A brilliant and faithful friend of mine was musing on the pattern typical to new converts in her ward. With her permission:
Our ward has brought in a bunch of single females into the baptism font recently and the trajectory has been almost identical for all of them:Phase One: Missionaries love me. I feel the pull of the truth and the Lord’s love. Church members are coming over in droves to listen to me talk for 90 minutes about the inside of my dog’s ear if I want to, waiting to get a niblit of gospel teaching into the conversation. I love the church.Phase Two: Excited, everyone showed up at my baptism and I’m willing and eager to learn a new life with new friends and the ward family I was welcomed into. This is gonna be so great. The Church is true.Phase Three: They are now letting me know that the Jesus I shared my love for doesn’t want me alone and won’t let me hang around unless I’m married and my chances of that are slim to none. I explained I had a horrible marriage, divorce, abuse situation, etc but they summarily dismiss that and insist on family as the ultimate reason to exist and praise Jesus. Redemption and repentance are important but only as paths to get to family. Not to live with the Savior, but to live with my family. I sit in sacrament meetings all about forever families, but I can’t be sealed to my own children. The “it will come later” explanation seems the same sort of mystery that they said wasn’t good in my old church. But people are nice and seem devoted, at least to their own family.Phase 4: This is very differerent than my first month here. They don’t know I’ve gone back to my old church to visit. Everyone here is too busy protecting time with their own insulated families. We had prayer circle on Wed and I loved it. I felt like a real family of worshipers again. No one from the new church comes to talk or listen anymore, missionaries stopped coming and the assigned teachers don’t seem to have a genuine interest in anything but the magazine they read from. They don’t come other than that. I thought all that was the beginning of new friendships but I guess not. I don’t know what happened. We had such a good time talking last month. I have friends at my (old) church without even trying. They seem to need friends too so we all have that common support for each other. They have families too but are more open with their time.Musings:Maybe the baptisms serve to help us not have so many to do in the millenium but they don’t seem to be much more than that. While I don’t want to be the socially favorite church, it sure seems like investigators don’t understand what they are getting into and either don’t have the motivation or don’t have the skills to withstand the isolation we put them through as singles.While Sis Beck talked about the women flooding into the church as we found our vision of RS, I don’t think she meant they would come for 4 month stints and leave. It’s so frustrating and heartbreaking. The ones most attracted are those that need a community and think they’ve found it as the missionaries are so very attentive. Then they get suddenly ignored.So solutions? Still pondering what to do. Reading through some RS histories to try to get some ideas. [She here names a few women in her ward who do a good job maintaining relationships with singles.] Some friends from Utah do it well. It’s far more rare than it should be. And mothers/families suffer from the consequenses of being so isolated from others and overly insulated as a family.When I was new to the church, I was convinced the choirs needed robes. I’ve since realized that was just my own wish for something familiar in an unfamiliar religionworld. Is this just a choir robe issue or do we really need to be more of a community? Will a community distract from our duties and abilities to care for our families?“No success will compensate for failure in the home.” If I hear that quote one more time over the pulpit… I may scream. I don’t think they were talking about saying no to callings or spending time with new members. I can come up with example after example of pioneer stories that WE promote in our talks and lesson, about people inviting refugees into their home nad having all their kids die of smallpox. Of wagon company members sharing food with others and suffering terribly. Missionaries going on 3 yr missions, leaving women and children, sick and pregnant behind. The list of overdramatic stories we love are rife with sacrificing for others.
And the rumor is that “singles” are selfish or overly self-concerned. Oh brother!