Monday, August 16, 2010

Home Teachers

So my LDS friend down the street just told me that her husband is now one of our home teachers.

This LDS friend is a good friend of mine. Got a bit of a sailor's mouth herself and is really very understanding and accepting of my family's inactivity. Even gave me a hug and told me she had seen how hard leaving could be since her uncle had been through the process.

So it's not a big deal at all that her husband is our home teacher. But he didn't want to approach us himself b/c he didn't want to make us uncomfortable, so he asked his wife to talk with me.

It's weird what my initial reaction was. It isn't exactly like I hadn't thought of this before--but it mostly regarded my visiting teachers. This is a little different. This is a friend of ours.

...and his 23 year old RM newly married super-TBM companion.


So she asked if we were okay with having them stop by. "They don't have to talk church," she said, "But it's totally no pressure if you don't want them to come."

I told her we didn't want to talk church. Especially with a zealous young RM newly wed in the home. I'd be too tempted to mess with his head.

On the one hand, I figure we're still members on record. On the one hand I empathize that they have a duty to accomplish.

But I also know that I have zero duty to accept them into my home. Who the fuck is going to put us under any obligation to receive our home teachers? And if they did, I'd send in my resignation letter right that minute.

And I also know that nobody is going to rebuke them if they aren't received into our home. As long as they try, right?

I told my friend it'd be totes cool if she accompanied her husband and they just came over for a visit. But, of course, this isn't kosher for home teachers.

I haven't spoken with Eric about this yet, but I already know what he'll say (maybe not, he just said "I don't care") And I'm not really sure what made me hesitate at ALL about this. Maybe because it was my good friend's husband who we get along with rather well, a guy who respects our position on the church to whatever end they're aware of.

Still, I don't want them to come by. Not under that guise.

She also said "you know if you need anything you can call us anyway." Which is true, but it made me wonder about what would happen if we were no longer official members. I'm 99.9999% sure my friend is above shunning us if that's what we did, but isn't the social support structure a large comfort in the church?

I would never use the church like that--I had a hard enough time using them while we were active, even when our daughter was in the NICU and underwent surgery--but it's nice to know they're there.

It's lame, I know, and I'm quickly getting over it, but those were my thoughts.

On the other hand, regarding my visiting teachers, I would have to tell them "no" as well. I honestly cannot remember one visiting teacher I was excited to invite into my house. They'd let their three or four very young kids run rampant and screw up my house. The topic would also always be about or related to motherhood. Or the kicker: one put me under severe mental torture by reviewing the god-awful "Mother's Who Know" bullshit. I thought I was the only girl in the world who couldn't STAND that talk when it came out. I endured a lot with family members fawning over that thing, biting my tongue until it nearly came off.

I think--I know--that any thought of actually letting them come is one of pity. Because I should. Because I don't want to offend them. They're just doing what they're supposed to do. They're good people, why the hell not.

And I think being honest with myself, knowing that I really don't want them here as our home teachers despite one being a friend, says something about where I'm going and where I am now. I'm learning I don't need them anymore, not like that. Especially when I think about the priesthood authority being part of it, that they're supposed to get to know us and take care of us and let the bishop know anything he "ought" to know. It's crap.

But I find it strangely comforting, even knowing the church really is like a too-involved parent--but I'm almost 30 fucking years old, you know? Time to grow up.

It's getting close to the time to cut the cord.


  1. You know that the church is exploiting your friendship with this woman. I am sure her husband was very strategically chosen to be your home teacher because he was more likely to be able to get in the door.

  2. Oh she said the same thing, actually. We all know what's going on.

    It's just interesting because just the other day I got an email from this other woman in our ward (i know and see enough people in our ward without ever going to church) who said "just thinking about you" (uh huh) "and wanted to invite you to our elder's quorum party."

    I never responded. It was last minute anyway and we were out of town. But slowly it seems we're getting "hit" more often.

    Still, the super-friendly-nice-thoughtful bit is strategic, too, even if it's somewhat a subconscious thing. If they're super nice, they figure it's harder for us to say no.

    But yeah, I'm saying no.

  3. this seems really paranoid.

    I mean, currently, you don't even know if any of these thoughts will actually be true. Whether they will actually be overbearing or just cool concerned peeps.

  4. I'll admit it seems paranoid, but... From the other side.

    We have a family who lives 5 houses down. We actually used to live by the wife's father. Awesome guy the father, but hasn't stepped foot in Church in 20 years. This family are the nicest, most Christian people we know. Except the wife hasn't stepped foot in Church in 20 years either and the husband isn't a member of any Church and.... HE DRINKS BEER :-O

    The husband and I train together on occasion. Last year, I was assigned to be their home teacher, and told that I could use my friendship with him to help him gain a testimony and get baptized.

    The wife was called as a cub scout leader under the guise of "It would really help your son" and my wife was called as her assistant. Every single meeting when the wife isn't present, my wife gets asked multiple times how things are going, if she's getting interested in coming back to Church, and her personal favorite "Perhaps you can be the spark that reignites her fire!"

