. Some people have likened this process to a jigsaw puzzle, but that implies that everyone's testimony looks the same eventually. I like the stone wall better because everyone's will look completely different, and have different foundations, but all of them are still valid. It can be frustrating to feel sometimes like you're surrounded by stones you don't understand. But hang in there. You'll find their place eventually. And as you do, you'll find your OWN place, too.