This is all too common, sadly. I have had four children of seven leave the church because of the way they were treated by the other "active" members. I myself reached a point where it would have been very easy to leave for the same reasons, but thank heaven (literally) I had enough experiences with Father In Heaven, the Savior, and the witness of the Holy Ghost to have to ask myself, "Is it true? Am I important to My Father and Heaven and the Lord? Do they want me to come back to them? Did the Savior die for me personally, and does He know and love me? Would it hurt Him if I left his church that He set up and gave me the teachings so I could come back to Him? All of the answers were YES, so I decided that even if I were the only person in the world who did not turn against Him and the Church, I could not do it and hurt my Savior, whom I love and who loves me and died for me. I have felt His love pour over me, and know for sure that the Church called by His name is His church. I learned from them who I really am, and all that is enough to keep me in it, no matter what other people think of me. I just hope and pray constantly that my children will have their hearts touched and come back.
My brother, a new covert, was bullied and ridiculed by several of the young men. Feeling humiliated he never returned to Church nor did anyone fellowship him. As a result my mother, brother, and sister are inactive. I know that we are here to be tested, and he should not allow pride or hurt feelings to interfere with his salvation. I was angry, but resolved my feelings and am active.
(continued) In other words, I'm sure it's better to be accepting of yourself so that you don't need the approval of others. I remember being young and impressionable, but as I look back on it, I think my wanting acceptance of others was directly related to not knowing who I was myself (from lack of experience) and therefore was not so much as wanting acceptance but rather a need for others to define me in those areas where I could not yet define myself.
...she goes somewhere else because the other girls are more welcoming? Has she not heard of the smile that the alligator has right before he eats you, or the generous and jovial attitude of the shepherd when gathering the flock for fleecing? I think it should be said that while acceptance may be a basic need, others can and do project acceptance onto others only get them close enough to grab hold of them...then out comes the shears.
Thank you Joni,
I remember when I heard that particular talk of Pres. Hinckley's in General Conference that year. It really hit the nail on the head for my experience in joining the Church. I converted at the unfortunate age of 19, leaving my friends and familial religion behind. As if the pressure to conform immediately into the very foreign Mormon culture were not enough, I was constantly nagged and badgered about going on a mission. Nobody asked how I was doing or how I felt. After 6 months of little support, I left broken-hearted, feeling very disconnected spiritually, abandoned by God.
Fortunately, I eventually made my way back several years later with the help of a true LDS person who did take the time to listen and guide me through the pitfalls. My patriachal blessing acknowledged the pain I felt and mentioned about well-meaning people leading me astray. Eventually I moved out of state into a very welcoming ward with warm people that cared. Finally away from the original "iron rodders", I was able to blossom in the gospel. I met a young woman convert who didn't care that I wasn't a returned missionary. We married, moved across the country into an even more wonderful ward in SoCal where we are raising our two beautiful children actively in the Church and enjoying the blessings after the trial of my faith.
I am grateful that the Church has started to address the problems of convert retention, but I am keenly aware that in many parts of the Church attitudes are slow to change. I see too much judging and not enough compassion. A listening ear and empathy are more powerful than dropping off a plate of cookies, folks!
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