Empathy Dreams

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I had a dream last night. It was probably the most vivid and realistic dream I've had since the one from 2005 about a Mormon Holocaust. I woke up feeling many, MANY emotions and after taking the day to mull it over I am feeling overwhelming grateful that dreams exist.


I was attending church here in my ward in Utah. Same building, same congregation. I was teaching Junior Primary singing time (for children ages 3-7), which is, in real life, my current calling. In order to teach a principle on being reverent, I had a boy and a girl come with me outside of the Primary room and I asked them to tell me one way they could be reverent. I don't remember their answers, but we went back in. I explained to the rest of the group the question I had asked, and Sister Black (who really is a counselor in the Primary presidency), leaned her chair back and said: "Oh! We don't ask questions like that in church anymore!"

I was pretty confused and got real snobby and sarcastic.

"We don't ask questions like that in church anymore? What does that even mean?"

"We were asked not to ask those kind of questions. There was a letter from the First Presidency. Just remember for next time."
I was clearly annoyed and disbelieving and went on to the teach the rest of singing time how I wanted.

During the 3rd hour of church, I walked in late to Relief Society. Sister Cox (my Relief Society President in real life) had just finished reading "the letter" from the First Presidency. I didn't hear it because I was late. There was a murmur of discussion about the new church policy asking members to not use QUESTIONS while teaching the gospel, both in church, and out.
As far as I understood, you could ask questions if you were confused, and you could answer questions from others, but you couldn't ask a question to teach a principle.

I remember that I wasn't "confused." I wasn't TRYING to "figure it out." The idea was simply illogical and absurd to me. I raised my hand and I asked question after question to try and find a logical explanation for the passing of this new policy. Every time I asked "WHY?" however, I could feel the other women in the room avoid eye contact with me. I was very aware of their backs and their shoulders. I was making Sister Cox uncomfortable. I remember using two points:

1.) Are they going to block out the entire section in Preach My Gospel specifically laying out to missionaries the importance of ASKING QUESTIONS?

Sister Cox responded that, yes, they most likely would.

2.) Alright then. Are they going to seal up the ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT too? Because I'm pretty sure every time Christ taught anyone, He used questions to do it.

There was a lot of awkward silence in my dream. I remember being flabbergasted that no one else seemed to have issue with this. No one else seemed to have even PAUSED. I felt like I was suddenly in a room of people I didn't even recognize.

Then, slowly, women began to raise their hands and comment. They only looked at each other and Sister Cox. No one made eye contact with me. They all said in different ways the following:

"We don't need to know everything. People who question what the church says need to have more faith that the Prophet is called of God. People who question need to have more faith in God."

I remember feeling a mixture of emotions. None of them were angry. All of them were astounded. How did wondering what brought upon this new policy suddenly make me faithless? How did I go from a functioning member of a ward FAMILY and in 5 minutes turn into someone to avoid talking to? It was as if my "faithlessness" would be contagious through eye contact and communication.
I decided to go home. I was trying to find Scott since he had the car keys. While looking for him, I ran into Brother Tibbets (the real life 2nd counselor in my bishopric). He lovingly told me that he had heard I had some questions and then encouraged me to meet with him and the Bishop. I remember that I felt genuine love from him, but I was put off that I was being invited to meet with the Bishop. I did not feel any sway in my testimony of the gospel, but felt like I was being treated as though I had lost my faith.

I ended up walking, and then running home down a long, steep hill. It was sunset- the only thing not consistent with real life and my dream. Normally, I have church meetings at 11am and have never seen a sunset while leaving early.

I remember thinking as I ran that I hoped Scott would not look for me and just get the baby and come home to find me.

Then I woke up.

As I explained my dream to Scott, I was hit with the same wave of... empathy that I had upon waking up in my bed. I thought about all of these faithful members of the church who ask a question as simple as "why?" and are treated as though they have lost all faith in Christ, His atonement, and His restored gospel. I thought of how some of them eventually DID lose faith in those things. And I wondered if how they were treated had more to do with that than I originally suspected.

I have thought a lot about women who struggle with not having the priesthood. Or women who don't struggle with that but get lumped in the group with those who do because they want to know why we don't talk about Heavenly Mother, or why women don't wear pants to church. d I thought about people who wrestle with Prop 8. People who feel like NOT supporting gay marriage is just as ridiculous as not asking questions while teaching the gospel.

I thought about how I'm not one who has had deep struggles with the gospel. I thought about how grateful I am for that. But mostly I thought about how this- ALL OF THIS- it is not TOPICS. There is so much more that separates us as brothers and sisters. It is how we treat others who struggle with things we have not struggled with.

