Monday, April 14, 2008

Apostasy Comes Stealthily

I remember when I was young our mother taught us many useful things. One particular lesson was to "Bloom where you were planted". Something s in our life will never be in our control, so we need to control our reactions to those unsettling events and make the best of them. After all, we never know how life will turn out until the end.

I took it to heart, as did my siblings. Sure, we get bummed when we have things planned out and then life throws you a curve, but for the most part we have tried to live by those lessons learned long ago.

I recently met with an older couple for an afternoon and during the visit listened as the wife rehearsed her dissatisfaction at being "displaced" from one house of worship to another. The religion hasn't changed. Her location has; and it is actually more convenient for them. This is something that she should have understood would happen(being a member for over fourty years), this is the way of things in the church. Growth causes change and change is always growth.

Back in the day I was always taught that God places you in certain paths until you no longer are needed there, or until you have learned what you can from the experience. "Bad" things, tests, trials and the like are not negative in reality, but opportunities for growth and development.

This woman earned a great reputation as a teacher. She could pick up a manual or topic assignment and then give a great application to her students. She found creative ways to motivate and enrich. Then one day she was released from her duty.

Instead of thinking of it as a great opportunity -as she had taught us to- she became embittered towards her leadership and towards the poor innocent person who was chosen to take her position. She looked at it as a "replacement" as a "undeserved demotion" as and adversary who had come"unworthily and unqualified" to "ruin" the position and all who would be involved. Her reaction to this change was to run away. She convinced herself and her husband that she was "sick" and stayed home that first week. That first week led to a second and then a third and she has been "sick" every weekend for almost two years. Now that she has discovered that their boundaries will place them in a new building, she is outraged. Now, instead of feigning illness on the week end, she is "protesting" and refuses to attend.

My question to her was "Will your lack of attendance change the situation?" She didn't answer with words but with a face of indignation; she knew the she had no power to change the situation, but still she is bucking the system.

Instead of accepting that she had served well, and that a younger, non experienced teacher was now learning to become a gifted teacher, she quit the team, she took her toys and went home. This woman, who could have been a great mentor to the new teacher, instead became selfish. Did it change the situation? No. It just took her down the road to apostasy as subtly as that alligator in the swamp waiting for the perfect moment to snap down an antelope at the water's edge.

If you asked she or her husband if she were inactive she would reply "No, I am just sick on the weekend." If you proposed the idea that she were apostate, she would be shocked to be classified as such. But in reality, she doesn't accept the authority that has changed the situations in her life, she feels she knows more than those who have been called to represent God, and feels she knows better than God and His will for her. She is defiant and when asked about whether these in authority are called of God, she mocks them and breaks sacred covenants in the process. It's sad.

I try to have some introspection within my own life to see the areas that I choose to put on that road to apostasy. Where do I dig in? Who do I mock? Who do I see as unfit for the Kingdom? Do I pick and choose whom has authority and who does not according to my preferences? Do I feign illness or create situations that cause me to withdraw myself from certain activities that I don't care for? Do I become hurt or offended because I have been released or called to a position I don't really want?

I am struggling with these issues. Wanting to help the woman I write about, yet turning to the mirror and hoping I can more effectively change that woman. I pray I can have influence on both.

add to sk*rt


Alison Wonderland said...

That' so true. I don't think most people who leave the church realize that they're leaving the church until they're long gone. Gone enough that they don't care anymore. But if they realized what they were doing as they were doing it they might not do it after all. Unfortunately I don't think telling them works.
And you're right it's something we all need to watch out for. Maybe I should go this week and get my recommend renewed after all, even if I don't think I'll have a chance to get to the temple any time soon...

chronicler said...

Drip, drip, drip...soon you have a full tub of water. Or a flood. You describe what happens here a lot. I think sometimes people think the gospel is like a garden of flowers, pick and choose to make something pretty with no regard for weeding or cultivating.

Something to think about indeed.

LeaAnne said...

