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It’s Your Life. Get Off Your Duff!

Years ago, while living in the Boca Raton Ward, a new family moved in and gave the ceremonial “we’re-new-in-the-ward talk.”

[As a disclaimer, don't go off feeling bad if you didn't do this in your ward. It doesn't mean you're an outcast, it means some bishoprics apparently don't follow the proper "unwritten order of things" like refusing to let women give opening prayers. Nevermind. We didn't speak in our current ward in Eagle Mountain until we'd lived here over five years. Afterward the bishop said, "Wow. You're a great speaker." Which was kind of funny because, well, I am a public speaker!]

Anyway, the father in the new family got up and introduced himself thusly:

We just moved from [city, state]. We weren’t active there because our home teachers never came to see us the whole time we lived there.

Aside from clapping my hand over my mouth to avoid bursting into gales of inappropriate laughter and putting my head between my knees to regain composure, my first reaction was, “Then I guess we can all stop coming to church! I’m outta here!”

My second thought was something akin to the old Herbal Essence Shampoo commercials (you know, before the new ones that simulate sexual relations on screen). “So, if you stopped attending because you had no home teachers, then you stopped doing your home teaching, so the people you were supposed to teach stopped coming, then they stopped teaching and the people they were supposed to teach stopped coming and so on, and so on, and so on.”

It is surprising how often we expect others to do the work of finding a place for ourselves. And more curious, perhaps, that most often what we complain about in others, is the same character flaw that we exhibit ourselves.

While serving as the Relief Society president in a very transient ward, a sister complained to me that our ward was unfriendly. I asked her how many couples she had invited over. As you can predict, the answer was, “none.”

I suggested she might want to come to homemaking, get to know some women, and invite a few for lunch or a couple for dinner. She refused, because, “We are new and don’t know anyone.” I pointed out that over 50% of the ward had moved in within the past six months. Everyone was “new.” She expected others who were “new” to be bold enough to approach her even though she was unwilling to be that bold herself!

Even in wards that aren’t so transient, everyone has a reason for not doing what they don’t do. Maybe they don’t approach new people because they are shy and insecure. (I only overcame that because my calling demanded it and gave me an “excuse” to approach people.) Maybe they are in the black hole of Primary and have no idea who is new and who isn’t and don’t want to embarrass someone who’s been in the ward for months by asking if they are new. Maybe they have lived there for a long time but aren’t active enough to be aware of the new folks. Maybe they are dealing with a situation that makes socializing nearly unbearable. (During the months of extreme morning sickness during one pregnancy, I would literally burst into tears if anyone said a word to me. I preferred to avoid people altogether.) Maybe they are new themselves.

I have found something universal in every ward I’ve ever lived in. There are dedicated people and there are flakey people; there are friendly people and there are grumpy people; there are positive people and their are whiners; there are gospel scholars and new converts; there are people who take action and people who demand that action be taken on their behalf. The positive traits are not shared by all the same people, and neither are the negatives. Some flaky people are friendly and some complainers actual do a lot of good. And the wards are made up 100% of imperfect people.

I’ve also found that every single ward had something amazing to offer my spiritual and social life, no matter who much alike or different the general population aligned with me.

The main difference is that in some wards the goodness just fell into my lap. In others I had to work my tail off to get it.

I tend to believe that the former is just a graceful, tender mercy. The latter is to be expected. And it’s my job to volunteer, to be cheerful, to make friends, to find joy, and to grow in the gospel no matter where I am.

{ 48 comments… add one }

  • delmar May 20, 2008, 3:15 pm

    I’m trying to not take this personally after the recent posts about crossing bridges and the yucky ward we live in. I’m not offended that people think that the newbies should do all they can, but there comes a point when I’m tired of bending over backwards to get to a church on Sunday but feel unwelcome doing so. I’m honestly not offended at all….by the post, but its hard to not feel icky about this sort of situation. Although its true in some points I think this is very one sided. I’m trying to think of how to write a post from a ward newbies perspective.

  • naomlette May 20, 2008, 4:14 pm

    I really liked this post. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people that would rather people come to me to get me involved. But when we moved into our current (and hopefully permanent) ward, I made a promise that I would at least smile and wave at people that I may have met at the ward if I saw them outside of church. As a result of that, I have made friends with a lady who is helping me learn to sew, and the bishops’ wife got me involved with a community choir that she’s in, and and there’s an older couple that always gives us hugs when we come to church, and I would feel comfortable going to enrichment if I decided to go. It’s so much better than some of our previous wards!

    I do agree with delmar too, though. When you do everything you can to be friendly, and no one in the ward seems to care if you are even at church, it sucks to even keep going. When hubby and I were first married, our first ward was like this. Only one lady in RS went out of her way to talk to me a little bit every Sunday, even though I would smile and say hi when I felt brave enough (I’m pretty shy). If it wasn’t for the fact that we were called to nursery, we probably would have stopped coming to church. We felt so unwanted. It really sucked! Thankfully we were only members for a year before we moved into a much more friendly ward.

  • Lewis_Family May 20, 2008, 5:02 pm

    lol, my excuse? I am too tired to make friends, My hubby’s excuse? We don’t need friends :smile: So it works.

  • kilpatrickclan May 20, 2008, 5:18 pm

    Amen! I totally agree. You know it takes a lot of work to have friends. We LOVE to go over to other people’s homes, but I am not always thrilled about people coming over here (too messy, not in the mood to clean, etc.). So, if I want to stop the old pity party, I try to attend Homemaking (even if it is totally boring). The more you go, the more people know you. We recently had a homemaking meeting (enrichment…I just remembered) and the main topic was Menopause and Hormones. Whoopee! I had a little giggle fest for about 15 minutes, settled down and then got more interested. There is also something about Enrichment that people let their guards down. You know, they are not in their dresses and such, so it is more relaxed. There have been many a “crafty” activity where the topics go to some pretty hilarious places when you are sitting around sanding wood and painting stupid fireplace decorations. So, again. I totally agree with you.

  • facethemusic May 20, 2008, 5:21 pm

    I LOVE this Alison!! And I couldn’t agree more.
    Delmar and naomlette– I haven’t read the Crossing Bridges thread yet, so I’ll have to pop over there and see what you’re talking about.
    I’ve told this story here before– so this may be old news to some of you who’ve been at Mormon Momma for awhile.
    We live in one of THE most friendly and welcoming wards I’ve ever been in. Seriously– you could walk in looking like a homeless person, reaking of alcohol and cigarette smoke with a sign on your chest saying “I have an STD” and you’ll get invited to dinner or FHE within a week. And I’m not just saying that to make a point either. I’m very serious.
    BUT it wasn’t always that way.
    Our first Sunday in the ward was a discouraging one. We actually got there an hour early. It just so happened that our first Sunday there was also Daylight Savings, but we’d JUST gotten in town the day before. So we’d totally forgotten about the time change.
    For an HOUR we sat there. People were slowly tricking in and NO one came and said hello.
    About 5 minutes before church started, the chapel was about half full and the man who we later learned was the ward clerk, was walking around handing out bulletins. He handed one to the people behind us, skipped us, and handed one to the people in front of us. Really strange. (And you have to realize that we later came to realize that he was one of the SWEETEST and tenderhearted people in the ward). On his way to the pulpit, the Bishop stopped and introduced himself and welcomed us– but that was it.
    There we were, a new couple with two little children, but other than the welcome from the Bishop, we were completely ignored.
    That was a lesson for me. Since that day, I’ve ALWAYS approached every new face in the chapel and introduced myself and welcomed them.
    By the time a couple years had passed we’ d grown to love the ward, and they us. BUT we STILL didn’t really have any “friends” in the ward. We’d never spent any time with them outside of church meetings and saying hi in the halls between classes. No one had ever invited us to dinner, to FHE, etc. But I’d hear OTHER people talking about having gotten together earlier in the week for a playdate, dinner, a double date, etc. I remember feeling really “left out”.
    I was feeling pretty sorry for myself– this was the first time I’d ever felt like I didn’t really have any friends besides my husband.
    Since we’d never been invited I just took it upon myself to invite THEM. We started having people over once a month for an activity night. We’d invite three or four couples over, have dessert, play games, etc. We also had people over for dinner once a month.
    We had a blast and I really felt like we were making friends. The funny thing is, we STILL weren’t getting invited to anyone ELSE’S homes or activities outside of church.
    So then, I started a playgroup. We’d meet every Wednesday from 10am-12pm and just chat while the kids played, we rotated homes, met at parks, etc, etc. We also did a potluck lunch sometimes too. And actually– that’s how Jenn and I became such good friends.
    Her first Sunday at church I introduced myself. Then the next day, I ran into her at the grocery store and invited her to the playgroup.
    We’ve been here 13 years now, and I can honestly say that we’ve had MANY good friends at church. And the whole atmosphere of the ward has changed. I’m not really sure where the change happened. There were boundary changes, but a large part of the ward is the same people. And even the people who left with the boundary changes are people I LOVE, who I KNOW are very friendly people. So it’s strange for me to think back on how ‘unfriendly’ the ward seemed when we first moved in. Because now, I know these people very well, and they’re NOT unfriendly.
    I must say though, we STILL haven’t been invited to other people’s homes very much at all. Not in comparison to how often we’ve had people over here. I’m sitting here trying to count how many people’s homes we’ve been invited to… and I’m only coming up with 4.
    I think alot of people just don’t have people over anymore.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 20, 2008, 5:39 pm

    delmar, it wasn’t pointed at you. I hadn’t even been back to read the other thread until I read your post above–which is often the case. I can’t keep up on all the threads here and don’t even try anymore. :smile:

    Reminds me of whenever my husband is in a bishopric. He tells me NOTHING. He doesn’t even tell me things he CAN tell me. He is so careful. I know less about the ward when he’s IN the bishopric than when he’s not. But often I’d say something that someone would misconstrue because they ASSUMED I knew some deep dark secret–when in reality it was just me blathering. Again, this is just something that’s been in my head for years.

    Although its true in some points I think this is very one sided.