    There is a great deal of paranoia with leaving the Church - I'm struggling with it too. But I think a great deal of it is rooted in our experiences with the organization from the other side.

  5. Andrew: Paranoid?

    I'm not entirely sure where you're coming from. I know their concern is genuine. Perhaps I wasn't quite clear in my post (it happens). But they can be genuine AND overbearing and that has thus been my experience.

    If it has to do with my assumption that this guy has been called to be my HT because he has a better chance of getting in our door, I stand by that. But I'll concede, also, that people who live nearby one another generally get called to be the others HT/VT--activity status aside. I had that happen plenty in one of my wards.

    On the other side, I've no idea where my VTs live. Or are. They're a bit on the young side, I think, but other than that I know nothing. They've only asked to be my friends on FB (without saying anything) and then sent me an RS newsletter through the mail a few months ago.

    But I've had experiences where I was asked to use my friendship with someone as a way to re-activate them--as Koda said, to "reignite their fire." Especially (then) as a zealous convert. Even once when the said inactive wasn't technically inactive, just...disinterested.

    As far as my current HT goes, he's very cool. I thought I made that clear.

    I'll admit I just woke up, but I need a little clarification.

    @Koda: Thanks, yeah.

  6. @Andrew: you're speaking more to my reply to Kiley, aren't you?

    K, so I can see where you'd find paranoia there.

    I *don't* think the super-friendly-nice thing is outwardly strategic, per se. That word was chosen badly, and I remember thinking so when I wrote it.

    But it does work, the nice-to-get-you-in bit. I mean, hell, how many times have I been approached by these squeaky, smiley Mormon girls (and guys) inviting me to activities, even as an active member (who could never attend activities)?

    When you're super nice, it's harder to say no. Especially and perhaps moreso for me, someone who doesn't like to disappoint. Someone who wants to make friends and fit in.

    And yet, through experience I've also learned that super-friendly-nice is RARELY an invitation for genuine friendship, but just to get me in the door. Once I'm in the door, people will say hi and will perhaps sit next to me (how many times have we been told to sit next to the lone person?), but we never click. It ends there, perhaps after a dinner invitation, but it ends. Every single time. I'm just not squeaky and superbly outgoingly nice and social. That doesn't really compute with a lot of members.

    So paranoid? Maybe. But it is from experience. My only regret is saying it was "strategic." But I do think it is taught, even implicitly, that being THAT nice is going to help get more people interested in the church. Or help them get over their feelings of offense which OBVIOUSLY drove them away.

    Kill 'em with kindness.

    And isn't that the ultimate goal? Friendship is a nice (possible) side effect to this (genuine or not) kindness, but mostly they're there to save souls.

  7. I guess I'm feeling idealistic. Because I mean, I've experienced what you've talked about too -- the super nice bait n switch, where all of a sudden, as soon as you mention your intentions, they either want nothing to do with you or ramp up their efforts to change your mind.

    Sometimes I just want to believe that it's not a universal thing.

  8. I don't find this line of thought at all paranoid. Right after I left the church I lived with a girl whose sister was in my former YSA ward (the roommate girl was also inactive and relatively hostile toward the church, and was not very close with the rest of her family). After a month or so of me not showing up to church or activities I suddenly had a new visiting roommate's sister! HMMMM.

    I see it this way. You are, as you know, under no obligation to have the home teachers or visiting teachers over to your house for any reason. If your friend and her husband are really interested in being your friends, they will create opportunities to be with you, in your house or theirs, outside of church responsibilities. And if you do eventually have your name removed, you will know whether the super-nice-friendly attitude is just an act, or the substance of real friendship.

  9. @Andrew: I get that, and I don't think this particular friend is a "bait and switch" situation. She did, in the beginning, invite me to some church activity but then we talked about why we left and she's been super cool about it.

    I can smell disingenuous from a mile away, and she doesn't stink. Never has.

    I'm lucky to have this girl and also my ex-roomie who read my past blog without even telling me. She barely flinched and has tried nothing to get us back (well, at first she tried but gave up quickly).

    But those people are a dime a dozen in the church, at least in my experience. They're there, though.

    Then there are the ones who shun you THE MINUTE you express or demonstrate a firm disapproval of the church. I've had that, too. Fun shit, dat.

    @Diana: That is the ultimate test of friendship in this arena, isn't it?

  10. You could just ask to be on the Do Not Contact list. I know it can be interpreted as hostile, but it would take the weight off of your HTs (who would no longer be required to visit you) and you (because the obligation would be on them to comply, not you). It might be weird for your friend, but you could just explain that you're trying to make things more comfortable for everyone, and all this means is that you can hang out now without the HT having to worry about fulfilling his Official Business quota.

    This kind of thing is one of the reasons we did ultimately resign. We have young kids and we just didn't want to be approached in any context. We just didn't want to deal with it, and we didn't want our local ward to have to deal with it either.