Have you ever heard something while listening to a conversation and just known it wasn’t true? That there is just no way that could have ever happened? For me, I don’t know what to be sad about more. The fact that this person claims this happened to someone, or the fact that you think this person is most likely lying.
While I’m working, I usually have at least one earphone in. This day, I had both. I was trying to block the idle conversation between my two co-workers. I was just trying to get as much work done as I could. All of a sudden I heard my one co-worker say, “Oh no! That’s just awful!”
I began trying to tune out my music and listen more to what was being said. When I heard what this person was telling my co-worker (who just happens to be against ALL LDS people), I ripped out both earphones and asked for complete details. Long story short, I immediately doubted the story, and openly voiced my opinion.
The co-worker that was telling the story had been supposedly baptized a member of the church at age 12. Neither of her parents were that religion, but they were somewhat supportive of her choice. This young woman is in her early 20s now, and tried to say that an elderly neighbor had not been paying his tithing and was told he was no longer able to attend regular church services on Sundays. I am not a perfect member of this church, but I try my hardest to be like Him. I do not feel any Bishop or church leader would tell this elderly gentleman that he is no longer allowed to attend church based on the fact that he was not currently paying his tithing. That just isn’t feasible in my mind.
I know that this story cannot be true because of a few things. One, church leaders have recently told us to accept those that come to church, even when they smell like smoke, etc. They are just glad that those people are actually there to hear the words spoken. Two, there is no rule in the church (that I have heard of) that states if a member is not paying tithing they are not allowed to come and feast upon the words of Christ on Sunday. I shared my feelings with another friend and co-worker of mine, who is currently an in-active member of the church. She even spoke up right away and said, “No! That can’t be true. They can stop him from attending the temple if he isn’t paying his tithing, but they cannot stop him from attending church.”
It pains me to hear that there is such rubbish talk being said about Bishops or Stake Presidents making their own rules. I understand that Bishops have different opinions and different ways they choose to handle the church welfare program for instance. But, I have never heard straight crazy stories like the one I had heard from my co-worker that have actually happened. It brings us back to the old saying that I grew up with, “The church is right, but the people are not.”
I have great admiration of my current Bishop and Stake President. They are such sweet, compassionate beings. They are very knowledgeable and hold such love for the members of their ward and stake. I would hate to hear that someone is saying untrue things about our Bishop or Stake Presidents, only to boost their own self, or merely because they possibly didn’t agree with something they were told. Our church leaders are chosen from on High. They are handpicked. We need to respect them, and pray for them, just as they do for us.
I agree with the term “pick your battles.” And in this case even I could have chosen to not speak up. But, I felt very passionately about this as I am preparing to go through the temple myself. I know that one thing that could prevent me from going is not paying my tithing. But I know that when I have not been paying my tithing, I am always allowed to attend Sunday church services. Something like that is between you and the Lord.
When you hear things that are not true, I encourage you to speak up about it. I understand however that maybe you are just coming back to church, and you may not know for sure whether something happens that way. Again, I encourage you to seek out answers. Go to your Bishop, one of his counselors, even maybe the missionaries, and have them re-educate you. I know a few people that have had a long absence from the church and they choose to have the missionaries come teach them a kind of refresher course. This can be arranged very easily.
I would also encourage you to pray for those that are speaking ill of either the church or their church leaders, regardless of whether or not you spoke up. There are times that we become angry or become offended by what someone has done or said to us. Please do not take those words or actions to heart. If it is coming from your Bishop or Stake President, it is most likely because you have done something wrong, but you can be forgiven for it. That is the beauty of the Atonement.
Our church leaders are educated, and are even given a manual that they are required to research or reference at times they may not be familiar with a specific transgression. If they don’t know, they’ll find the answer and get back to you, or direct you to the person (most likely the stake president) that can help you. Please know that if this is something that is happening to you, and you become or have been ex-communicated, or dis-fellowshipped, you are able to take the lessons again and become re-baptized. What a beautiful advantage! We all make mistakes, and our Father in Heaven loves us all so very much, that He is forgiving. He knows what is in your heart, and His love for you is unwavering.
I pray that we are all able to stand up for our religion and support our church leaders in their callings. They are not chosen by chance. Just as we sustain our living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, we are to sustain and respect our Bishops and other leaders. Maybe they say something you don’t agree with, or you feel they see themselves mightier than you. Do not let this bother you. Know where you are in the church, know your worth.
You are worthy of being there too, and though your light might seem small, you have the potential to become bright! Do not let others outside or even those within the church turn you away, or stop you from going to church. Stories are stories, gossip is gossip. None of which will help us in the afterlife. Our Father in Heaven loves us and wants to see us reap the eternal blessings He has promised us. Do not let anyone stand in your way of those eternal blessings.
I'm a Supermom and wife who works full time. I love cooking for my family and friends. But most of all, I love the Gospel and my journey back to it!