I’m about to take a two-week vacation from Circle because there’s too much going on here to spend a day every week writing a column. But before I go, here are some letters that arrived after the cutoff date for different topics. We’re not taking responses on these; I just thought you might want to know what readers had to say on various subjects:

MAKING UNREASONABLE DEMANDS:

My family and I have lived in our current ward for 12 years. For the first six years my sons and I were the first to sign up for each and every service project. But we had to stop because the ward got to the point that they expected my sons and me to perform all the service projects. My sons got to the point that they refused to be taken advantage of.

An example: One winter after a nighttime snow fall a youth leader ordered my sons to leave our driveway unshoveled to come to his driveway. After another such snowfall, my sons did our driveway and then were gone to do driveways of “old folks” whom they home teach. The high priest group leader got mad at me that my sons were already gone shoveling and he was unable to tell them whose driveways he wanted them to do. “What am I going to do without your sons?” he demanded. I told him I had a spare shovel I could lend to his sons, and he hung up on me.

My sons still serve, but they choose their projects and leave the “sign-up” projects for everyone else. An example: last summer one of my sons took the entire summer to clean and make-over a widow’s front and back yards.

I will happily help anyone who calls and needs help. But what saddens me is that when I make calls looking for help I am constantly turned down, even by the people I have helped in the past. A straw that helped break this camel’s back was when I was trying to find someone to help give a blessing to my wife, and every man I asked requested I call someone who lived closer to me. I live in Utah and our ward is a matter of about six small residential blocks! And they wanted me to find someone who lived “closer.” These men obviously need to live in places where the ward boundaries are much broader.

So, the question I cope with is this: How do I balance the directive of serving as a good priesthood holder should serve with the fact that no one will return the kindnesses I show them? Is it unreasonable of them to ask me to help when they turn me down when I am in need? How long do I allow myself to be so completely taken advantage of before I say no? I already will not attend my high priest meetings because I can’t stand the hypocrisy in the room.

How do I cope with this?

“BTF” in Utah

Wow, BTF, I had no idea anyone would be so blatant about calling people in a family and insisting they perform specific acts of service – even at the sacrifice of performing service for others. For what it’s worth, it appears to me that you’re doing everything right, and that the people around you are the ones who need to straighten up. However, I suspect you already know this and are just looking for advice for others.

Okay, people. Here I am, breaking my own rule already. If you have something to say to BTF, send an email to [email protected]“>[email protected]. Put “for BTF” in the subject line, and I’ll forward your advice to him.

I am in a small but busy ward, the kind often referred to as a “newlywed/nearly dead” ward. We have lots of young couples, and lots of older widows. And those of us right in the middle get to carry the bulk of the work.

I have a full-time, work-from-home, job arrangement. I need to be working. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And yet, I am still asked constantly to handle projects for ward members (visiting teaching, giving rides, taking meals, etc.), right in the middle of the day.

I explain frequently that I have to work during the day, but can help in the evenings. I cannot get over how many stay-at-home mothers have a problem with this! I wouldn’t ask you to leave your kids to come run an errand to my place of work, so why would you expect me to leave mine to help you?

Visiting teaching supervisors and Relief Society presidents need to be more aware of who has daytime jobs when assigning companionships and visiting teachees. It has taken years of mistakes on my part to finally learn to speak up, and point out when something just isn’t going to work. Let’s face it, many assignments and callings are not divinely inspired. Often they are just matters of convenience. And if it isn’t convenient, let someone know, so that everyone can be served, and can serve, better.

Annoyed in Appalachia

Annoyed, I suspect every church member who works at home can empathize with you. I know I can! I hope Relief Society presidents will read your letter and take it to heart.

WHISPERING IN CHURCH:

I thought this poem, which was quoted by John Bytheway, might be appropriate here:

There was envy in the glances that a lovely woman cast

At the hairdo of her neighbor while the sacrament was passed.

And a teenage girl I noticed, though a timid lass and shy

Watched a youthful priest intently through the corner of her eye


As he sat behind the table where the water trays were spread.

