The church my family and I worship at, has a weekly Bible study group we have started attending called, grow groups. I thought the subject matter of these groups would be a great place to find a subject for my weekly blog. The things I write are never meant to be hurtful or offensive. These are my thoughts, views, feelings and experiences. I would love to hear your comments and feedback.
This week in grow group we read through Luke 12:13-34; “The Parable of the Rich Fool.” We discussed what we want to be remembered for and what we would want on our headstone when we are gone from this world. I thought that was pretty easy. Things I want to be remember for are; a good mom, a great wife, compassionate toward people, a good friend, and someone who loves their country and fellow man. These are values that I learned from my parents and family growing up but are also things that are revered in the Mormon church. I am grateful I was taught the value of friend, family, and freedom as a child.
As I thought about this passage throughout the week I thought about how wealth and money is valued in the Mormon church. The Mormon church itself is very wealthy. As I’m sitting here the news is talking about a new building the LDS church just built, in Salt Lake City. They have an amazing welfare system that can be used to assist their followers if they are in need. They encourage their members to be debt free and have a good savings. Again, all good things. But when you live in a belief system that teaches you have to be “good enough”, and some how financial status gets tied to that, it can create a lot of problems. In grow group we discussed that God never said people can’t be rich. The question is what they do with what they have. We discussed it isn’t the money itself that creates a problem but the intent behind it. I think the love of money often becomes a problem for people.
One of the things that pushed Brian and I out of the Mormon church, was the hypocrisy and the way people were treated. I have since learned it doesn’t matter where you go or what religion or belief system you follow, you will find hypocrites. I, at times, am a hypocrite myself. But one situation that we experienced is tied into this, money and where your treasure lies, issue.
When Brian and I were first married, we were living in a trailer park in Idaho Falls. Our first child was a few months old. I had 2 visiting teachers and they were both very nice ladies. One lived in the trailer court and worked full-time. One lived in the nice subdivision just up the road and was the stay-at-home wife of a doctor. The doctors wife decided to have a baby shower for me. I didn’t know either one of them very well, we had only lived there for a few months and had only been attending church for a few weeks before I met them. But, I thought it was so nice that they would offer to throw a baby shower for me and I could meet some of the other ladies from the ward. The week before my baby shower my other visiting teacher showed up and dropped off a baby gift. I told her thank you and asked her why she wasn’t going to be at the baby shower. She didn’t know anything about it. My heart sunk, I was mortified. The doctor’s wife hadn’t invited her. I never said anything to the doctor’s wife and attended the baby shower. Only one other person from the trailer park was there. I don’t know if it’s because no one else was invited. That’s my assumption based on the experience with my visiting teacher but I don’t know for sure. The other person who lived in the trailer park that was attending also young and had a baby a few months older than mine, they had a shower for both of us. I’m sure I received may nice gifts and met many nice people. I don’t remember any of their names, not even the visiting teacher’s. I don’t remember their faces or the gifts they gave me. I don’t even remember if I sent them thank you cards (which I’m really bad at). It still makes me uncomfortable to think about our time living in that ward. That wasn’t the first time I felt the tension between the trailer park people and the people in the subdivision. However, my husband and I were welcomed with open arms even by the more wealthy people in our ward. They were helpful and more than willing to help us. What is interesting to me is the lady who lived in the trailer park was beautiful. I don’t know where she worked. But she dressed professionally. I think I went to her home once and it was nice. It wasn’t big, but is was clean and charming. The only thing I could think is that we were still young and had “a chance to make it.” It still frustrates me to think about that story. A few weeks later I heard that the people in the subdivision had written a petition to have the trailer park removed from their ward. Whether that is true or not doesn’t matter. What matters is the message I received from that interaction, It was more important to interact with people based on their financial status than anything else. To me that was heartbreaking. That it could even be something that is rumored, tells you about the tension that existed between the 2 groups of people. I think more often than not, we, as humans have a habit of placing more value on things, than on people or relationships. I think often the treasures in Mormonism become, Joseph Smith, the current prophet, the LDS Church, and financial wealth and status. I think more often than not, other things become more important than people and we don’t even notice. I know that not all Mormon people are that way, but did I mention that the doctor’s wife was also in the bishopric? I think he may have even been the bishop. I feel that because the Mormon church puts such an unspoken value on financial status, they often have people in leadership that don’t really care about people. Who are more focused on the rule book and status quo than anything else. Don’t forget, Jesus spent more time with prostitutes and tax collectors, the “sinners” of his day than he did with those who were supposed to be the “righteous” ones. This was another piece of straw that was quickly adding to the camel’s back that finally brought Brian and I to the point where we said we were done.
I think the only thing that I would add to my list as I’ve thought through things is, I hope people know I love my Lord and Savior Jesus, and I try to treat people with love, kindness, and respect. I hope that people can see where my treasure lies. I know I make mistakes. I am a very imperfect person. I do things wrong all the time. But the most import thing to me is my relationship with Christ, then my husband, then my kids. Without Christ I have nothing. I am nothing. I’m just a small town girl… trying to keep my treasure in the right place in world that will do anything to change that.