Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lessons from Relief Society

When hubby and I were first married, we lived in a wonderful ward. There were many people willing to accept the young newlyweds and become our mentors. Of course, we were renting and not really permanent in the ward. But we felt accepted nonetheless. We loved the bishop of the ward. Warm, friendly, humorous.

Our rose colored glasses were shattered on the Sunday he was released with a statement on his choice to apostatize from the church.

Apostasy is referred to formal religious disaffiliation or abandonment or renunciation of one's religion. Well, this man had certainly done that. While we weren’t close enough to ever keep in touch rumors swirled here and there about the why and how. It didn’t really matter. The only thing that mattered was that we stay true to what we believe.

Today in Relief Society we discussed the lesson “Beware the bitter fruits of Apostasy” This seemed to be a lesson close to home for many in the room. When you love something so much, as people do with their religion, it is painful to watch someone refuse it. Fight against it.

For us, leaving the church symbolizes leaving the Lord. Turning your back on His teachings. When what you believe is the core of who you are, it is painful to observe.

Since that Sunday many years ago, I have watched many others leave our church. People I love, people I barely know. I have watched others tread on thin ice so to speak, becoming dangerously close to leaving the church.

I believe that when we turn our back on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are turning our backs on the very God we promised to serve.

So, personally, it is very painful for me to watch those I love and care about refuse and denounce a religion that means so much to me.

Does it mean I don’t love that person? Of course I still love them. Does it mean I conjure up images of them doing wrong? Does it mean I agree with that person? I never sit around and think up all the “evil” someone may be participating in and I don’t have to agree with them.

While I would never hope or choose for someone of my faith to leave the church, I would never condemn them. Their relationship with their Savior is between them. Not me.

But I hope, for those who are of my faith, that they will stay strong. That they will sustain the leaders of the church and follow the counsel of our Prophet. That their hearts and testimonies will not falter. Because, for me, this gospel is the greatest thing ever. And I want so much for others to enjoy it as I do.

I want them to have the peace of knowing the Savior can heal all wounds. I want them to have to have the comfort of knowing we can be together with our loved ones again after death. I want them to feel the joy that comes from knowing that a Prophet of God DOES speak to us today. I want those who are ill to know that the power of God exists in worthy men as His Priesthood. It can, and does, heal. Miracles are not dead and truth does prevail.

It is a beautiful lesson. If you haven’t had the chance to read the lesson, take a minute here.


Jill said...

What a cool post. I've known people, and loved people, who have chosen to leave the church. It hurts a lot, but it's a reminder of the reality of our free agency. Thanks for sharing your testimony and insights...

Kerry said...

I just love your blog. Thank you for sharing your life with those of us who really appreciate "real" mormon moms.

S'mee said...

Interesting post and timely for me as M-i-L and were just reviewing the families in our own sphere. The observation being that those in our family, both near and far, immediate and otherwise, the ones who have gone through the fire and remained faithful and active to the Gospel have endured and are relatively happy and content. Those who have chosen to leave, each one has divorced, their children have divorced, they seem to be fraught with abuses of every kind. This is not to say those who stayed are or were free of trials, no. One such family had severe troubles in their marriage, affairs, finance, excommunication, and all sorts of trouble. However they did what was necessary to get right with the Lord, and looking at them without their history, you would think "Molly and Mark Mormon with their 3.5 perfect kids, never any problems."

For me the formula worked out. Stay true and faithful to Jesus Christ, face your fire, walk through it, do what is required of the Lord and come out the other side happy and stronger for it.

Heidi said...

I will definitely go read this one. I was in nursery acclimating my youngest. My ex sis-in-law was the closest one to me to leave the church. It's such a big thing for all of the reasons you listed. It is very hurtful when we hold truths so close to us and to watch someone deliberately turn around and go the other way is almost surreal. Mostly we were scratching our heads asking, "Are you sure you are in your right mind? Are you sure you know what you are doing?" Fear God, not man.