Ever just felt done? Done with people and relationships? This entire year of 2011 had been a troubled year of broken promises, relationships and the dealing with unexplained illnesses. Today, I took in a deep breath and muttered, “I’m done.”

Just done.

I have found I am more content inside my home, in my favorite sweats, hair in a bun, working on articles, school work or the never-ending manuscript. I love my daycare kids and working on our art projects and taking long walks. What I have come to loathe is the dynamics between groups of people and how and where I fit in. I never really thought about fitting in because my huge ego automatically thinks I do, so I don’t question it. It’s either that-or the hard truth that I don’t really care.

What happens when you are in a ward and the friendships aren’t real? Gossip is everywhere, hypocrisy is spreading, and the friends you thought you had only viewed you as a ‘project’?

A few months ago, a friend and I shared a day together which included lunch and shopping. Nothing specatacular happened, certainly not newsworthy, but of course, one incident has seemed to make the rounds. (Totally G-rated, legal and actually, boring.) I found myself getting my ghetto on last night when accused of something I didn’t do by a very well known pot-stirrer (I’ll never learn with this one!) and today I get a text by the friend that said  she looks back on our day with regret.

That hurt.

It isn’t only the gossip in which has gotten me down. It is also the hypocrisy.  Don’t do something you can’t own up to. You do it, own it. But don’t play it off as if the other people who have done it are less ‘Christian’ than you because they’re not lying about it.

I want to permanently remove myself from my ward. No longer do I feel a part of the ward family and I was quite comfortable with my decision. I began to bemoan the fact that unlike other denominations, I couldn’t just switch to another congregation. Across town. In another state, perhaps.

Of course, my phone rings.

Voice of reason on the other end.

“Take a break,” she says. “I get that. But do not let this rob you of your right to receive your spiritual time on the Sabbath. Don’t let it rob you of your desire to go to church. With or without hypocrites and gossipers.”

In every church, there is going to be your ‘drama’. It’s the Adversary’s way of creating havoc amongst God’s people. I know this, I get it. However, sometimes, even knowing the logic behind it, a person can only take so much before they finally say, “I’m done.”

Elder Harold B. Lee made a comment at a Branch Conference in a small town in Texas in November of 1942 which I stumbled across whilst writing this entry: He  said, “Be kind, forgiving and overlook the faults of others.”

The reality is everyone at one point or another says unkind things about others. (Raising hand! Guilty.) It does feel as if I’m being singled out (big ego) yet, logically, I know this is not true. I know by shifting my focus from this useless crappola of drama and focusing on the Lord and care only what He thinks about me, I’ll be a much happier and content person.

I’m done with the offensive ghetto-smack down attitude wanting to take down whoever pisses me off. It’s not worth it and it is simply not the legacy I want to leave behind.

Does this mean I’m going to be a doormat for people to stomp on? Um,  No.

It does mean I will treat people with kindness, rather than showing offense by things they say (or don’t say) and treat them in such a way that it  will merit their respect, not their fear.

Simply put: I’m done.


You Talkin’ To Me?

I have a terrible weakness when it comes to trash talking… especially regarding things I dislike. I can’t help but criticize things that are so obviously being done in the worst way possible. (Translation: Not my way.) I’m usually not judgmental towards people I know personally, but anyone in magazines, television and/or movies, you can bet I’m telling someone SOMETHING about how wrong they are.

Before becoming a Christian, this behavior didn’t seem to be something I needed to correct. I prided myself in being a positive person so I thought this mentality was okay, because after all it wasn’t like I was criticizing people I actually knew. That’s totally harmless behavior, right?

Since converting to Mormonism and even the few years before my conversion in which I studied spirituality with earnest, I found this mentality could actually crack open a door to full-blown TRASH TALKING/ALL AROUND GHETTO/POTTY MOUTH Plaza. You know that place we all visit from time to time…especially when we’re ticked off? (I had my own suite.)

I found when I dabbled (okay, not dabbled, but full-fledged body immersion) in trash talking of any kind, it became harder and harder to eliminate it from loved ones and friends. The more I found myself in this negative light, the easier it was to justify it to all other areas in my life.

