Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 8, 2009

It's been a difficult week in our house. I hope it has not been so prevalent that my children have been burdened, but I know it's been enough for them to have certainly noticed. I hadn't planned on blogging about this, but every time I start another subject my mind simply stops. And so here I sit, struggling with putting things in such a way as to not hurt any one's feelings, and trusting the Lord will influence my mind and fingers.

My husband is a Mormon bishop, or spiritual leader of a local congregation (ward). Mormon bishops typically serve for about five years time, during which they willingly volunteer time and energy in counseling, guiding, directing, and serving the needs of those placed under his care. We consider this calling, or position, to be given by God through the proper priesthood authority. It is not something to be taken lightly.

To be a bishop is not easy. There is no official schooling, no way to prepare to become a bishop other than through life's experiences and learning to listen for the voice of the Lord to help him along the way. Bishops are not considered to be more important than another member. They are not super-human, nor are they impervious to hurtful remarks or actions. I add this part because both my husband and I were very hurt this last week.

I won't go into what happened. Let's just say my husband tried to help a member understand certain mistakes made. Instead of listening to his counsel, the member chose another path, one that had both my husband and I feeling hurt, confused, and frustrated. I was very angry for a day or two, and spent a lot of time crying.

It didn't take long for the anger to pass, however, and now I am more concerned about this member. He/she has displayed an outward defiance, and is even searching out members who might prove him/her right, rather than seeking prayer and understanding through further counsel. Why does this worry me so much? It is the beginnings of apostasy.And so now my heart aches. I ache for this precious, impetuous yet lively child of God. I ache for what he/she is inflicting on his/her family especially after all they've worked to accomplish and how far they've come in spiritual matters this first year of my husband's calling.

A spirit of apostasy is subtle. At times we may not even recognize what is happening even as it creeps into our own souls. One of the first signals, at least that I've seen in those I've witnessed, is an attitude of defiance. We know better than the bishop, or the prophet. The Bible is so old fashioned, it can't possibly be of any use in today's world. Instead of willingly turning to prayer when we disagree with something in the hopes of learning what the Father deems as correct and true, we actively seek for those who will tell us we are right.

Shortly after we got married my husband and I were members of a ward that was not easy to be a part of. Cliques abounded, none of which I 'fit into,' and callings (jobs in the ward) were given more out of desperation than inspiration. One Sunday I was asked to accept a particular calling. I prayed about it over the course of a week, and consistently felt sick about accepting. It wasn't right, not for me, not for that time. Yet we have been taught not to turn down a calling.When I was approached once again, I said no. I gave my reasons why, even though they sounded lame, and I could tell the brother was vastly disappointed. For years I have claimed I did the right thing. Only with the passage of years (and a mighty bit of humbling) have I come to realize I should have accepted the calling, even if it wasn't right, simply because it was offered by one of the leaders of my church. I should have accepted, even if I didn't agree.

Perhaps this seems like a silly thing, but looking back I could have become so bitter about how it was handled. I could have begun twittering in the ears of other members about how it was handled, and came close to not attending church at all because of how very alone I felt. I even complained to two certain people in my life specifically because they had turned away from the Church and I figured they'd be sympathetic.

The seeds of apostasy had been handed to me, and I was searching for fertile ground. In God's wisdom, and in knowing me so very well, I was presented with the opportunity to accept a calling I not only felt was right but gave me the chance to feel a part of something. It didn't last long before ward boundaries put us into another beautifully warm and loving ward. Still, it was exactly what I needed to blow those seeds away and allow me to continue on in the church I so dearly love.

We have to be so cautious. And I believe we have to be more aware of the possible seeds of apostasy more so now than in previous years. We need to sit our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews down and help them to build strong testimonies upon the foundations of Christ's church. They need to understand the reasons why, not just be told to tow the line. For if we fail them, if they allow tiny bits of apostasy to grow within their hearts, generations of precious children of God will be lost. All because of one choice.

I do not know what this new day will bring for us and the member with whom we are struggling. I pray he/she will come to church so things can be straightened out, forgiveness can be given, and we can all move on from the hurt. Most of all I pray this member will allow the seeds of apostasy to blow away.


Momma Ellen said...

Good post, Laurie. Lots to think about. We just had the lesson in RS about apostasy. It's good to remember that no one of us is immune from the seeds of apostasy blowing our way. I like your analogy of searching for fertile soil. Some things to help us keep the seeds of apostasy from settling in our soil are listening to our leaders' counsel and not sharing gossip when we don't agree. What good reminders. Thanks!

Debbie D said...

I seriously had my faith shaken by such an event. Someone who I know has been through the temple, and made certian covenants has since said that God will allow gay marriage. I couldn't even believe he would entertain such a notion, then he wrote me rhetoric defending the subject. Giving me examples of how "natual it is" Needless to say I was shaken and stirred. He didn't take the matter to the Lord. Evil is being called good, and the seeds of apostacy are everywhere. I too hope he will realize the error of his ways and turn to the Lord. The Lord can blow those seeds away. Thank you for your post.