September 27, 2006

I hate it when you're right!

SIMEON WAS RIGHT when he commented to me that my letter to the bishop may have left a huge loophole where people will use the guise of friendship to get to me.

I got home last night from work and there was a letter from my ward clerk (I think, I don't even know what he does). I have been in this ward for 5 years since the ward boundaries changed, and I've spoken to him once in all that time, to ask for a new printout of the primary classes. I don't know his wife either beyond seeing her at church. Here's the letter:

Dear Sister (last name),

I just wanted to write you a note and tell you how much I appreciate your service & sacrifice. You have truly helped to improve the primary program, which my children love to attend. I admire your faith and courage. Please know that (my wife) and I are glad to have you teaching our children the gospel. Forgive me for not expressing my gratitude more often. It is so easy to get all wrapped up in our own little world & not see the service of those around us.

I still remember a couple years back the ward chili cookoff. I enjoyed meeting Brother SML (last name - he couldn't even take the time to look up my hubby's first name!) and sharing our passion for insanely hot chili. That was shortly after the ward boundaries had changed and the new ward was still trying to come together.

Last Sunday I was very impressed by J. as he stood up in priesthood and gave a report on the Teacher's quorum's activities. (Note, my son is a deacon still) How mature & handsome he looked! (Note, Stay AWAY from my son, do you hear me?!) I am always impressed with how reverently he passes the sacrament.

I want you to know that you do belong to the True Church of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith is a True Prophet, as is Gordon B. Hinckley. The blessings of the Temple are true & eternal. The adversary knows this, and he did everything in his power to keep me from those blessings & still works very hard to keep me from attending. There have been times in my life when doubt has come upon me. About four years ago I was the Elder's Quorum President. I let doubt enter my heart. The adversary was working overtime on me. Looking back I can't believe how close I came to loosing everything that is most precious to me, but it happened. I remember one Sunday, Bishop K (our previous bishop) said 'If you don't have a burning testimony of this church, you need to get one.' Well, my testimony was smoldering if not out. I determined to get a 'burning testimony.' I started reading scriptures, saying personal and family prayers, reading the Ensign. It was very hard. But at one time I had believed & I was determined to find out why. It took a while (years), but I finally discovered the why. It is different for each of us. I cried many nights as I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me KNOW. The process never ends, I still work every day at reading scriptures & praying. Some days I am better than others. But now my testimony is stronger than ever.

Back in July we had two women from the Jehova's Witnesses stop by. I introduced myself and told them we were members of the LDS church. Over the next half hour or so they would try to convince us that our beliefs were wrong on various gospel topics. They would read scriptures, I would quote scriptures (amazingly they just kind of popped into my mind). After awhile I would just look them in the eye & bear my humble testimony of the truth. After that, they could say no more & would move to another topic. Same thing we would discuss & I would bear testimony & tehn they could say no more. Eventually they left & I went on about my day. About a week later, one of the ladies came back. She said 'I just wanted to appollogise how I acted. I felt a very wonderful spirit in your home & felt we offended it by how we acted.' (My wife's) jaw hit the floor & graciously accepted her apology. I am not perfect, but now I can look people in eye & bear my simple testimony of true principles. Yesterday I had the priviledge of baptising & confirming (my son.) When confirming, I was so nervous that I mess up the words. I just started over (after a gentle prompting from Bob E!) and a beautiful blessing flowed through me from Heavenly Father to (my son.)

I hope I don't offend or sound preachy. That is not my intention. I just wanted to express my love & gratitude for you. I have had times where I have had doubts, like trying to fill callings or receiving inspiration concerning my family. The words of a General Authority (I can't remember which one!) come to mind that If it was right when you received it, it is still right when the trials & storms come.

We moved to a new home @ (such and such address.) Please stop by & say hi. We would love to have your family over. Forgive us for being so close minded to forget a wonderful person & family like yours.

Take care & may God bless.


