Out of our four children, Brinley experienced the greatest amount of distress when we talked to her about what we had been discovering about the church. Little by little, through weeks and months of conversations and tears and counseling, as our transition unfolded, she began to grow and blossom in such beautiful ways that we couldn’t have ever anticipated. It has has been a remarkable process to witness, however, initially the thought of talking to our children, especially Brinley, kept us up for weeks on end weeping at night.
I asked her to share this letter, along with any additional thoughts, in an effort to hopefully provide some comfort and reassurance to parents who find themselves in a similar situation. She has such a tender heart for both parents and kids who are faced with this unimaginable new reality.
Without preparation, she sat down to film, on her own. These are her own thoughts that came up for her to share before she headed off to work, along with the letter, which I will add below.
I was thinking a lot about the different seasons of a testimony that Avery learned about at Girls camp and it was bothering me because I couldn’t figure out which season we fit into anymore.
Our leaves on our tree aren’t “dead” – we’ve grown. They aren’t in “full bloom” – we don’t have a testimony of the church anymore. I decided they left a season out, the one that our family has stepped into, thanks to your bravery to step a toe out of the box, learn what broke your heart, and still keep going – THIS is the season of the golden tree, your leaves are golden now.
You have stepped past dogma, needing validation from an organization and the approval of others in it. You’ve grown out of a belief system and into freedom with an open mind and more compassionate heart. This is the highest and most beautiful state of living.
Your worthiness is no longer dependent on your conviction and how long your testimony stays in the “summer” phase. The golden tree isn’t a phase or a season, it is something you awakened; a place you can stay for the rest of your life.
The big leaf on this necklace represents the awakening you led yourself through by letting the uncomfortable into your heart, right by where the necklace lays. The earrings have four little leaves on them, representing the journey you have guided us on, respecting each of our paths, even the turns that might feel uncomfortable to you. You have raised four little leaves and awakened us to our golden tree we never knew was there until you took the biggest leap of faith in your whole life.
If I had to thank you for doing one thing for me in my 16 years, it would be telling me what broke my heart, changed my life, and ultimately led me to my golden tree.
I love you Mama, happy birthday!”