When I was 14 years old, I received a personalized blessing from our church’s patriarch–a man specifically set apart to commune with God on my behalf. On that Easter morning, the patriarch laid his hands on my head and channeled God’s heavenly message from the celestial ethers into my young heart. He repeated a warning throughout the blessing: I am to be prayerful in all things. Before I surge ahead toward any endeavor–big or small–I must first be still. This inspired caution has served me throughout my life. I have come to better understand the nature of God and my relationship to Him in my own moments of measured repose.
This year, someone very dear to me came out as transgender. As she unraveled feelings that had been tightly coiled within her for more than a decade, I felt the Spirit whisper to me, as it had so many times before, “Be still.” For those of us who have had close friends or family members come out as transgender, gay, asexual, or any other form of queerness, our first instinct may not be stillness but instead anxiety and agitation. If, in such unexpected moments, we can quiet the din of our own agendas and creates spaces of empathy and non-expectation, we can better hear what He would have us do, and our stillness is sanctified.
I am grateful for the LGBTQIA pioneers in my life who have shown me the different forms that holy stillness can take. My friend Kendall Wilcox has spent years creating opportunities for LGBTQIA Mormons and their allies to share their stories of heartbreak and restoration. In his documentary film Far Between, Kendall asks the question, “Can you be gay and Mormon?” and in so doing invites us to occupy the liminal space where questions and answers float unmatched and hopeful. In my experience, God is profoundly present in such liminal spheres because they are spaces of unknowing, humility, faith, and patience. They are spaces of waiting. They are spaces of holy stillness.
I hope to always honor the power of stillness, especially as I carefully consider questions regarding who we are and how we love. If I reverence my patriarch’s inspired request to make stillness a central practice in my life, I must slow down, be inert, sit upon my bed, and seek God. I must acknowledge His presence in my unknowingness, and I must believe that He will carve into my heart a still and holy space for His answers.