    Trying to keep this on a philosophical level–instead of a personal one–you’re welcome to present “the other side.” But I speak as someone who HAS been in lots of wards and HAS been the “new” member. I’ve dealt with it poorly and I’ve dealt with it well and this post comes from both personal observation AND personal experience. I’ve jumped in with both feet and a smile and I’ve sulked and pouted and complained. Again, I’m not pointing this at you, but at my own experience.

    Since you are dealing with this now, I still think it would be helpful to look at what I said and see if something fits. Again, it’s not personal–I only know you online and have no clue how you or your ward really is–but I find that situations are very, very similar wherever you go, in spite of the uniqueness of individuals. Maybe there IS something you can do to turn it around. The alternative seems dismal to me.

    Thing is, I have never PERSONALLY been acquainted with a ward that was really filled with a bunch of self-centered, mean-spirited, spiritual fakers. Every ward had a few, but all the wards I’ve ever attended had a least a darn good sprinkling of really fine people–and I could find them if I set out to do so. In some wards it’s harder than others, but I’ve never found it to be impossible.

    For example, I assume that YOU are a great person from what I’ve read. Still, you are “tired of bending over backwards to get to a church on Sunday.” Couldn’t it be that those whom YOU feel are unwelcoming have just become tired of it, too? And now that YOU are tired of trying, who is there to welcome the NEXT new person–when all of you have quit trying and withdrawn?

    On another note, I’ve never been in a ward that didn’t have at least a few people just aching for a friend–and in most of those wards those people aren’t out in the foyer pumping your arm and giving you hugs.

    You know where this really comes from? It comes from a person who spent so many WASTED years feeling sorry for myself, feeling left out, wanting to be invited, wanted to be liked, hoping to feel accepted, hoping to join in…I wasted so much of my life with this, never realizing how EASY it is to solve.

    Again, this isn’t directed at YOU and maybe this isn’t something you want to hear right now…and that’s fine. Maybe it feels to personal. Maybe it doesn’t even apply to your situation at all. But maybe someone else can use it.

    It was one year into my college education when I just got utterly fed up with being “shy” and insecure and always feeling left out and not quite good enough and always worrying about everything I did and said and wore. I was so sick of the drama and the sadness and the loneliness and the missed opportunities that I had allowed due–frankly–to being so very, very worried about myself every second.

    And the day I just couldn’t stand it anymore I realized that it wasn’t (with ME) some extreme humility or submissiveness or lack of “self-esteem,” it was actually just ARROGANCE. It was ME at the center of the universe AND of everyone else’s universe. They were all mean to ME–not because they were having a bad day or because they were insecure or because they had something else on their minds, but because they were targeting ME. They weren’t friendly because they hadn’t considered MY feelings. They didn’t learn my name and invite me over and coax me to join in because they didn’t consider MY worth.

    Now I will probably back-peddle a bit and say that those feelings really did start in kindergarten when a boy (the infamous Bob of “Bullying at Church“) started in on me and continued for years. But I carried that for years and ALLOWED it to determine how I responded to everyone. **I** turned EVERYONE into Bob–when most of them are much more like me. And the truth is, Bob is probably more like me than I care to admit.

    And on that ONE SINGLE DAY that I got sick of my life, my whole life changed. On that ONE day, I decided I wouldn’t put up with the crap that brought into my life. And when I decided to let go of the victimhood and the self-pity and taking everything so personally and seriously and allowing other people to be AT LEAST as dumb (and insensitive and forgetful and self-absorbed, etc.) as I am…wow, it was a whole new world.

    The really dumb thing is that it was so easy to change it all. I had no idea.

  • delmar May 20, 2008, 9:23 pm

    i’m so, well i guess that term would be….bitter, because the amazing ward that face was talking about is pretty much the ward we were just in for the last year. i can’t put into words right now how i felt about my old ward members without pretty much breaking down. i’ve been a LONG time investigator (12+ years) and married a lifelong member/RM….so most people assume I’ve been a member forever based on how well knowledged i am in the gospel. That shouldn’t change anything…..meaning whether you’ve been a lifelong member, a brand new convert, an inactive member come back, or anyone else. The fellowshiping should be the same. I am the biggest supporter of the ward welcome wagon type of thing. People in the ward should know newbies to the ward are going to be shy or unsure of the area or unsure of how things work AND assume that they know nobody in the area. I’ve got to contemplate this a little bit more and then respond again.

  • Tinkerbell May 20, 2008, 9:42 pm

    The best way I have found to get to know people is take a dinner to every woman who has a baby. It is a quick way to make friends. Something happens when you take someone a meal. They like you. :smile:

    When I first moved to Texas, the ward was too big. I was 7 months pregnant, and I was almost invisible. You know what we do when pregnant people move into the ward? Give them a baby shower. It is a great way to help them make friends. Hardly anyone noticed me. One of my visiting teachers did bring me a meal, and another woman (bless her heart – she had so many young children of her own) called because she is one of those Saints who looks out for people even if she doesn’t have a calling do so. She brought a meal. I liked her. :smile: Other than that, I missed church for a whole month after he was born, and noone even noticed or cared. I didn’t take it too personally since the ward was just too big to meet the needs of everyone. It split a month or so after that. But, I’m also not a person to take things personally. People get lost when wards get too big.

  • delmar May 20, 2008, 10:22 pm

    Is it horrible to admit that I fear our move on June 1st? Not the actual move and house part…but the new ward part. I keep either thinking its going to be great and amazing OR another horrible experience. We are 1-1 right now on good vs bad….since I converted. Oh and oddly, tink, I’ll be moving into a new ward at 7.5 months preggo. Hopefully I’ll be able to fellowship and be fellowshipped before the baby makes her appearance. Yikes…more pressure!

  • Michelle D May 20, 2008, 10:34 pm

    Alison, I loved your post. I thought it was fabulous. I can relate. I’ve been in good wards, mediocre wards, and great wards. I’ve been too shy to say something to those I don’t know. And I am learning how to look outside myself.

    This really became clear to me a number of years ago when a young couple moved into our ward. They had a little girl the same age as my youngest and the mom was pregnant. We happened to head for the drinking fountain at the same time between SS and RS. I asked the typical question of a woman who is obviously very pregnant: when are you due? It led to a conversation about them being new in the ward, our girls being the same age, my recommending a fantastic midwife (knowing she wasn’t likely to have a dr in the area yet, since they’d been here less than a week). The bp or RS pres had recommended that she talk with one of the women in the ward with a lot of kids who would be able to recommend a dr for her, etc. As we talked, the light bulb went on – **I** was that woman! Later, she served in YW with me. At one point in a lesson, she pointed out the friendship that had been extended to her that first Sun by the drinking fountain and what a difference that one small encounter made as she transitioned to a new place. The thing that totally surprised her was hearing me describe myself as shy and having difficulty making that first step in reaching out to others. She used this example to “prove” that I was more outgoing than I realized.

    I have thought about this a lot since then. I don’t have to become someone’s instantaneous best friend. I don’t have to invite anyone over to my messy house for dinner right away. (Although Ray likes to do this. He just gives us time to straighten up first!) All it takes to be “friendly” is to smile, say hi, and pay attention to others. Sometimes it takes being willing to take a few extra minutes on your way to SS.

    And IMO, this is why Delmar and others struggle so much in their current situations. NOBODY is smiling, reaching out, saying hi. It doesn’t have to be something big and life-changing. It just needs to be an acknowledgment that others know you are there – whether you are new, returning to activity, or whatever the situation is. I’ve been in our ward for almost 11 years, and sometimes I’m having a bad day. When someone spends a few extra minutes beyond the “how-are-you?-expect-the-fine-response-and-move-on” scenario, it makes a huge difference!!

    My heart goes out to you, Delmar. I hope you are able to come up with something that works for you right now. It is horrible to be so miserable for so long. I would suggest trying to come up with just one small thing YOU can do to try to change your situation. That might be you going out of your comfort zone to say hi to people who have been ignoring you at church – even if they keep ignoring you. Or it just might be praying for peace of mind and strength to handle this until you move. Or it might be venting on a regular basis to MM friends. :wink:

    Tink, my sister lives in San Antonio. I was shocked the first time I visited her and attended church. It was a HUGE ward; bigger than any UT ward I’d ever seen. It has since split, but at the time it covered 3 military bases and was constantly undergoing changes with people moving in and out. They had 3 HUGE nursery classes. WOW! It is definitely easy to get lost in the crowd.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 20, 2008, 11:23 pm

    delmar, I appreciate your honesty and openness. :smile:

    so most people assume I’ve been a member forever based on how well knowledged i am in the gospel. That shouldn’t change anything…..meaning whether you’ve been a lifelong member, a brand new convert, an inactive member come back, or anyone else. The fellowshiping should be the same.

    I wonder if that’s a realistic expectation. My life is insane right now. Sincerely, I cannot give some major level of fellowship to anyone except my own kids! So I look to my stewardships and try to fulfill those. I also look at this site as a means of fellowship–in fact you’ll see that in most google descriptions on the site. But understand, the time spent here means I don’t take meals to many people. And I have chosen a few other people to do my best to cultivate friendships with. They aren’t charity cases, but they are those who have particular needs. There is one, for example, who has a number of issues and is in great need of friendship, acceptance, and a shoulder to cry on, so I try to “be there” for her.

    Thing is, there are lots of others who have the same needs and I don’t extend myself to all of them. I don’t see how I can.

    FWIW, our Rebecca has done the same for me. She is a great listener and I have the biggest mouth on the planet. My biggest regret is that when we get together I run on and on at the mouth and then feel like an idiot for making her sit through my rantings. But she still calls!

    It might make sense to point out that we actually knew each other for–how long Rebecca?–a few years at least before we really got to know each other. And we became friends when–get this–she read on this site that I had that retarded paralyzed arm thing and she brought us a baked gift. We didn’t know each other well, but she went out of her way to do something nice for us. That is even more significant, I think, because Rebecca is not at all an outgoing, loud person. She’s rather reserved and quiet. She just kind of goes about doing things behind the scenes. In fact, I bet she could tell you a bunch of stories of doing all of the work (ahem…Music Man) and having no one even know she was there or even knowing her name.

