Thursday, October 13, 2011

Been Thinkin'

I have of late been doing a lot of reading and a lot of pondering, trying to figure out my feelings toward the members of the church. I think my personal feelings are tainted by some of the experiences that I've had, so that while I recognize that the majority of the members are good, honest, decent people, striving to live what they believe to be the truth, it can still be hard for me sometimes to remember that.

F'r instance, there's a family in our ward that is the epitome of mormon virtue. They have plenty of kids, all but two, I believe, adopted. They're virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy, and seek after every good thing. But the father of the household hates our family. I'm sure that he's found a way to justify it in his mind so that he's not doing anything wrong. Their oldest daughter got married some years ago. We missed the reception because it was the same time that one of my really good friends and two of her children were killed in a car accident, and I was grieving over that.  So a few days later, my husband says, "Let's go to Target and get a wedding present for [name redacted]."  When we pulled their registry, there were a fair few items that had not been purchased.  We had the same idea at the same time--let's get it all! Man, we had a blast shopping! Our feeling was that we don't have kids, so let's help spoil other people's kids. But when my husband took the gifts over to their parents' house, the father was pretty nasty to him. We don't know if it's because of his personal feelings towards our family, or if perhaps he thought that we were trying to show off how good we were, or what. But his attitude took what had been done out of genuine love and joy and turned it into a gut-churning negative memory.

Or here's another example: I was a convert. That's the first thing you need to know. And I fairly quickly learned that to fit in you need to be a Molly. Wear the stupid dresses. Do crafts. Bake bread (fortunately, I enjoy baking bread, so that wasn't a stretch). So I did. I wore the stupid dresses. I did crafts. I taught Relief Society from time to time. I even, in an attempt to follow the word of wisdom, frequently made vegetarian meals (because we're supposed to eat meat sparingly, right?). And whenever I would do a vegetarian cooking class in Relief Society, well, of course no one showed up. So blah blah blah. After the in-vitro failed, and I knew I wasn't going to have any children, I went through hell. All the stupid comments made by people at church. Being the only one sitting in Relief Society without kids, either by giving birth or adoption. Having to explain to nosy people why we were not going to adopt, even though it wasn't really any of their business.

Four or five months after the failed IVF, I was sitting in a really boring sacrament meeting (I know, I know, redundant) and trying (and failing) to pay attention to the speaker. But I sort of had this little mini revelation, and realized how much of my life I had put off because I hoped I'd get pregnant that month. And I made a little list of things that I wanted to do. And I decided that I wasn't going to put off living any longer.  Over the next few weeks, I also realized I hated doing crafts. I hated wearing those stupid dresses and stupid lace-trimmed socks with stupid white keds. I got rid of all the crafty shit and hung up prints by Picasso and Dali instead. I even changed my name, because of the negative associations of the contempt I heard when certain people said my old name.  And you know what happened? All but 2 of my church friends dumped me. That told me right then how much I mattered to them, no matter their protestations every time I showed up to church about how much they loved me and how wonderful it was to see me. It did take me a while, of course, to realize what was happening. I remember calling one friend several times a week for several months, leaving messages that never got returned, before the light bulb finally switched on.

Of the two church friends who didn't dump me, one is now dead (that car accident I mentioned earlier). And the other, well, she's the coolest ever. I can tell her anything, and she'll listen to me and she won't judge me. She loves me, and I know it. And I love her, and she knows it. She is amazing. And her awesomeness has absolutely nothing to do with the church. It's all because that's just who she is.

I've mentioned before in this blog of my loathing of assigned friends, and how hard it hit me when I realized that my visiting teacher, who's been my visiting teacher for several years, doesn't love me, no matter what she says. But I think she fooled herself into believing that she did.

We were badly betrayed, in addition, by one home teacher in particular. I don't want to go into details right now, although I probably will eventually, but it caused us enormous pain. But we were made to feel like we were the ones who were in the wrong.

So while I can objectively say yeah, there are a lot of good people who happen to be mormons, I also recognize that I've seen perhaps far more than my fair share of those who are not so good, who also happen to be mormons. As my husband said for years (up until the time I decided I wasn't going to be mormon anymore), why would you want to hang out with people who despise you?

I don't. I'm going to stick with my friends who love me, and who let me love them, and I don't give a flying rat's ass what religion they do or don't follow. And that may mean that I can count the numbers of my truly true friends on the fingers of one hand, but hey--they're truly true friends. And the number doesn't matter so much as the quality. Dude--they're quality.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that assigned friend thing never worked for anyone. I'm with you. I'll take a few real friends over a lot of fake friends, thankyouverymuch.