She was not remembering Jesus, nor the things the Priest had said.

There was nothing reverential in the things the Cub Scout drew

On the pages of the hymnbook ’til the sacrament was through.

 

Not a thought of Jesus’s passion entered careless Elders’ minds

As they whispered to each other and the girls they sat behind.

And the high priest’s brow was furrowed as he stole a secret glance

At his checkbook’s dismal story of his failures in finance.


 

There were hundreds in the chapel, but the worshippers were few,

And I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord himself would do.

I couldn’t help but wonder what the Lord himself would say

Had He walked into a meeting where his Saints behaved that way.

Would His loving eyes be saddened?  Would His countenance be grim?

While he there observed and listened to a meeting meant for him?

Quoted by John Bytheway

WARD MOVING SERVICE:

Years ago when I was involved with a move, I asked the woman where her family was (especially her physically fit dad). She said that he was off playing tennis. We stopped moving at that point and reminded her of that most important principle, Family First.’ She was a hoarder that lived on the 2nd floor, and we had to move her to another apartment that was also on the 2nd floor. We suggested to her that she needed to get rid of stuff that she doesn’t need and we would come back and help her with her family.

On other moves we were expected to pick up the messes and provide packing materials as well as pack. I have turned from those inactive members, and I have left their homes. It needs to be very clear to the elders quorums that the priesthood is not there to be abused. That we will gladly help move but we are not there to pick up dirty dishes, dog and cat poop, and things that they themselves can and should do. It’s about respect.

Perhaps a bit hard nose but, one month we were involved with seven families moving. Six of them were inactive, and one family had converted to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I finally spoke up to the elders quorum president that this shouldn’t be. They have to be a bit more selective and if they don’t know when to say no they need to kneel down and pray.

Not a Doormat

I agree with you, Not. It’s about respect. Just because people demand help doesn’t necessarily mean they should get it.

DATING NONMEMBERS:

At the first of the month in Relief Society when we learned of the new church president we would be studying, we shared stories of those who had met President George A Smith. My good friend Carol (who is in her 80’s) shared that he was a distant relative of hers.

When he came as a general authority to California, “Uncle George” would nearly always stay at their home. As a young teenager she had learned to love and respect him.

Carol’s older sister was in college and had met a very nice young man who was not a member of the Church. She had not accepted his proposal until she had spoken with “Uncle George.”  The young man was in attendance at the home, so after speaking with the sister he spoke with the young man, apparently for a long time.

Then he told the sister that the prospective suitor was a fine and moral young man, and if she married him, and remained faithful and active, he would eventually join the Church. He recommended that she marry him, she did, it took ten years but he did join the Church and became a very strong member.

Darla

Thanks for the story, Darla. If you’re looking for an informed source on whether we should date nonmembers, it’s hard to find a better one than that!

I did date and marry a nonmember, but maybe I should retract that. My boyfriend and I were dating and becoming serious about marriage. He was a Catholic from an Italian family (in other words they took their religion seriously), and I was LDS.

When he asked me questions about raising children and maybe reading some of my literature to keep up with how to teach children my way of thinking, I knew in my heart (and I know now it was the Holy Ghost) that he would join this church. You really need to feel the promptings of the Spirit and pray about this because marriage is, after all for a long time. Scary as it is to date someone who is not your religion is really going to test your “religious mettle.”

Stephanie, (Married 42 years, 41 in the L.A. Temple! and happy)

Thanks for sharing your success story, Stephanie. Good for you!

WEARING FORMAL WEAR TO CHURCH:

My wife asked me about YW wearing formal wear to church, and I knew I had seen something about it. I found your discussions about it in Meridian Magazine but I also found an article in the Oct. 2011 New Era. I thought you might be interested. I don’t know if you want to bring that one up again in your space, though.

Thanks for providing interesting discussions.

Stacey Haws

Okay, people, that’s what I have this week. I’ll see you with a new topic on May 14. Have a great life until then.

Until then – Kathy

 “”I sometimes suspect that half our difficulties are imaginary

and that if we kept quiet about them they would disappear.”

Robert Lynd


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