    And, fwiw, our relationship is very lopsided. She has two amazing abilities. One is that she LISTENS and SEES needs that others have. The other is that she ACTS on that knowledge. So she’s always doing these extraordinarily kind things for me, while I have lots of really grand intentions paving my way to hell. But she still calls me.

    delmar, I do understand the pain. I moved here in 2001, leaving behind a decade’s worth of friends in Florida. I moved to this ward in 2002. I joined groups and went to every activity and served from day one. In 2003 my mother died.

    I remembered when my grandma died. I grew up in an amazing ward (Orem 27th, now Sunset Heights 2nd) and when Grandma Empey (who lived in a different ward in Orem) died, our house was filled to the rooftop with dinners, pies, treats, plants, cards, flowers. The whole neighborhood was in our house for days with love and condolences.

    When my mom died–right in the middle of the stake roadshow competition that I was directing, so everyone knew–only one person acknowledged it. And from the whole ward only one person came to the funeral (which was about ten miles away in Orem). And it was the Relief Society president. While it as an obligatory visit, it was so nice to see her face in the congregation when I spoke.

    It did hurt my feelings! And I did make the comparison to my “home ward.” But, in the end, I just had to chalk it up to: difference of tradition; difference in upbringing; people who didn’t know what to do; busy people; whatever. Because what would be the point of assigning a motive I couldn’t possibly know?

    Interestingly, a few years later a good friend (in this ward) lost her father. When he died I left multiple messages trying to find out where the funeral was (he lived a few hours away), so I could go. She didn’t get the messages until after the funeral. She called and, at first was surprised that I would have gone so far for the service, but THEN she realized how much it would have meant to have me there. And THEN she apologized for not coming to my mother’s funeral. She hadn’t lost a parent. She just didn’t know how it felt or what would help!

    So, what if I’d spent years being mad at my “good friend” for not coming, when she just had no idea how helpful it is to the survivors–even if you don’t know the deceased.

    I think so often when others make us crazy (or sad or angry or bothered) we’d have a different attitude if we knew THEIR stories. Everyone has a story.

    People in the ward should know newbies to the ward are going to be shy or unsure of the area or unsure of how things work AND assume that they know nobody in the area.

    Yes, I agree. But newbies should also know that “oldies” have all the same insecurities, inabilities, unthoughtful tendencies, hang ups, fears that newbies do. They are just human and most likely are doing the best they have been able to muster. That’s why I tend to say that if *I* want a friend, it’s my job to find one–not someone else’s. Who should be most motivated–given human nature–to find my friends?

    Someday I’ll write about my you-will-not-not-like-me challenge. It’s kind of funny—at least in hindsight.

  • mlinford May 21, 2008, 12:50 am

    Haven’t read all of the comments, but there was an article in the Ensign a few months back about how to make a transition to a new ward easier. It IS hard to be the newbie, even if there are others who are, but I do think that we can make it easier by doing our part to reach out and contribute. It shortens the time it takes to adjust and lets us get to know people faster.

    I also remember that in my last ward (the one that just got torn apart, while my heart did too), it really took us a year to really feel like it was ‘our’ ward. So patience helps as well– that and realizing that each ward has its flavor and culture, and while they may differ, I do believe that every ward has its blessings there when people will give it a chance.

    On the flip side, we have been told by our leaders to reach out to those who are new or shy or alone or whatever, too. There’s never just one side to this, and I don’t think that was Alison’s intent here to suggest. But I love the concept of acting and not being acted upon, so I do believe there is much we can do when we are in a new ward, or ward boundaries change (my current situation), or whatever.

  • delmar May 21, 2008, 12:57 am

    A while back I decided that I would be the one to say hi and how are you. I kinda always have been so it didn’t mean that much of a change….I just thought maybe I’d do it more. It didn’t work/hasn’t worked. My hubby feels even more so than me that this ward is not where we belong, and luckily this is our last weekend…..if we can even make it this Sunday during a whole interesting situation we’ve got going on. I’m sure our new ward couldn’t be any worse that what we’ve got now, so that is technically a positive things right? In our current ward its not just the lack of fellowshipping….the list goes on and on and on. Darn it coming from the “perfect” ward…with yes I know imperfect people…but still the perfect ward!

  • facethemusic May 21, 2008, 5:49 am

    Delmar, consider this move a blessing, then. Maybe Heavenly Father heard the prayers of your heart and THAT’s why you’re moving– even though you may have thought it was because of a job, or school, etc. If you really have given your best effort then just have peace in knowing that. :flowers:
    And let us know what happens your first Sunday in the new ward!!

  • Tinkerbell May 21, 2008, 8:11 am

    Different wards do seem to have different personalities. I think it is interesting that after Sister Beck’s talk last fall, some wards (like mine) loved it and talked about it and celebrated it. I’ve heard of other wards (UT and CO) where the entire RS was up in arms. My ward just split this fall, and I think it is interesting how many women in the other ward now have the exact same haircut as the Bishop’s wife. Just little things like that.

    Delmar, your ward right now doesn’t sound like a good fit. I sincerely hope your next ward is better. But, if they don’t pull you in before the baby is born, don’t give up. Give it time. Just reach out and be a friend. I honestly haven’t been in a bad ward yet. I know your ratio has been 1:1 so far, but I really think the ratio of good wards is much higher. Here’s to hoping you find a good one next time!

  • davidson May 21, 2008, 10:30 am

    OH, TINK!

    :rolling: :rolling: :rolling:

    I’m sorry! It’s just the timing! Exact same haircut as the bishop’s wife!

    :rolling: :rolling: :rolling: :rolling: :rolling:

    A few minutes ago, I had my daughter cut my hair into your boring, basic, brown bob. The reason I do that is because I have the double dominant gene for pattern baldness, which shows up as very thin hair for women and shiny bald for men. I don’t go to hairdressers because, no matter where I go, they say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I just can’t do anything with your hair.” It used to make me so sad that I’d come home and cry after a haircut. It’s easier and cheaper to have my daughter cut it, she does a nicer job, and she is very kind about my hair (or lack of it.) Folks, if you want to move to a ward with no pressure, come to my ward! Nobody is hurrying to get the exact same haircut as the bishop’s wife! I am thrilled that they think I’m acceptable in spite of my looks. And I am thrilled that there are bishop’s wives in other wards who are beautiful, and the ward sisters want to look like them. That is indeed a very nice compliment.

    I hug and greet as many people as I can every Sunday–I would love to hug them all, but there are 600 of them–and even as I’m hugging, there are people walking out of the room looking like they feel sad and alone and left out. I want to run after them and say, “Wait! I have a hug for you, too! You are just as important and special as any!” And there isn’t time. I try to catch them later. I really do wish I could hug them all; they are that important to me. I can’t think of anybody in my ward I don’t like. Even the ones I felt an initial distrust or dislike for, I am learning to love. My first Sunday as a bishop’s wife, they asked me to speak, and I told them how excited I was to be the ward momma, even though I’m not polished enough to be the Mother of the Ward, and that I had a hug for anybody anytime they needed one. I also told them that if they are not the hugging sort, I would send them mental hugs. You wouldn’t believe how often they come just to get the hug, and it tells me that there are aching people out there.

    I hope this won’t be misunderstood. I have fervently prayed that the Lord would give me real charity, that He would put His real love for others into my own heart, that I would be able to view them the way He does. I have been astonished to feel that gift coming, little by little. I didn’t generate it; I know I couldn’t muster that on my own, weak and selfish as I am. (And you have seen me be weak and selfish; you know my natural woman very well.) I can testify that if you walk into a room anywhere, any time, praying for the love of Christ to enter your heart, and actively looking for whom you can love, the way opens up to forget yourself and go to work–even if you are the newbie. You will radiate peace and confidence in Christ, and people will be attracted to you.

  • Lewis_Family May 21, 2008, 11:29 am

    We live in a ward that is … very established. People born and raised in it, married and now have added more family too it. It’s in the coutry-ish part of Provo. We were a new young couple, with a new baby ( she was almost 4 months old when we bought the house. Our last ward had been more of a student family ward in Orem, and so I tried not to judge too hard when things didn’t go like normal… like how we were told someone was going to bring us dinners after having Jasmin, my vt came the first night (she lived below us so knew right away that we had had our baby, who was three weeks ealry) and said that there would be two more nights of dinner…and no one showed up either nights, or how announcements didn’t make it very far, so a lot of people were left out of the know and didn’t attend many things. So I was stoked to move into a “real” family ward, our Bishop came and met us before we had moved in ( we bought a fixer upper manufactured home, they kind you build elsewhere and plant here, so we ripped out the seems textured the walls and painted them all before moving in ) he came by welcomed us and said if we wanted help with any project the ward does power hours every month where they help the members and they would love to help us out. He was so friendly and so welcoming that it further heightened our excitement for this ward. Our next door neighboors came over and offered help, they were new too, an elderly couple, and they were tickled to have us move in ( I think more over the baby than my hubby and I :wink: )

    So yes… it wasn’t until I got called to Scouts months later that I finally got to know some people and even then it seemed to take awhile to be accepted into that circle… from day one we got a clique-y vibe from our ward. There were the “been there forevers”, and the “there now but in the nicer part of the ward” ( which we are not in ) So yes, no one really approached us or me…well one girl kind of did, she was teaching the family relations class that we were in for a while five minutes before switching over to a temple prep class, she always said hi whenever I saw her, and are now friends ( we went to card club and then started a playgroup together, her babe is 6 months younger than mine ) but yes, other than that one person, no one seemed to extend any sort of anything.

