I've gone back and forth on whether I'm going to write this post. I've thought that I could just do an update post on our lives... Or I've been thinking about first impressions a lot lately and that could be a fun post! But, I've never been good at keeping my mouth shut so until I get this out it'll just pester me.
Let me preface this by saying that I DO KNOW and I firmly believe that we CHOOSE how to react to situations. We can choose to be offended or we can choose to not. I also know that everyone is different and lumping everyone together isn't fair. In every group there are jerks and there are wonderful people. With that said I'm going to share a personal experience:
When we closed on our house the people living there asked if they could stay an extra week or two because they didn't have a place to live yet. Casey told them that they were welcome to stay but since we had taken over the mortgage they had to pay rent. They told us no and we could tell they were upset but they were out the next day (when the house became ours).
We moved in, and I was a little surprised that no one in the neighborhood offered to help, but hey, there were a LOT of little kids around so I knew everyone must just be busy and we had family help so we were good. Our first week of church I knew I'd have to go out of my way and introduce myself so that I could make friends. I was ready for that. I introduced myself to 3 people that day and all of them said "Hi, nice to meet you." and turned to talk to someone else. No one introduced themselves to me. Again, I was kind of shocked but figured, well, there really are a lot of kids, everyone's pretty darn busy I'll try again next week. We did have One family invite us to dinner (the stake pres. and his wife, and they were really nice).
We went pretty diligently for a while and didn't have people talk to us. It became harder and harder to go. We moved in in May. In October we had new neighbors move in. We were chatting with them about the ward and I said, "it just doesn't seem like people like us. But I'm not sure why." They then realized who we were and told us about how they'd heard about us and how we "kicked out the people who lived their before us". They'd heard about us?! what?! My feelings really were kind of hurt. I have never been accused of being straight up mean. Yes, I've been a brat before but in this case I wasn't sure we deserved the rumors.
We got our first "welcome to the neighborhood" gift 6 months after we moved in. To be fair, I haven't taken any one new a welcome to the neighborhood gift. But it did hurt that no one would talk to us until they found out I was pregnant. By then Casey held a pretty good grudge (he's a grudge holder. you have been warmed.) and we were basically inactive. Now every time we go we get the "oh! you're here! we haven't seen you! it's so great to see you!" oy. who are you again?
Alright, that was a stupid rant. My point is that at this point I feel like a number. I feel like a name on the inactive list. I go to church because church makes me feel good. I don't go to church to be judged. And in all honesty I'm fine. Yes it hurt, but I'm not a very good grudge holder. I'm over it. Being mad and remembering why is too much work. I'm too lazy for that. However I've seen a lot of hurt from those around me lately.
My heart hurts for the man who is judged every time he goes to church because he doesn't go enough and do enough. The same man who holds more guilt in his heart than anybody could ever know.
My heart hurts for the expectant mother who can't take depression medication. Who's therapist recommended green tea but was told by her bishop that that would get her temple recommend taken away.
My heart hurts for the Mother who's ward tells her over and over that she's not doing enough even though her perfectionist notions are causing an anxiety level that's about to make her crack.
My heart hurts for the man who stops going to church because if that is how Mormons act he wants no part in it.
My heart hurts each time one of my friends says "all Mormons are judgemental" but "you don't count because you're not like them." THEN NOT ALL MORMONS ARE JUDGEMENTAL. The sad truth is, in Utah, the majority seem to be.
I had a visiting teacher who was absolutely SHOCKED that some of our best friends are anti-religion and strongly dislike the Mormon church. She didn't understand how we could associate with people who's beliefs were so different. here's the answer: Because they are great people. It's that simple. They have been there for us through a lot and I know without a doubt that they would drop everything to help us out.
I'm begging for all of my Mormon friends to STOP TRYING TO CONVERT FIRST AND LOVE LATER.
And I'm not talking about the "we love everybody because we're all God's children" kind of love. I'm talking about really loving them. Love Sister Smith for her ability to quote any movie. Love Brother Johnson for his intelligence about the Vietnam War. You have to KNOW them, and I mean REALLY KNOW THEM before you can love them. And once you love them, feel free to convert them. Next time you see someone at church who doesn't go very often, say hi and make an effort to talk. Please don't do it to convert them. Do it because you want to get to know them. Be willing to make new friends.
I know this message has been everywhere lately but I need to say it again. Please stop judging. You are hurting this beautiful gospel.
Alright. I'm down off of my soap box. I apologize for climbing up so high. I also apologize because this was way longer than it was supposed to be. Now I just need to convince myself to publish this.... maybe it'll just sit here forever.......