For some sister in church, Relief Society is just what the Dr ordered: A way to reconnect as a women with women who understand the everyday trials of being a wife and mother and running a house hold. We talk about frustrations of husband and kids and what works in dealing with them. Some of us a crafty and sew, cook, tole paint scrap book, do photography and even offer to share the pattern for how to created a cool interactive family home evening lesson or create the latest tu-tu for our baby daughters to wear when they have their 1 year old photography session next month. We find encouragement and uplifting messages that strengthen us and prepare us to carry on in faith another week "til we meet again." We Love It!
For some it's a lecture on how much we're lacking or falling short in areas. We listen to the "Uplifting" messages only to recognize we argue and nag our spouse too much, we're much to embarrassed to accept visiting teachers because the house is too messy and the thought of sitting in church with 3 screaming babies and their autistic toddler is too much to even think about. We find ourselves being preached to and chastised for not being patient enough, loving enough, giving enough and frankly too tired to really care that Sister Perfecto has won this months Better Homes and Garden award for being Superwoman once again. We Hate It!
For some of us we show up because we're supposed to. This weeks lesson was AMAZING. But Sister Lack-luster is teaching next week and since she just reads right from the book I can stay home and do that myself so I'd rather sleep in. How exciting the ward is having a Date night for all the married couples with a guess speaker focusing on finding intimate moments in a house full of chaos. Can a single sister come and bring a date, oh wait... we're staying way from intimate moments until marriage. Shoot, I wanna go cuz I may be single..BUT I CAN GET A DATE...! Oh I was so excited to hear about the ARM activity! (For those who don't know what "ARMS" are they are Additional Relief Society Meetings. that should be tailored to the needs of the ward.) Until I realized it was the pattern for the "Holiday Quilt" the honeymoon sisters are making or the Fall page for the "quiet books" the new mothers are making. Or the Family Personal Care list the wilderness sisters need to catch up on their food storage disaster kits. We love it!...AND We hate it!
I recognize myself in the 3rd Category. Let me first say it's taken me 27 years to get to this category. I've been through them all! I was relief society preparedness specialist at the same time as being Pack Committee Chair for Cub Scouts, Girls Camp Director and Beehive Advisor and of course the auto-calling of visiting teacher to 1 active and 3 inactive sister. All of this was going down at the same time my daughter was in elementary school, having music, voice and gymnastic lessons while working a full time job. Did I also mention I'm a single mother. You can't do all of this as a single woman an not experience it all.
Currently, though I'm identifying with the Love/Hate relationship. A part of me calls Bull Crap on the Relief Society "Arms!" Does a ward really need to know how to make little baby tu-tu for all holidays and seasons? Sure it's fun and cute and we need those types of things. But I dare say most if not all sisters could benefit more from learning how to change a tire or spark plugs. Or weatherize the house. And I swear we've mastered the one dish : Insert " hamburger/chicken, frozen vegetable creamy soup" here and sprinkle with crunch breakfast cereal topping back at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Or throw 1 can of everything in the crock pot cook all day and throw it over some rice recipes. I know some of the latest fads are belly dancing classes (LDS Sista's all over the world are letting their inner eroticism out by belly dancing and disguising under Aerobics.) Zumba (a great way to release the energy of wanting to smack your teenager for the blatant disrespecting they did of you in the store earlier.) and the ever popular wall crafts reminding friends, family and neighbors that it's Easter, or July 4th or Halloween. And as of late, extreme couponing! How to greedily clear the shelves, take more than you need in this lifetime for free and the store ends up owing YOU money. I know some career couponers who do it for sport, not out of necessity.
Again, these things are awesome and needed. But times are tough! Where are the REAL needs like How to change a belt on my washing machine or vacuum cleaner? How to budget for emergencies. Or how to keep my kid from knocking out your kid for calling them a slur, racial, gender, physical or otherwise. Bullying is also the latest fad... but I don't see anyone teaching classes on how to stop your kid from bullying the kid next door while at school. are THESE things we should be using our Relief Society Arms for also? To strengthen home and family is to strengthen the community. SO while we're being all nice and cozy playing Dr Phil, Dr Oz and Oprah (I'd say Ellen too, but some don't see her being a role model, being gay and all. Which I don't have a problem with I think she's an Excellent Role Model but I am sitting here in Mormon Utah ...) the rest of the world is not really giving a rats tail that the Wilson's changed their Holiday Wall hanging to St Patricks Day, or that Baby Emma's spring tutu is ready for her next photo opp or that the Newly wed Sister Blissful just mastered her first loaf of homemade all wheat and honey bread. Perhaps we ought to look at what the sister's really need.
I use visiting teaching as an example. We all do it. We all have them. After giving the lesson 4 times, I get tired of it. 1 Because I know my sisters are giving it also and they know it. 2. They may not want or need the monthly thought. They may need me to pick up little Joey from Soccer or fold the sheets that have been sitting in the dryer for 2 days because she can't get to it. Too many of us are going by the book and not by inspiration. We do this a lot as LDS member... we have manuals to keep track of manuals. I've come to the point of "whats the point of going to church if we all have all the books and everything is being taught from the books?" The point is... I would be afraid to live and learn of this world just going by my perspective. What I'm learning is.... most people aren't this way. Most people are happy with the Text book learning and the text book answers and are fearful to deviate from it. I find this attitude boring and lazy. It is possible to be unified and united in our diverse lives and situations. THAT is one of the beauties of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That should be the beauty of Relief Society
. Perhaps if when we did come, we came with our unique individual talents and perspectives and added to what's already there instead of passively seething inside while waiting for the time to pass we might love it a little more. I say we each enter into Relief Society with a goal to at least once a month share a unique perspective to the Relief Society experience. Mix it up a little and don't settle for the cookie cutter answers in the book. NOW GET OUT THERE AND RELEASE THE RELIEF IN OUR SOCIETY!
Did you Identify with any of the situations? I'd love to hear from you!