    I put forth some effort, I even baked a cake for the R.S. birthday party the month after we moved in ( stupid me, I made a sheet cake and just frosted it with home made frosting… yeah apparently our ward has pastry chefs and are into uping the jones, all the other cakes were extravagant cakes like that which you would find in an expensive bakery, plated beautifully and everything… mine was still in its 9 x 13 pan… you get the picture. ) I attended the card club, where there too I was an extreme novice, I stamped one image on a little card and embossed the edges, yeah the girls in the club had brads and ribbons and stickers and different demensions of paper, and had matching envelopes… again upping the factor and as a new comer I stuck out like a sore thumb. We went to the ward camp out, we went to a couple of power hours that we could make, we tried to put forth as much effort as new parents and new members could muster.

    There were times that I admit my feelings were hurt, like when the bishops wife is bearing her testimony a couple of months after we moved in and she said how much she loves our ward and getting to know people in it, how she makes it her personal responsibility to make new peole feel welcome and always takes them a loaf of homemade bread… we never got one (I tired not to be hurt there, I don’t know what might have been going on in her life, that would have made it so we were forgotten) Or how when a few months later, my now friend but then newly moved in family had been invited to a relief society “get to know you” that they apparently like to do for the new sisters, and how I had never been invited to one (granted that one turned out to be a mary kay party, so I didn’t miss out on too much.) Oh, our first Sunday the ward power hour guy approached us said they wanted to help us with projects on our house… they finally did a power hour with us last month (again partly our fault, they wanted to help roof last fall, but wanted to get up on our roof and help and I wasn’t down with that, so though they had offered to help, it took our neighboor making a comment about it not happening and there being a huge pile of shingles on the side of our house that we were slowly adding to our garbage each week since we didn’t have the means to make the loads to the dump to finally get them to offer to help us again, and only 4 people showed up to that one where as other power hours we have gone to like the whole ward shows up. It worked out though because of of the four was renting a back hoe for his personal project and brought it over to scope up the shingles so if there had been too many more then people would have gotten in the way.) Or how we never got fast offereing with the newsletter ( like I said, the poor part of the ward.) I could go on, but will stop since I have gone on so much already :smile:

    So yes, 2 years later, I now have friends in the ward and it took a very trying calling and lots of effort on my part. I kept going to card club and enrichment, and started to get to know some of the moms of the boys in my den and then another when another family moved and the mom was called to be my partner, we became vast friends and then I was part of a playgroup that had people in it I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten to know with out. Like I said, the cliques still exsist but what I had to see past was that some of the people in those cliques are only there by association, that don’t think like the majority and are so willing to befriend other people.

    So yes, the moral of the story is that I had to put effort into the equation, I had to see past the boundry lines that existed and get rid of my preconcieved “judegments” and give people a chance… did I mention I had to put effort in? :smile:

  • Tinkerbell May 21, 2008, 11:54 am

    Now that I think of it, there were times in my old ward (the one before this) when I felt left out and wanted to move. There is nothing worse than hearing someone over the pulpit say what a great “ward family” it is when you don’t feel like part of the family. I think that “established” wards are harder because people who are comfortable don’t tend to reach out as much.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 21, 2008, 1:11 pm

    Lewis, I love your post.

    I have had similar situations–particularly back in the days of Homemaking. Holy cow, I’m not a baker or a seamstress and I really HATE crafts. And it used to be all we ever did. All. We. Ever. Did.

    But rather than (a) stop going or (b) feeling inferior and left out, I let myself become the craft joke. I always made everyone else feel really talented due to my ineptitude and they named me President of the Craft Retard Club. (I’m serious.) I reiterated that I went for the COMPANY not for the crafts–and I got what I wanted: friends and socialization. I also ended up with boxes of half-completed schmutzy-looking crafty things. But whatever.

    FWIW, we really did have talented people in that ward craft-wise. One of my best friend there was Carol Rice, who now owns some fancy-schmancy scrapbooking multi-level (who knew?). (She used to post here in the olden days.) She forced me once to make a grapevine wreath–by hand, from vines we cut. Sheesh. She learned not to try that again. But we were still friends.

    Posted By: TinkerbellI think that “established” wards are harder because people who are comfortable don’t tend to reach out as much.

    I tend to think there is another side to this. Frankly, it’s easy to reach out when you’re comfortable. But being comfortable with the status quo isn’t the same as being GENERALLY comfortable. People in established wards have less PRACTICE with change and with new people and can easily become unsure about how to reach out to those they don’t know–because it doesn’t happen very often.

    To me, it’s like singing or speaking. The first time you get on a stage to sing, you might feel like dying. If you do it every day, it becomes common and not nearly so difficult. I think approaching new people–which just IS outside of the comfort zone of most people–is the same.

    I guess my major point here is that we seem to have this great empathy for the issues of “new people” while ignoring the issues of “old people.” We should either acknowledge and accommodate BOTH–or just get over the issues and figure out what people SHOULD do. And by that, I mean what *I* should do, not what everyone ELSE should do.

  • jennycherie May 21, 2008, 2:08 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithWe should either acknowledge and accommodate BOTH–or just get over the issues and figure out what people SHOULD do. And by that, I mean what *I* should do, not what everyone ELSE should do.

    Very nicely said. I think that last sentence is the key in most any difficult situation. What *I* can do is far more important to me than what everyone else SHOULD do. This is a constant topic of conversation in our home. We can spend our lives obsessing over what others should do or should not have done but the only thing we truly have control over is what we do. I can do my best to influence others and to work to change bad situations or to improve organizations but in the end, I ultimately control my own actions only.

  • Rachel May 21, 2008, 2:38 pm

    This has really made me think about my own experiences. My experience so far is that it takes time, and a lot of patience, to become a part of the ward in any ward. Some are easier than others, but really, I have heard those “we have the best ward, we feel so welcome” talks/testimonies in every ward I’ve been in, and wanted to laugh every time. I have never felt “welcomed” in any ward, but I elbow, push, and sometimes claw my way in because I need the fellowship, and if I need it someone else does, too.

    I realize not everyone has the energy for this, but it’s what has worked for me. If the bishop doesn’t come find us first, I go and find the bishop of the ward we’ve just moved into, introduce myself, then ask who the clerk is so I can make an appointment and get our records transferred. Then when we meet with the bishop, I let dh speak for himself, but I let the bishop know in no uncertain terms that I need a calling, I’m ready to serve. This has worked the best for me, because I have yet to be put in a calling where I don’t associate with someone, and that’s my window for meeting people. Usually, I’m so busy with my calling and figuring out who people are that I don’t have to work too hard to make connections with people, but sometimes I still have to really make an effort at that, too.

    I really wished I could make a friend my age with young kids like me when we moved into our current ward, but there were almost none. So, I made friends with my visiting teachers, who both had teenagers, and the people I served with, who had grandkids. They weren’t “call each other every day and hang out” kind of friends, but if I went to Enrichment, I had someone to sit with and talk to. Now, it’s the opposite. A new development went up in a field that was previously alfalfa, and now we have a huge playgroup, and 7 women who have had or will have a baby born this year. I have a great support system of women who are going through the same things as me. But our friendships are still a bit shallow. We spend more time talking about stuff we’ve bought than anything really meaningful, and I miss my old visiting teachers who would have real gospel discussions with me.

    My point is, I have managed to be friendly with people in every ward I’ve been in, even when they were very, very closed. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone. But I guess all I’m saying is that I’ve been very blessed.

  • facethemusic May 21, 2008, 7:25 pm

    Awesome comments, Rachel.
    One of the things that I LOVE about being an “adult” is the incredible range of people who I consider to be friends.
    I’ll be turning 40 this year but last night, my husband and I were the invited dinner guests of a man in his early 60’s. (Not one of the 4 that I mentioned earlier– this guy isn’t a ward member.) We’ve had incredible conversations with him, and last night was no exception. This is the most adventurous and well-travelled man I have ever met. And even though he isn’t LDS, he’s one of those people you could easily call a “dry Mormon” and he’ll even admit that himself. He’s someone who you could count on if you ever needed anything, and I’m happy to say that he evidently feels the same way about us. Of all his many friends, he called us when he broke his wrist and needed a lot of personal help.
    I’m also very good friends with a 63 year old woman from China, and her Philipino husband. I met her at work. Before she transferred to a different school, we used to go work out together at the district’s wellness center after work everyday. We’ve gone out to eat, she’s invited us to her home, they’ve been over here, they came to our youngest’s baptism and they’ve come to a few ward activities. (they’re not LDS either) I love talking to her– alot of great wisdom. She has great thoughts on family, prioritizing, education, politics…. it’s interesting to talk to someone who’s older and wiser, and who also has a different view of things because of the country she came from.
    About a year and a half ago, her mother flew in from China and came to work with her. She doesn’t speak any English, but we had a fun conversation through my friend translating back and forth. About a month after she’d gone back home, the mother sent a package to my friend for ME. She’d bought several bibs for my daughter, and several different kinds of Chinese candies and treats for the kids, and a traditional moon cake for me. I only met this woman once and she was sending me stuff from China! When I told my friend how surprised I was that her mother would spend all the money to buy the things and send an international package for someone she’d only met once, my friend said (and you have to imagine the Chinese accent– I love hearing her talk, her accent is just adorable)
    “Oh Tracy, I come here to work and speak English not very well and don’t have friends. But you are so nice to me, and ask me to your house, and ask me about China, and you have interest in me. I tell my mother about you every time I call her. My friends are my mother’s friends, you understand? ” I though I was going to cry.
    I also recently became friends with a muslim woman from Bangladesh. I was training her to take my position at work, but found her fascinating to talk to. I love hearing about other cultures and countries and she was more than happy to tell me. I asked her about common recipes in her country so I could try one and she wrote one down for me– Chicken Briani– VERY good!! I brought her a little of the leftovers the next day so she could tell me how it turned out (since I didn’t have anything to compare it to) and she was SO tickled that I’d actually made it. Then last week, the Young Women had an auction and one of the things I bid on was a basket of authentic Indian spices and herbs from a specialty shop in town. The only one I know how to use though is the curry. So I called Sagufa and she’s going to come over next week. We talked alot during work– she’s such a good woman, pure heart. She’s been through alot in her life– things that we as Americans never really have to worry about.
    Linda is a coworker– she’s hispanic and VERY Catholic. I’ve mentioned her a few times. She has a great family, great kids, great family values. We talk all the time at work. And we can talk about everything– politics, religion– she loves to ask about the Church. Probably because she has the world’s biggest crush on Donny Osmond! She’s going to Salt Lake next month and will be visiting temple square!! My daughters know her daughters from school, so they’ve gotten together to play a few times and they all danced together to “White Dress” by Kenneth Cope at our ward talent show last month. Now my son and her son (different schools, same grade) have become friends. We’re going to their house next week for dinner and she’s going to show me how to make homemade tortillas!!
    And of course, there’s Jenn– (save the best for last, right?) She’s my only friend that’s actually younger than me. (Don’t get a big head girlfriend. :) I know that alot of the reason we’re so close is because of the church and our common beliefs, goals, testimonies, etc. There’s a deeper connection because of the gospel. Of course, there are over 13 million people out there with the same beliefs. About 100 of them show up to church every Sunday in our particular ward and Jennifer is the “one” that I really connected with. It took awhile though, because I think we were here for 5 ot 6 years before she moved in. When we were both staying home we practically lived at each other’s houses. I miss that now that we’re both working. We’ve been through alot together– they’ve camped out with us in our basement when tornado sirens were going off, (ironically, I was stuck at HER house without a basement a couple weeks ago when the sirens were going off– but it was safer for all of us to stay there and wait it out then try to drive to my house)– they lived with us for a few days after ice storms and no one had electricity or heat (but we had a fireplace and a gas stove)- we’ve seen each other through some personal heartaches and family tragedies– and Friday morning we’re going to get pedicures– my first time!!
    Anyway– I’ve been blathering on and on. I guess the whole point of my 32 page novel here is that as I’ve been reading and pondering over this thread, the thought occured to me how much broader my friendships are as an adult than they were as a child. Also, that in every instance I just described above with each of my friends, I was the one who took the first step. I invited someone to my house, to a ward activity, a playgroup, or I took a sincere interest in their culture, their homeland, their hobbies, etc.
    I can honestly say that I did NOT used to be that way. I sort of waited for people to come to me, or for something to just click. But, something about our first Sunday here, and the following few years of feeling “left out” really made me open up and be more outgoing.
    And there really IS something about “clicking”– it really does happen sometimes. Like I said, there are plenty of people at church I could probably be closer friends with, but there was something different between Jennifer and I and what there is between me and some of the other sisters at church.
    I know this might sound cheesy, but I really wonder sometimes if spirits recognize each other from friendships in the pre-existance.

