Listening and Learning in Progressive Mormon Spaces

I realize there are conservative Mormons who engage with me because they're "here to learn and listen." 

Can we talk about what learning and listening does and doesn't look like?

Be Honest with Yourself 

Why are you here? No, really. Why are you seeking out progressive people to talk to? Is it really to challenge your own views? Or to challenge us to arguments whenever you feel like it?

Do you randomly go up to people in the street and start arguments with them? I sincerely hope not. If so, you need to get that looked at. 

If you would never do that in real life, why do you think it's okay to do it online?

If you're here to listen and learn, that means you shouldn't be doing the majority of the talking. You should be observing, taking in, thinking, probing yourself about what you see and hear, not asking people here to do that for you.

Some of you aren't here to "listen and learn." You're here to teach, and I don't remember signing up for your class. And guess what? My platform is my classroom, not yours. You're in my space because I'm allowing you to be in it. But that doesn't make you entitled to my time, space, and energy. You are not entitled to ask me whatever questions you want, whenever you want. 


Because unlike a professional educator, I'm not being paid to teach you.

Be Genuine

Now, some of you genuinely do want to "listen and learn," but only because you think it'll give you some kind of magic bullet insight to save me from myself and bring me around to your way of thinking.

Take your knight in shining tin foil armor somewhere else.

Some of you show up in conversations with me with this very odd "marketplace of ideas" economy in your own minds, where you think if you're willing to concede to how I think, I am under some obligation to do so in return.

To quote Shakespeare, I will eat your heart in the marketplace. 

If I concede that I'm wrong about something, or that someone else has a better way of thinking, it will be based on the merit of their position and nothing else. Don't expect bad arguments and untenable positions to win friends and influence people.

It's Not About You

If you're going to be here, don't expect the spaces you enter to be about you and serve you and your agenda. If you want that, go to church. Heavens knows you already get that there in ways many of us don't. That's how we ended up in online faith communities. That's why those spaces exist. 

Now, because many of us were once like you, we do make space and allowance for you to make mistakes while you're here. We know you're going to say and do hurtful things here unintentionally that you don't fully understand. We're not perfect, but many of us volunteer to help you in those moments.

If that happens, don't get mad. Say thank you. If this happens, it means someone saw you in that situation and decided to believe in you. They took their time and gave it to you freely to teach you something.

Most people only give you that chance once, so don't waste it.

Settling Down

Being at the cusp of 30 is giving me a lot of "what am I doing with my life, this isn't what I wanted, what am I going to do, oh no" energy. I'm going to talk about it, because there's a very good chance I'm not the only one.

The hardest part about infertility for me has nothing to do with not being able to produce offspring anymore. I've been emotionally confronting that for all of my adult life. I made my peace with that a long time ago. The hardest part for me has been the irreconcilable, unavoidable, and the unanswerable question of "what do I do now?"

I had invested a lot of myself into something that I had on good authority would never happen. That was my purpose, my ambition, my dream, my aspiration in life: to be a good parent. To me, that was what what my image of happiness, success, and fulfillment looked like. I had to accept that life isn't obligated to give me the things I want, just because I want them. I also learned, from watching a lot of people, that even if I had gotten what I said I wanted, there's still no guarantee it would've made me happy.

Happiness and satisfaction with life is not about getting what I want. It's not about making my life match up with the exact vision I had as a younger, more naive version of myself. Younger me was an idiot! Like, guys. Why on earth am I letting the half-baked ambitions I had when I was 18 determine the sense of accomplishment I'm allowed to feel at this stage of my life? She didn't even know how to do her own laundry! She had no sense of what she truly wanted, what would've made her happy, or what was achievable with the resources at her disposal. In fact, if she could see where I am today and everything I have now, I think she'd be pretty stunned, to be honest.

First of all, I got married. Marriage is forming a partnership with another person. My sense of self didn't disappear. My dreams and ambitions didn't cease to be important. But they exist together with the life of someone else now. How to go about those things with another person became part of how I go through life and look at the world. 

In the experience I've had so far, it works best when I have the ability to think outside of myself. Everything I'm doing doing can't just be about one person (whether it's me or him) getting what we want all the time. We're not building His life and Her life, like matching towels. We're building our life together. And for each of us, that has meant giving up things we both wanted for the sake of our combined happiness.

There are times in marriage where we want things that are the exact opposite of one another. Like, completely irreconcilable. And in those moments, I have a choice. 

  • He gets what he wants. 
  • I get what I want. 
  • We come up with a new solution for us, together. 

Now, if we choose the third enough times, we'll eventually wake up one day and realize we've created a life together that neither one of us envisioned for ourselves. A life we've both sacrificed to create. We've both have given up stuff we wanted, or at least getting it in the way we imagined. But neither of us should be desperately unhappy. After all, we made those compromises together.

It may not be the life I planned for. But it's the life I chose. And if I can look at it still say "You know what? This is pretty effing sweet. Especially since this person I adore is still in it with me," I'm recognizing I have everything I need to be happy. 


Because happiness is more than just an emotion I feel, or a condition imposed upon me by my circumstances. Happiness comes from how I respond to whatever I have to work with. If I wake up every day and can start my day with a "Hell yeah!" Even if I have to dig really deep to find it, then I am successful! Others may consider my life to be "ordinary." It may look nothing like what I thought it would when I was young. 

 But is that a problem?

What if life isn't mean to be this constant experience of constantly achieving something else, something more, something greater than what I already have?

What if incremental improvement throughout the vicissitudes of life is it? Because if it is, that means I can let go of so much needless stress and pressure to constantly become what I wanted to be when I grew up. 

I can let myself be happy exactly where I am.

 And really, what better gift can I give myself for my 30th than that?

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