Wednesday, June 02, 2010

My new pondering

I had one of those stupid experiences today that left me with hurt feelings--and feeling stupid that my feelings were hurt.

First, Tim and Caleb RUSHED off to Scouts, only to find they'd cancelled it for all age groups but didn't bother to tell us. No phone call, no email...except last Sunday when we got a call asking if Tim would be around Tuesday to help and I assured them he would be back in town. Hmmm. Shrugged it off.

But then Tim said, "They're setting up for a Relief Society Dinner of some kind at the church. I asked one of the sisters what's going on, and she said she's in primary all Sunday, so she didn't know except they asked her to bring cookies." No clue when it was supposed to start.

Hmmm.... and then I forgot about it.

I was too busy being "at the crossroads" with Tim as he got home from a successful audition in Chicago, plus 32 hours of driving in 48 hours, so we were catching up with each other. We took the kids for a walk and ended up at the church to let them run on the big lawn there (the kids LOVE doing that). We arrived just as the last few straggler sisters arrived for the dinner. I wanted to be with Tim, though, so I didn't go in until later, when I needed a drink. And I passed the gym on the way and saw a bunch of the Relief Society all sitting around having a fancy dinner on fancy China--and I got the distinct feeling they were having a party and I wasn't invited.

Tim told me I should go in and join them, that he would take the kids home himself, but I was late enough that I felt deeply uncomfortable walking in and getting a plate, and I couldn't face finding a place to sit when everyone was settled. And I couldn't face the questions about where I've been for 2 months and how I'm feeling now--or worse, if nobody even asked. So I told Tim I didn't want to, and we went home.

And I felt stupid that my feelings were hurt that they had a big fancy party and didn't invite me because I've been sick for 2 months straight. They didn't even put it on the ward Calendar online (which I have email updates set up for). It was kind of a "active sisters only" party, and I felt excluded. And also stupid for caring.

Anyway, it got me thinking about an interesting question:  are we giving the most attention to the people in our wards who need it the least?

How many people, like me, would BE THERE if they only knew about it? And how many just don't get told because they had to work Sunday morning (like Tim did this week), or were suffering with an extended illness (like me), or are in Primary (like my friend who didn't even know what the event was, but was faithfully there helping set up anyway because she found out somehow--perhaps because her husband is in the bishopric).

Are we lavishing all our attention on the people who are able to easily make it to church on Sunday, and completely ignoring those who need the special attention and help?

I am ashamed to admit I have been. When I'm not struggling to just survive myself!

Then I started thinking about my own visiting teaching list, and was horrified at what I discovered. MORE THAN ONCE I was told by more than one person that my list consisted of, "Sister W., who you won't have any trouble seeing, and Sister X, who is a snowbird and in Arizona, so you can ignore her, and Sister Z, who never comes; I think she has cancer or something. So anyway, you pretty much only have to worry about Sister W."  Sister W, who is fully active in the ward, in contact with half the relief society on facebook, and has family in the ward who watch out for her. Sister W, who surely needs visiting teachers because everyone does and because we are all sometimes barely making it, but who is certainly not struggling alone.

And this is what killed me: Sister Z, who has cancer or something and so she's hard to get ahold of and nobody's seen her, so don't worry too much about that. WHAT?  THIS is the person who needs us most. Just because we don't know her and nobody's seen her doesn't mean she doesn't want and need us. She might not, but....I have been sick for 2 months and was devastated that nobody bothered to tell me about things going on in the ward. How might she feel, when she should be getting meals brought in, or her house vacuumed, or at least a VISIT and a "how are you feeling" or a "I brought you a plate from the RS Dinner." But no, my instructions were, "You don't have to worry about her."

So now I'm asking myself, "Am I paying the most attention to the people who need it least?" And also, "How do you solve this? How do you inform everyone about things that are happening, instead of just the active members?"  Even if you put it in the ward announcements--they're only printed in the program. Nobody has a budget for mailing a calendar to every member family on the list even if they aren't active.  So what's the solution?

(And also, How can I get my visiting teaching done properly when I am sick, awake only at night--but all night--and usually alone with 5 kids and no car about 80% of the time?)


Becca Jones said...

I accidentally rejected instead of publishing this comment, so I'm putting it back here. Sorry Catherine!

"Catherine (Jones) Carlson has left a new comment on your post "My new pondering":

Great post, Becca. Your insights are good, but I do disagree with one point. It isn't easy for anyone to get to church. I can promise you that there isn't one woman in that building on Sunday who didn't have an obstacle to getting there. But maybe that's the point of the disproportionate amount of nurturing that is done to the active sisters. Somehow they were able to make it to church or the activity or whatever. They reap the benefit of feeling uplifted and strengthened and then they need to immediately turn around and lift up someone else who is a little lower than they are in that moment. Unfortunately, all too often, we feel that strengthening through the sisterhood of the ward and then go our merry way feeling warm and fuzzy and fail to "lift up the hands that hang down". We can all do better I'm sure. "

Brooke said...

Sheez, that is so lame! And keep in mind that I already have a dim view of RS-dinners-on-china-plates. Give the RS president a call over this one. They should at least have put it on the online calendar.