  • nanacarol May 21, 2008, 8:35 pm

    Face, what a wonderful woman you must be. Isn’t great, even though we remain faceless to one another. we can click and bond here.
    I have had the wonderful opportunity of living in some pretty interesting places because of hubby being in the military. Because he is retired we still like to move around. We have lived in many Wards and had great experiences in the majority of the Wards. Only two would I not like to think about. One ward was in Boise, Idaho and one in Fairfield, Ca. One was so freezing cold you could tell no matter how you tried, you would never thaw those people. Gave up. However, it never stopped my 90 year old grandfather from getting up and bearing his testimony every month!!! The other Ward after 5 months of hardly a soul acknowledging us, I made an appointment wtih the Bishop, hauled the hubby and two kids in and said, “We are the Shaw Family. We have lived here five months and it is time everyone got to know us. Bishop Cannon was quite shocked and it wasn’t long before we had callings!!! However, I did realize it was a huge ward and very transient due to the Air Force Base.
    I have tried very hard to put myself out there and not be left out. I witnessed so many military people that when they got to a base they would do nothing but complain where they were. They never got off the base and explored and discovered all they could where they lived. The ones who did, were the happiest. We have a friend in Iceland who will be a life long friend. We made such good and dear friends in England. I have been back twice to see them and they have come here. I hope to go next year but will see how prices are.
    I know that when I put myself out there alot can happen. When I go to church I really try to see the new people and let them know they are welcome. I also try to find a way to get to inactive ones. Right now I crochet with a gal who has all but given up on the church. But we remain good friends. I fimly believe I am the master of my own destiny and I can be the one to create lasting memories.
    Delmar-I want you to know something that I learned some time ago. I finally realized that I went to Church for one reason and one reason only. I go to feel of the love of the Savior, partake of the Sacrament and renew my covenants with him. I don’t let hurt feelings hold me back. I go because I need Heavenly Father and his Son to guide my life. I go to learn of him. When I go with that attitude then my time spent at church is worth. We love you so much and want the best for you!!!

  • nanacarol May 21, 2008, 8:37 pm

    :cry:Please excuse my writing at times. I think I reread but I still leave out words!!! Sorry

  • facethemusic May 21, 2008, 8:56 pm

    we can click and bond here

    he he… “click” and bond.. was the pun intended??

  • Ray May 21, 2008, 9:11 pm

    as long as it’s not clique and bond

  • jennycherie May 21, 2008, 9:46 pm

    Posted By: facethemusicI miss that now that we’re both working.

    me too!!!!

    Posted By: facethemusicthe thought occured to me how much broader my friendships are as an adult than they were as a child.

    how profound! I do think that this happens as we mature and change our focus from being completely self-centered (as most of us are as children) to working towards being self-less. Boy, reading all this has also made me realize how long it has been since we invited anyone other than the missionaries over for dinner! We used to do this regularly and we’ve trickled off! Time to get back on the wagon!

  • nanacarol May 21, 2008, 9:50 pm

    no pun intended!! however, since it made us laugh we will leave it!!!!

  • spitfire May 21, 2008, 10:30 pm

    i have lived in several wards over the years all the while in various stages of activity to inactivity. I have been the one that many have reached out to & the one that has done the reaching. and i am grateful to have been on both ends of that process. but, many, many times, i have not had either experience, but have had the solo experience of attending church, attending my meetings & going home, all that with very little if any conversation. that being said, at the end of the day, the church is merely the vehicle by which the gospel can operate. i have been in wards where people feel welcomed & loved & at the exact same time, another person feels ignored & unwelcomed. And they were both in the room at the same time & recieved the same invite to the same party….go figure??? i’m not exactly sure what it takes. it’s like one person gives a talk & we have numerous different interpretations of the same thing. perhaps i may have a harsh view of this, but i don’t go to church to find my family or friends, i don’t go with expectation of having a fulfilling fellowshipping experience. i go to partake of the sacrament & the spirit, to remember the convenants i’ve entered into as a result of baptism; to renew those covenants. if i can accomplish this & feel of the spirit (which is not always possible), I consider it to be a good day. often, i feel as individuals we impose expectations on our spouses i.e. “well they should know what I want” or “doesn’t he know better?” which only get us in trouble. well, guess what, we are doing the exact same thing by showing up expecting others to greet us with open arms. i, like alison, am happy if i can just make it thru my sabbath day. as a relief society president, i am pulled from pillar to post with concerns which i try to address & resolve & frankly i can say it has been a long time since i had the opportunity to feel of the spirit because someone was constantly vying for my attention to make sure their son’s eagle scout award ceremony was announced (via a message being handed to me WHILE the sacarament was being past!) or a sister is upset because sis. brown didn’t speak to her when she passed her in the hall. and i’m so sorry that you didn’t get your order in for the cannery, but we have only been announcing it for 8 weeks…if you are in the hall, experiencing gossip essentials, well, i guess you just missed that announcement. what i’m trying to say, is we are all human & all have needs but is it the “church’s responsibility to meet all your needs? perhaps you are in a ward to meet the needs of someone else? i have not read every single word of all the posts & my statements are not meant to be offensive. but, come on ladies, we are big girls, this isn’t high school. expectations are tools of the advesary…they only get us in trouble & cause contention. I understand when you are far away from family or experiencing a crisis or trial in your life. ok, so it’s time to get your VT or HT in the mix & get some help. yes, it helps to have others reach out & extend that welcoming hand, but to have that expectation is only setting yourself up for being disappointed & inturn becoming bitter which again, is a tool of the advesary. i know it is our responsibility to find the lost sheep & tend to the flock. but finding those that are not there b/c of inactivity is different than feeling left out of the crowd. sometimes you just have to butt your way into a group & make yourself at home.

    just my humble opinoin…they are not pointed at any one individual but just a collection of my experiences over the years of activity & inactivity. and btw, my inactivity changed to activity not b/c someone fellowshipped me, but because I decided to return to church. i can not credit any one individual but myself for making that decision to return. no amount of fellowship would have changed my mind.

    so, please forgive me if i have offended anyone, i guess i have had one too many conversations with grown individuals who would never have these same expectations at work, in their neighborhood or in a school setting but suddenly the rules change when you cross the threshold of the chapel…..

    i had a conversation with a sister just tonight & she expressed concern over a particular sister who is choosing not to attend relief society. now, granted this woman has not attended rs in years. but at the end of the day, she attends sacrament meeting, partakes of the sacrament, holds a temple recommend & frequently attends the temple. she supports the brethren & frankly just doesn’t like to hang out with the girls. so what? if she is happy, why should i force her?

  • delmar May 21, 2008, 11:10 pm

    spitfire you make excellent points.

    fwiw: i can’t stand when people say the church is the same no matter where you go. it is and it isn’t…as we are all pointing out the differences. differences not only in people, but actually in the church. if we all refer back to alisons topic of women giving the opening prayer then we’ll understand some of the things i am referring to. if everything was done by the book then things may or may not be a heck of a lot eeasier to understand if and when you move wards etc.

    i guess sometimes its just hard to go from such a positive, wonderful ward who sticks to all the rules, takes you in and treats you like family…to a ward who doesn’t really care. doesn’t care who you are, what you do, where your from, your gospel background or lack of it. they don’t care if you’re there every sunday for 7 months you still don’t have a calling despite the bishop calling you in to have a family talk about past callings etc, you don’t have a home teacher to call, no visiting teacher to contact, and people are still asking in front of you who you are. It doesn’t matter whether we go to sacrament, gospel doctrine and rs/ph and don’t sit in the hallway gossiping like a good portion of the ward with younger children. people still don’t even know our names and thts what has started to get irritating. i guess its not even the lack of “fellowshiping”. Is it ok to say that its irritating that people who moved into the ward months after us have callings or at least doing vt/ht, but not only are we not assigned to do those things, but they don’t get done with us either?

