I have never been one to “stew” about things or let my mind focus too much on bad events in life.
Oh, I was pretty upset with my parents when they divorced (I was six). It took a little while for me to settle down but generally I think I have learned to move on from negative experiences without too much angst.
Maybe that’s why it is difficult to understand why people keep regurgitating offenses from the past like they are a kind of badge of honor to be flaunted in the face of others. Oftentimes, it seems like they are trying to use the “offense” as a means of validating their lives instead of moving forward to new adventures.
To constantly review past offenses is painful!
It takes away from future happiness and seldom results in anything uplifting.
I mention this because of the incident, a few weeks ago, where a little girl shared her ‘testimony’ in church and was shut-down by the Bishop of her ward.
Disclaimer: As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there has never been a time when a member of any congregation I have attended has been asked to stop and sit down. There have been times when I wish it had happened!! But I have never actually witnessed the experience.
So, what would inspire the Bishop of that ward to stop the expression of testimony from that little girl? Is he a bigot and hateful to those who claim to be different?
The problem wasn’t the little girl. The issue was the people who were sitting in the congregation, filming the whole event for posting on the Internet. They had an agenda and the little girl was simply a pawn in their scheme. I wonder, truth be known, if a 12-year-old little girl can really have such a deep conviction about her sexual orientation without help from someone who should know better. Regardless, the “set-up” nature of the experience puts it in a bad light.
You see, testimony meeting is a time to share what we believe about the gospel of Christ. It is set aside, once a month, to allow faithful, struggling, and not so faithful members to stand up in front of their friends and neighbors to express their feelings about the teachings of Christ. Members are encouraged to speak from the heart and witness the truths they have learned about the doctrines and teachings of Christ in their personal mortal experience. They are given full sway to say whatever comes to their heart pertaining to things they have experienced and believe regarding their membership in God’s kingdom.
What testimony meeting IS NOT is a time to pontificate (though some do that every week), tell stories (yes we get that also), or to expound on doctrinal issues (we also get that from time-to-time).
BUT, most especially, it is NOT a time to try to share false doctrine.
Some of the messages members share can push the limits of the guidelines and the Bishop has to gauge whether to intervene or not. But there is (at least) one area where those who conduct the meetings cannot remain seated.
When a member, old or young, begins to profess as truth things that are considered false doctrine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints action must be taken. The tender testimonies of the members in the congregation are much too sacred to allow someone who is trying to lead others away to continue in their process.
I am confident that there will be few who witnessed this event who will hold the young lady totally responsible for her presentation. She has reached the age of accountability but the influence of her mother (as reported by many sources) was the main motivation for her ‘testimony’ experience.
What does her mother seek to gain? I can only guess.
According to reliable reports, Two years ago this mother was relieved of her membership in the Church for practices or beliefs that violated her covenants as a member. Not being privy to the details, I can only guess that her experiences in the Church became a “burr in the saddle” of her journey through mortality and she concocted this plan to embarrass the Church.
Which brings me back to my opening gambit.
Why is it that people can’t let go of hurt or perceived injustices they have in their lives?
In much of society, there seems to be a need to “get even” with those who have offended.
But what positive does it do for the offended, their families, and loved ones when they exact their payment? Is the doctrine of the Church going to lose truth because of the drama?
Wouldn’t it be much simpler to move on and adjust to the new norm in life?
From personal experience, I can validate the benefits of giving up fretting about things over which I have little or no control. The need to ‘get even’ has never made me happier. Forgiving and moving on has ALWAYS resulted in a more comfortable experience. I think Jesus had something going when He counseled us to forgive all, no matter what offense had been given.
I feel bad for those who can’t forgive.
The Savior said:
Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
Reality is that none of us know enough to NOT forgive. We cannot make the judgment necessary to determine if someone is worthy of forgiveness. Only Christ, who has suffered for all we do, has that right and the ability.
So, in that vein, I forgive the mother (and others) who used the little girl to further their own purposes. I hope she can find some peace in her heart so she can let go of the ill-will she has towards the members and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I hope there comes a day when she can see that her actions hurt no one but herself in the eternal scheme of things.
And I hope for the same when it comes to the judgment of others I have offended.