The following post was written by Sheryl Kauhaihao and is shared here with her permission.
Being a member of the church comes with great responsibility, and it’s not always easy. I am a convert, baptized almost 10 years ago.
My ex-husband and I found the church together, decided to be married and baptized on the same day.
The teachings of the gospel and my new-found church family helped me grow as a person significantly. I felt like I found a home, a family, I finally belonged.
But still, I had these nagging feelings of not really belonging. I didn’t look like the typical LDS woman. My life didn’t look like this woman’s life.
I had a baby at 17 and was navigating a different parenting journey than any of the other women my age. I was the only member of my family.
My ex-husband was mostly inactive and I found myself at church alone. I ended up divorced and a single mom navigating dating and attempting YSA, because yes, I am still that young lol.
I found it challenging to be a member under my circumstances. Typically, I felt like an outcast in the church, in Relief Society.
As I worked on myself over the last few years, I’ve been able to shed myself of beliefs that no longer served me.
The feelings linked to the thoughts of not being good enough or not doing enough were easy to get trapped in.
These feelings of shame that caused me to disconnect and wonder why I felt so lonely. The disconnect I felt was not only in church community, but also with my Heavenly Father.
I felt like a disappointment and failure to Him. I felt like I messed it all up and I was ruining His plan for me and His children that I have temporary stewardship over.
To my surprise, I found MANY women who felt the same disconnect in the church and with Heavenly Father.
My curious mind wanted to discover WHY!? Why is this loneliness and feeling of ‘not belonging’ so common in a church community that is so loving, welcoming, and teaches of God’s infinite love?
I came to find a couple of answers:
- In the process of focusing on becoming worthy to enter the Kingdom of God, I connected my worth as an individual with perfect actions and behaviors. And seeing my failures to such standards as failure of my being.
- I was caught in the trap of comparison and perfection by defining other’s lives as the goal. And comparing my current circumstances to another’s highlights.
- My problems were less a ‘church’ problem and more a ‘being human’ problem.
In my redefining process, I found:
- That I am of worth right now, in this moment, regardless of my circumstances.
- That my Heavenly Father loves me right now, in this moment, regardless of my circumstances and I do not need to do anything ‘better’ or different than I am right now to receive His approval.
- I trust myself to do what is right for me, I trust that God accepts my efforts, and I trust that I can shine brightly and belong as my unique self.
I know there are many members of the church who feel on the outskirts for whatever reason. Many have left the church because of this. I feel inspired to share this message speaking to those people! You are of great worth. You are exactly where you need to be in your life, it is no mistake that you are here.
I see you where you are now, I see where your desires are for yourself. More importantly, Heavenly Father sees! There is purpose for the gap!
I know what it feels like to feel disconnected from Him. If you are in that space, don’t stay there alone. Reach out for support, it is not asking too much. It is not being bothersome or intruding.
Part of Gathering Israel on this side of the veil is: going after the ‘one’ who is already in the fold and is barely holding on.
My inbox is open to anyone who wants to feel seen. Who needs to just be heard.
You are loved.