  • Rebecca May 22, 2008, 12:55 am

    I do not have memories of having the sort of friendly wards that some of you have mentioned. My family moved into a new ward just as I started Young Women and I thought for sure that someone would like me…there were so many girls in the ward that were my age. I spent the first year that I lived there just trying anything I could to get anyone to acknowledge my presence. Eventually people started to acknowledge me but more often then not it was to laugh at me. I know there were other girls in the ward that were lonely and wished they could have a friend but when I would offer to be their friend they would qualify their statement to include that they wanted anyone to be their friend…except for me. Over my young adult years there were more wards and always the same scenario. I thought for sure that when I got married then everything would change but it didn’t. My husband and I were married for twelve years before we had home teachers that came on a regular basis. Most wards we never met our assigned home teachers…other wards we met them and they might come once or twice a year but that was about all. It bothered me a lot that no matter what I tried I couldn’t ‘break in’ to the ward. When my husband and I moved to a brand new area I thought that for sure that was going to be my golden opportunity because we were the first in the ward, we made it in before the cliques…only the cliques sprung up everywhere around me. It was a slow and painful process but over those many years I came to realize that going to church was not about how people in the ward treated me but about my relationship with my Saviour and even if no one else noticed I was there He still did.

    Before we moved from our last ward I realized how lucky I had been to be ‘invisible’ because I much prefer that to ward members who go out of their way to hurt you. It was hell (I am sorry if I am not allowed to use that word…I can’t remember how that thread ended). People said and did things that were unbelievable. I didn’t even realize the extent of what had been going on until I moved away. I would much rather be a cypher and be able to give people the benefit of the doubt than to have others treat me in a way so as to leave no doubt in my mind exactly what they thought of me…especially when they don’t have kind feelings. Interestingly enough though, as I think back over all the wards that I lived in there have always been at least a couple of people that were wonderful and having known them made my life richer. They weren’t always someone that seemed obvious but they were there if I was patient enough to find them. Even the last ward that I lived in gave me some of the most cherished friendships and blessings that I still enjoy. It’s much nicer to enjoy them outside of the stress of former ward though. :)

    When we moved I fasted and prayed that if nothing else I wanted to move into a ward where I didn’t have to struggle as much. I didn’t care where I moved just as long as I could live in a good ward. That prayer was answered. I didn’t get the house I wanted in the city I wanted but I did get a ward that has been easy to live in. I am not best friends with everyone (that is to say that I am on friendly terms with ward members but that is about all). I tend to keep to myself more now as a result of the experiences in my last neighborhood but I honestly enjoy everyone in my ward. I don’t talk to everyone or socialize with everyone but I get the very firm impression that if I needed help and my ward knew about it there wouldn’t be a person that wouldn’t be willing to do whatever they could. I had some serious health problems a couple of years ago that landed me in the hospital for a while and I couldn’t believe how many people from my ward, even people that I didn’t know very well, came to visit me. Even my sweet neighbor who had only given birth the day before came to visit me and to offer to take my family a meal while I was in the hospital.

    Thank you Alison for your very kind assessment of me. I guess that over the years I have also realized that no matter how hard I try to be social and outgoing it isn’t my thing so instead I do what I am best at. I am very good at being invisible, it’s a gift in some ways. I like to watch people, I have found that if you watch and listen well enough people will tell you what they need…even if they don’t come right out and say it. Not everyone, but most. I have been left out for so long that I don’t really feel comfortable being ‘in’ and that’s OK as long as I don’t start feeling sorry for myself. :) I discovered something interesting a week or two ago as well. I had been participating in an elementary school production and I had noticed that there were a few children that had been left out or that maybe didn’t have as much support as the other kids. On the closing night of their performances I anonymously sent flowers to those children. As I listened to them showing off their flowers each child said they knew just who sent them. For one it was a grandma, another a parent, another a best friend, and so on. I occurred to me that each of those children thought of the one person that they wanted the flowers to be from and to them that’s who sent them. I doubt it would have meant as much to them if they knew that I had sent them. I guess what I am saying is that there may be other people out there like me that seem snobbish or unfriendly and yet there may be things that they do that you will never know about.

  • Lewis_Family May 22, 2008, 10:16 am

    Posted By: Rebecca

    Before we moved from our last ward I realized how lucky I had been to be ‘invisible’ because I much prefer that to ward members who go out of their way to hurt you.

    How sad is this? And yet so true. There is a lady in our ward who totally goes out of her way to try to make you miserable and it is such a sad thing to witness. Ofcourse I was oblivious to it until she directed her attacks towards me one sunday. It was during my pregnancy, I was sick so often that I just stayed home all day everyday, and it got to the point where I couldn’t remember the last time had gone to church and taken the sacrament, so I forced myself to go, though honestly I was sick the whole time and exhausted and it was my hubby’s turn to teach his class so I had Jasmin with me ( issues with nursery, still having a hard time going .) It happened to be the fifth sunday and so r.s. and preisthood where combined in the cultural hall. The bishopric was presenting and they kept doing slide shows with thier presentations… I don’t want to call anyone names, but the secretary seemed to be ignorant to the fact that if he turned all the lights off instead of just the front ones then babies started crying or wanting to wonder. So with little ones were all in the back on the stage because this kept happening. There were babies crying and toddlers talking but even I could still hear the presentation back by the stage where I was at. I noticed that some people kept looking back at us, some just human nature to look towards sound but others you could tell where so disgusted with the noise, that even before the incident I am about to share took place I had the thought, “why does the sound of little children annoy people so much? I would think the Savior would be happier with their noisy presence in His chapel than that of the person who concentrates so much on surrounding sound that they lose the spirit.” My babe was one that when they turned the lights off ran to the door where the light was coming from. ( Did I mention that we were back by the stage which was a good 15- 20 back from the last row of chairs and the doors and right next to the stage? ) During one particular time, when a slide show musical presentation was occuring the lady I mentioned above took it upon herself to come up to me and inform me that ” it was hard to concentrate over the sound of my daughter’s shoes” Being the brat that I am, I responded with ” Well, she’s two.” And then I turned back to my friend who I had been talking to when she approached us. The lady then gets all dramatic and was like ” Wow, are you serious? That is sad.” and then walked away. To set the record straight, she doesn’t know how lucky she is a) that I have made it a very big effort on my part to try to be more Christlike in life and b) that I was a tired exhausted pregnant person who wasn’t about to put forth the effort to put her in her place in as Christlike as a way as I could muster, because many thoughts came to mind in that moment that could have been said but I held back…I might have been prego and exhausted but one thing that I haven’t seem to lose is my quick wit/tongue? So things like ” I’m sorry you can’t hear the text over my daughter’s shoes,” or ” do you feel better about yourself now for having approached me?” ( must mean I am getting somewhere in my attempts to be more Christlike, hopefully.)

    There were so many levels of frustration from this incident. First off, it was a slideshow presentation, it was music and pictures with occasional text to read, not listen too, the music was quite overpowering so I know she wasn’t having a hard time hearing that. Second off, this lady was throwing boulders in a glass house. Her son had been in my webelos den and my husband’s primary class and as sweet a spirit as he might be he is the most disruptive kid in his age group. Everyone in the ward knows this, he is just a hyper kid. Third, it really shocked me that she would say something like that to me, because I thought I was on her favorite persons list because I single handley got her son his Arrow of Light ( I had to fly solo for about 5 months but boys had bdays and I didn’t want them to miss out because the ward couldn’t get me a partner, so we did every activity needed to get an Arrow of Light in those five months ) Fourth, it blew my mind that someone would go out of their way to try to take the spirit away from someone just because they weren’t feeling it… did I mention this person was the first conselours wife? How can she be so cocky in her mind that she felt it appropriate to make it her business to confront me? One who should be an example to the ward being the first conselors wife and all. I mean she is quite “uppity”, in the richer part of our ward, and has that air about her, but I had tried my hardest not to judge on that ( though she makes it a point last mother’s day to mention her huge lei hanging around her neck that her kids brought all the way back from their trip the week before to hawaii without her knowing just to give it to her for mom’s day… comments and attitudes like that constantly, but I seriously tried not to judge, especially after getting to know a side of her with her son in my den that made me see a true heart and spirit under the uppityness.

  • Lewis_Family May 22, 2008, 10:17 am

    How sad is this? And yet so true. There is a lady in our ward who totally goes out of her way to try to make you miserable and it is such a sad thing to witness. Ofcourse I was oblivious to it until she directed her attacks towards me one sunday. It was during my pregnancy, I was sick so often that I just stayed home all day everyday, and it got to the point where I couldn’t remember the last time had gone to church and taken the sacrament, so I forced myself to go, though honestly I was sick the whole time and exhausted and it was my hubby’s turn to teach his class so I had Jasmin with me ( issues with nursery, still having a hard time going .) It happened to be the fifth sunday and so r.s. and preisthood where combined in the cultural hall. The bishopric was presenting and they kept doing slide shows with thier presentations… I don’t want to call anyone names, but the secretary seemed to be ignorant to the fact that if he turned all the lights off instead of just the front ones then babies started crying or wanting to wonder. So with little ones were all in the back on the stage because this kept happening. There were babies crying and toddlers talking but even I could still hear the presentation back by the stage where I was at. I noticed that some people kept looking back at us, some just human nature to look towards sound but others you could tell where so disgusted with the noise, that even before the incident I am about to share took place I had the thought, “why does the sound of little children annoy people so much? I would think the Savior would be happier with their noisy presence in His chapel than that of the person who concentrates so much on surrounding sound that they lose the spirit.” My babe was one that when they turned the lights off ran to the door where the light was coming from. ( Did I mention that we were back by the stage which was a good 15- 20 back from the last row of chairs and the doors and right next to the stage? )

    During one particular time, when a slide show musical presentation was occuring the lady I mentioned above took it upon herself to come up to me and inform me that ” it was hard to concentrate over the sound of my daughter’s shoes” Being the brat that I am, I responded with ” Well, she’s two.” And then I turned back to my friend who I had been talking to when she approached us. The lady then gets all dramatic and was like ” Wow, are you serious? That is sad.” and then walked away. To set the record straight, she doesn’t know how lucky she is a) that I have made it a very big effort on my part to try to be more Christlike in life and b) that I was a tired exhausted pregnant person who wasn’t about to put forth the effort to put her in her place in as Christlike as a way as I could muster, because many thoughts came to mind in that moment that could have been said but I held back…I might have been prego and exhausted but one thing that I haven’t seem to lose is my quick wit/tongue? So things like ” I’m sorry you can’t hear the text over my daughter’s shoes,” or ” do you feel better about yourself now for having approached me?” ( must mean I am getting somewhere in my attempts to be more Christlike, hopefully.)

