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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : A Lost Opportunity » A Lost Opportunity

A Lost Opportunity

Rusty - June 25, 2005

Yesterday I was talking with a close friend of mine who hasn’t been to church since last fall. He’s never felt a part of a ward, never felt accepted. The fact that he wasn’t able to serve a mission due to emotional/psychological issues adds fuel to that fire. According to him, members haven’t treated him very well.

Now, the reality is that at church we’ve all experienced some level of disrespect by some unthoughtful person/s whether that be a bishop or a RS president or Gospel Doctrine teacher or a primary leader or whatever. That’s the reality of worshiping with people who are working out their salvation. However, this friend has encountered it one too many times and needs some time to heal.

(I should add that his testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel is strong. No doubts. He understands the principles and strives to live an upright life. It’s his attitude that precludes him from coming to church, not any major sin.)

He recently moved into a new ward, but still hasn’t gone. Soon after his records were transferred he got a call from his home teaching companion (ya gotta love the efficiency of the Church). He quickly got down to business: when could they visit their assigned families. My friend wasn’t interested. He told him he couldn’t go. "Well can you do it on Wednesday then?", "Um, no.", "How about Thursday?", "I work and then I have plans.", "Can we go before you do your plans?", "Nah." He never went, he still hasn’t been to church, and he has yet to get another call, visit, or inquiry about who he is, how he’s doing, and if he has any needs.

This is unfortunate. This is the exact situation that we as members of Christ’s Church should be excelling at, not failing. I told him he should have told the guy point blank, "Don’t you realize that I’m the one you should be worrying about here? I’m the one who needs a visit, I’m the one for whom home teaching was invented. Why don’t you ask me what I do? Why don’t you ask me what my interests are? Or is that the stewardship of my own home teachers?"

Now, I understand that I’ve heard only one side of the story. I also know this friend very well and know that he has a tendency to see the negatives rather than search for the positives. It may be a form of justification. However, my friend is still inactive and still hasn’t been visited by anyone and that’s disappointing.

Listening to his situation makes me want to be more sensitive to those around me. It helps me understand my stewardship a little better. It also writes in my head a dozen posts on home teaching.

7 Comments »

  1. I have been in this situation off and on for the past few years. Link. I came to realize that I need to stop worrying about what a ward member is going to do for me. I came to understand that everyone has problems that even I might not even comprehend. If I need to rely on someone, it’s only God who I can turn to, not a member of the church. As I relyed more on God, I gained the strength to start going back to church. I did it for myself, and I could care less what other ward members did or thought.

    Also, I used the same reasons as your friend to not go to church. But what no knew but myself, is that I used those reasons to cover my real reasons why I didn’t go. The real reason I stopped going was I suffered from panic/anxiety and some serious sins. But as I relyed more on the Lord, my strength increased. Facing my fears is and will be the best thing I could do.

    I pray for your friend. Tell him not all members are jerks.

    Comment by Dallas Robbins — June 25, 2005 @ 7:25 pm

  2. I think you make a good point about how the home teaching companion should have shown a little more interet in your friend.

    It’s sad that this ht companion missed out on building the foundation for a friendship and some much needed fellowshipping.

    My dad always said that the best way to make friends with someone is to ask them about themselves. Sadly, it seems like a skill most people lack.

    Comment by kristen j — June 26, 2005 @ 6:49 pm

  3. Dallas & Kristen, thank you for your thoughts and wisdom. I to commend the brother for trying to do his job, it’s just unfortunate he wasn’t a little more sensitive.

    Comment by Rusty — June 27, 2005 @ 6:47 am

  4. Since my wife and I received our new calling working with the single adults I have come to a new realization.

    My wife missed church for three weeks in a row (vacation, not feeling well). With no children and just me going to church, it was a lonely place. Sure my friends were there and that helped, but it was lonely sitting by myself in Sacrament meeting.

    Your friend I’m sure has similar feelings. I wouldn’t like going to a new ward all alone. I’d probably sit in the back of each class and move on out as soon as things are over. And if I did attend and did that, no one would probably notice or talk to me and that would just compound the problem. And it would reinforce my feelings.

    Dallas is right, when you finally decide to do it for the right reasons no matter what, then the other things don’t matter.

    Comment by Don — June 27, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

  5. Don, I appreciate where you are coming from, as I have been in several new wards in the last few years (I had to stop and count — 11 in the last 10 years) and it can be lonely to not know anyone.

    I have to agree with the point Dallas makes of not waiting on what a member will do for us. If everyone waits, nothing happens. I see a balance between the active member being concerned and sensitive toward the less-active member, and the less-active member being proactive himself. It takes both before much good can happen.

    I hope for a little of both for your friend.

    Comment by Amy — June 27, 2005 @ 5:45 pm

  6. This case reminds me of members I knew on the mission. They were good people; generally followed all the commandments and truly believed the church was true and that they would never ever join any other religion, but they never came to church, many for these same reasons.
    Like everyone has said (especially Dallas who said it perfectly!) it takes more then fellowship from members to come back to church and continue developing an active, “living” testimony and I can only imagine it would be VERY hard, but doable and WELL worth it.

    Comment by Bret — June 27, 2005 @ 7:26 pm

  7. Out of curiosity, but I bet your friend didn’t try to get to know the other guy. Sometimes we’re so eager for people to do for us that we forget we’re all the same boat. We also have to do for others. In my experience (both from observer and from being on the wrong side of things at times) one has to lose oneself in service. If you view church as a place to be served, you’ll never be happy because even the best most socially gregarious member won’t provide enough. As for the rest of us who tend to have to work to be social outside of our comfort zones, we’ll never live up.

    Comment by Clark — June 28, 2005 @ 1:02 am

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