Sometimes the letters I receive all follow a general theme. Today’s theme comes from the hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” It is a line from the hymn – “gird up your loins, fresh courage take.” Yes, friends and neighbors, people’s letters today are focusing on good, old-fashioned guts. Let’s see what a few courageous individuals have to say:
I am Relief Society chorister, and I have stopped a song after the first verse, explaining that the music is to get the spirit and we will now start over to get the spirit we all need to get the most of lesson.
Wow, Chorister, I wish I had your courage! In fact, I wish I had the courage of a whole bunch of you who wrote in today. The world needs more people like you.
I, too, have a problem with people – and it does usually seem to be sisters (maybe the brethren don’t have anything to say) – talking in church meetings. Sometimes it’s whispering, which is not usually too bad, but sometimes it’s talking out loud.
This is especially true of older sisters who are hard of hearing. They think they are whispering, but they aren’t and it is most annoying. Sometimes I tell them to shush (at least I did when my mother was alive and it was mom and her friends who were talking), but it is not easy to know what to do.
Recently our stake had a lovely Relief Society birthday celebration. We had a keynote speaker (Emma Lou Thayne) and two breakout sessions.
In the middle of the first class, an elderly woman a couple of seats down from me whipped out her cell phone and proceeded to make a telephone call so she could let someone know she was in the middle of a class and couldn’t leave, so she would be late for whatever it was she was meeting this person for.
This was much worse than a bit of whispering, as she wasn’t even speaking softly, but at full conversational level. Talk about disruptive! It was, of course, also very rude.
I doubt this woman would have made such a call during sacrament meeting or Relief Society, but this class was no less sacred and should have been treated as such. Since the program for the event gave the class times, she knew beforehand what time it would be over, so could have made her call earlier.
To top it off, after the presenter was done and questions were being taken, this same woman and the woman next to her began engaging in a conversation at what they may have thought was a whisper level, but was not. I leaned over to them and said, as quietly as possible, “Excuse me, but it would be easier to hear if others would be quiet.”
I think that is all we can do – ask the offenders politely to please shut up. If someone tries to begin a conversation with you, answer with a whispered word or two or just smile and nod and turn your attention back to the speaker or teacher.
I look forward to what other people see as solutions to this perpetual problem – and we think the children are irreverent!
I thought I’d heard everything, Sharee, but that telephone call was a new one on me. My mother would have turned to the woman and said, “Were you raised in a barn?” Sometimes I think barnyard animals are smarter than we humans are.
When I was teaching a rowdy class in Primary a few years back, our class sat in the back row. There were always adults standing in back, talking to each other – the Primary president, counselors and/or the music person coordinating sharing time, or sometimes it was those same ladies chatting with parents who came in. They would pause to “shush” my class and then go back to their conversations, which frustrated me on so many levels. They were not only disruptive, but they were also undermining my efforts to rein in my boisterous class.
These adults were and are still lovely people whom I did not want to offend, and I want people to like me! But I finally could take it no more and greeted a shush with this comment: “Hey, I don’t require my class to be any quieter than the adults in the room.”
It felt like a bomb went off. As the Primary president went back to conducting and the music person went back to her job, each lady mentioned that she had been corrected. I felt horrible and embarrassed, but the message was received and Primary became more reverent and I was able to make progress with my class.
Ladies, please don’t make me do something so awkward to get some peace!
Leah in a Secret Location in Washington State
Leah, I can’t tell you how impressed I was that you came up with that response! If I’d been in your place, I would have thought of that comment the following Thursday. You certainly gave that Primary presidency something to chew on. Good for you!
I would first make it a matter of prayer and then, I would consider speaking to the bishop, privately, about the situation and ask for any help he might be able to provide. With prayer and consideration, he might be prompted to ask some of the leaders or offending sisters to speak in sacrament meeting on the subject of reverence in all of our meetings and the significance of not being reverent and respectful.
I once turned to a sister who was “bad-mouthing” another sister in the chapel before the meeting began. I spoke softly and politely, as I defended the sister being spoken ill of. That sister played our organ during sacrament meeting and made some mistakes here and there, which prompted the complaints from the sister sitting behind me. The sister being bad-mouthed had undergone a mastectomy and treatments for cancer, had to live with her daughters, taking turns at each home, had no organ on which to practice, and was doing her best. So I spoke on her behalf, just to say that she was doing the best she could to fulfill her calling.
At this the gossiping sister left the chapel and didn’t return that day. When she did return, she made sure to sit far from me and didn’t speak to me at all for about two years. Even though I was told by leaders that I did the right thing, to refuse to listen to ugly gossip, I think I might take a different approach if in the same situation again.
Perhaps the sisters talking in Relief Society do have good reason, but it is still interfering with the spirit.