    There were so many levels of frustration from this incident. First off, it was a slideshow presentation, it was music and pictures with occasional text to read, not listen too, the music was quite overpowering so I know she wasn’t having a hard time hearing that. Second off, this lady was throwing boulders in a glass house. Her son had been in my webelos den and my husband’s primary class and as sweet a spirit as he might be he is the most disruptive kid in his age group. Everyone in the ward knows this, he is just a hyper kid. Third, it really shocked me that she would say something like that to me, because I thought I was on her favorite persons list because I single handley got her son his Arrow of Light ( I had to fly solo for about 5 months but boys had bdays and I didn’t want them to miss out because the ward couldn’t get me a partner, so we did every activity needed to get an Arrow of Light in those five months ) Fourth, it blew my mind that someone would go out of their way to try to take the spirit away from someone just because they weren’t feeling it… did I mention this person was the first conselours wife? How can she be so cocky in her mind that she felt it appropriate to make it her business to confront me? One who should be an example to the ward being the first conselors wife and all. I mean she is quite “uppity”, in the richer part of our ward, and has that air about her, but I had tried my hardest not to judge on that ( though she makes it a point last mother’s day to mention her huge lei hanging around her neck that her kids brought all the way back from their trip the week before to hawaii without her knowing just to give it to her for mom’s day… comments and attitudes like that constantly, but I seriously tried not to judge, especially after getting to know a side of her with her son in my den that made me see a true heart and spirit under the uppityness.

    So yes, I was so frustrated that when my hubby came in, I was crying because I was conveying what had happened to a friend who right after that incident teased me that Jasmin would probably sleep later and so I was telling her what the lady had said before she came up and was frustrated about it that I was infact crying and she wanted to make sure that I knew her comment was so not malicious at all it was joking, which I knew and let her know that I didn’t take it in such a way. ( I am so not a cry baby, so that mad me more frustarted that I was crying, thus further the cycle of tears… stupid prego hormones ) My hubby was like what happened and I was like I just want to go home, so he didn’t get the story until we were home and then he was mad and wanted to say something to the bishop or to her husband the first conselor but I was like to what avail? People like that know what they are doing. What killed me was that she will never know how much effort it took for me to get to church that day and how successful she was in ruining my efforts. I wonder if she had approached a thinner skinned person, if we would have lost a member that day.

    Later that day the second conselour came by to make sure I was ok, because his wife had seen me crying and wanted to make sure everything was ok. When he found out what had happened he wasn’t shocked and infact he guessed who it was. Apparently this lady had been the cause of inactivity in many cases, seems she drives them away. So then I was mad at myself for not having said atleast something, but whatever “be the bigger person” blahblahblah. In the weeks to come I had people approach me and ask me about that indcident ( seriously, like everyone in the ward saw my cry at church, argh! ) Some had seen this lady approach me so came bearing their own stories of incidents with her. Glory the friend that I was sitting with when it happened had apparently felt the wrath moments earlier when they were passing the roll around, she was busy tending to her baby so when he husband handed her the roll to pass it she tried to give it to this lady and she snapped ” it has already come this way, you would know that if you were paying attention.”

    Seriously, if you are so unhappy why is it your personal goal to makes others feel the same? That is what frustrates me the most, the fact that there are people like this in our midst and seem to be in every ward. we just might not be aware of them until the turn their wrath on us. Glory even the bishop called me in to make sure everything was ok, because I hadn’t been back since the incident ( though I hadn’t been there much before, so yeah ) and he wanted to make sure that I was ok. I told him not to worry, I had thicker skin than that, though it might not have seemed so since I cried in church. I just really was sick and exhausted and that was the reason for why I was not coming. I told him that I “don’t judge a garden by its few weeds” and still knew the church was true and all that jazz, I really was just sick and didn’t want to spread that or catch more by coming.

    I liked that Rebecca said this:

    Posted By: Rebecca
    there may be other people out there like me that seem snobbish or unfriendly and yet there may be things that they do that you will never know about.

    because it is so true, and goes both ways. So we just have to try our hardest not to judge people and when we overcome that, then we can truly enjoy church and our wards.

  • Rebecca May 22, 2008, 11:21 am

    Your story reminded me of a ward I lived in when my two oldest children were babies. There were only a handful of children in the ward, the large majority of the members were retirement age and I know that the toddlers bothered them. One Fast Sunday one of the older members stood up and as he bore his testimony he spoke about how hard it was to feel the spirit in the meetings when there were children around. Compared to every other ward I had ever lived in that ward was quiet. There were maybe five toddlers/babies in the entire ward and those of us with small children tried to be very considerate and take our children out if they were fussy. All the same toddlers are fidgety and it is next to impossible to get a one year old to sit on a bench with their arms folded for an entire meeting. I felt sorry for all the people nodding their heads in agreement that the small children were a problem because, hello? how can you not feel the spirit when there are small children around?

  • Alison Moore Smith May 22, 2008, 12:25 pm

    Don’t you dare apologize! Your post was beautiful!

  • Alison Moore Smith May 22, 2008, 1:03 pm

    experiencing gossip essentials

    :rolling:

    spitfire, you must know that I love your post beyond words.

    Another experience crossed my mind as I read. I knew a woman in a previous ward. We had a few things in common that kept us in fairly frequent contact and I made an effort to be friendly to her. BUT. Every, single, solitary time I said, “Hi! How are you?” the answer was one of the following:

    (1) Not too well.
    (2) Just getting by.
    (3) Hanging on.
    (4) etc.

    NEVER was she “good” or even “fine.” Never. Ever. Ever.

    I knew her life situation quite well. It wasn’t a life overflowing with every possible bounty, but it was a pretty decent existence with people who loved her and health and enough food and shelter, etc. Yet she was NEVER just happy.

    Once she pulled one of her daughters out of Primary for months because the teacher “abused” her. The teacher (who I also know well) reached down the row–in SHARING TIME, in full view of everyone–tapped her daughter on the shoulder and asked her to stop talking.

    Once she stopped going to choir because I offended her. (I found out third hand.) How did I offend her? By sitting a row above her in the choir seats at rehearsal. (I couldn’t see my music AND the towering (6’4″?) director at the same time from the front row.) When I found out, I called and said, “Sally (not her name), I heard that you were offended that I sat on the second row. I’m sorry, I did not realize you would be hurt. I was just trying to see the director.”

    Her response? “I’ve forgiven you. But I don’t think I’ll be able to come back to choir for some time.”

    :shocked: It’s like living in crazyland.

    Aside from being relieved that I had a chance at salvation due to her ready forgiveness of my grave sin, there was one overwhelming emotion I experienced. Exhaustion.

    This woman is a child of God and deserving of love. I KNOW that. But it was just too hard to be her friend! With all the kids and the homeschooling and the pregnancies and the miscarriages and the callings and the business and all the other things I was experiencing at that time, I just didn’t see how I could devote the huge chunk of TIME required to try to maintain a friendship with her. It was just overwhelming.

    I believe that opportunity cost is the best business principle that most non-business people can benefit from. The truth is, choosing to actively pursue a friendship with Sally had a really high opportunity cost. One I didn’t feel I could afford.

    One of the best ways to make friends is to be an EASY friend. Be generally warm, friendly, happy, kind, loving, outgoing, and have minimal expectations and be hard to offend.

    Who are you more likely to invite to a dinner party?

    (1) Someone friendly and kind, easy to get along with, who likes a variety of people and will eat anything.

    (2) Someone who is very opinionated about everything and doesn’t know when to appropriately address sensitive issues, who complains about their jobs, their health, their neighbors, their in-laws, who is very judgmental, and who has very picky eating habits.

    IMO, it just works out better if we are tough on ourselves and easy on others.

  • marathonermom May 22, 2008, 3:05 pm

    We had one of those in my last ward, too. The kind of crazy where not only does she not know that she’s crazy, she thinks it’s her duty to let everyone else know what they’re doing wrong. Called me not too long after we’d moved into the ward to tell me I needed to stop letting my 3-year-old watch a certain TV show because he’d quoted a line from it to her daughter at church. If I remember correctly, her exact words were, “You know, we older moms have to let you younger moms know how to do things.” Uh huh. Like the way my husband and I caught your daughter trying to watch dirty movies at our house on one of the scrambled premium channels (we didn’t subscribe to it, and I had no idea that you could actually make out some of the images through the scrambling) while babysitting my children? Like the way your youngest child committed suicide in his bedroom after having a fight with you? Like the way your oldest sent out wedding invitations for a temple wedding and then had to quietly call those invited to the ceremony and let them know the wedding would not actually be taking place in the temple? Is that how it’s done? Grr. Like you, Alison, I had a lot of contact with her at church for various reasons, and it was hard to be charitable when she drove me so completely insane. I’ve never met anyone who got under my skin like she did.

    Lewis, next time, how about saying–with a genuinely puzzled expression on your face–“Now why would you say something like that?” Or even better, when she criticizes your parenting technique: “You’re right, I really could use a hand. Thank you so much for offering!” and hand her a child. Preferably a sticky or smelly child.

