Monday, May 21, 2012

Dealing with Hurtful Church Members
Every Sunday for the past three months has been a struggle for my family. My four-year-old girl has not wanted to go to church. We thought the transition from Nursery to Primary was the problem. After being really sick with a virus, I was able to return to church after being out for roughly a month. Needless to say, returning to church has been rough.

Then something occurred that made me glad I was at church with my little girl.  Her teacher told me someone else, not me, should drop my daughter off to class, and I felt concerned. Then as I sat in Sharing Time with my little girl, she became excited upon seeing one of her best friends give a talk while being helped by her mother. She excitedly whispered to me how glad she was that her mother was helping her best friend. Without warning, my daughter's teacher reached across the two other little Sunbeams and continually slapped my daughter's wrist while telling her to be quiet. I was stunned to hear the slapping sound and I watched dazed as she did this to my child. I found myself filling up with an enormous amount of emotion, so I took my children out of the room. After speaking to the Primary president and the bishop, I left church because there was nowhere for us to go. How does someone deal with situations where spiritual harm is done?

Well, I will tell you what I plan to do. I plan to follow Jesus's example and pray for this sister every time she comes to mind. I forgive her; however, never would I permit anyone to touch a child in this manner, much less condone someone touching one of my children this way.

Often the verse is on my mind, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mark 10:14). To me this verse means we adults bite our tongues, control our impatience, and find a creative way to redirect a misbehaving child so they feel listened to and valued. It does not mean to make them suffer! I find myself wondering how else this sister has inappropriately corrected my child. Knowing that my little girl is just a young child who does not know how to tell on others when they hurt her, all she knew to say was that she didn't want to go to church.

It has been my experience as a member of this precious gospel that in dealing with the failings of human behaviors, if we focus on the great love and blessings that flow from obeying the commandments, we will be given the strength to stand strong in times that test our faith. I share with you that I was guided by the Spirit to leave the room when my first reaction was to reach over and do bodily harm back. Heavenly Father gave me the strength to act as a lady, and I never so much as even glanced her way in Sharing Time today.

A similar situation happened to me some years ago that I draw strength from today. When I was a single mother in Washington, I had asked the Relief Society president for a ride to the temple, to which she refused. I heard from a good friend that I wasn't allowed the ride because the president did not want me to be friends with a single brother who also was riding in the car. So I confronted the president and was told that she saw me as a loser because I had bought a car eight months earlier and I still wasn't driving. I thank God for filling my bosom with compassion, driving out the negative thoughts I had for her jumping to conclusions. The president was unaware that I was struggling to learn to drive because of abuse I had endured in a ten-year marriage to my first husband. The Lord greatly blessed me that I was able overcome my fears and get my license the following week, after struggling and failing the test three times previously over a twelve-year period.

When the time came for me to move from Washington, the sister who had been president bore her testimony the fast Sunday before I left of how she never had the courage to apologize to a certain sister who was part of the branch for denying service to help her overcome obstacles in her path.  Having seen her great strength to overcome certain difficult circumstances, she knew that Heavenly Father had a huge part in that sister's life.  She regretted not being open to being a part of the growth the sister had accomplished. She spoke of lost opportunities and how she saw now that she would never again be given the chance to be of service to that sister.  Furthermore, she was deeply affected that the sister never was found gossiping about her in return for the unkindness she had showed.
I knew she was talking about me from the way she continually looked at me while speaking. I can't say that it made the pain less, for every Sunday I found it a struggle to show up to church, yet I knew I needed to go to set the example for my children.

All I really want to say is that if any of you are struggling to go to church because of hurts, please let my experiences give you the strength to go. You are not alone. Heavenly Father will bestow the blessings of His Spirit on you. Know that by relying on Him, we come to be like Him and we are blessed beyond comprehension in all areas of life. May we all find the courage to stand for truth in the gentle ways that become the followers of Christ. And may all of us feel connected to the True Source of our creativity, joy, and light, is my prayer!

Have a great and productive week! And may all our burdens be light as we practice our daily walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ.



  1. Thanks for sharing this. Good luck with your little girl's Primary situation.

  2. What a sweet post. Thank you for sharing

  3. Best wishes! I admire your example! I'll be praying for you!

  4. Thanks everyone for your supportive comments! I appreciate your prayers!