In a similar situation, a Chinese woman was investigating and would ask loud questions during Relief Society. Those of us around her were doing our best to help her understand, but many English words were not easy to explain to her. I finally told her, one day, that I would be happy to answer her questions after the meeting and she quit coming.
I have felt bad about that for a long time.
Regretful, your letter reminded me of 1 Nephi 16:2 – “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.”
Sometimes we can take criticism gracefully; other times we can’t. But I’m sure the organist whom you defended would have blessed your name had she been aware of the conversation, and the teacher who was trying to present a lesson over the questions of the Chinese investigator would have done the same.
Several years ago I was visiting a ward were I knew I would not be there again, so I possibly had more courage than usual. During the start of Relief Society, two women sitting in front of me “whispered” the whole time. When the lesson started and they showed no sign of stopping I leaned forward and asked them to go out into the hall to finish their conversation. With a huff and a puff they picked up and left (slamming the door on the way out). There was a shocked silence for a moment but we went on to have one of the best, most spiritual lessons that I still remember to this day. I learned that it was rude to point out rude behavior in others, but we also need to take charge of getting out the most of our meetings that we can.
Oh, Visitor, how I wish I’d been in that meeting! You probably said something that half the women in the room wanted to say but didn’t have the courage to do so, and everyone benefitted from your courage.
Oh, boy. You hit a button. We have several groups of sisters in our Relief Society who talk nonstop through every lesson. Many are rather elderly (80’s and even 90’s), and they talk very loudly and have no clue how much they are disturbing. But there are also clusters of younger sisters who also visit.
The last time I got up to teach, something just popped out that I didn’t plan as part of my lesson. The topic was “Our Testimony of Christ.” At the beginning of the lesson, said, “I would like to give you a friendly reminder. I request that you please not visit with each other during this lesson, in order that those who came here to feel the Spirit might do so.” One sister thanked me profusely after. I’m not sure the others appreciated the reminder, but the room was quiet other than the discussion that was part of the lesson.
I’m sure the sisters don’t mean to disturb others; they simply don’t think about it and don’t realize how loud they are. Even if we ourselves are not fascinated with the lesson, we owe it to other worshipers to be quiet and allow them to have a spiritual experience, if possible. This goes for overly noisy babies, chatty women, cell phones going off during the sacrament, and ANY behavior that would be disruptive to others in the room.
You know that disruption of worship is a significant problem when an announcement has to be given before each temple session at the Jordan River Temple, reminding patrons that cell phones are never to be used in the temple. What are people thinking?
Salt Lake City
“What are people thinking,” indeed, Carol! A couple of weeks ago, my husband came across a guy in the Washington D.C. Temple who was using his PDA to do some financial spreadsheets. I guess we should be grateful that he wasn’t using an iPod to let everyone listen to his music.
I haven’t noticed the whispering. I have though noticed the loud non-whisperings that the high priests do. I credit it to their failing hearing.
I think if the lesson is well prepared and interesting, most everyone is attentive. I whisper sometimes when the teacher is obviously trying to wing it. Sorry. I should be more charitable. I’m human, I guess.
My pet peeve is that people don’t speak up when answering a question. I must be losing my hearing too. I guess everyone has a peeve. We just have to be a little more forgiving.
I like what you said, Rebecca. We all have pet peeves, but everyone’s pet peeves are different. We need to focus on not taking offense. The people around us who push our hot buttons aren’t consciously trying to do so.
I don’t mind it in Relief Society – but then I’m probably one of the guilty ones there. Not very much, but occasionally, and one of the main reasons I love Relief Society is to socialize! As long as it’s not too bad, I can deal with it.
But what drives me nuts is when sisters do it in the temple, sometimes in the middle of the session (or, even worse, in the Celestial Room). I’m sorry, but I go to the temple to hear the Spirit, not to learn about your latest grandbaby and your son-in-law’s new job and your peonies. I need answers to my prayers, and the temple is sometimes the only place I can hear them. Please be quiet so I can!
Make a date to call your buddy later, watch the film, read the scriptures before and after the session, pray silently, anything but the chatter.
Just As Frustrated in South Jordan
That’s a hard one, Just. I haven’t run into people gabbing during the sessions in our temple, but it certainly happens in the Celestial Room. If people had any idea how good the acoustics are in those rooms, I think they’d be appalled at the stuff people are hearing a hundred feet away from their “whispered” conversations.
I think a good rule of thumb is that if a conversation can be had outside the temple, it shouldn’t be occurring in the Celestial Room. And even conversations that can’t be held outside the temple should be held somewhere other than the Celestial Room if at all possible. There are too many people who go to the temple to get answers to serious problems for us to be distracting them from their fervent prayers. The Celestial Room is not a place to discuss new jobs and peonies.
Okay, people, that’s it for this time. We’ll start a new topic next Monday.
Until next week – Kathy
“I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments.”
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