    Seriously, if you are so unhappy why is it your personal goal to makes others feel the same?

    Sadly, I think that’s exactly why some people act like this, because they’re unhappy. They are either trying to make others as unhappy as they are so they’re not alone, or they’re trying to make themselves look/feel better by putting others down. That’s what I tell myself, anyway, in an effort to feel compassion for them. Sometimes it even works!

  • jennycherie May 22, 2008, 3:10 pm

    Posted By: Lewis_FamilyThat is what frustrates me the most, the fact that there are people like this in our midst and seem to be in every ward.

    We are told that there will be false teachers in the last days. It is possible that that won’t just be the occasional misguided SS or RS teacher but also members who are not actually teaching officially but are teaching in other ways (like bearing a testimony that it’s hard to feel the spirit when children are around–that’s false doctrine if I ever heard it!).

  • facethemusic May 22, 2008, 4:38 pm

    when she criticizes your parenting technique: “You’re right, I really could use a hand. Thank you so much for offering!” and hand her a child.

    :swingin: :swingin: Now THAT is brilliant!!!!!

  • Lewis_Family May 22, 2008, 5:26 pm

    Posted By: marathonermom

    Lewis, next time, how about saying–with a genuinely puzzled expression on your face–“Now why would you say something like that?” Or even better, when she criticizes your parenting technique: “You’re right, I really could use a hand. Thank you so much for offering!” and hand her a child. Preferably a sticky or smelly child.

    Whatever do you mean? I don’t have any sticky or smelly children… yet :wink: No, my usual response when people say stupid things like that really is “Do you feel better now?” But then again, I am trying to tone down the sharped tongue thing :smile:

  • davidson May 22, 2008, 5:32 pm

    TOP TEN THINGS YOU COULD SAY TO NASTY PEOPLE AT CHURCH (BUT CHOOSE NOT TO:)

    10. Why don’t you come back when you don’t have quite so much time, and we’ll visit again? :bigsmile:
    9.
    8.
    7.
    6.
    5.
    4.
    3.
    2.
    1.

    Fill in the blanks! Come on, let’s hear it!

    We’re not going to change them, so we might as well laugh.

  • davidson May 22, 2008, 6:08 pm

    Really, though, I am so sad to think that there are problems like this in Christ’s true church. My heart aches along with all of you that have expressed having difficulties with members. I. . .don’t know what to say. I have dealt with people who were mad or disgusted or humiliated because I tried to befriend them. I have dealt with people who were mad or disgusted or humiliated because I DIDN’T try to befriend them. I recognize that people come to church feeling vulnerable, and comments, or lack of them, can be electrically charged because of our vulnerabilities. It makes me wonder how many times I’ve stepped in people’s wet cement without knowing or meaning to, how many times my intentions have been misunderstood, and how many times I have misunderstood the intentions of others.

    There was a sister in our ward who had five or six daughters and was the YW president. She was constantly trying to dress them in the latest fashions, even though I knew she was struggling for money. One time she showed up at Mutual with her baby daughter wearing these outrageous lace-up sandals. I said something like, “Oh, Susan, you never give up, do you!” I learned YEARS later how offensive that was to her. The sandals weren’t fashionable; they were special shoes designed to straighten the baby’s legs and feet. They WERE very expensive, but they were medically necessary. I had no idea. We teased each other all the time about things, but that really hurt her because of her worry over her little girl. Open mouth, insert feet.

    James E. Talmage said, “Misunderstanding is the prelude to offense.” I LONG for the day when thought transfer will eliminate the possibility of misunderstanding. (Of course, there are always those who INTEND TO OFFEND, and the only recourse I can see for that is making a quiet little list like the one above, just to help ME lighten up, just to help ME get over it more quickly. It doesn’t help to respond out loud in kind. Two nasties don’t make a nice.)

  • Tinkerbell May 22, 2008, 9:54 pm

    When someone says something rude, I try to say, “Pardon me?” as in “Repeat yourself again, louder this time, so that everyone care here what an idiot you just made of yourself”.

  • Tinkerbell May 22, 2008, 9:56 pm

    And sometimes, when I was the one unnecessarily offended, a “pardon me” helps to clarify the situation before my claws come out and I make an idiot of MYSELF.

  • Michelle D May 22, 2008, 10:04 pm

    Good points, Tink! “Pardon me” can be both a clarification of intent so as not to misinterpret something innocuous, as well as a statement of disbelieve at what was just tactlessly said.

  • Lewis_Family May 22, 2008, 10:05 pm

    That reminds me of how I’ll say “excuse you” I’ve had a few catch it and ask if I meant to say “excuse me” and I say no and leave it at that. :bigsmile:

  • kiar May 23, 2008, 9:07 am

    Nice! I like that!!! I will have to use it.:devil:

  • davidson May 23, 2008, 10:23 am

    I had the Mormon Mommas very much on my mind last night when I went to enrichment meeting. I watched carefully. I watched to see if anyone was feeling left out or uncomfortable. I didn’t see anything, and I realized, “You can’t tell by looking at a person what is going on in her head.” I did see some misunderstandings going on, and it was so interesting, after our discussions here. The committee provided several short mini-lessons. The topics were basic sewing, carpet cleaning, hair-cutting, hairstyles for girls, hair bow-making, sneaking fruits and vegetables into treats for kids, laundry, and building a house based on faith, hope, and charity.

    The women who taught the sewing class are very skilled seamstresses, and I discovered they couldn’t explain their projects on a level basic enough for the non-sewing sisters to understand, proving once again that you can have knowledge, without having the attendant skill to teach that knowledge to others. And the non-sewing sisters, instead of watching carefully, gave up and later expressed to me how hopeless they felt, because they couldn’t even do a skill considered dummied-down by others.

    The carpet-cleaning lecture was given by a man and his wife who own their own carpet-cleaning business. They did a great job, but I thought, “How uncomfortable for them, teaching people how to clean their own carpets so they can put themselves out of a job.” Seems a little counterproductive for them, but they willingly did it.

    I learned the professional beautician spent at least some of her time at church meetings each week looking critically at the haircuts in the ward, and she told how she saw some haircuts that just drove her nuts, especially the ones done at home by people who didn’t know what they were doing. I have always cut my kids’ and husband’s hair, because eleven visits to a salon every six weeks was just way, way out of our financial ability. It was not an attempt to step into the hair competition, it was just necessary. I can’t say I’m greatly skilled, but I think I give a decent haircut, and I’ve learned from lots of practice and saved us lots of money. As I watched her, I realized that she uses the same method I use. She volunteered afterwards, “I really can help you if you’ll just bring your family over before the next haircuts,” so I guess I am one of the ones who drives her nuts. Another sister said, “You cut your husband’s hair, don’t you?” I couldn’t tell if she meant, “I can tell because it looks so awful,” or if she meant something else. Truth is, my husband has gone to barbers before, and he doesn’t like the way they cut his hair. I was a little shocked that these two sisters said that to me, and then I thought, “Wait a minute! Apparently I’m not as good as I thought I was, and the sister who gave the lecture is offering her professional help for free. I can’t fault that.” So I swallowed my pride and said thank you, and I intend to have her show me a time or two. I think she meant well and was reaching out in love. I almost misunderstood it.

    The women who taught the hairstyles for girls showed lots of braiding and parting techniques. She passed around a little photo album that she was so proud of, showing different hairstyles she’d done for her daughter. The woman sitting next to me, who is very fashion conscious, gasped in horror as she looked at it. They’re both fashion-conscious! They just had vastly different ideas about what looked good.

    Same with the hairbow technique class. She passed around hairbows she had made, and I could see some people thinking to themselves (as evidenced by the look of slight disgust on their faces), “Wow, I guess there’s no accounting for taste! I’d never put that on my daughter.” Others were delighted and requested a future enrichment hands-on class.

    I think I learned most from the laundry demonstration. And not necessarily about laundry. The woman who taught it was an older sister who has been struggling with a serious clinical depression, but most people don’t know that. She used to be a fantastic preschool teacher and taught the vast majority of adults in this valley in her home. She also used to be the stake Relief Society president, and I remember how warm and welcoming she was when she conducted stake business. She just doesn’t remember who she used to be. I have a mother like that, and it is a very real, unwanted illness, not just selfish sadness. I was amazed that this sister committed to coming and actually came, she is that depressed. When she stood, she was anxious and unsmiling. She knew her subject very well, but I could see the misunderstandings flying back and forth through the room. Because she seemed unfriendly and a little judgmental of a younger generation that didn’t care about sparkling white laundry, the younger sisters sat in groups and tuned her out, even though she had some great ideas. They talked among themselves all through her presentation. I have never understood that! It happens a lot in Relief Society! (Does it happen in your ward?) Even in a smallish ward Relief Society room, sisters feel anonymity and think they can talk or whisper to each other while someone else is speaking at the front of the room, and it won’t be noticed. Another forthright sister on the other side of the room even sssshhhhed them several times, and they ignored her. How can they think they won’t be noticed? Or maybe they don’t care? The sister speaking was hurt and offended by their chattering, and I think it strengthened her idea that the younger generation is going to pot because they won’t do a good job with laundry AND they refuse to be taught when they were given the opportunity. I’m sure she felt like the effort she had to make just to come was wasted. On the other hand, I’m sure several younger women were thinking, “Why does she have to be so grouchy and condemning? And who cares if the socks are sparkling white? I have better things to do with my time.” Hmmmm. Heartache all around. I hugged and thanked the laundry sister and tried to say some friendly things to the chatterers. They are all good women. I just wish there could be peace and good will, I really do. I wish the misunderstandings could be done away.

    I was really delighted with the sweet woman who gave the talk about building a home based on faith, hope, and charity. She is so quiet and calm and Christ-like, so accepting and aware of everyone and their different circumstances. She reached EVERYBODY, or so it seemed to me, and the meeting ended on a good note because of her. When I grow up, I want to be like her.

    Thanks for letting me think out loud. :smile:

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