Thursday, February 10, 2011

Visit from the Bishop

Tuesday evening the bishop paid us a visit. Since then, I have been going over and over in my mind what transpired. I've wanted to write about what happened and came up with a letter to the bishop. It's one of those letters you write, but never send. The bishop is a decent man and DH and I both like him. The letter is just my way of sharing my reaction to the bishop's visit. If you have any thoughts after reading the letter, I hope you will share them with me.

Dear Bishop ____________:

Thank you for paying us a visit Tuesday evening. I am sorry I was the catalyst for DH getting up at Fast and Testimony meeting. We were both so excited with the results of my genealogical research and how it tied in to my patriarchal blessing. I realize now I should have discouraged DH from sharing our joy with the ward members.

I told DH I believe the purpose of your visit was to (1) explain why the note was passed to DH to tell him, in effect, to stop talking; and (2) to reprove him for some of the comments he made.

DH and I are both sorry for any harm that his words may have inflicted on those present. His intent was to explain why he was speaking for me. Obviously, he revealed too much information.

We appreciated your candidness. We hope you, in turn, appreciated our candidness. Having you visit us in our home, uninterrupted, gave us the opportunity to get better acquainted.

Before you left, you said that you would like to see me baptized. You challenged DH and I to read the Book of Mormon together. You said our lives would change for the better. You also said we would have the spirit in our home. As I've reflected on your words, and I may be reading more into what you said, I started wondering if you felt that because I am not a member, we do not have the spirit in our home. Am I to understand that unless I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no way we can have the spirit of Christ in our home? I hope that is not what you meant. If that were true, it would mean only members of the Church can have the spirit of Christ in their homes. I am a firm believer that ALL can have the spirit of Christ.

Will DH and I read the Book of Mormon together? No. Not together. As I told you, I have found it more inspiring when I open the scriptures (be it the Book of Mormon or Bible) to no particular page and find an answer to something that is troubling me.

You told us you like seeing us at church. I believe you were being sincere. We explained to you why we only attend Sacrament Meeting.

You mentioned that DH's testimony was talked about the most by the members of the ward. I do not know what to expect when we come to Sacrament Meeting this Sunday. Perhaps we will be shunned. If so, that is truly sad. But I know in my heart there will be one person who will never shun us. That person is our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Peace to you, Bishop ___________.


Sanford said...

Kalola, your letter seems very gracious considering what happened. I don't know that I would be as understanding. Are you comfortable sharing some of things your husband said in his testimony?

Catherine said...

Well, you wanted thoughts and I have a few about this. You don't know me. I'm a lurker. That also means I don't know you except through your blog. I check in occasionally--if nothing else to see any new pictures on your blog. I love them.

Anyway, I agree with Sanford above. You seem very gracious in your letter. I am hoping that while you may be questioning some of the things he said or his intent for saying them, I hope you realize that bishops are humans too. Not all bishops are well versed in all aspects of interaction with others. What I mean by this is that he may not have explained himself well enough as to what he meant about the Spirit being in your home.

I also don't know what your husband said in his testimony or how long he had been speaking, but I do know that Bishops are under a bit of pressure to keep testimony meetings focused in on bearing testimony of Christ, scriptures, and prophets and of trying to keep the testimonies to a reasonable time frame so all those who want to bear testimony have a chance to do so. Of course there is some leeway and subjectivism on these things, but ultimately it is believed the Lord has put the Bishop in charge of this meeting to keep it focused. Personally, I find it admirable that the Bishop made the time to make a personal visit to you to help you understand his intent for his actions during testimony meeting and I'm glad you could see some positive result in his visit by being able to get better acquainted.

I also am confused a bit--but perhaps that is because I don't know you personally. You have a patriarchal blessing but you're not a member of the church? I have never heard of that before so I'm assuming you were a member at some point previously.

As far as reading the scriptures together with your husband, I understand making scriptures personal to you and thereby doing personal scripture study. I do hope though that you can discuss some of what you're learning or studying with your husband and he with you. While I believe completely in personal revelation, I also believe revelation and understanding can come in many ways. One of those could be discussing it with my husband. Another way is attending other Sunday meetings and getting understanding from other class members and a discussion leader (which is what a good Sunday School or Relief Society teacher should be--but we're all a work in progress). I don't know what your reasons are for only attending Sacrament Meeting but if possible I would consider attending other meetings to see if perhaps your understanding may increase on one of the issues that is troubling you.

And last, I really hope you weren't shunned on Sunday. Unfortunately I've met some in the church who come across as unwelcoming for many reasons. And they make no apologies for coming across that way. They want their ward to fit their mold. Please separate out the religion from the members of the religion who are still learning what it means to be a follower of Christ. Sometimes I'm afraid I come across as "shunning" or "unwelcoming" because I'm terribly shy. Once again, you've reminded me to step out of my own comfort zone, forgive others, be more welcoming, less judgmental, and remember we're all at our own level of understanding and practice of the LDS religion.

I've gone on far longer than I intended. Even though I lurk and don't comment often, your posts intrigue me and I wish you all the best in your spiritual journey.