About Tierza Askren

Posts by Tierza Askren:

The Silence

. . .

Do you hear that?

That is the sound of fear.  The sound of my standing – still – in my journey: Afraid to go forward . . . Not willing to go back.

That is the sound of lips not speaking any words that might hurt.

That is the sound of a mind not daring to even think too much about it . . .

For fear the words might just squeeze out. More

Answers

Answers

I have attended something like 450 testimony meetings in my life and four times as many sacrament meetings, not to mention countless hours of sunday school, primary, Relief Society, seminary, Institute, a mission, and home and visiting teachers.  In all those hours one message loomed —

WE HAVE THE ANSWERS! ! ! !  We HAVE the answers.  We have the ANSWERS.  We have THE answers.

WE have THE answers!!!

But what answers, exactly, does the church have?  Consider, for instance, the classic: How do I get to the Celestial Kingdom? More

Christmas Fears

Last week I was invited to a gathering of moms and kids from my husband’s ward.  (They split the wards just after I quit attending so I don’t actually know many of the people my family attends church with.  My daughter, however, spends every Sunday with these children [and their mothers – who chiefly seemed to be members of the Primary presidency] and so I thought I ought to go and get acquainted.) As we were sitting around the kitchen one mom raised her concerns about how to break it to her kids that Santa isn’t real. Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

She told us that when she was a girl her mother played up the Santa thing to the hilt.  She would wake up Christmas morning not just to presents and some half-eaten cookies, but also sooty footprints in the living room and reindeer tracks in the yard.  Her mom put enormous energy into making certain her kids believed in Santa (and the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc).  But then — on their ninth birthday — she took them out for ice-cream and just gave it to them straight — “Santa isn’t real.”

Imagine the broken hearts. More

Advice

I was 9 or 10 that summer.  I lived to swim, ride my bike, play with my dolls and cars, read and daydream.  The future seemed far away and church was just something I went to.  We were at a ward campout when the bishop pulled me aside to ask how I was doing.  My dad was living in LA that year, going to school, and the rest of us had stayed behind.  My mom was working crazy hours as a dance instructor and choreographer and I am sure the people around us worried about her, all alone with six kids under 11 years old, and about us.  Bishop was my dad’s climbing buddy, an English professor at the local college and a great guy, the first bishop to stick in my brain.  I remember the conversation.  We sat on a couple of big rocks surrounded by pine trees, people from the ward coming and going around us and he told me I should always remember this advice: More

What’s in a name . . . ?

I am still scared to say it.

My secret name.

My name that belongs to every other woman who received her endowments on the day I received my endowments . . . my name that isn’t sacred or even, really, special . . . only . . .

Names are weird things.

They can give you power — I used to think about this when I was a missionary.  No-one got to know my name, but I always jumped right in to calling everyone else by their first name: “What is your name? Sue, (You don’t mind if we call you Sue, do you? Great!) Sue, what do you know about God? . . .”  An investigator, who was just out of rehab, insisted that we go by our first names with her.  “That’s what we do in group and I like it better,” she’d say.  But it was so uncomfortable.  Suddenly we were on a level playing field with her.  There is a reason why they call our missionaries, “Elder.”  They may not be old and wise, but they’ve got the name! More

Top 5 Things I Hate About Nephi

So every once in a while someone suggests I ought to try reading the Book of Mormon, “just once more.”  Most of these suggestions come from people I really love and so I am occasionally inclined to humor them.  I pick up the book and start reading . . . “I Nephi . . . blah, blah, blah . . .” I never get far before I give up, but every read increases my dislike, my utter loathing . . . not of the book itself, but of that one character — Nephi.

Can I just say how very much I loath Nephi?!  Have for ages.  Actually (and this really happened), I once shocked a Sunday School teacher and class when I made the suggestion that, if I had been Nephi’s sister, I’d probably have wanted to kill him too.  Who wouldn’t?  The man is pompous, self-absorbed and not at all hesitant to share his deep self-love with anyone who will listen.  If the Book of Mormon were true and Nephi were a real man and a prophet, and if you had the misfortune to actually know the guy . . More

The Natural

There are a few things in my fairly recent apostasy that I still find a little uncomfortable.  Drinking.  Shopping on “the Sabbath”. Swearing.  After 37 years as a Mormon, who could blame me for having to push through a little internal resistance against being “bad”?  After all, being an apostate isn’t my natural state.

