Meet the (Mormon Misfit Magazine) Editors: Melissa

melissa-mcdonald

I’ve been trying to pinpoint the moment I became a Mormon Misfit.

Was it the day of my birth? Was it being born to a couple not quite yet settled on their own religious path? Which tradition would they choose, my mother’s Catholicism or my father’s Mormonism?

They chose The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so maybe that wasn’t the moment after all.

Was it in my childhood? Maybe the day my parents sat me down to break the news of their impending divorce? That was the day that my family no longer fit the ideal that would be proffered and presented to me over and over again in Primary class and from the pulpit.

But then again, in those years, my broken family is a nurturing place, regardless, with cracks allowing for others, like stepparents and subsequent siblings, to enter and settle in with love. I don’t feel like a misfit here.

Was it in my adolescence? The only Mormon in my high school and from a part-member family, I spend most of my week living outside the boundaries of my own ward. I feel like I’m not always understanding church expectations. Like when I’m called to be the Laurel Class President. I’m asked to choose my counselors… but when I do, my YW leader vetoes my choices and calls entirely different girls. I don’t even know how I got it so wrong.

However, on second thought, these are the years that my parents will drive an extra thirty minutes in the wrong direction to pick me up so that I can attend mid-week mutual. While this is a sacrifice I will not fully appreciate for years to come, a message is nevertheless conveyed every Wednesday night. This is where you belong.

Was it my college years? Maybe it was when a boyfriend’s mother advises him to break up with me for all the aforementioned reasons (divorced parents, part-member family) because I couldn’t possibly be a good Mormon?

No, I don’t think so. Even though I feel like everything about me bucks the school’s culture, it turns out BYU is really good for me, giving me just enough spiritual support and ownership of a fledgling testimony to get me to the next step.

So maybe it was on my mission?

Not even close. I win the lottery of mission calls and land in the center of SLC where sisters from all over the world, with all kinds of backgrounds, with all kinds of families, and all kinds of testimonies gather. I begin to think Zion is a place where Christ is spoken of in a dozen languages at once all in the space of a city block. It seems like we are all the same and yet not even a little the same. For me, there is no feeling on the outside here.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s now. Maybe it’s this place where I’ve come to shun all my prior certainty for an increasingly comfortable uncertainty because it drives me to keep searching for additional truth and light. Maybe it’s this place where I’m trying to choose faith over fear, and love over pretty much everything else.

But, who knows, maybe that doesn’t make me a Misfit at all. Because maybe that’s you, too?

13 Comments

  1. Melissa, I didn’t realize how similar our backgrounds were. We did hit the jackpot on missions. It was the first place I felt a part of something and made lifetime friends. Although, I had many moments there where I felt like an outsider. I’m still on the outside but it’s ok.
    Your words were beautifully put together in this piece. Just lovely.

    Reply
    • Wendy, my friend! I appreciate your words and I’m more than a little sure (based on FB posts alone) that I want to be your neighbor so that we can hang out, brush up on our Shakespeare, and talk about all the ways our beautiful body of Christ needs every kind of member and misfit (those two things being exactly the same). May we lunch next time I’m in Utah, perhaps??

      Reply
  2. Great stuff Melissa. I have always enjoyed your blog posts and look forward to future posts from all three of you. I also enjoy the podcast, especially now that I am driving back and forth from the Bay Area. I’ve often thought of myself as a bit of a rebel, but it turns out I am just a misfit, and a proud one at that. To you, Josh, and David; Thanks for taking the time to podcast and now write. You are all lighting the dark, which is desperately needed in this ever darkening world.

    Reply
    • Bill, I’ve always known that you are (the best kind of) misfit!

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  3. Melissa.. never knew some of this.. Don’t we all feel like misfits? I think it is one of the most ancient lies ever believed by man… and the truth is that if you had a “fit in” life you would be the exception not the rule. Love your authentic writing style… I think it resonates with everyone!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Stephanie! I think that the fun thing the guys are trying to do here (and they are a lot more fun than I am) is show that we can be ourselves while still being one in Christ… Even if we don’t always see, experience or understand things in exactly the same way. In fact, I wonder if these differences may be useful for progress and for growing empathy among God’s children. And I wholeheartedly agree that the idea that someone may not belong or fit into God’s family is a lie… and one that is as tragic as it is old. Thanks again for your kind words!

      Reply
  4. “Increasingly comfortable uncertainty.” Love it. I heard a term in college, “the willing suspension of disbelief,” which is the one that helps me understand where my faith is right now. Thanks for opening up!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jen! I like “willing suspension of disbelief” too. And I may be listening to too much Adam Miller right now but it made me think about switching out the word “suspension” for “surrender”. You’ve given me food for thought!

      Reply
  5. If intfomarion were soccer, this would be a goooooal!

    Reply

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