It’s like once you decide to break your diet of not eating sugar of any kind and think: “Hmm…perhaps, sprinkling some brown sugar on my oatmeal isn’t bad enough to believe I’m actually breaking my non-sugar diet…” that keeping this mentality for so long (because you’re lying to yourself) the line becomes so hazy that taking a huge bite of chocolate cake seems perfectly reasonable. And before you know it…you’re eating brownies for breakfast, cake for lunch and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for dinner.

Yes, I know, the above example of the non-sugar diet and RPBC’s for dinner seems far-fetched, but think about it for a second: Is it really?

How often do we allow a ‘little bit’ of things into our lives that we know are negative and can cloud our judgment because it is only a little? Because we think we’re not hurting anyone?

When things become so annoying it is difficult for me to keep my mouth shut, I pray for the strength to ignore it. After all…I have been known to ignore Heavenly Father and His many blessings…shouldn’t ignoring the things that cause me the most annoyance and lead to bad behavior be just as easy to ignore?

Not always, sadly enough, but I’m working on it. Becoming more Christ-like has never meant more to me than it does at this point in my life. Perhaps it is because my children are paying more attention to the things I do and say…or perhaps it is because things are starting to make more sense in my ‘mature’ age.

The great thing about having free will is we also have it in us to will OUT the negative and will IN the positive. We just have to actually want to do it.

Judging Isn’t Helping

“I saw her the other day and she was wearing short shorts. Obviously, she’s not practicing modesty.”

“Oh, is this a new thing in the Church? We gossip and condemn people who we think are slipping? I didn’t get that memo.”

A few months ago, I was on Facebook when another friend and I began to banter back and forth. In the exchange, I called him a jackass…without typing jack. I reasoned it was perfectly suitable for me to use that name because, well… he was being one. (You call a duck, a duck, right?)

Long story made very short: someone decided to be offended (not the person who received his new nickname though. I think he thought it was a compliment.) and in our conversation it was mentioned that I was losing my testimony and “What would my children think if they read that?”

Losing my testimony? What would my children think? Okay, this is confession time: I have probably said that word around my kids many times, usually with the word ‘Smart’ in front of it. If using that word meant losing my testimony, then sadly, I lost it a long time ago.

Obviously, the entire thing was an over-exaggeration and probably had little to do with my name choice. However, I felt condemned and judged and that wasn’t the first time I had felt that way.

In my two years of being a member of the church and my twenty plus years of being a Christian…my paths have crossed with the critical, the over-the-top zealots, and the condemners…all in the name of Jesus Christ.

As a new Christian, it can often take the wind out of your sails when you feel persecuted by your Christian brothers and sisters. When we see someone slipping away or having difficulties living the principles of the Gospel, how do we help them? How do we lift their spirits and provide encouragement without condemnation?

Refrain from passing judgement: That sounds easy enough, we all know Christ’s teachings about judging others. Yet, it is something we often forget.

I am guilty of passing judgement. I find myself tsk tsking people’s church attendance, their parenting style, and their understanding over certain church doctrine. I have also been on the receiving end of being judged…anywhere from my choice of movies, my tattoos, my ‘tell it like it is’ attitude and my parenting style. (Probably because I use that word around them. What do you think?)

When it comes to people who have slipped from the church, we should remember one simple thing: Free Agency.

“Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).”

Everyone’s spiritual journey is unique. We all have our own path and we all have our ups and downs. Being a Christian is not about developing a life of perfection. We are going to sin, it is in our nature. However, we can repent and ask for forgiveness.

It is not up to us to judge anyone. We are not God.

I have a hard time with people who claim to be unable to partake in certain things because of their roles in the Church, but do partake in hateful gossip and judgement Your position in any Church doesn’t give you a free pass to condemn others. If anything, you will be held to a higher standard, because whether you like it or not, people are looking to you for an example.

As Christians we should always be aware the world is watching us. Whilst we are not perfect, we should always try to live in a Christlike manner, refraining from gossip, judgement, and reckless living. If we see a fellow Christian slipping, instead of judging and whispering behind their back, how about calling him up and asking if there is anything we can do for them. Chances are what they really want is to be welcomed back. Or maybe not… but at least they know there is at least one person who cares and would be welcoming them back with open arms.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. ~Matthew 7:1

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. ~Exodus 20:16

The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-32