Friday, July 9, 2010

Looking for a reason?

Last night I saw some of my family as we casually gathered for a birthday. The discussion turned to a lady in the neighborhood that had recently passed away. She and her husband came here from another country many years ago, and at first they were both active in the LDS church, but then she was offended (the discussion was that maybe it had to do with people asking her to repeat herself because of her accent) and stopped going.

Apparently before she passed away, she called both her home teachers and some catholic priests to give her blessings. Someone commented with a smile that she must have wanted to make sure she was covered.

A comment I've heard many times from my parents was said again, "If everyone that gets offended at church stops going, there would be no one there." To which someone else responded, "I've heard that if someone stops going because they are offended, they were really just looking for a reason to stop going."

I wondered if the discussion purposely went on as it did for Scott and my sake, or if they even thought about that element in the room.

I don't know about Scott, but I definitely was not looking for a reason to stop going to church. I've been offended at church before, and it has never stopped me. But this one is too big, too encompassing, too personal. Yes, it is offense by a few individuals at church, but it is also offense by the hypocrisy of the church in general, the "love one another" and "become more like Christ" words that conflict with the impossible "love the sinner but hate the sin" attitude.

If anything, I am desperately looking for a reason to want to be at church, to keep it from being anxiety-ridden drudgery.

My daughter is at a church-organized girls camp this week, one similar to the one I worked at when I was 19. I am jealous of the experience I know she is having, of being entirely surrounded by God's creations and His spirit.  I long to have another experience like that, to renew me and help me remember my testimony and how strong it was at that time in my life. Will I ever be able to have that again?

There is a staff reunion for the camp I worked at coming up at the end of the month. I am hoping that I will feel up to going, at least for one afternoon, maybe. My life was in such a different place 5 years ago when I attended the last one. I had a new baby then, too, and he came with me to enjoy the day, strapped in a front-pack. I met a girl that was one of my "campers" and had since been on the staff. She was delighted to see me and remember how I had helped her to have a wonderful and spiritual experience when she was 12. What a great feeling it was to sing the songs again and remember the great times.

One of the staff members I worked with that summer long ago is also one of the reunion organizers. She read my blog for a while, but she sent me an email a few months ago to let me know she would no longer be my friend on facebook or read my blog because of my church-conflicting views on gay marriage. Does that mean that this camp, that is everything to me that is God and good and beautiful, will now become a place that is uncomfortable and guilt-ridden for me, just like my church building? Will it be painful to go to the reunion, or will it be just what I need? Will it give me a reason to continue my efforts with regards to church attendance?

Hopefully I will be able to go and find out!


El Genio said...

I could probably deal with offense caused by local members, bishops, and maybe even a stake president. But how you do you deal when you feel like the church as a whole has offended you? How do you deal when you see members of the quorum of the 12 regularly delivering talks that are not only deeply hurtful, but also full of lies and half truths. Only one thing is certain, there is no easy path to follow.

Mister Curie said...

I'm sorry you feel such conflict. I hope you find peace soon.

Sophrosyne said...

I'm so sorry! I would guess that your family did not even realize the application to you and Scott, though I'm sure it's possible they did it on purpose. Those conversations are just so typical among LDS that I would think they said it unintentionally.

I wish they realized how hurtful it was to hear those things. But I can't fault them too much since I only changed my mind about it recently. I am sure that I believed the exact same thing 5-10 years ago!

On a typical Sunday I hear little to nothing that is 'offensive'/hurtful to me. But one time the Primary Counselor told the kids that people who leave the church do so because they have been or want to be disobedient. I almost started crying right there. I wasn't offended, just very sad and hurt that she and others think that way about me! She had no idea I was struggling with the Church and so she was not directing that statement at me. Yet it IS about me.

I hope you get to go to the camp reunion. Your former friend might not even be there. And if she is, you might just be able to avoid her and have a good experience anyway.

Sarah said...

El Genio, you understand my dilemma exactly, along with many others, I'm sure. I wish I knew the answers to your questions. Good to hear from you!

Mr. Curie, I don't think I am as conflicted as I must seem to you, although I have been in the past. Peace is coming slowly, as I've come to be more appathetic about what my family thinks or about my temple recommend. There is too much in life that is good and wonderful to let this conflict, which I cannot easily change, ruin my life.

Sarah said...


I'm not sure it was intentional. In fact, I'm pretty sure it wasn't. And yes, like you, I would have been right in the middle of the conversation exactly two years ago. Tomorrow it will have been two years since Scott came out to me, and the day my view of the world began to change drastically.

I am really hoping to go to the reunion, but we already have a ton of stuff going on that weekend, and honestly driving myself up and down the canyon kind of freaks me out, so I will deal with that when it gets here.

FoxyJ said...

For what it's worth, I think it's completely lame to send an email to someone announcing why you don't want to be their friend anymore. It's a jerky thing to do. I've been bothered by some stuff on other people's blogs, even some who used to be friends, and so I just quietly stop reading. That's the mature thing to do.

And I think families can just say boneheaded things without thinking about it. I can think of several examples from both our families. Or the time I started telling my widowed sister-in-law a joke that involved a dead husband and had to awkwardly stop in the middle because Mr. Fob looked like he was going to strangle me...

Jeremy said...

I'm sorry about the exchange among your family. I hope they didn't mean it towards you and Scott. My family used to say some awful things about gays before I came out. I just think people don't realize what they're saying.

I do so hope that you'll be able to go to the reunion! That sounds like it would be a wonderful experience :)