Handle with care

Today I was reminded of the time I was blamed for a person’s decision not to come to church anymore.  It was after the Proposition 8 vote in California.  I didn’t live in California and neither did this person, but it affected her husband and eventually her.  I was her visiting teacher for a time.  When this was happening I had been reassigned different women to visit.  I had no idea she was falling away.  Then the fateful day came that she announced to everyone in Relief Society that she didn’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. The air was sucked out of me. I had to leave the room.  She was one of our teachers and here she was announcing this.  After her lesson was over, the other sisters in the ward came up to her and hugged her. They gave her encouraging words. They said they would pray for her.  I felt impressed to tell her that maybe if she read Rough Stone Rolling about Joseph Smith that it might help give her a better perspective.  It didn’t and I was blamed by a few that I had caused her falling away from the church.  I felt horrible.  I wrote to her because by this time I had moved away.  She said it wasn’t my fault, but it was hard not to feel that way.  Then today I was told one of our Primary teachers wouldn’t be back.  She just called the Primary president and said I am not coming to church ever again and you need to find a new teacher.  What a punch in the gut.  She was just there last week.  I know this girl because I have advised her on her academic goals at the college where I work. Now I wonder if I will ever see her. Will she avoid coming into the office? I do know that I won’t say anything.  I will act as if nothing happened.  Maybe this isn’t right and I am sure there are many in the church who would say so, but I am not the judge of others actions or their testimonies.  I have learned my lesson.  One’s faith is so personal and even though we all have the same goal which is to return to Heavenly Father how we get there might not be the same.  I will not be running out to tell her to read a book or to pray a little harder.  I will let her be.  I will handle this one with care and I will pray a little harder in hopes that she will come back.

5 thoughts on “Handle with care”

  1. It really is nothing personal against anyone at church. And I highly doubt she said she was never coming back to church again. In fact, in all our conversations about this, she wanted to make sure that she COULD come back when she had sorted things out. She has no ill will toward anyone at church, and only a great appreciation for being made to feel loved and welcome. This is truly a personal decision for her, brought about by many other factors, which I will not get into here. Those of us who have worked closely over time with her feel like we have done our best and all that we could do. Some things are out of our control, mainly agency. I was the one she handed the primary manual to when she came into the chapel before Sacrament meeting. She was sad, I think, because she hugged me for a long time. I said ‘We love you and wish you were going to be here.’ She replied, ‘I know. I love you, too.’ And then she left. The transformation I have seen in this girl, from being a goth teenager who hated the church because she didn’t understand it, to the girl who went through hell and back with a devastating illness, to a girl who, previously an athiest, now believes there is a God, is nothing short of a MIRACLE! I believe she will find her way back, maybe not on our timetable, but her own. Her Heavenly Father knows her well. I think he probably expected this, actually! Unconditional love is always the appropriate response in this situation, and I know from experience that she will feel that, even when she doesn’t know or remember anything else.

  2. Of course you were not the blame of the sister in the other ward to go away from the church. As you said it is best just to pray for those people and hopefully they will return but if not we are not the judge and jury. We all have different ways of looking at things.

  3. Becky, I understand that it is nothing personal against anyone at church as was the case with the girl I knew in Maryland. The situation just had me thinking about how fragile testimonies can be and the best course of action for me is to step back. Dealing with the previous situation was very hard and it took a toll on me. Like I said I will handle with care.

  4. I’m so sorry that you felt (past tense) or were made to feel like the sister in our ward left because of anything you said, did, or recommended. I too, at that time felt that the Rough Stone Rolling book would have been a good one for her to read. I had just read it, and it answered a lot of questions for me and strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith. However, I can see how it could easily go the other way. Your recommendation was good intentioned and that is what counts!

    In truth, no one makes decisions that can be blamed on an another person. Having had two of my children fall away from the church I’ve felt that it WAS something personal!!! The fact is, though, they have their agency, and they have chosen to exercise it. I can beat myself up, and heaven knows I HAVE! but where they rubber meets the road is THEY are in charge of their lives, just like everyone else. This is the great gift our father gave us, even though at times it doesn’t feel like a gift.

    Hopefully your rant will help you let go of these feelings!!!

    Love you Jana Banana!

  5. I agree with your statement about testimonies. They are fragile…I think that is why we need to take care of our own everyday.
    It’s hard sometimes not to blame ourselves for others choices, but in the end they are their choices.
    I hope for the best for the girl in your current ward, as well as for the sister in our ward.

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