There have been many news articles about you. I was able to find your website and read more about your situation and what lead to your votes in the Saturday Afternoon session.
I feel for you. Really, I do. I was on that path not too many years ago with the whole women and the priesthood thing. I was tired of doubting my doubts and never getting any real answers to my questions.
Like you, I've been a member my whole life. I'm a returned missionary and worked for 2.5 years in the temple before I even became a parent. I've sat on Ward Councils and helped some members through difficult times. It hurts me that many members still think that such experience means that one would never have serious doubts regarding aspects of the Church.
Questions and doubts can--and do--come at any time.
With the increase in technology and spread of information by anyone with access to a computer, we are exposed to more than just two sides of a coin...and perhaps that's the problem: a coin only has two sides, yet people are trying to convince us that said coin, in fact, has more than two and that those additional sides deserve consideration.
At least, that was my problem with women and the priesthood.
The reality, as I said, is that there are only two sides: the world's side and the Lord's side. Once I put that idea as my central focus point with my questions about His church, things became clear very quickly.
Here's what I know:
There is no perfect person in the Church. No, not even the prophet. As Elder Holland said, "Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to him, but he deals with it. So should we."
As we look back into Church history, there are many things that we find unusual, weird, or even highly questionable. The truth of the matter is that we weren't there. We don't know how everything actually happened. We have various and differing records from not only secular sources, but even the active members of the time.
Past events can be confusing, but as members of the Church, the imperfections around us do not have to affect us negatively. We have perfect and unchanging doctrine. We know that faith is required for true repentance which leads to baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We know that forever families are essential in the eternal plan and that even the imperfect, inexperienced members of the early Church were striving to understand what they needed to do to merit those blessings.
When I had my doubts about the Church and its leaders regarding the way the priesthood worked, I eventually had to accept that my true issues were that I was (1) asking imperfect people for answers to perfect questions, (2) looking so hard for complex, complicated answers that I was unable to see the simplicity of the Lord's way, and (3) I didn't have true understanding because I had not sought it from the right sources.
Such is the issue with gay marriage. This is quite a simple thing that's not based in hatred or discrimination at all, yet the world would paint the Lord's Church as a place of animosity. The answer is quite simple, and you can read about it here.
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Once you have true understanding, the question you must ask yourself is, "Do I believe this, or not?"
If you do, that doesn't mean you hate those who espouse the opposite; disagreement doesn't equal hate. But when you choose to accept one side of the coin, you cannot choose to accept the other side as well.
Kate Kelly and John Dehlin weren't excommunicated for asking questions. Their concerns were not concerns. They were acting as those in ancient scripture and trying to convince others to follow them. Many months before his excommunication, Mr. Dehlin had even requested that the Church cease contact with him. These two children of our Heavenly Father were not trying to understand the Lord's side of the coin. They were trying to find a way for both sides to show up at the end of the coin toss. That has never worked and never will work.
Casting a dissenting vote for the prophet and the general leaders of the Church will not change doctrine. It will not lead to the release of President Monson or anyone on the stand at General Conference, for that matter. Some of your group have stated that the Church isn't explaining things right...like they're trying to hide something. If you search in your heart, you know this isn't true. It simply means that, like you, the imperfect members in official positions to explain doctrine don't always do it in a way that makes sense to everyone.
Please don't let imperfect people and events deter you from your eternal place in God's plan.
It's our job to seek understanding from the Lord. It's our job to put aside the fictitious additional sides of the coin and focus on understanding things the Lord's way, not the world's way. Trying to understand religious things through the world's eyes will always result in more confusion.
At least, that's how it was for me.
Like you, I do not believe that all is well in Zion. However, I do not believe that the Church is to blame. I believe that we've been taught to ask questions, but haven't been reminded that not everyone we ask will know the answers. We have not adequately been taught to wait in patience and search in full faith. We have not been watchful in where we seek answers; many of us have been searching for eternal truths on unholy ground.
That's not the Lord's fault and His perfect church should not be put on trial for that.
I do not have a testimony of Thomas S. Monson, the imperfect person. I have a testimony of Thomas S. Monson, the prophet; the man who, in the office of his calling, will not lead the Lord's Church astray. Thus, I will sustain him and the quorum of the twelve in their callings as prophets, seers, and revelators. This is how I feel about all Church leaders, be they male or female.
One among you, upon being interviewed, stated that you felt that "It was like nothing happened" among your fellow members when you voiced your vote. You felt alone and ignored. Please know that something did happen. We were saddened. Many of our hearts reached out to you in love and prayer with hope that in six months time, you will feel differently. We pray that this feeling will not be because you want to "blindly follow the sheep," but because your testimony will have returned in full force.
The world doesn't understand how one could love somebody they've never met.
The world doesn't understand the Love of Christ, either.
You are my brothers and sisters in the Lord and I do love and feel for you. Like many members, I want you to feel that you can honestly sustain the leaders of the Lord's Church on Earth. We don't want to ostracize you. We want to help you. Our answers may not be perfect, but we really will try our best.
With Great Love,
Your sister, Sarah Rose Uhlstein