Do the Mormons really think that the best way to get my mother and I back into the church is by telling us that we are wrong and that we need to repent?
It isn’t even just repentance that we need, according to an article that the visiting teachers* mailed to us (we asked them not to bother us in person, but said that they could mail stuff to us…I’m rethinking that decision at this point). We need, apparently, to change everything we do, think and say. Because we just aren’t good enough for God the way we are.
Great. Re-activate people by insulting them. That’ll work.
Don’t believe that they take this approach? Let me quote from the article, which was written by Russell M. Nelson, one of the church’s general authorities. I’d love to tell you what church publication it appeared in, but the quality of the Xerox copy is such that I can only make out a dim “May 2007” on the bottom of one of the pages. You can probably find it (it is titled “Repentance and Conversion”) if you search the church publications at the LDS church’s official website.
Among other things, Nelson writes:
“Yes, the Lord has commanded us to repent, to change our ways, to come unto Him, and be more like him. This requires a total change.” (Emphasis mine.)
There is a footnote attributing part of this statement, but the woman who sent this to us didn’t bother to copy the page that held that footnote. I guess we’re just supposed to take her, and the writer’s, word for it, get with the program, and be…somebody else.
Honestly, this was one of the (many) problems I had with the church. No one wanted me to be myself. Everybody wanted me to be someone else, namely like every other Mormon woman was expected to be: only interested in getting married and keeping house and in having children and knowing my place. I tried for years to be that person, by the way, but I finally realized that it was a losing battle and that there isn’t anything wrong with me the way I am. I should have known that I would never fit in, because there were a couple of problems there.
Problem number one: My only domestic quality, as a key chain I used to carry said, is that I live in a house. Well, this is not completely true as I can cook if need be; I can knit, crochet and do counted cross stitch; and I do keep the place reasonably clean. But cooking and cleaning are things I do because I have to, not because I love them and not because I think they are part of my "role" as a woman.
Problem number two: I’ve never been good at “knowing my place”, of sitting down, shutting up and behaving myself. Of going along to get along.
I’ve no doubt they’ll keep trying. Every month, we get a little note in the mail saying how much the miss us and love us. Which is kind of funny, since we’ve never attended that ward** and they don’t know us at all. Well, the visiting teachers came to the door once not long after we moved here, but that certainly doesn’t constitute a “knowing” extensive enough to either miss us or love us.
All of this offends me, this being told by people who don’t even know me that I must change or God won’t love me.
I know, I know. All of this will only feed into the stereotype supported by the church that people only leave because they’ve “been offended” or because they’re “too lazy” to live church standards. Or because they "want to sin".
Well, no. I did not leave because I was offended. If all it would have taken for me to leave was to be offended I would have been well and truly out years and years earlier than I was. And honestly, I’m not too lazy to live church standards. I just don’t believe that many of the “church standards” have anything to do with actually being a good person. For example, I fail to see how drinking coffee…or having more than one ear piercing in each ear…or men having facial hair…would make someone not a good person. Oh, and for the record, I don’t drink coffee and I don’t have pierced ears at all any more. Not being of the male persuasion, I don’t think the facial hair thing applies. And as for sinning: A) I know plenty of people who do plenty of sinning without leaving the church and, B) I don't do any more sinning now, out of the church, than I ever did in it.
They should probably just save their postage. The reactivation thing won’t work. I figured out some time ago that I just was not cut out to be a nice little Mormon girl.
*For the uninitiated, the church assigns women, usually in pairs, to go out and visit a certain number of women every month, ostensibly to make sure that they are doing all right and to see if they need anything. The problem with that theory is that it always seemed, when we had visiting teachers come to visit this, they were mostly busy looking at the house to see if we kept it clean enough and if there was any evidence that we had been doing anything we shouldn’t have been doing.
**That’s like a Catholic parish or a Protestant congregation.