Singing yesterday with my choir went well. I didn’t have to escape to the bathroom to sob, so that is an improvement. The music is gorgeous. There were a few moments where the music really seemed angelic. The alto II section is fantastic. The ladies I stand next to were so kind and supportive. The judgment I feared did not materialize. As I start to widen my circle again to include more people, I know that there will be some that will judge and criticize. I used to have a way of opening my heart up to everyone, and I’m seeing that as part of my problem.
All is NOT well in Zion. We are not one. We are not righteous. The spirit of Satan and conflict is alive and well and I have to protect myself from those who choose to inflict pain on me. I want to see people as good and loving and supportive, but not all of them are.
Sunday approaches again and the feelings of dread and indecision are back. I am supposed to teach primary this week. Should I go just for primary? After church I can leave out the back door and hopefully avoid seeing anyone. I’ll try that. I don’t want to loose my calling teaching those kids. I love my class.
My relationship to my church is complicated. When I approach the throne of God through sincere prayer and meditation, it feels real and there is light and peace. Sometimes I feel that way at church too. The biggest struggle I’m having is dealing with other members. The old cliche of “the church is true but the members aren’t” is ringing pretty hollow. I don’t expect the members to be perfect. All I want is to be safe from them. All I want is for them not to magnify the messages Satan is telling me, “that I’m not good enough,” “that I’m sick and I hurt people,” “that I’m all wrong and my choices prove it.” I know obedience is important, but my question is, obedience to whom? If obedience is to my Savior, I’m not sure what he wants me to do. The message I keep getting from him is that I need to keep myself safe.
He asks us to study things out in our minds. In life we keep ourselves safe by putting harmful things in safe places and we stay away from dangerous places. You either change yourself, or you change your environment. You protect your hand from a cookie sheet by putting on an oven mitt. That’s a change to yourself. You realize that the oven and the cookie sheet have to be hot to accomplish the goal of making the cookies, so you protect yourself by putting on a glove. Other times you have to change the environment. If there is black mold growing in the walls, or a fire in the attic, you could get by for a while wearing a face mask or using a spray bottle to keep the fire contained and the smoke at bay. Eventually the problem becomes so bad that you have to leave the house entirely because it is too dangerous for you to stay. The environment has to change dramatically for you to return.
The question I am trying to figure out is, am I dealing with a cookie sheet or an attic fire? Do I have to leave the building and call the fire department, or do I just get an oven mitt? Its not as simple as it might seem. My ward leadership believes this is an oven mitt situation. This is about me putting some emotional protection up between myself and some members who are a little hot. They might be right. I really hope they are.
The reason I’m skeptical is because I’ve seen signs that all is not well. This ward shows signs of a sick system with a lot of pent up hostility. We want to rush others to forgiveness and reconciliation because we’re in a hurry to make everything pretty again. Issues aren’t resolved and victims are too often blamed. Secrets are kept and spread within tribal groups. There are flames of anger that lick within hearts and minds of our members that threaten to explode and cause great harm. We don’t have the skills to handle social media and the mental health epidemic it is inflaming. The ward leadership has done a lot as far as talks and lessons to address the problem, but I don’t think they understand what’s really going on and the fundamental changes that need to take place in order for us to become one again. I can put on an oven mitt, or a face mask, or a blindfold, but I suspect that things are going to get worse before they get better.
I’m not going to put myself up there as the person who knows what’s wrong. Honestly, I don’t. I just live in the house and I see the cockroaches and suspect there are probably more in the walls. I see the black mold behind the fridge and stale puddles of water on the floor. I see smoke coming out the cracks under the doors of a closed room. I see those things and it makes me think the house isn’t safe for me. I’m not qualified to diagnose the problem much less cast blame. All I know is, the Savior has told me to keep myself safe.
Will I go to church this Sunday? Will I take the sacrament? Will I dare to enter the house? I guess I will know when its time. I’ll be where my Savior wants me to be. Always.