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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Roach

Inside, Outside, Outside, Inside

When I was a girl my favorite playground activity was Chinese Jump Rope. I don't know if children even play this game anymore, but when I was a kid, I was obsessed. Though I doubt I have the coordination required to even get through the first level anymore! One of the sing-song rhymes we would chant while playing contained the line, "inside, outside, outside, inside" and the player's feet were supposed to move in and out of the ropes accordingly. For whatever reason it is a phrase that stayed with me long after I outgrew playground games.

When I was in Divinity School (Convert's side one in my pre-LDS realm would casually refer to it as "Divinity School", we would call it Seminary. But in the LDS context that means something different so I've learned that I have to be more precise.) I had a professor who held two PhD's. When asked why he had obtained 2 of them he replied that he wanted to become the ultimate insider, in order to make room for more outsiders. Inside, outside, outside, inside.

These days I find myself as both insider and outsider. I'm an endowed adult member of the church. But, in comparison to others, I've been here for about half-an-hour. And what that means I pretty much only have 2 conversations anymore. They go like this...

1. My friends who are outside of the church are completely baffled by my decision to join. "Aren't Mormons just racist and homophobic white people who live in the desert?" Or, "In your church one leader says this, the next one says something different - which is it?" For these friends, I am as much of an insider to the church as they are ever likely to come across. And so I do my best to translate what they are observing into language they can understand.

2. My friends who are inside the church want to know my opinion as a convert. "What did you think when you first learned ___?" or "Were you surprised when ____ happened?" For them, I still have fresh eyes to see things they take for granted and they're naturally curious. I do my best to explain what its like for me and maybe translate a bit for them too.

And the truth is, I love both of these conversations. Inside, outside, outside, inside. Its kind of the best of both worlds. For now. Someday my eyes won't be as fresh and I will have forgotten a bit of what it was like before. And that's okay too. But for now, I'm enjoying these two conversations. Good thing too, because they're the only ones I seem to be having!

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