As I walked into the grocery store this morning, I noticed that I was following a uniquely-dressed older woman. She had on a long, loose cotton dress, which was slightly cinched at the waist and accented with simple white shoes. Her grey hair was artfully twisted and secured into a bun with several shiny barrettes. If I was back in the Midwest, I would have thought she was Mennonite, but since there aren’t a lot of non-modern Mennonites out here, I have to believe that she’s either Oneness Pentecostal or belongs to one of the Primitive Baptist churches.
After I paid for my stuff, I headed out toward my car, where I followed a different woman. This one had on a gauzy, flowy purple skirt that reached the ground, and she was covered from the top of her head to the back of her knees in a black, silky looking head covering (longer than a hijab, possibly a chador?)
In the span of 15 minutes time, I witnessed two women who stood for something. They dressed a certain way because of a faith that was part of their living, breathing being. Now, I know full well that just because someone dresses the part doesn’t mean they are sincere, and I also know that people don’t have to have any outward signs to be incredibly faithful, but it got me thinking as I climbed into my car wearing my cotton t-shirt, yoga pants, and flip flops. What do I stand for?
I’ve made no bones about my faith journey, and I can say with all certainty that I don’t believe in 100% of the teachings of any one particular denomination or church. More and more, I find myself pulling those spiritual nuggets from multiple sources. While I feel like I have a very well-rounded view of the Christian faith, I also feel like I’m bobbing in turbulent seas. I want answers that I simply can’t find.
Recently, I spoke to a childhood friend and I made an off-handed comment about how many LDS folks lived out here in Washington. Imagine my shock when my lifelong Mormon friend told me she was leaving the church. Her membership in the LDS faith was as constant and timeless to me as the movements of the sun and the moon. From the moment I met her, she stood for something. She was as devout a Mormon as any I’ve met, and she and her entire family migrated to Utah because there’s where you go if you’re Mormon! I loved going to her house as a teenager because the family was so close and focused on one another. They were so nice, so innocent, and never seemed to have any problems. When she grew up, she raised her family the same way, which was exactly what I expected. Finding out that she was questioning her beliefs rocked me to my core.
I don’t want to be a milky person and in every other aspect of my life, I’m anything but milky. You want political opinions? I got ’em out the wazoo. You want opinions on pop culture and modern society? Pull up a chair and sit down and I’ll talk your ear off. But when it comes to my faith, I’m meek, mild, totally milky, when what I want is to be bold, like those slashes of purple and pink that illuminate the sky as the sun sets outside my window. I want to stand for something instead of going through life questioning, asking, wondering, never settling. Part of putting down roots is locking in those beliefs that propel me forward. Some of them are easy for me to identify, but a lot of them are as grey and as abstract as ever. I ask myself repeatedly what I stand for, and the sad thing is that, honestly, at least right now anyway, I don’t really know.