Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Softening Heart

The above painting is titled "Angels Welcome"

I joined the LDS Church in March 1972. In November 1980, Steve and I asked to be excommunicated. We felt we could no longer be associated with the LDS Church due to some very unsettling experiences we had while living in Salt Lake City.

Fast forward to December 2009. Steve and I are now attending Sacrament meeting. I find myself looking forward to going to church.

It is odd because I have not sought to be rebaptized, yet I feel I belong in the church. I haven't felt this way for a very long time.

When we lived in SLC, I felt I was not one with the Saints because I was a convert. It seemed to me that if you were not born into an LDS home, you weren't truly LDS. This was disturbing to me because Steve and I held numerous callings back in New York. It did not matter that I was a convert because I was in a ward comprised mostly of converts.

Today I've been wondering if there are other LDS converts who moved to Utah and felt they were not welcomed. I found this talk by President Hinckley from 1999 and realized that perhaps my feelings had merit. This is part of what President Hinckley said:

Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep,” Ensign, May 1999, 104
From a satellite broadcast given at the Salt Lake Tabernacle 21 February 1999

Strengthening New Members

Having found and baptized a new convert, we have the challenge of fellowshipping him and strengthening his testimony of the truth of this work. We cannot have him walking in the front door and out the back. Joining the Church is a very serious thing. Each convert takes upon himself or herself the name of Christ with an implied promise to keep His commandments. But coming into the Church can be a perilous experience. Unless there are warm and strong hands to greet the convert, unless there is an outreach of love and concern, he will begin to wonder about the step he has taken. Unless there are friendly hands and welcome hearts to greet him and lead him along the way, he may drop by the side.

There is absolutely no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. The two must be inseparable. These converts are precious. Every convert is a son or daughter of God. Every convert is a great and serious responsibility. It is an absolute imperative that we look after those who have become a part of us. To paraphrase the Savior, what shall it profit a missionary if he baptize the whole world unless those baptized remain in the Church? (see Mark 8:36).
Maybe one day I will be rebaptized and return to full activity. Time will tell.


Catherine said...

I can't remember how I came across your blog but I've been reading off and on for a while. This post struck me. I was born and raised in a very active LDS family in Idaho and then moved to UT and lived most of my adult life in Salt Lake City until we moved to the MIddle East in 2007. I like to think that while I lived in SLC I was welcoming to all--but unfortunately I think my shyness was more powerful than my knowledge of knowing I should be one with "strong hands to greet the convert." Now that I lived in a small branches with many different nationalities, life experiences, and conversion stories, I like to think that I've come to the conclusion that if I were back in the situation in SLC that I would "outreach with love and concern" and not let my shyness take away from those experiences. I admit I do tend to stick with what's familiar (i.e. others who were born/raised in the church) but hopefully my recent life experiences are changing that perspective. We are considering moving back to SLC so thank you for the reminder that if we do move back to be aware and welcoming to all and not forget what I've learned over the last 3 years that I wish I would've learned sooner. I hope you find the peace you are looking for and hope you'll find welcoming arms.

Kalola said...

Catherine ~ Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Domestic Goddess said...

I am a convert. I understand your thoughts. Whilst living in Provo, I started trying to be "perfect'. I became depressed. I ate myself to a stupor. I thought I was happy. But little by little, I started losing 'me'. Mormon culture is so stifling to me. I now live in Nevada. I've learned how to live within that culture and still be me. It can be very lonely. But no matter how I complain, I cannot change what burns brightly in my heart and head: that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ and where I need to be to prepare myself for his coming. So do the best I can to just be a better person every day without worrying about how others perceive me because I cannot control their actions nor their thoughts. But I can receive further light and knowledge in so many different and often surprising ways. Sometimes I receive unlightenment during a boring sacrament meeting. I've experienced what it is like to be unjustly mistreated by priesthood leaders. I've experienced persecution within the church. But I still can't leave it because it is the true church. So I plug along day by day. I hope you will again feel that mighty change of heart that will give you the desire to be re-baptized. It is the ordinance that matters while here on earth because it allows you to be a member or saint in the Lord's church and be privy to all the blessings of membership. But the greatest ordinance that we need is that of the new and everlasting covenat and that we need for life after death. And I look forward to that day when our bodies will be made perfect---no more manic-depression, or post-traumatic stress or cancer or illness. We can just love. Please avail of these ordinances and do not allow that "Utah" culture to win. One day there will only be one culture--those that follow Christ and those who don't. So hang on.

Michelle said...

I know I'm not a real-life person at church who can give you an outreach of love and concern, know that I still hope to offer a little of that through this virtual space.

And I'm grateful to you for the positive thread you started elsewhere about empowerment for women in the Church. (I wish more discussions there could be as uplifting.) I think our doctrine empowers women in so many ways...I love hearing different women express their feelings about how and where they feel strength in the gospel and in the Church.

One last thing -- I'm involved with a site called where we try to share what being Mormon means to us as women. Maybe you can find something there as you mull over all of this.

Best to you in your journey.

Karine said...

I am so excited for you to go back to church :) That is great!
The one thing that my Mother use to always tell me is ..." YOU GO TO CHURCH FOR THE GOSPEL, NOT THE PEOPLE! THE GOSPEL IS PERFECT THE PEOPLE...NOT SO MUCH! :)"
When I have hard times of feeling accepted I just remember that...
Even Jesus at times felt alone I think... and he had to if he had felt every feeling and thing we all have gone thru or experienced.

Just remember your not alone and your so special to God! :)