After reading this letter D. just shook his head and said, "I wonder how many more 'friends' will crawl from the woodwork."


Cele said...

I've know(n) a lot of J.W.'s they never apologize - and especially not in the face of a male priesthood holder. What rubbish.

Thanks for sharing, thank you for your courage, and thank you for using your journey as a path for others.

montchan said...

oh for farks sakes!!! I am so glad to be the spawn of satan - nobody bothered me EVER!

SocietyVs said...

Nice letter and leave it at that. Did they win you back? Probably not but I don't see a reason no to treat them nice also, I mean we have to love our neighbor, even if they have some position of authority in the LDS church. Maybe you have found a 'burning testimony' now and let love flow, not animosity.

Sideon said...

Lovely letter. I'm sure they're lovely people - the lovely kind that happily live elsewhere. Being in another state of mind isn't far enough away, in some cases. I'm thinking them = Alaska or Siberia, and you = wherever you want to live and be yourself.


Simeon's Peep Stone said...

Told you so! Ha ha. Just kidding. Just be sure not to screen everybodies intentions too hard. I'm sure you have some legitimate friends in the ward that will want to continue being friends. I'd be wary of anyone you don't already have a relationship with though.

Equality said...

The problem with many in the church is that they really don't know how to relate to others as people rather than as members. Everything about their relationship with you is filtered through their church eyes. The reason the church is so spectacularly unsuccessful in dealing with its "less active" members is that the friendships are so superficial and the active members almost always come across to disaffected/ less active members as condescending, patronizing, and arrogant (even when this is not the active member's intent--they just don't know how to relate on a basic human level).

I remember several years ago when I was given a home teaching route that consisted mainly of inactive and part member/less active families. Nobody else had had any "success" with these families. I was able to strike up real friendships with two of the families. Each month (when convenient for our schedules--I never visited just to make the month's statistics look better) I'd go over and we would shoot baskets or talk about music or sports or whatever interests they had. I never pressured them to come to church or gave a guilt-inducing lesson. Neither family started coming to church but I developed a relationship with them to the point where I knew and they knew that we could call each other in a time of need. It was actually easy to do my home teaching with these families because they looked forward to my visits and so did I--neither of us felt like we were just going through the motions or were trying to meet some obligation handed down from on high. To me, that's what HT and VT ought to be about--simply caring for other people as people. Anyway, it is clear from this guy's letter that he has no clue about how to realte to anyone else simply as one human being to another--he is stilted in his emotional development. In my experience, his condition is not unusual in the church.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Cele, I'm sure this did happen, as these people relayed this story in fast & testimony meeting, and they really felt like it was "meant" to happen to them, and that their testimony to the JW was inspired and touched her.

Montchan, you are hardly the spawn of Satan, and are welcome in my blog anytime.

Society, I'm not planning to not treat them nice. It just frustrates me that they don't see that their letter to me, bearing testimony of the truthfulness of the LDS Gospel, is the same thing as me writing them a letter outlining my belief or testimony that their church is NOT true. This would be rude of me, just as I find it rude of them. Even if I understand their motives and intentions.

Sideon, isn't it just lovely all around?? Lovely lovely lovely.

Simeon, I appreciate it! You were right, as usual. I am trying to find my balance in this unknown, and it's not always easy. I'm the type who will give the benefit of the doubt, but with the letter from the ward clerk, who is in no way a friend, I'm pretty sure.

Equality, why couldn't I have had YOU for a home teacher?? You had the exact right idea. That's the kind of VT I was.

A soul, finally free. said...

OH, Lisa. Funny, how people forget about eachother and don't show graditude until someone says they are going to leave the church. That is when you are appreciated.
I tell ya what he just sounds like a great guy...i mean with such wisdom he could just speak things to the J.W's. WOW...haha ;). So will you be stopping by his house anytime soon? hehe. Hang in there, I'm sure you will get more and more cards...and be careful of the advesary, he is a tricky one! OH geeze! ha. I hope u have a good weekend.