Monday, September 10, 2012


Let's remember what it is to be new.

Pablo Picasso, Woman with a Yellow Hat (Jaqueline) ca. 1906
I sat next to a man at church yesterday who asked me where the priest was. I explained how we have bishops in the church an a little bit about the organization. I am not confident that he understood all of what I was saying because I was whispering to him during sacrament meeting, a time when we're supposed to be real quiet. In a ward the size of mine, it's easy for people to notice when you are un-quiet. He started me on a vicious cycle, and my defense of things that smaller and newer than I am kicked in right then and there. I wanted to ask the speakers to be kind and non-jargony. I wanted so hard for them to remember that "initiatory" and "baptism for the dead" and "celestial kingdom" are things that sound scary to people who aren't us, but are curious nevertheless. Those things are scary for the uninitiated. The man sitting by me (we'll call him Charles, because that was his name)   looked to me several times, imploringly seeking validation and a glance to know that he would be ok. He would be ok. I was reminded of sitting in my dad's ward in California as a teenager. I always remember that ward as a ward where I was watched nearly constantly by the children of the ward. I think they liked me because I liked them openly. I remember how they often would watch me while I sat in sacrament meeting. It's a weird feeling to know that you are being watched like that. I'm not trying to say that I was a perfect example all of the time. In the contrary, I was often the one who supplied those babies with coloring books and dinosaurs to distract their attentions. I know what it is to be new, and to not know what big words mean. I know what it is to not know where I could set my backpack. I know what it is to not speak the language, and not know who I could sit by in the cafeteria, or when it was appropriate to ask a question. I know what it is to be new.

I got a text this last week that has been sitting deeply with me. It said, "disciples are not people who never doubt. They doubt and serve and help each other with their doubts. They doubt and practice faithfulness. They doubt and wait for their doubts to be turned into knowing."

I don't know who said it originally, but I am deeply moved by the concept. Is that not precisely what we promise to do every week? Is that not what it means to bear one another's burden?

I had to leave the sacrament meeting about halfway through because I was so overwhelmed in looking at he meeting from the eyes of the new. I am new to some ways of seeing things, I suppose, as things have shifted in my family lately. My dad is getting re-married next month, and I don't really understand how all of that works. I am sort of in a mess about how things will straighten themselves out. Where do I fit? And what of my parents' temple sealing? I don't know how to sort things out, and the talks given were almost exclusively about the topic of marriage (aren't they seemingly always about that topic in singles' congregations?). I felt remorse for leaving Charles to his own intellect to understand all of all of the things. I went into the hallway and cried and cried. I felt abandoned again. Felt lost again. Felt new and scared again. I felt like I didn't belong. Again.

And it is truly by the grace of God that I was joined by one of the kindest women I have ever known in that hallway. My relief society president wept with me. She shared her love and compassion and empathy with me. She showed me how to be Christlike. And man! What an incredible thing!

She literally embodied the spirit of the Relief Society in that instance, that selfless moment of reaching out to me. I shouldn't have needed it- I should be one of the strong ones. But she didn't care. She didn't want me to cry alone. She didn't want me to sink. And she reminded me that it's okay to be new. It's okay to not know, and to re-asses and ask again and again and again. There are always answers. She reminded me that charity never faileth.

Let us have patience with being new, and kind to those who don't yet know.


Miss K$ said...

Love you. I'm glad she was there becasue i know there are alot of people who wished they could be, and isnt there something about not crying alone that makes the bitter tears just a pinch sweeter?

Rachel Hunt said...

My heart feels. And remembers what it was like to be a missionary sitting by an investigator during church, and whispering frantically into his or her ear in an attempt to translate Mormon language into something more comprehensible.

Week after week of those experiences shaped the way I heard and saw the things that went on during church meetings. Even now I appreciate members who are willing to explain stories, just a little bit more, rather than assume that everyone has heard them one million times, because they haven't.

Concerning the family things, I send you my love, and my admission that lots of Sundays have found me crying at church, by near strangers. (Today was one of them.) It also makes me adore your RS president.