How dare anyone say: "I have not had that problem, so neither should you. Something must be wrong with you, at least SPIRITUALLY if you struggle with that."
One of the most beautiful facts of the Plan of Salvation is that God will judge us each individually. He will take into account EVERYTHING. Even what we WOULD have done had opportunities A, B or C arose.
What a marvelous weight we have off of our shoulders!
What a wonderful thing to not have to judge the faithfulness of others, but instead, simply love them.


  1. Thank you so much. This actually brings tears to my eyes because it's something I am personally struggling with right now. So many questions. Not a loss of faith, but so many questions and so much fear to even ask because I know how I'll be treated if I do.

  2. Carrie you are wise beyond your years :-) Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love you. Thank you for this. Dreams have been a blessing to me all my life. I love this post.

  4. I've been struggling with questions lately. Maybe I'll be brave and see how my visiting teachers would handle my candidness. I think they'd be empathetic.

  5. Very well said, Carrie. Thank you. This is quite relevant to feelings I'm trying to sort out regarding current issues and how my personal views relate/compare to the church's policy.

  6. I think you're one of the coolest human beings on the planet today. And I mean that. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I admire you more than you might know.

    I've felt an awakening of a similar revelation over the last year or so, but not as strongly, and there's no way I could have articulated it as well as you did.

    I love you so much. I'm so grateful to call you my friend.

  7. Beautiful post!

  8. Very interesting article. With everything happening in the world, there should be lots of questions as to why. I am one of those I don't have deep struggles, but I know many and am married to someone who thinks on a deeper level than I do. I have begun to ask more questions, not that I am loosing my testimony, but in coming to understand some things that are not so black and white. There is a GREAT book a bishop recommended, A Thoughtful Faith. My husband is naturally a skeptic and it has helped him have a very thoughtful and powerful testimony despite his struggles to understand things. We look to the prophet for direction and guidance, as I think it should be, but we must must must study out those things in our own minds too. It is easy to get mixed up in truth and lie these days with the internet. It can be hard to decipher truth. One example known to many about our church history is polygamy. I never have nor ever will perhaps understand that one, but it happened, and I imagine it not being an easy one to accept, but people did it for whatever reason. There is a place to obey without always knowing why, but far too often we go to the other extreme and never question. Sorry for the ramble because you don't know me, but I am a friend of Kami's and I read this and thought...I wish more people would use the brilliant mind Heavenly Father gave us.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I think most people have questions as you do, and I appreciate you saying that there is a time for following without knowing why. I truly believe that as well. My problem is with people who, as you said, go the opposite extreme. It's as if they don't want to admit they have their own questions, so they instead focus on dehumanizing those who do.

  9. Wow. I'm drowning in questions, and the fact that I have nowhere to go with my questions has been the worst. I've been active my whole life, served a mission, taught in the MTC, daughter of a father who had a bigger position in CES, has been a bishop, stake president, mission president, temple sealer...It stings when you have been look upon as a strong, solid member your whole life, and then when something bad happens, and you suddenly have questions, everyone treats you like the plague, or like you've suddenly forgotten all the Sunday school answers. It hurts when no one listens or contemplates that maybe life sometimes is a little more complex than just getting with the program.

    This was just beautiful. And it gives me tremendous hope, because if Heavenly Father can bring individual revelation of this magnitude, there simply is reason to hope.

    1. Your comment has put tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for this. My hope comes from all of these beautiful comments- comments that tell me that all of us struggle and all of us just want and need to feel loved.

  10. YES. Something I think many active, never-questioning members of the church don't understand is that their treatment of questioners has a legitimate impact on people who are struggling with faith. It's easy to say, "Oh, they were just offended, and you can't base your testimony on other people's behavior!" but in reality, it seems to me valid to say, "I believe God wants us to ask questions and find our own answers, but when I ask questions I'm shunned, treated as an outsider, and told not to be 'prideful,' by the vast majority of people in my community. I believe that the majority of God's people would instead encourage questions, love me, and help me seek answers. Therefore, maybe these aren't God's people after all, and maybe I need to look elsewhere."

    Great article. Well said and very wise.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I've been thinking a lot about the people to do the "shunning." I am coming to the conclusion that almost everyone has questions about their faith, but to face them is kind of terrifying. So, when someone does, it's much easier to say "well, then you have a problem" than to say "me too." Perhaps the reason why this self-righteous attitude is so prevalent is because there is a mob mentality to ignore the fact that none of us feel righteous enough at all. What do you think?

  11. Amen to you above comment Carrie.

    And I too had a Mormon Holocaust dream, mine was in 2003. Only one other dream for me has been nearly so vivid. Thanks for your unfailing honesty. Some people may call it being blunt, but really, it's just being true to yourself - and you are so good at that.


I like to hear all of the beautiful things you have to say.