Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trouble with an F that stands for Facebook

(I wrote this Sept. 4th during Sunday School, but I didn't post it until September 14th. Just an fyi about my changing the date on the post.)

A few weeks ago, my last post was about "separation", myself from some elements of the church, and Scott from his family. Instead of venting my views on gay marriage in Relief Society, I walked out and  vented on Facebook. Just a reminder of what I wrote:

"I have to say what I couldn't say in Relief Society. (Instead I walked out.) In my heart I know that my gay friends' marriages are approved by God. I've been in attendance at them and the feeling of happiness and hope was similar to attending a temple marriage. I don't give a sh* what the effin prophets say."

The following week, I was called into an appointment with the bishop. The topic: my Facebook vent. People in the ward are offended and concerned. The bishop thanked me for not saying it in Relief Society, and was also comforted when I explained that the only children on Facebook that can see my posts are my own children. He wanted to know why I posted that kind of thing. As I told him that I cannot be quiet on the gay marriage issue, he just continued to ask why. I left his office saying, "take my temple recommend. Excommunicate me. But I will not be quiet on this issue."

I went home and posted on Facebook about being in trouble with the bishop. Comments of comfort came from many of my friends. Then came a message from a ward friend who has since moved away. His comment made me feel like filth, pure evil. It sunk me into a fit of depression and self deprecation, making the afternoon of my first day of teaching school very difficult:

I considered letting your bishop know, but decided I'd talk to you before I did and never got around to it. You dissed the Prophet in public. I can't see how you can keep a temple recommend in good conscience after doing so. It doesn't matter what terms you used or if you used actual swear words. Your beliefs are your beliefs, however you come by them and I'll say nothing against that. Indeed, having the courage of your convictions is an honorable thing to strive for.

But temples are owned and operated by an organization pledged to honor and support the prophets. Even if you doubt their sacred nature, you should, at a minimum, respect the owners of the place enough to honor the rules of entry. Those rules are simple enough, but include support of the prophet as a basic and fundamental requirement. That's a requirement you no longer fit under any reasonable definition.

I'm sorry if it hurts to hear that. Feel free to unfriend me if you wish. But, like you, I believe in having the courage of your convictions, even in public, and even if the price is dear.

Later, gay friends attacked this friend. It was well-intentioned, but made me uncomfortable. I made this last response, then deleted the whole thread so that the bashing would stop.

 Thank you both for your honesty. I've put some privacy restrictions in force so that people can't see what I post, unless I want them to. I needed a place to be uncensored that day, without restraint. I realized that my comment would come across to many as offensive, but I did not mean it the way it sounds. The expletives ended up in a place of disrespect, and I'm maybe 10% sorry for that, but I still chose to do it because it was venting amongst friends, friends that know me, know my testimony, and know that I was just voicing my frustration over words from a manual (aka "prophets" is what I used). It does not mean that I do not respect and view prophets as such. It just reflects my view that leaders of the church are not perfect and do not always speak for god. If the bishop  asks me for my recommend, or "deactivates" the bar code or whatever, I will understand. But if it is up to me to give it up, then I won't, because I know what is in my heart and what my words meant and I do not feel that it makes me any less worthy than temple recommend holders who judge me harshly for my words on a semi-private forum.
The friend, however, assumed I only blocked him so that he could not see the ensuing conversation bashing him. The next day, as I was driving to an appointment with my therapist, this former ward member sent me a scathing private Facebook message, then unfriended me. It made me very sad, and I was calmed by later chatting with his wife.

Meanwhile, following a letter than Scott sent his family, one of his family members decided to unfriend us both on Facebook. I sent this person a message to try to understand the situation better, and I didn't hear back. So a week or so later, I text messaged the person to see if they received my other message, to which the answer was yes, but they wanted to talk instead of message. Dang. This was not one of those times that I wanted to talk in person, but I said okay, although that I wasn't strong enough emotionally to discuss it right then.