Except —

There is one thing I do not have a difficult time doing at all: I simply Do Not Believe.

Sometimes I just stop and marvel at how incredibly easy it is to not believe.  I don’t have to work at it at all.  I don’t spend nights worrying about how to believe less.  I don’t pray desperate prayers begging some unseen force to make me believe less.  I don’t hope that things aren’t true.  They just aren’t. More

A House Divided by Two

The first cracks began in a discussion about tithing.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I always think of “his” paycheck as “ours” and so I asked if maybe we could divide the tithing money,  let me choose what we do with a portion of it (specifically, I wanted to use the money to give offerings at the church I was attending or donate it to some charity or another).  But it quickly became apparent that it is too important to him to pay a full (on his gross) tithe for him to make any adjustment.  He’s a good man (as a peace offering, he offered to give me (give up) his monthly “mad money” for use as my “tithes” instead) and I think I understand why he feels the way he does about the tithing, so I let the idea drop.  The issue ‘died’ after that one discussion, and we went back to our normal, peaceful, happy relationship . . . More

Demanding

Our good friend Mike has been troubling the waters over on Facebook this week.  I was offended by many things he said, but one of his responses to his critics got me thinking.  He said:

What good is a God that demands nothing of you? Chastity and Virtue should be equally as important as Tolerance and Forgiveness. All of them combined are intended to teach us a culture. If there is a Son of God there is a Mother who dwells alongside a Father. I think that teaches us something about the society we should be striving for here in preparation for there.

“What good is a God that demands nothing of you?” More

I finally got my MRS

my father and I on my wedding day

My first BYU ward met in the law school, just down the hill from the Deseret Towers ‘T-hall’ where I lived.  I don ‘t remember the name of our bishop or any family home evening or other activities.  I hardly remember church at all.  But there was this one Sunday, this one moment of one Sunday that has lingered in my mind long beyond its expiration date.  It must have been a ward conference or some other special day because our Relief Society class was taught, not by the students who usually filled that role, but by an outsider, an adult, perhaps a stake Relief Society president or the wife of our bishop.  I don’t really remember who she was, but what she said — more accurately — ONE sentence of what she said:  “Girls, statistically speaking ten percent of the women in this room will never get married . . .” More

The Great Beyond

My father’s mother passed away last night.  A week ago some switch turned off in her.  She quit responding.  She quit eating and drinking.  And so, over the course of a slow, painful week, she died.  It was her 87th birthday.

I’ve been watching the responses to facebook posts about her death.  Friends of my aunts give the expected Mormon comfort — “this isn’t all sad”, “she’s working now on the other side”, “aren’t we grateful that we know about ‘the plan'”.  My younger cousins, who didn’t know her well or knew her best in the conflict that seemed to hover just over her head, seem to not know what to feel.  Do they miss her?  Do they not?

Death is that one great barrier that supposedly drives us all to God in the end.  The ultimate unanswerable question.  But does it really make it better if we believe that there is a ‘great beyond’? More

Metaphorical Musings on Leaving Mormonism

It was one of those projects that require several pieces to be put in place at once. Balancing a piece on each finger of one hand and holding up the frame with the other, I wiggled my thumb to move the last piece into perfect alignment. Almost there . . . and then the piece on my index finger began to shift. Moving to catch it made the piece on my thumb shift. I caught it but only by letting go of the piece on my little finger. Meanwhile glue was dripping off the frame and things were getting desperate. I had everything in hand, but any movement at all and the whole thing was going to collapse. What could I do? I had worked hard to get things to this point and, frankly, I was ready to be done. If let everything collapse . . . But if I didn’t . . .

I was stuck. More