What would it be like in chess if you spent the game protecting your Bishop, and not protecting your King?
Monday a friend and I made dinner while her husband played chess with the kids. From across the room I heard him instruct one of the children “protect your Bishop!”
it instantly brought to mind the Mormon Newsroom statement released earlier in the day about Utah ranking particularly high in the nation for child abuse, and the church released a statement about their policy for dealing with child abuse. As I have only read the one article, I’m not going to address that policy or statistic hear today. However basically, it was about the church protecting itself at the cost of children. I felt very similarly about the infamous policy released last November, it feels like a pattern.
As the night progressed, my friend kept fishing for information on why I wasn’t going to church. I skillfully dodged that most the night, because I didn’t feel she was ready for that conversation. I knew it was going to be horribly awkward when I told her I had resigned.
Finally the moment came, and I had to tell her. It was as painfully awkward as I knew it would be, and was followed by questions about “where my testimony is at”. I have had many friends that I felt I could trust and share that I had resigned, and many I just haven’t felt the time was right. I have felt most of my friends remain my friends regardless, and I feel very loved and respected by them.
This time though, I didn’t feel I could say or share anything more, because the entire evening felt like it was just about getting me back to church. It was not about our friendship or respect for me outside that context. This is the difficult part for someone like me, who still has a deep love and respect for the gospel of Jesus Christ, but has after much prayer and thought decided it was best to separate themselves from the church.
With my friends who have loved me when they found out I was gay, and my friends who have respected me when they found out I have left the church, I have noticed that they focus on loving me, not judging me, or reactivating me, even though they may be very sad I have left the church. I have found a key to being able to have any conversation at all requires being able to sit for a moment in discomfort together. It requires letting go of what choice we want the person to make, and loving them for who they are.
This is a two way street. So this awkward night, I too had to sit in discomfort. And the discomfort was profound. In a loaded situation like this, where I already know I have been labeled apostate, dangerous, and someone who should be reclaimed or left alone, it is hard for me to open up and share the very personal and deep relationship I have with God, and the things that lead me to my choice that everyone wants to ask me about.
When someone up high throws around words like “Satan’s servants” it can be extra hard to open up and share your journey, especially when the evenings focus has been on bringing the person back to the fold. It feels extra perilous to answer questions about “where my testimony is at.” I don’t want to lead anyone away from the gospel or the church that they feel is the right path for them, or the true path.
Its also hard to share personal things when I know that things, experiences, prayers, and answers that are sacred to me will be mocked and discounted as things of naught, as me being deceived and lead astray.
Boundaries are important, for all. No one should share anything that they feel is personal and sacred that they know will be mocked and riddiculed. But to move forward in friendship after the foundation of it has been uprooted, requires one to dig deep, and decided if the friendship is worth the cost, and sometimes take a few calculated risks.
Sometimes protecting ourselves means we loose sight of what is truly important. if we remember to love and respect each other despite our differences, we can always protect our King, be that King Christ, or pure love, our moral compass or field of honor. Unfortunately, we cannot always protect our bishop. Sometimes the bishop, our pride, our comfort, our church, superficial parts of our culture, must be sacrificed, so that the King can live on.
For me this was ultimately what I had to sacrifice in leaving the church. My relationship with God, love, my ability to thrive was going to die, unless I made that major sacrifice, and let go of my bishop. Others have had to sacrifice relationships with the same gender to preserve their relationship with God. Each chess game is different, so each player must decided when to save the bishop, and when to sacrifice it, and what is that bishop, and what is that king.
So how do we have these conversations? it doesn’t matter which end of it you are on, they are hard. They are emotionally charged, and they are sometimes super awkward. In this game, you both win, or you both loose. What can be done to win? Some things I have found helpful are:
- Accepting that you cannot control the other persons feelings, or reactions.
- sitting together in discomfort, and allowing everyone a moment to feel what they feel and process it.
- approaching with compassion for the other persons experience and internal conflicts.
- setting firm boundaries, protecting things that are sacred to you, and not allowing yourself to feel manipulated into discussing things before you are ready and comfortable doing so. You can say ‘No’ or ‘I am not ready to talk about that’. You owe no explanation. Stand up for yourself.
- respect others, but also make sure you are being respected.
- When you leave and it went bad and was awkward, be patient, maybe later they will hand things better, and maybe they won’t. Sometimes it takes time for people to wrap their head around things, sometimes they never will.
Good luck to us all as we navigate this crazy post policy chess board of life. Protect your bishop, unless its gonna cost you your king.