Great Thread!
So hard, that moment when self righteousness & pride take ahold. We have been thinking about this in our own home; who are we critical of and why.
It is a blessing to be able step back and learn lessons over and over! This concept is so important to remember in our own lives.

maren said...

Where do I even begin with this one. I have become quite adept at looking in the mirror the past few years. I am sure there are many things that I miss still.....

It is so easy to be led step by little step away from the path. It is almost imperceptible at first, but definitely becomes a slippery slope. The scriptures show us how quickly the people who are *in the church* get led away, due to pride, usually.

I actually have a fear that if I am healthy that I will quickly forget the things I've learned, the blessings of God and become proud. Pride has been one of my struggles over the years. It is so easy to think that *we* are the ones responsible for where we are, especially when it is favorable. Will I spend near as much time on my knees when it doesn't feel as if my next breath depends upon it? Of course I wont, but I pray that I will be as the converted Lamanites were who, once they were converted NEVER fell away (unlike their Nephite brethren). Yes, I've spent much of the last few years reading the Book of Mormon over and over again too. Every situation we face is in there.

Ok, so I went off on a tangent.

S'mee said...

Alison, perfect idea! Our former Stk Pres often remarked on his mother, who asked to renew her recommend even though she knew she would never be able to attend again due to her illness. Her thought was that she couldn't bear passing without a current one. I remember that lesson and try to keep mine updated all the time!

Chronicler, great analogy! I think I have had a vase full of "gospel favourites" instead of enjoying the entire garden. Thanks for the idea. I'll try to remember that!

Leaanne, so true! Pride is such a hurdle! Thanks!

Maren, you always think deep! I think maybe you need to write a book!

AbbyDawn said...

I really wish I could help with some insight since I'm almost like the woman you speak of. Only I know I'm apostate and right now I'm okay with it. LOL. I do go every Sunday but tend to hide from Sunday School and RS. And I know when we get to Germany we'll be inactive, but I don't know how to encourage myself to be active, so I can't really offer any ideas on helping with her. But I'll pray as well that you and the spirit will get through to her. She seems so important to you! I'm sure even that will help, just letting her know she's important even without her being at church. Maybe just start inviting her back to enrichment activities. Maybe you can set up an Enrichment with something that she could teach something since teaching sounds to be something she enjoyed.

S'mee said...

AbbyDawn, Yes, she is important to me and yes she knows that well. Thank you. There are quite a few of us who have tried to encourage her to come back, to become involved in 'non calling' ways, to give -because she really does have much to give, and to just get herself back with the Spirit, sacrament, temple, etc. I mean really, her reactivity would benefit her more than us.

In your perspective, if I may ask, what was it that set you walking? Perhaps we can learn from your experience as well.

Either way, I *do* hope the best for this sister; and you as well. Thank you much for your candor.

maren said...

A book. LOL. That is something that does come up every once in awhile in my thoughts. I have constant thoughts...... articulating them and getting them down on paper is a whole 'nother matter.

About the temple recommend..... That is a great reminder for me. Mine just barely expired at the end of March. I do think it's a great idea to have one even though I am not in a place where I can go to the temple right now. I was debating whether to put off renewing it for a bit. I don't think I will, after this reminder. Thanks.

S'mee said...

Maren, grab a micro cassette and have it with you always. When a though occurs, click and dictate it into the cassette for later. You could be a great writer!

And yeah, if I put off getting my recommend it ends up costing me too much time! So I always try to go the month before it expires! By the time I actually get around to it I have only missed a few weeks without one!

Boy Mom said...

Great Blog, it doesn't count for housework though right? I can feign sickness to escape household chores with out becoming a housework apostate...right.
You are a wise women S'mee.

S'mee said...

Boy Mom, NOTHING counts for housework! Housework is last on the list save to keep the house from becoming a haven for vermin! Keep the front room company ready and close the rest of the doors; go play with hubby and/or kids and relax!

Now if you'll excuse me I'm feeling a little cough coming on...