One of the most difficult aspects of losing the support of the LDS church was the people I thought I was losing. These are the women I had been "friends" with. These are the women I have served with, talked to, visited with, and considered to be my friends for the last ten years. In our technological world, I had many of these women on my facebook page, they were my friends who saw what I posted, on the rare occasion that I posted something. Was it one of them that started talking to the Bishop? Was it one of these friends that began this ordeal that ended in me losing my church family? I didn't know, and looking at their faces broke my heart, so I unfriended all of them.
Some of them messaged me and wondered what technological glich had unfriended us. Some of them thought it was for other reasons, but they still wanted to be my friends. Some of them I could not bear to keep on, but some of them I decided to think about.
One day, while she was unfriended, one of these friends drove into the baseball practice fields and dropped her son off. I was sitting on the sidelines watching my child practice on another field. She didn't see me. But what if she had? Would I have ignored a woman I have known for ten years? Would I have walked right by a woman I have worked with and cried with and laughed with? And the thought of not knowing her was so terrible, that I went home, emailed her this situation, and added her back as a friend.
Soon after that, she sent me a facebook message telling me that she had a dream in which I was at church crying, and that she tried to reach me but I left too fast. Oddly enough, this was just before a church event I went to for my child. I told her I hoped I didn't cry.
Funny, but the day of the function arrived. I was sitting at a table with my child, waiting for the event to start. This "friend" walked up to me, put her arm around me, and said she was glad to see me there and glad that I wasn't crying. And then she didn't talk to me again for the rest of the night.
It was funny that some of these ladies didn't want to lose me as a facebook friend. It was funny that these ladies all said how glad they were to see me at this church function. It is funny that they told me how much they cared about me. What really just makes it all so funny is that that is all they said.
They didn't come by my house to see what happened. They didn't call to see if I was okay. They didn't sit and talk with me throughout the evening. They just want to feel like they were doing the right thing.
I know that if it were a true friend who was in trouble or in need, I would go to them. I would not wait to see what they did, I would not stay away, I would do what any friend would do- I would go to my friend and I would put my arms around her, and I would tell her that I was a friend, not because of a church connection, but because I wanted to be.
Funny- what you learn about friendship. Funny- I don't miss any of them. Funny- I thought that I was unfriending them and I felt bad for it, but that was before I realized that they had already unfriended me. By leaving their church, by renouncing the rules that guide them, I was apparently renouncing my right to claim them as friends.. So even though I thought I was the one choosing to give up these friends, it was really a two way street- I removed them from my facebook page, but they removed me from their hearts.
Now I live with the consequences of not only losing a religion and a church, but of losing the people that had manned my world for so many years.
It is nothing more than another loss. It is only more pain. The scriptures say that we as humans will be purified by fire, that through trials we will be made strong. I know that these trials have been brought into my life by my own actions. I know that through these trials I will be made stronger. My faith in God is as strong as it has ever been. I struggle to see him without the Mormon church to guide me. I miss the routine, the safety, the easy answers, and the knowledge that I was never alone. I still believe that there was a better way for these men to handle the situation of me. I still believe that the Church is run by men, and because of this, is subject to error and misjudgement that hurts people and goes against the will of God. I cannot believe it is intentional, but I believe that it is wrong. It still hurts, I just don't think about it very often now.
LESSON NUMBER TWO: Friends love you because of who you are, not because of anything else.
MY TESTIMONY: Now, I hold onto God's love for me, and my desire to be an example of Christ. For now, this is enough.