A couple of weeks passed, and even though I still didn't feel like discussing it over the phone, I really felt like we needed to resolve it. So Saturday night I contacted the person and we decided to talk Sunday morning during my Sunday school class because our church schedules conflicted. This was the same Sunday that later in the day I was called into the bishop's office for my Facebook status the previous week.

So we talked, and the person explained that they unfriended us because they were tired of the drama, and that they felt if the tables were turned, that Scott and I would not have been able to handle and accept any more than they have been able. Upon further discussion of trying to understand each other, I became very emotional, as I was afraid I would, and so let them know that I needed to end the conversation, and we parted the phone call amicably.

But I was no longer in the mood to endure my last church meeting, especially a lesson on eternal families. So after I played the opening hymn, I left Relief Society and sat in the hall, half listening, half chatting with a gay friend that has moved away.

So then later, after talking to the bishop, I was frustrated with my ward Facebook friends, and frustrated with Facebook in general, and for some reason I decided to post that if anyone had seen me upset at church, it was because of a conversation with someone in Scott's family, and not because of them at that point.

So then, the next day, I was recovering from the first day of school and depression from the Facebook comment mentioned at the beginning of this post, when I received a text from the family member I had spoken to the day before, chewing me out for mentioning it on Facebook, because now other members of the family were asking questions. That was enough to sink me into a state of insanity during which I could not stop crying and I wished I was dead. The children freaked out too, obviously, at the sight of my fit, and contacted Scott to come help.

I found out a few days later, that my daughter sent some angry messages to this family about accepting Scott. She was concerned about me and needed to vent, but of course that brought on more harm than good.

Since then, all has been quiet. Other than a few chats with a couple of Scott's sisters that have reached out in concern for me, I have not really talked to his family, nor them to me. I need a break from them for a while, and probably vice versa. I have tried to be more polite on Facebook, and have considered getting rid of it completely from my life. Meanwhile, I continue to attend church, but I can see repurcussions of what happened a couple of weeks ago with the children, as they seem to have less desire to be involved with church and extended family.


Daniel said...

I have been posting less and less on Facebook because I've been frustrated with how big it has gotten and all the accidental things that happen when someone misunderstands a post (or just decides to be an ass). There is just something about the sheer publicity of it that turns me off, and I have considered even deleting my Facebook account.

How many of the bad things that happened in this post would have been prevented by deleting your Facebook account?

I realize there are a lot of benefits to FB--sharing pictures of your kids with family, announcing parties, being able to vent and have people comfort you, the sense of community, etc. But while FB makes all these things easy, it is not the only way to do these positive things. Maybe you could find other mediums--phone, email, blog, etc--that do them just as well, and leave FB and all its negative aspects behind. It might be good to break up all the many things going on there into small pieces of more varied locations, which would limit the access the public and the ward has to what is going on in your life.

This is all just an idea. If you do close your account and it makes things better, please let me know so I can consider the same!

Jon Colt Corwin said...

Daniel has some great ideas for you. You really are a drama queen, though, aren't you? am wondering if you are related to my sister-in-law who is also a drama queen. You're an adult, right? Why do you let the opinions of so many people matter to you? why are you trying to please everyone, but in the process, you end up pleasing no one and are so unhappy with the world.

Sarah said...

Daniel, I've really limited my time on Facebook this week. I think it will work if I remember to continue to have self-control with it. I hate to cut off that means of communication with people completely.

Sarah said...

Yes, Jon, I am a drama queen. Thank you for alerting me to my immaturity. Not letting other people's opinions affect me is something that will take a long time to learn. I think I have started the process, and I am trying to work on it, but I doubt it will ever be complete.

Anonymous said...

Honey, I don't know you or your husband/friends/bishop etc. But I've seen your blog a few times over the years and I have to say, your ward is weird. I cannot imagine the people at my ward looking at my facebook and informing the bishop. I can't imagine my bishop EVER coming to me with gossip from random people and chewing me out.

There are a lot of people in my ward that are "not against" gay marriage. Maybe you need to move to a more moderate ward or stake. It pains me to see you have difficulties with the church because of how certain members act. I know so many active mormons with your same ideas (although different experiences) on gays. I can't believe you are such the odd woman out in your ward.