Saturday, March 16, 2013

Do You Need A Release From Relief Society?

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!

OR ...

 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!


Jennifer in GA said...

Thank you for this! I so identify with what you're saying here. I truly WANT to be part of the Relief Society, but sometimes I feel the Relief Society doesn't want ME.

ShaBANG said...

Exactly! I can relate to so many things but I often think... What about those of us in between. I am the type of person that will make sure my needs and the needs of those common to mine are heard. Then I take it upon myself to make things happen We don't want sympathy for single sisters for being single. AND in many cases we have symptthy for married sisters dealing marriage and parenting issues. We can learn from each other however Sometimes we have to REMIND the masses that even though we are together collectively we are separate in other ways and can teach each other.

Anonymous said...

The beauty of the Church is when the gospel net is cast it brings in all kinds, at all levels of development and needs.

I had a discussion with an ex Bishop who left the church and was enjoying his new freedom by romping around in New Age la la stuff. I asked him why he left, and he said," That he felt he had evolved has far as he could and needed to move on to higher spirituality." Later that night my Mormon doubting wife said, "Well how do you answer that?"

Here's how I answer it:

Well isn't he special. He's so special that he can't be burdened by the little unenlightened small folk. Good riddance. There will always be beginners, struggling oafs, brainiacs leading inefficiently and everything in between. You don't abandon your brothers and sisters because you're special. You endure to the end and almost every week someone will disappoint you, or piss you off, or bore you, or even betray you. Let it go and keep the course. Then you receive those moments that drive you to your knees in gratefulness and thanksgiving.

ShaBANG said...

It is a sad day when some feel that have nothing to learn from anyone they come in contact with in reality we can ALWAYS learn something from everyone we come in contact with. However, I don't say, "let it go." Sometimes... most often times, it helps to address it because you never know how many people need your ability to step up and speak out so they can strengthen themselves and do the same. I believe there is a time when you need to address the elephant in the room. It is how we choose to address that sets the tone for growth or abandonment.

s'mee said...

Here in our neck of the woods we don't understand Utah mentality too much. Women wear pants on occasion, the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric had long hair for the first year of his tenure, there are outed democrats in leadership, people have bigger fish to fry than trying to figure out what the other guy is doing wrong (45% of the time, lol).

That said, we also are much shorter in actual numbers of active worthy leadership that we live by the STP gear shift. ("Same Ten People" who essentially do most of the work and leading/teaching on a rotating basis for years on end- think a 1-5 ratio of active to inactive membership)I've learned that most people are just struggling to make the majority happy. This means that the smaller fringes of the ward can and will be neglected until a wheel rolls up and squeaks. The squeak is noted and in 3-6 months time, someone will get around to greasing it, and so it goes from group to group continually.

My seminary teacher instructed me that it was not his job to be interesting in the wee hours of the weekday mornings. Instead it was my responsibility to make him the best teacher I ever had. yikes. But true.

The Gospel is true and the church is filled to the freakin brim with weak prideful struggling people who at some point in time will and should squeak. But as you and your commentors above testify, we are all wheels of the vehicle and we all need to hit the road and get this broken bus movin!

ShaBANG said...

Well said S'mee. It's an interesting and fun life living in Utah and not having Utah mentality. The first councelor in my ward is Polynesian with dreds halfway down his back. The Relief Society president decided she wanted a stripper name a couple of weeks ago in class. I feel like my ward is a taste or reality in an otherwise sheltered area. Then again, I live in one of the most diverse cities in Utah. This new ward is exceptional at accepting people as is and encouraging each to be their own best selves and not some Stepford Clone or ideal of perfection that one could never live up to. At some point the choice of being a weak victim has to stop and you have to do what you have to do make it ok. Even if that's passing out dum dum lollipops to the sisters in RS to sweeten their disposition... as well as your own

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